Mr Moreno Ocampo Sir, Welcome to Zimbabwe!
The announcement Wednesday by the International Criminal Court of the six people considered to be “most responsible” for the post-election violence following Kenya’s disputed Dec. 27, 2007 has driven the nation into a state of panic, quietness, fear and above all hope. The post election attacks left more than 1, 300 people dead, 3,500 injured and up to 650, 000 forcibly displaced.
The ICC requested charges of crimes against humanity be filed against six Kenyans, including Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, over their alleged role in post-election violence in 2008. In as much as families of victims can now breathe relief and expect justice to be done, this remains , as stated in parliament by the Vice President, Kalonzo Musyoka, that the government upholds and respects the system and proceedings that are to follow. He rightly mentioned that even though these six have been named, they remain suspects until proven guilty.
Kalonzo called for calm and peace, as he addressed parliament, in the absence of the Prime minister, who is the head of government. The maturity with which he spoke did not only tone down the calls by some MPs calling for the immediate resignation of the named suspects. Members of parliament had already started calling for the resignation of those named who hold public office, among them the Vice Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Uhuru Kenyatta who was present in house. Uhuru looked frail and broken to the bone. It was sheer luck that the Vice President, in his wisdom gave an unprepared ‘government position’ calling for the process to proceed, as these are merely suspects. To some extent, the words of the Vice president showed an objective maturity and impartiality.
Such news and the implications it has is not only a Kenyan affair, but I foresee such coming to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has had numerous gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity committed by the government from 1980 until to this day. One need not mention Gukurahundi, Operation Murambatsvina, the 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2008 elections.
All these elections were marked by killings sanctioned and condoned by powerful people in government then. Zimbabwe has had many other ‘disappearances’ known and with evidence provided, but the police did not act. Extra judicial killings have been the way of operation for the ZANU PF government and it is a relief what has happened today in Kenya.
The process leading to the naming of the six at The Hague by Mr Moreno Ocampo has been a thorny one. Impunity has been the major challenge as the big fish protected and shielded one another, a common phenomenon in Zimbabwe. The occasion in Kenya is and must be an example to Zimbabwean murderers who have been protected by ‘the law’. Rine manyanga hatiputirwe! How one wishes such a process begins immediately in Zimbabwe. This being the case, there is hope that justice in Zimbabwe is on the way. Victims of political violence the years over should but just be patient.
All sane and sundry need to give credit to former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who mediated a peace accord that ended the 2008 violence and is monitoring its implementation. Kofi Annan has said bringing instigators of the fighting to trial is necessary to avoid a repeat of the clashes during the 2012 vote. That is what we might have expected of former president Mbeki, who unfortunately was not impartial in his dealings. If Kofi was the mediator in Zimbabwe, another envelope could have been handed over to the ICC prosecutor with names of not only six suspects, but the list would be much taller than that of Kenya.
Apart from human rights groups and civil societies who have been seeking justice for the victims, those who were either displaced, dispossessed, or bereaved during the violence, all now will be looking out to see if their tormentors would finally face justice. Today’s announcement from the ICC should not be seen as an end in itself, rather the beginning of national healing and resolve towards true nationhood.
Zimbabwe needs through to undergo the same process of cleansing and restoring the rule of law. Is it Zimbabwe only or most of the leaders in Africa rightly should arraigned to the ICC? Surely, there are people in Zimbabwe whose names I won’t hesitate to hand over to the ICC prosecutor who are already suffering from dysentery because of fear. With this, I foresee the arrival of Moreno Ocampo soon in Zimbabwe and please Mr Ocampo, you are most welcome to Zimbabwe!