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Fresh Gukurahundi burials controversy

by Staff reporter
02 Mar 2020 at 09:40hrs | Views
CIVIL society leaders and churches in Matabeleland have rejected plans by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government to take leading roles in the exhumation and reburial of victims of the 1980s killings.

This comes as Mnangagwa is set to convene a meeting with Matabeleland chiefs, to co-ordinate and fast track the exhumation and reburial of Gukurahundi victims — while also helping the relatives and children of the victims to get identity documents.

Pressure groups and civil society leaders in the region said last week that it would be "insensitive" for the government to lead the processes as it was "conflicted".
Outspoken Ibhetshu Likazulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo also said the State's involvement would "further hurt survivors".

"It is not proper for Mnangagwa to preside over this process because he is personally conflicted … it is the State that is accused of committing the atrocities against its own people.

"Exhumations and reburials must be done to bring healing and closure to the affected communities. However, the government is doing this to score political points," he said.

"Healing is also a process. You cannot fast track healing. Of concern is that there is no mention on truth telling in this whole process.

"If Mnangagwa was sincere about addressing Gukurahundi, he must empower the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and assist families to locate their abducted relatives.
"Besides, the NPRC is constitutionally mandated to deal with this subject. This buying of time by endless meetings is nothing but a delaying tactic by the perpetrator coming as the messiah," Fuzwayo added.
Zapu southern region communication director Patrick Ndlovu said the exhumations and reburial processes required a neutral person.

"The perpetrator cannot prescribe to the victim … it must be a credible victim-centric process," he said while rejecting government's leading role in the processes.

On his part, cleric Ray Motsi said regardless of the government's intention, dealing with Gukurahundi was long overdue.
"The problem is there is no government or civic society position. The truth is that we have been caught napping by the government.

"Instead of us preparing best standard locally or internationally, we are only venting.Be that as it may, the NPRC should give guidelines not only on exhumations, but how to holistically deal with the whole problem," Motsi said.
"What about acknowledgement or an apology? When are the victims going to hear that? Most victims have died without hearing an apology or acknowledgement.

"The need for sensitivity and consultation with the victims is critical and fundamental.

"The civic society should have prepared the victims and survivors … to ensure that everything is above board.
"We need to see government's political will not just lip service. It is my prayer and hope that this is not just politicking, but a real attempt to engage and deal with this perennial problem," Motsi added.
Upon assuming office, Mnangagwa pledged to address the Gukurahundi issue, which Mugabe once described as a "moment of madness".

He has since operationalised the NPRC, in addition to having the meetings with Matabeleland chiefs, civil society leaders and activists, to kick-start the process of bringing closure to Gukurahundi.

The process of exhuming the bodies of victims kicked off last year, with the first ceremony being held at Sipepa village in Tsholotsho — where villagers witnessed the interring of Justin Tshuma and his wife Thembi's remains.

Apart from facilitating the re-burying of the victims, the government also committed itself to providing birth and death certificates to the children and relatives of the affected people who — for decades now — have been facing insurmountable hurdles at the Registrar General's offices.
Last year, respected former Cabinet minister Tshinga Dube  re-ignited debate on the highly-emotive killings by declaring boldly that the sad chapter was not closed.

Writing in his book, Quiet Flows the Zambezi — which was launched recently towards end of last year — Dube said while Mnangagwa had commendably instructed his government to deal with the emotive saga, officials had done very little practically in that regard.
An estimated 20 000 people were killed then when the government deployed the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to Matabeleland and the Midlands.

Source - dailynews