Reparations case: Part Five

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THE National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) that has taken it upon itself to ‘interface between transitional justice stakeholders and the official transitional justice processes in Zimbabwe’, should acknowledge that it is perfectly logical to assume that it is imperative communal conscience that drove United Nations (UN) member states to declare universal human rights on December 10 1948.
Accordingly, it should next acknowledge that it was only natural for black people in colonial Africa to have expected all imperial signatories to the declaration to immediately move to enshrine the Charter’s 30 articles in their respective colonies as a way of restoring the human rights of their black victims. 
In more specific terms, a black person in Rhodesia would have naturally expected the recognition that ‘All men are born free and equal in dignity and rights’ (Article 1 refers) by those who had occupied Zimbabwe to lead to repentance and de-colonisation.
On a global scale all nations groaning under British oppression would naturally expect an immediate end to the British empire.  
The fact that none of all these expectations materialised says a lot about the sincerity of the very same British, French and Americans who today purport to champion universal human rights.
The NTJWG must never forget that in the USA, Afro-Americans continued to groan under racist segregation even though outlandish claims were being made of how America was ‘the free world and the land of equal opportunities.’
And, in Africa, the Rhodesians who fashioned their 1965 Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from Britain after the American Declaration of Independence omitted the fundamental recognition that all men are born equal because, according to the minister of information, Jack Haw, they did not believe that black people were born equal to white people. 
Needless to point out that this was coming 17 years after December 10 1948, it is irrefutable that it constituted a willful violation of black people’s human rights.
It is, of course, also needless to point out that the NTJWG’s sincerity is very critically dependent on the recognition of this fact as proof of pre-meditated and remorseless violation of black people’s human rights by the Rhodesians.
As a result of UDI, the black citizens of Rhodesia were denied equality to white settler Rhodesians before Rhodesian law (Article 7 refers).
They were subjected to forced labour in white settler farms, mines and industries in direct contravention of Article 4 which stipulated that, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”
That also meant that in Rhodesia, black people’s right to life, liberty and security of person (Article 3) was not guaranteed. 
Consequently, they were subjected to torture, to cruel, to inhuman and to degrading treatment or punishment in contravention of Article 5 of the Charter.
The Chibondo and Butcher Farm exhumations are gruesome testimony to this. And, so are the mass graves at Nyadzonia, Chimoio, Tembwe, Freedom Camp and Mkushi.
In contravention of Article 3, black people were subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
President Robert Mugabe and a host of other national heroes like Joshua Nkomo, Joseph Musika, Simon Muzenda, Maurice Nyagumbo, Chinamano etc. were all victims of this Rhodesian crime against humanity.
The current Minister of Justice, Comrade Emmerson Mnangagwa, has lived to tell his own one-time condemnation to the Rhodesian gallows.
Incidentally, a genuine NTJWG would be pleased to find its witnesses already grouped for them in the National Restrictees and Detainees Association of Zimbabwe. 
It should be a clear-cut case for the group to know that they won’t have to labour to prove that the detainees were all of them not presumed innocent until proven guilty (Article 11 refers).
The NTJWG should also be interested to know that by 1979, virtually all African communal lands had come under martial law in which the already farce racist justice system was surrendered into the hands of Rhodesian soldiers who had taken the oath to defend racist white privilege.
In arrogant contravention of Articles 8 and 10, the violators had been made the dispensers of justice.
In blatant contravention of Article 13 which provided for the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state and the right to leave any country, including one’s own, and the right to return to one’s own country, the movement of black people in Rhodesia was severely controlled.
They were required to carry passes and all road-blocks were mounted to search blacks and never whites.
Refugees from Rhodesian terror were followed into neighbouring Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia and massacred.
The NTJWG is encouraged to visit the sites of atrocity.
Rhodesian terrorist forces were also empowered (under martial law) to destroy crops and any property they suspected might be used to sustain black people’s liberation struggle.
While Article 18 proclaimed everyone’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, many African people’s cultural practices were classified as ‘witchcraft’ and prohibited.
The confiscation of livestock whose slaughter constituted critical parts of African religious rituals also amounted to an inhuman interference with black people’s freedom of worship.
Confiscating African livestock meant interfering with mombe dzeroora nembudzi dzemasungiro.
It also meant interfering with whole socio-cultural institutions sustained by mombe dzeumai.
Contrary to Article 21 black people in Rhodesia did not have the voting rights to choose a government of their own choice.
While Article 23 entitled black people to equal job opportunities and equal remuneration with their white counterparts for the same type of work, Rhodesia offered no equal job opportunities between races and it had multiple salary scales for all multiracial jobs.
The highest pay scale was for whites and the lowest was for blacks.
Finally, the NTJWG must recognise that the net effect of all the oppression black people were subjected to by white Rhodesians was an artificial poverty that did not guarantee a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of the self and family as required by Article 25.
The NTJWG should understand that it is (as the Charter’s preamble forewarned) because black people’s human rights were not protected by rule of law that the black victims were compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against British and Rhodesian tyranny and oppression in a liberation struggle.
By the same token the group should find Rhodesians wholly responsible for all human life and property lost during that struggle.

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