Friday, December 19, 2008

Justice for Rwanda, for Zimbabwe

Finally there is a glimmer of justice for the beautiful country and people of Rwanda. Having being brutally traumatised by the most evil incarnations imaginable, we can only hope that the conviction of Theoneste Bagosora, will further the convictions of other perpetrators. Apparantly he, the cabinet director of defence, took control of the country, in April '94, after the dubious plain crash of President Juvenal Habyarimana, who signed a peace deal in August '93.

Tribalism, is still rife in our continent. The Rwandian genocide of 1994, still haunts us, as we come face to face with the consequences of tribalism gone wrong, 'horrendiously wrong'. Although there has been some relief in the transition and rebuilding of the country, still the healing of memories, but more so the quest for justice, by the victims, need to remain a priority in the international work for justice and reconciliation. The current conflict in the Great Lakes region, to large degree, is a spill-over, the unpaid debt of this bit of history. The appointment of Dr Andre Karamaga, Rwanda, on 12 December 2008, as the General Secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches, is however another sign of hope. Maybe Dr Karamaga, maybe Rwanda, a small country in the centre of Africa, are to remind us of how incidious the evil of tribalism can crawl up on us and devour us.

Of course we need to ask, what could we have done better ? Maybe we could have spoken out in horror, at the building-up of the hostlities and the demonisation of 'the other', the tribal other, in the conflict in before 1994. Maybe we should have sided more deliberately with vulnerable minorities, maybe we should have done this or that... We did not.

Today, I fear, we have a situation with the same perilous build-up, the same ominous signs. All evidence points to the reality of a military, information and bloody crackdown in Zimbabwe. Moreso, allready a unleashing of military forces on political opponents, on civilians, on vulnerable sectors and, most shockingly, the escalating humanitarian crisis, as vividly demonstrated by the cholera epidemy, is left unchecked by our own political leadership in die Region. Irrespective of the peace deal in September 2008, there has to be a concerted effort, with Botswana, to demand Robert Mugabe to step down. This process need to include control by the elected president (elected in March 2008), to take full control over the military, the Police and the Central Intelligence Organisation. It is time for civil organisations, people of conscience and alliances from all sectors, all of us, to join hands, for peace and justice to return and prevail in Zimbabwe.

What Rwanda has taught us, is that is it possible for a country, in a 100 days, to be wrecked beyond recognition, but also, we are reminded that it is possible to stand up and against the Hitlers, the Bagosoras of our time...because, with God on our side, we shall overcome.
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