Church group urges truth commission on country's violence

"Those involved in the designing, targeting, coordination and sponsoring of the violence must take ownership of their actions by a public acknowledgment of such actions," said the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance in an August 7 statement.

The statement followed three days set aside in July by Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government for national healing and reconciliation after political violence that accompanied elections in 2008. The then main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party won the parliamentary vote and the first round of the presidential poll. The MDC had refused to take part in the presidential run-off, citing intimidation, and incumbent president, Robert Mugabe, won the election.

The Christian grouping that includes Roman Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Evangelicals and Pentecostals said the reconciliation campaign would be in vain without "full disclosure of what happened during the period of conflict and such information made public."

The MDC, whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai became prime minister in a power-sharing government with his long-time enemy Mugabe, and with the head of an MDC breakaway faction, has said at least 150 of its supporters were killed by state security agents and pro-Mugabe militants. Mugabe in turn accused the MDC of violence including arson attacks on rural supporters of his party.

A Zimbabwean cleric said at the end of July that the church should have a key role if the national healing and reconciliation process was to succeed.

"There cannot be peace without the church being part of the peace process," Goodwill Shana, chairperson of the Heads of Christian Denominations in Zimbabwe told hundreds of people at an interdenominational meeting at the end of the three-day reconciliation period.

"We believe the peace process cannot be done without involving the church as a significant player. We believe the church is the most qualified. It may not be the only player, but it is the most qualified to help spearhead the process of national healing in Zimbabwe," said Shana.

The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance in its statement said there needed to be an independent commission, "composed of eminent men and women of integrity from various sectors of society including ministers of religion and former or practicing judges." The commission would, "hear and consider each case on its own merits and decide on appropriate compensation to be paid on wronged ones and or due punishment."

The alliance comprises church leaders and groups from various Christian denominations campaigning for a just society based on Christian values.

Zimbabwe’s neighbor South Africa had its Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, after the demise of apartheid and the country’s first national universal suffrage elections in 1994.