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Healing pain through addressing Gukurahundi massacres

04 Nov 2020 at 05:52hrs | Views
NOW that the government of Zimbabwe is opening up to ad-dressing the Gukurahundi massacres with the aim of healing the people of Matabeleland and Midlands provinces from the trauma and pain they suffered through the genocide, it is important to look critically at the modus operandi of dealing with the matter lest more pain is inflicted to the survivors and the affected through mishandling the matter.

No country can ever operate effectively to full capacity when a part of its population is hurting and marginalised. Those affected with trauma will live in fear and still pass on this fear to the younger generations as they would inevitably narrate the history to their off-spring.

That in turn robs the nation of the valuable input the affected would bring had they been operating normally as healthy citizens. It is hoped that to deal with matter, government is also the opening up for suggestions, hence this article to the executors of this critical exercise and to the public to heed the advice provided in this communication.

No opportunity whatsoever should be lost in packaging the best approach to settling this issue.

It's a matter to do firstly, with human lives and secondly, with the welfare of the nation. It is a well known fact through our traditional and day-to-day ways of our living as Africans that we always have ways of handling disputes and grievances to bring about peaceful resolutions and closures to problems.

Firstly, in any dispute where there is an aggressor and the victim, the latter is the one who brings the matter to the tribunal for a resolution.

He is termed the complainant. It is he/she who tells the story and states what he/she needs to be done. It is on that basis that the terms of reference for dealing with the case are crafted taking into account the preferences of the victim.

Secondly, the terms of reference are drafted by an independent tribunal not by the offender or the respondent.

In the case of the Gukurahundi massacres, the government of Zimbabwe is the respondent. The government, therefore, cannot craft the terms of reference for dealing with the Gukurahundi issues.

There has been an announcement recently from government that the reburial of Gukurahundi victims shall be conducted and that the process shall be presided over by chiefs. There is no mention whatsoever of consulting the victims first to get their views.

The reburial is a prescription from government. The victims have not elected the reburial to be their preference. They are dragged into a prescribed solution.

Thirdly, the pain and trauma inflicted by the Gukurahundi does not relate only to bodies that are known to have been dumped somewhere and, therefore, need reburial but it also encompasses the survivors who were tortured, maimed and cannot live normal lives.

Others disappeared. It is not known where their bodies lie. Does a reburial redress the maladies suffered by the victims and relatives of such people?

The idea of finding a solution for a victim by the perpetrator of the problem never works. It is paternalistic and it flies in the face of democratic processes. It is an affront to human dignity. It dehumanises the victim and hurts more.

This leads me therefore, to saying that if the government is genuine about the closure of the Gukurahundi issue, it should follow processes that show respect to the victims, survivors and all the affected through listening to them to hear what they say.

The victims should not speak through proxies such as the civil society nor through chiefs. The victims are the ones who felt and are still feeling the pain and trauma. Chiefs and civil society organisations do not and cannot feel the pain for the victims.

In my mother tongue we say "Isilonda sizwiwa ngumnikazi", meaning "The pain of the wound is felt by the one who is injured."

This is an opportune time for government to deal with this matter effectively to heal the nation. Half-hearted approaches are disastrous because they do more harm than good.

I have had the opportunity to read a PhD thesis from the University of Pretoria by Raymond Motsi, about the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland, with special reference to Tsholotsho. The questionnaire for survivors of the genocide designed by the author to elicit responses by the victims is properly done. It is such work that could be utilised to do justice to such mammoth national tasks as Gukurahundi.

Reinford Khumalo is professor of business leadership and organisational behaviour. He is a keen consultant on business strategy.

Source - newsday
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