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ZAPU demands inclusion in Gukurahundi resolution process

by Staff reporter
29 Jan 2024 at 16:34hrs | Views
ZAPU and its former military wing, ZIPRA, have declared that as the primary victims of the Gukurahundi genocide, they should be involved in finding a solution arguing that current efforts to resolve Gukurahundi without their participation will be ineffective.

Both organisations also contend that the chiefs are incapable of solving a politically motivated crime and are opposed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa's use of traditional leadership to address the atrocities.

In an open letter to President Mnangagwa, prompted by statements he made during his meeting with chiefs last week at the Bulawayo State House, ZAPU leader Sibangilizwe Nkomo said the process must be presided over by an independent commission preferably retired jurists from the International Court of Justice.

According to Nkomo, the chiefs lacked the capacity or status to handle genocidal matters.

"Mr. President, it takes two to tango. There is the victim, the people of Matabeleland and Midlands and the perpetrator, your government. These two need to be brought together by a neutral, independent commission, preferably with an international outlook. A politically orchestrated crime cannot be solved by traditional leadership," said the ZAPU leader.

Nkomo accused President Mnangagwa of mischief, demonstrated by his insistence on using chiefs as a  ‘homegrown solution.'

"This resolution method defeats all tenets of good Conflict Resolution and Management as it lacks truth-telling. As the perpetrator you cannot try and sentence yourself," said the ZAPU leader who stressed that the Traditional Leaders Act does not permit chiefs to be involved in politics.

"Collection of evidence is a professional process that needs well-trained personnel, as such evidence may be used in a court of law. Chiefs do not have the capacity nor status to handle genocidal matters as they are politically motivated. Chiefs cannot preside over rape and murder cases, as they are outside their jurisdiction."

The National Chiefs Council, however, maintained chiefs are now ready to take on Gukurahundi having created a steering committee, composed of 12 Matabeleland chiefs, who were trained in data archiving and media management while each chief in the two provinces will work with a panel of 13 people.

On the other hand, Nkomo said without the participation of ZAPU and ZPRA, this exercise is "effectively a nullity."

"Comrades Dumiso Dabengwa and General Lookout Masuku were wrongfully arrested following confiscation of ZAPU/ZPRA properties by the government and arraigned before the High Court on charges of high treason involving caching of arms of war. Can chiefs provide any justice and determine compensation in that particular case?" he questioned.

As per ZAPU recommendations, Nkomo stated the government must legally guarantee the safety of victims after they testify.

He also said perpetrators named or described by their victims must be identified and summoned, and that posthumous indictments should be issued for "dead perpetrators like Robert Mugabe and Perrance Shiri."

Nkomo said since the chiefs were also victims of Gukurahundi, they could be working under duress and expressed fears that "chances are high that the final report would be sent directly to the perpetrator thereby escaping legislative scrutiny."

"This reminds us of the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe Commissions of Inquiry whose final reports on the Entumbane Clashes and the Gukurahundi Massacres were never made public by your predecessor, President Mugabe nor yourself," Nkomo said.

The ZAPU leader remarked Mnangagwa's programme had no Cabinet approval let alone any legislative framework.

"The program is deceitful and a shame as it protects perpetrators. In the absence of genuine and legally binding assurances, victims would be afraid to proffer evidence due to lack of trust and fear," he noted.

At a ZPRA Veterans Association meeting in Bulawayo on Sunday, former freedom fighters stated that they were Gukurahundi victims who should play a role in resolving the genocide.

They also questioned the chiefs' ability to solve the genocide given that they were victims.

"What are the chiefs doing in this issue? This is not their job. The chiefs were also frogmarched when they had gone to bury one of their own at Menyezwa. Were they not shot at? They must leave this mess," said one former fighter.

Another former fighter claimed the chiefs were already failing to resolve the conflict because their counterparts in the Midlands were excluded yet had been affected by Gukurahundi.

"Midlands is in Zimbabwe, it doesn't belong to Zambia or South Africa but is not part of the outreach," he said.

ZPRA Veterans Association spokesperson Buster Magwizi said when healing the wounds of genocide, they expected the perpetrator to acknowledge that Gukurahundi happened.

"That's the first step. An acknowledgement alone will heal and we as the victims will accept that, which is the second stage. The third process after people have accepted the ‘sorry' is having a truth-telling commission presided over by an eminent person, not Zimbabwean judges under the Judicial Services Commission to know who did what, was sent by who, to what extent was the damage and how the victim suffered. After this we have reparations as stage four, which is the standard benchmark to build peace globally," he said.

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