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Skepticism over Gukurahundi hearings

by Staff reporter
19 Dec 2023 at 08:24hrs | Views
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government have been accused of dragging their feet in addressing the emotive Gukurahundi issue by delaying the rollout of public hearings, which are a critical element necessary to bring closure on the mass killings.

Mnangagwa last year appointed chiefs to lead the process of addressing Gukurahundi issues through public hearings and other platforms.

The president first opened public debate on Gukurahundi in 2019 when he met traditional leaders at the State House in Bulawayo.

Since then, there has been little movement on the ground with the traditional leaders only receiving laptops, recorders and printers last week for use during the mooted public outreach.

Seventy-two chiefs, panel members and their rapporteurs received the equipment during a four-day training programme at a Bulawayo hotel ahead of the hearings.

Chiefs Council of Zimbabwe president Mtshana Khumalo said the gadgets were going to assist them to record the public hearings.

Khumalo said the provision of the equipment showed the government's commitment to close the Gukurahundi chapter. It is, however, still not clear when the public hearings will begin.

Ibhetshu Likazulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said the whole process was not clear.

"This process is not clear. We don't know when it is going to start since they are still talking about training," Fuzwayo said.

"We cannot celebrate chiefs receiving laptops today for a programme that started in 2019.

"There is no timeframe for the public hearings and this alone casts doubt about the sincerity to address Gukurahundi."

Zipra war veterans' secretary general Petros Sibanda said the public hearings were a waste of time as the victims and perpetrators were known.

"Why waste resources conducting public hearings as authorities and survivors know everything concerning Gukurahundi?" Sibanda asked.

"Which chiefs are they referring to? "Some chiefs were very young during the time. There are a number of commissions that were appointed over the same issue, but the findings were shelved."

The government has kept a tight lid on Gukurahundi, which remains a dark chapter in the country's history.

 Findings into the mass killings by the Chihambakwe Commission of inquiry have not been made public.

Then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe deployed the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland and Midlands to target suspected dissidents.

Mnangagwa was the State Security minister at the time and was central in the deployment and operations of the killer unit.

At least 20 000 people, mostly Zapu followers, were killed during the massacres.

Mugabe never apologised for the killings until he passed away. He only hinted at acknowledgement of the bloodbath through a tacit "it was a moment of madness" remark.

Source - southern eye