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'Chiefs want Mnangagwa to apologise for Gukurahundi'

01 Jul 2020 at 07:30hrs | Views
THE National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) says it is pursuing the call by people from Matabeleland and parts of Midlands provinces for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to issue a public apology over his role and that of his predecessor, the late Robert Mugabe, in the Gukurahundi killings.

Human rights groups estimate as many as 20 000 people, most of them ethnic Ndebele speakers, were killed during indiscriminate massacres in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces between 1983 and 1986.

Mnangagwa was Mugabe's Security minister at the time and many allege that he played a key role during the massacres.

Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri and then Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi were also allegedly involved.

Speaking to NewsDay in Gweru on the sidelines of an induction training of the NPRC Midlands peace committee yesterday, NPRC chairperson retired judge Justice Selo Nare said he was aware of the calls for an apology.

"I am aware of the issue in which some citizens are of the view that President Mnangagwa must apologise for the Gukurahundi disturbances. That issue, in fact, was first raised in the Chiefs Council meeting in Bulawayo. It was during the period when President Mnangagwa wanted to meet chiefs over that Gukurahundi issue," Justice Nare said.

He revealed that the NPRC would follow up on the request.

"What we are going to do is that we would like to first meet with (Chiefs Council president) Chief (Fortune) Charumbira and talk to him about that issue of an apology. After that, we are going to approach Vice-President (Kembo) Mohadi and again talk to him to say this is what the people are saying on the issue of an apology. Some chiefs, mostly in Matabeleland, are still eager to have President Mnangagwa apologise for Gukurahundi," Justice Nare added.

Mnangagwa and Mugabe have, in the past, refused to apologise for Gukurahundi massacres.

While Mugabe described the era as a "moment of madness", his successor Mnangagwa has said it was a "closed chapter".

However, Justice Nare revealed that ordinary citizens in the southern parts of the country were still bitter about the Gukurahundi conflict and needed closure.

"If you go to Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, Midlands and Bulawayo, you do not miss this issue. So part of our plans are also to go deep into the communities and talk to people affected by Gukurahundi. We want to hear what they say and want done. As you may be aware, our approach is victim centred. We do what victims want and not what we want as the NPRC," he said.

The NPRC chairperson added that during Mnangagwa's previous visit to Matabeleland, where he had wanted to meet chiefs and talk about Gukurahundi, those from the affected areas boycotted the event, but stressed that they would have to be engaged on the way forward.

"Our plans may be slowed down by the coronavirus pandemic, but we are going to pursue our plans. Some people say we are not doing enough or moving fast to resolve the issue of Gukurahundi, but I must assure the nation that we will complete that task soon. Remember, Rome was not built in one day," Justice Nare said.

Source - newsday
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