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An analysis of state-led reconciliation processes : the case of Zimbabwe.

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This study uses case studies to critique the strengths and shortcomings of state-led reconciliation processes in Zimbabwe and to examine how state-led and community-based reconciliation processes complement or conflict with each other. Its main research question is that “what is the relationship between state-led and community-led reconciliation processes in the Zimbabwean context?” Sixty one people were interviewed through interviews and focus group discussions. In the case studies, the study establishes the nature and impact of violations which were committed, the healing and reconciliation needs of the communities, the perspectives of the communities in terms of the actors who should be involved in reconciliation processes, and the impact of state-led reconciliation processes. The study also uses the case study of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace to examine the role of civil society in reconciliation processes in Zimbabwe. This has enabled it to interrogate reconciliation processes by civil society, not from the perspectives of civil society itself, but of the people who were affected by its interventions. One of the findings is that in the absence of meaningful state-led reconciliation processes, it was civil society which played a major role in promoting reconciliation. However, it was found in the study that civil society was unable to address many of the reconciliation needs of affected societies because in the absence of top-down reconciliation processes, civil society has a very limited capacity to promote reconciliation. It is against this background that the study found that top-down reconciliation processes are indispensable because they may create an environment which enables reconciliation processes to take place at different levels of society and that reconciliation can be achieved through the interaction, engagement and collaboration between different actors such as the state, civil society, affected communities, and the international community. Although bottom-up processes can promote healing and reconciliation at individual levels, they are difficult to conduct in the absence of top-down processes. In a context where the two approaches are implemented simultaneously, they can either complement or conflict with each other.


Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies. University of KwaZulu-Natal. Durban, 2018.