10 September 2008

Transitional justice in Zimbabwe?

So apparently some folks at the Institute for Security Studies have proposed that Zimbabwe go through a transitional justice process. I've yet to read the full report in detail, but it seems to me that this isn't the best idea in the current situation. Yes, I grant that the crimes committed under both the Rhodesian and Mugabe regimes need to be investigated and those responsible held accountable. Yet at the same time, Mugabe is still in power, so clearly 20 years are off the investigatory table. Plus, a big long unburying of Rhodesia era atrocities would be just what Mugabe needs to convince people he's still relevant.

This reminds me of Uganda's attempt at running a reconciliation commission back in the 1980s. The process got stalled when it had the audacity to question anything done by people acting under current president Museveni, either as a revolutionary leader or head of state. Eventually, the thing was shut down years after its reporting deadline, and not much resulted from the process. With lessons like this, it's probably best for Zimbabwe to wait until it isn't under the fist of one repressive regime seeking justice for another.

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