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Role of government and Matabeleland Collective under scrutiny

30 Aug 2020 at 11:01hrs | Views
For decades, successive Zanu-PF governments have attempted to introduce developmental and political programmes in Matabeleland without consulting the locals.

In all instances these programmes have failed to gain traction in the region primarily because they have been imposed upon the residents. The people of Matabeleland are mostly misunderstood, marginalised and, in many instances, have decisions taken on their behalf by the powers-that-be, in certain cases in collaboration with a few faceless individuals and briefcase civil society organisations.

Of late, we have seen a group of individuals and organisations calling themselves a collective claiming to represent the people of Matabeleland. It must be unequivocally stated that the so-called Matabeleland Collective has no legal, social or political standing in Matabeleland.

Frankly speaking, the group represents no specific constituency except themselves and their unbridled egos. Therefore, it can never be entrusted with the responsibility to speak for and on behalf of the victims of a genocide of the magnitude of Gukurahundi.

Accordingly, I have no doubt that in this instance, the people of Matabeleland will absolutely reject or quietly ignore such initiatives. We know that the people of Matabeleland are not fools and naive to be easily hoodwinked by the treacherous Zanu-PF government's machinations. It is clear that President Emmerson Mnangangwa wants to resolve the Matabeleland crisis on his own terms and purportedly working together with a few sellouts masquerading as representatives of the people of Matabeleland.
It is important to recall that during the liberation struggle, sellouts, once caught, were dealt with severely, labelled and condemned. We witnessed the colonial regime tricking the likes of Bishop Abel Muzorewa and associates who had the audacity to enter into an internal settlement arrangement in an effort to hijack and sabotage the struggle for independence. Unfortunately, the sellout arrangement was shortlived and did not deter the nationalist movements from their quest for an independent Zimbabwe. The same may happen with the so-called Matabeleland Collective if they enter into an arrangement with the Zanu-PF government for political expediency.

It must be made clear to the Matabeleland Collective and Mnangangwa that Matabeleland is not for sale. As such, no amount of pieces of silver can buy the hearts and minds of the victims of the Gukurahundi genocide. The Matabeleland Collective and Mnangangwa must be reminded that there are no shortcuts or quick fixes to heinous crimes that qualify to be globally classified as genocide. Under the International Criminal Court, genocide is explained as the deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic group, racial, political or cultural group. Therefore, Gukurahundi atrocities constitute a serious crime against humanity with grave ramifications in the court of law.

Our greatest concern is when a whole president nicodemously organises a meeting with a group of individuals and organisations with no mandate from the Gukurahundi genocide victims in Balagwe, Matobo, Phelela and Dlamini, Tsholotsho, Nkayi, Silobela, Lupane, Gwanda, Plumtree and many other places. It is exceedingly strange and unheard of, how frank dialogue, as alleged by the state media, is possible with selected so-called Matabeleland stakeholders that exclude the victims, churches, traditional and political leadership yet they claim that their objective is to address the historical injustices.

We are extremely concerned to learn from government officials that the president will, at some stage, launch the issuance of birth and death certificates to the victims. What should be noted is that the Gukurahundi atrocities need no political grandstanding and cannot be resolved by the issuance of documents and exhumations of the victims, but we need a genuine and substantive process of knowing the truth and ensuring justice for the victims. Besides, it is our well-considered view that the president is not the right person to lead the dialogue process aimed at resolving the Gukurahundi atrocities as he is conflicted.

Instead, we view his actions as a deliberate ploy, designed to undermine and trivialise the most important process that will help to achieve lasting reconciliation and nation building. The Gukurahundi atrocities can only be redressed through an independent judiciary commission of inquiry into the Matabeleland disturbances, which must include international eminent personalities. Victims must be accorded an opportunity to tell the public their horrendous and traumatic experiences in the presence of the perpetrators without fear of retribution.
While efforts by the Mnangagwa government to resolve the Matabeleland crisis, in particular the Gukurahundi atrocities, are appreciated, we note that the formula falls far short of meeting the people's expectations and international best practices and standards. It is our humble submission that any process of resolving the Gukurahundi atrocities must be apolitical and independent from state control and manipulations in order to achieve uncontrolled outcomes. It is strange and unacceptable that the perpetrators can be the mediators in the genocide they executed. Rwanda and the Republic of South Africa present the best models on conflict resolution, reconciliation, peace and nation building. Therefore, the process of truth telling and justice for the victims is of paramount importance and must be the hallmark of building confidence, trust and ultimately reconciliation.

It's our firm view that the above seemingly quick wins of issuance of documents and exhumations cannot be done in isolation, the process must include resolution of the Gukurahundi atrocities and resultant problems linked to the genocide such as marginalisation, tribalism, inequality and injustice. It is a fact that the Matabeleland crisis cannot be resolved by a mere friendly meeting between the President and the Matabeleland Collective. The key national grievances of the people of Matabeleland are the infamous Gukurahundi genocide, marginalisation, economic and political disempowerment.

Accordingly, what ought to be done urgently is to dismantle the current centralised governance system and its institutions which perpetuate marginalisation, inequality and injustice.

Our view is that the full implementation of devolution of power as enunciated in chapter 14 of the constitution will mitigate institutionalised tribalism, inequality, economic and political disempowerment which obtain on the ground. Further, devolution of power to the provinces and communities will promote localised development, and allow political and economic activities that will benefit the local communities.
In summary, the genesis of Matabeleland problems emanate from a deep centralised governance system, which since independence, has promoted marginalisation, underdevelopment, tribal inequality and injustice against the righteous Ndebele minority. In essence, there is urgent need to formalise independent, transparent and inclusive national processes that are supported by a legal framework agreed upon by all stakeholders to the Matabeleland crisis.

What is often referred to as the Matabeleland crisis is, by all accounts, a national problem, and needs a comprehensive national programme that will specifically address the imbalances, inequalities and other grievances that currently exist in the country. What makes it a national concern is the fact that the discontented and radicalised Matabeleland region will tremendously impact on the health of the entire nation. More so, it must be stated categorically that the said problems are man-made ones, deliberately created by the Zanu-PF government, which wilfully sanctioned the Gukurahundi operations in Matabeleland and Midlands. Equally so, the underdevelopment and political marginalisation that obtains in Matabeleland is a consequence of tribalistic policies implemented by the Zanu-PF government over 40 years.

Finally, the UMD proposes the following road map and template for the resolution of the Matabeleland problems:

- The government, together with Parliament, Judicial Service Commission and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, must spearhead the processes that seek to redress Matabeleland challenges.

- The following proposed thematic commissions must be established to investigate and make recommendations, namely:

i. Judiciary commission of Inquiry into Matabeleland disturbances of the 1980s;

ii. Land commission to look into the land redistribution programme in Matabeleland;

iii. Economic and empowerment commission to look into possible disempowerment of the local communities and

iv. Equality and social justice commission to look into possible marginalisation of the people of Matabeleland.

It's our humble submission that the proposed commissions must be established in terms of an Act of Parliament in order to give them legal powers to effectively and efficiently execute their mandate.

Hon Lovemore Moyo UMD President

Source - the standard
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