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Journal for the Study of Religion

On-line version ISSN 2413-3027
Print version ISSN 1011-7601

Abstract

MANYONGANISE, Molly. Invisibilising the victimised: churches in Manicaland and women's experiences of political violence in national healing and reconciliation in Zimbabwe. J. Study Relig. [online]. 2017, vol.30, n.1, pp.110-136. ISSN 2413-3027.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2413-3027/2017/v30n1a5.

Zimbabwe's political history from 2000 to the present epoch has been characterized by violence. This violence reached its peak in 2008 when ZANU PF was defeated at the polls by the opposition party, MDC-T. The violence resulted in hundreds of people losing their lives while many more were maimed, displaced and/or sexually abused. In this context of political violence, various church groups emerged as the church in Zimbabwe broke its culture of silence and sought to condemn the deployment of divisive politics and the use of political violence as a means to political gain. One such group that emerged in 2000 is a forum of churches in the province of Manicaland called Churches in Manicaland (CiM). From the onset, CiM sought to bring healing to victims of political violence as well as reconciliation of communities in Manicaland through a number of activities. The 2008 political violence resulted in the signing of the Global Political Agreement in which the issue of national healing and reconciliation became officialised and critical national institutions (the church included) were implored to play their roles meaningfully. However, scholars on national healing and reconciliation have noted how gender is often not part of reconstruction processes in post-conflict nations. What this paper seeks to do is to evaluate CiM's approach to gender in its participation in the national healing and reconciliation process in Zimbabwe, both at an unofficial level from 2000 and at the official level from 2008. Drawing on original empirical research (focus groups and interviews), the paper shows how CiM has adopted a general approach to the national healing and reconciliation process, which has made women's experiences of political violence invisible. It is envisaged that this is one way of informing the church to bring to the 'centre' women's experiences of political violence.

Keywords : Women; Womanist perspective; Churches in Manicaland; invisible; political violence; national healing; reconciliation.

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