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Author Topic: Sharing peace with Haiti  (Read 5637 times)
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« on: January 05, 2005, 04:05:46 PM »

Former president Aristide visits Mpumalanga township with ANC and IFP peacemakers

SOUTH African peacemakers ANC MPL Meshack Hadebe and IFP Councillor Sipho Mlaba of Mpumalanga township are set to travel to the Caribbean nation of Haiti to set the scene for a peaceful restoration of democratic rule.

Hadebe and Mlaba won the Africa Peace Prize after they successfully negotiated peace between the warring factions of the ANC-aligned United Democratic Front and Inkatha in the 1990s.

The Haitian initiative was announced on Wednesday during a visit to Mpumalanga by exiled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Aristide was ousted in February after opposition forces staged an armed rebellion against his government. The United States and France apparently supported the coup. Within days Aristide was forced into exile. He is currently a "permanent guest" of President Thabo Mbeki.

In Mpumalanga, he was hosted by Hadebe and Mlaba. The purpose of the visit was for Aristide to get a sense of how a community once ravaged by violence can live together peacefully.

Aristide was accompanied by his wife and listened attentively as survivors of political violence and peace protagonists narrated at length how Mpumalanga emerged from the abyss of violent conflict.

Hadebe told the Witness: "This is the beginning of a process to heighten peace talks in Haiti. We will lead a delegation with Mlaba to Haiti next year to sell the idea of peace. We will share our experiences with our Haitian bothers and sisters and see where we can help and also learn."

University of KwaZulu-Natal sociologist Debby Bonnin, who did her Ph.D. research on political violence in Mpumalanga, explained that "Violence started in Mpumalanga in August 1985 when Inkatha clashed with the Azanian People's Organisation (Azapo). Later Inkatha had violent clashes with the Hammarsdale Youth Congress (Hayco). From 1989 ceasefires were attempted but failed until April 1991 when peace finally dawned."

Standing in Unit 1 next to the remains of the KwaSishi Shopping Complex that was razed to the ground during the political violence, Aristide paid respect to the memory of those who died in the violence and praised both Hadebe and Mlaba for having the courage to fight for peace. Aristide also visited the remains of the Nomanjiya Supermarket in Unit 4 and the Mzila shopping centre.

Speaking in isiZulu, he said that "In Africa we say ubuntu ubongwa esefile [meaning people are thanked once they are dead] but today I want to praise you right here for showing a great spirit of ubuntu".

He also revealed that the 14-member strong Caribbean Community and the African Union are leading diplomatic attempts to bring a negotiated settlement to the Haiti political crisis.

Mlaba stressed that the Haitians can learn only one thing from the Mpumalanga peace process: "To end political violence leaders must trust each other, unite in their action and work together."

Publish Date: 30 December 2004

Forwarded by the Haitian Lawyers' Leadership Network

"Men anpil chay pa lou" is Kreyol for - "Many hands make light a heavy load."
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