'Jailing Mugabe would bring Zimbabwe bad luck', says survivor of Mugabe's torture

Johannesburg - A survivor of atrocities committed by former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's regime, has called for a truth and reconciliation commission instead of jailing the former long time ruler. 

Chairperson of Global Zimbabwe Forum Sox Chikowero told News24 that jailing Mugabe would only bring the country bad luck.  

"Zimbabweans are a very peaceful nation, and they respect their elderly and everybody would agree with me, prosecuting him like putting him in prison is tantamount to bringing bad luck on ourselves," Chikowero said.

"They should just let him rest or bring him to a TRC to let him defend himself."

Chikowero is the former head of intelligence for the Movement for Democratic Change. He was forced to flee the country after he faced "trumped up treason charges" and accused of bombing the MDC offices in 2001. The country's Supreme Court later threw out the charges. However, he fled the country when more charges were about to be added.

1983 to late 1984 massacres

"I was arrested about 11 times - three times I was tortured with electro shocks, water dumping and water suffocation and they threw me in remand prison for 23 days wounded and still they continued torturing me but refused to give me medication," Chikowero said. 

He has been living in exile in South Africa since 2003. 

Chikowero said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission must start with the 1983 to late 1984 massacres of Ndebeles by the Zimbabwean army. He said that Mugabe and incoming president Emmerson Mnangagwa must be given an opportunity to defend themselves against allegations that they were architects of the massacres and other persecution of opposition party members.

Mnangagwa is seen as the chief architect of the repression of opposition members, especially during the 2008 elections as Zanu-PF's campaign manager. 

"The TRC will be an opportunity for him to make things right before he goes to his grave to say. He can say this is what I did wrong so that he can be at peace, Chikowero said. 

Reuters reported on Thursday that 93 year old Mugabe was granted immunity from prosecution as part of his deal to step down. 

Opportunity to heal 

The report quoted a government source saying that Mugabe told negotiators that he wanted to die in Zimbabwe and that he had no intentions to live in exile. Mugabe was forced to resign on Tuesday, when his party kick started an impeachment process.

The fall of Mugabe was triggered by a military take over of the country last week, after he fired his then vice president Mnangagwa.

Chikowero said the TRC would give the country an opportunity to heal.

"If you don’t talk about it, it sits with you, it eats you and sometimes it  kills you," Chikowero said.

He is cautiously optimistic that Mnangagwa's leadership will herald a new "democratic era" for the Southern African country. 

Chikowero challenged him to introduce electoral, security and media reforms to level the playing field ahead of the elections expected in 2018. 

"He can do that unless he is a pawn," Chikowero said. 

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