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Why Mnangagwa's handling of Gukurahundi genocide is doomed

27 Feb 2020 at 06:21hrs | Views
This lot do not get it, they probably never will because they are either clueless, unwilling or both.

Supporters of President Emmerson Mnangagwa have been at pains to try and tell us that this administration is sincere, but in reality I think they are anything but.

Mnangagwa's handling of the Gukurahundi issue is quite strange and bizarre, as the President has no reason to be anywhere near that issue and instead should delegate to someone seen as more independent and without a dog in the fight, literally.

At the weekend, we were told how this administration wants to speed up the re-burials of people buried in shallow graves and I do not, for a second, think that this is the primary issue.

What is of concern and what is immediate is a truth-telling exercise, ensuring that there is justice for the victims and most importantly an apology, not this ducking and diving that we are seeing from the highest office in the land.

Reparations and re-burials may follow, depending on what relatives of the deceased want and certainly not the other way round.

It is for this reason that Mnangagwa should be nowhere near this exercise, he has been implicated in the Gukurahundi by several historians and media texts and having him at the centre of this exercise makes a mockery of it all.

Now we are being told of a "consensus-building meeting" that will lead to "fast-track exhumations and re-burials" and I feel this is the biggest insult to the victims and survivors of this dark period in our history.

This is the equivalent of someone punching you and then telling you how and when to respond, without as much of an acknowledgement of how they wronged you and not even bothering with an apology.

The Gukurahundi issue will not go away because Mnangagwa has met a motley crew calling itself the Matabeleland Collective or an equally captured and pliable group of people known as chiefs.

It feels like this administration is praying that with these gestures, which are patently hollow, this age old "problem" will go away, but it will not, instead it will fester, breed hatred, foster tribalism and lead to disunity.

Reconciliation and justice are people driven, they never come from the top and this is the reality that Mnangagwa has to accept.

Instead of telling the victims of this Zanu-PF government what should happen, Mnangagwa should be asking what they want and how they can be helped.

For all we know, the survivors might be more worried about other things like affirmative action such as building of schools, community centres or clinics in affected areas, as a remembrance that their relatives may have died, but it was not in vain.

On the other hand, others may just want to be allowed to remember and grieve their relatives as a way for preserving their memories.

For example, one group put up a plaque with names of people that were killed during the Gukurahundi, but people believed to have ties to this government brought it down in the dead of the night.

This is a grave insult.

Some groups in Bulawayo have tried to have commemorative events, but they are regularly shut down by the police, with spectre of a violent crackdown looming.

They are just not allowed to remember or grieve and it is in this regard that I do not see how fast-track reburials will help.

Furthermore, an acknowledgement and an apology from this government will go a long way in helping ease the situation and soothe the pain.

Exhumations and re-burials should be a by-product of a holistic approach to putting closure to the Gukurahundi issue, rather than the first step.

Mnangagwa and his government have a duty to memory to acknowledge what happened to Gukurahundi victims and this will aid in the healing and reconciliation process.

I know some bigots and apologists for this government will come with all sorts of denialism, as they see the Gukurahundi issue as a tribal matter rather than a national one, which affects the country's unity and development.

The same approach is needed for victims of Murambatsvina, for the those who were killed during the 2008 elections, those who lost their lives after the 2018 polls and those who were shot and maimed following the 2019 protests.

The government is yet to apologise for any of these atrocities, with only a sham commission of enquiry put in place to hear evidence following the 2018 elections.

To this day, the authorities are yet to apologise for those killings and are yet to implement the recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry, and you wonder why they even bothered constituting it in the first place.

This is why I really do not understand those who accuse Mnangagwa and his government of being sincere, they clearly are not and prefer to ignore something hoping it would go away or that people will get tired and forget.

Matabeleland Collective and the chiefs who will be roped in to this consensus-building meeting risk being seen as enablers to this regime and for that reason history will be unkind to them.

My advice to Mnangagwa and the Justice ministry permanent secretary, Virginia Mabiza is that pull back from this initiative, let the affected people lead the way and once they have come up with resolutions, they may come knocking at your door.

This way you could show your sincerity, otherwise to the sceptics you come across as people whose drive is not just the exhumations and the reburials, but whose objective is really the burial of key evidence with your initiative.

Your role should be to facilitate rather than to take the lead.

Nqaba Matshazi is AMH's head of digital. He writes in his personal capacity. Feedback: Twitter: @nqabamatshazi

Source - newsday
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