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Zimbabwe @ 41: The victim's lasting solution to the Gukurahundi Holocaust

23 Apr 2021 at 08:05hrs | Views
Zimbabwe is still at rail-road crossing with regard to the Gukurahundi genocide whose resolution remains elusive forty-one (41) years on. The signage is unambiguously restricting any break-through whatsoever and the current state of affairs largely hinges on the faulty methodology of resolving the problem that is not centred on the victim but on the guilt-stricken but unrepentant perpetrator. The piercing pangs of guilt are a menace to the genocide masterminds themselves. They are fearful and need to be saved. Inevitably, both victim and perpetrator find themselves in a cycle of the dramatic irony of debilitating fear on the one hand and severe but unconfessed guilt on the other, respectively. Unless the approach is premises on the victim, as opposed to the so-called new dispensation and its self-baked Matabeleland Collective, the genocide will remain an eternal self-torture for the perpetrator and a scratched wound for the victim.

Truth-telling as medicine
The fear and cowardice to face the monstrous genocide in Zimbabwe is an epidemic that has devilishly blocked all avenues leading to its resolution. The settlement of the Rwanda genocide of 1994 provides that truth telling is very essential in genocide redress. Zimbabwe too, should unfailingly follow suit. Public Health practitioner, Niyindora Theoneste, in a work dated 2019 and titled ‘The contribution of truth telling to reconciliation in post genocide Rwanda' explores how indispensable truth telling can be in genocide resolution. Shockingly, Zimbabwe's approach aborts the essential truth telling part. That is counter-productive. Only an alternative, victim-driven approach, will free both captor and captive. No genocide has ever died away anywhere in the world due to eternal neglect or instillation of fear in the victims. In that regard, the people of Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands should stand up and not only reject the NPRC approach, but lead a people-centred process.

Popular initiative
The victim-centred approach can be done through the adoption of the popular (people) initiative. This is when ordinary people or victims, using their own reflection and action, become agents of change or solution to the problem. Popular initiatives are taken by ordinary grassroots people in civil society to solve their problems in their communities. With regard to the Gukurahundi genocide, like any other, the initiative by the ordinary people in the affected communities could be key to the resolution of the problem and subsequent forgiveness of the cruel perpetrators after a comprehensive truth-telling process. This contrasts sharply with the current ineffective perpetrator-initiated and led process. In our African culture, even when children play and the other accidentally gets harmed, the one who caused the injury does not climb a tree and bark instructions that "bygones are bygones". How about the mass murder of innocent civilians!

It should be borne in mind that the issue of the Gukurahundi genocide can never be wished away by any normal person, but should be amicably resolved in a mature and responsible manner. A "moment of madness" cannot be cured by protracted periods of denial and chicanery. That will never work whether done by those who carry the Gukurahundi guns or those holding forks and knives in elitist settings with the penitence-starved perpetrators. Naturally, as long as the victims and ordinary people continue to be forced to play a peripheral and ineffectual role in the genocide debate, the Matabeleland holocaust will remain government's self-imposed guilt and a menace to the victims, thereby pitting the two against each other. The refusal to have a truth and reconciliation commission also maliciously amputates all the limbs off the process.

The proposed bottom-up approach, which is victim-centred, is arguably the only sustainable alternative which would basically empower the victims in coming to terms with the forty-one-year-old manslaughter. This contrasts sharply with the current perpetrator-marshalled and fettered approach to the discourse. The current evil boundaries presented by, among others, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) disallow free expression and truth telling by the victims. The perpetrator is single-handedly paddling the canoe but telling the world that it is being directed by the passengers. It is inescapable that the Matabeleland genocide discourse, like any other elsewhere, be initiated and begun by the victims and their communities who would then approach and invite government as a stakeholder (chief culprit in this case) to come in. The convergence of all the affected individuals and communities, is crucial. On the contrary, the forked dragon-tail methodology currently obtaining will unavoidably hit a brick-wall as it lacks merit, inclusivity and basic respect of the most important stakeholder, the victim. In the absence of truth-telling and the essential input of the affected people and communities, no lasting solution can be found. The whole process will embarrassingly remain the case of stitching the anus in order to cure diarrhoea. The victim-centred approach proposed here may be modelled on the following, though non-prescriptive, design.

Community participation and involvement
At the primary level, individual victims should be free to talk about their experiences of the manslaughter and what they think should be done for them to get closure. In reality there is currently no open debate about Gukurahundi. It remains disallowed except if you are ridiculing and insulting the victims like what one, Lucifer's angel, Stephen Mugwagwa does in the Sunday Mail of 4 April, 2021 in its infamous "Tale of the ‘tamed terrorist' column". This shows that the Gukurahundi "debate" is an undeniable farce that is designed by and favours the instigators of the genocide. Such madness is manufactured to justify the genocide and silence the victims. It should never be taken lying down. Once the individual is silenced, any hope of a viable resolution is bayonetted and murdered. The so-called National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) whose tribal composition clearly portrays it as a cousin of the Fifth Brigade, is another subtle tool to silence victims. In addition, the ill-famed Green Bombers are also back on the shelf! The coincidence of their return during the discourse on the manslaughter is justifiably raising eyebrows. One does not need to be a prophet to foresee their uninvited presence during outreach programmes by the suspiciously constituted NPRC. Such a sham process should be boycotted by all right-thinking people of Matabeleland until it is revamped. Only a fool does something for the sake of doing it. Nxa bengafuni abayekele

Only truly free individuals will openly talk about their experiences of the tribal extermination at whatever level. This would naturally begin to model the national debate by the victims themselves, thereby offering great benefits going forward. Fear is the worst enemy in the whole process. It must be cured first. If one's family was killed by someone who spoke a certain language, how do you then bring another one speaking same as a commissioner of redress? What a diabolic joke! The obvious intention is to mute the victims. In that regard, the NPRC is succeeding in its chameleon-coloured approach and exposes the insincerity of the whole tea-drinking club.

The debate at individual and household levels will effortlessly enhance the decisive community participation. At this level, people in their communities or villages will discuss the genocide. Among other benefits, this may provide a lot of missing information like the numbers that were abducted, maimed, buried alive, killed or who were "disappeared" in each community and augment the sterling work done by the Zimbabwe chapter of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP). Community engagement may include individuals, households, grassroots support organisations (GRSOs), faith-based organisations (FBOs), civil society organisations (CSOs), relevant political groups in Matabeleland, the women's movement, the environmental movement, popular opposition to oppression, NGOs, social movement unions, professionals in genocide resolution, and other relevant social groups coming together for the noble cause. This community engagement could be as elastic as to stretch to district and provincial levels in a well-coordinated way. The conglomeration of individuals, groups and communities in that way may result in the natural emergence of a solid body genuinely representing the victims of the wholesale slaughter. Arguably, this conglomerate will be adequately equipped to effectively engage the guilt-stricken perpetrators. Call it the movement for Gukurahundi resolution, if you like!

The Movement for Gukurahundi Resolution (MGR)
The formation of the Movement for Gukurahundi Resolution [MGR], (which is the writer's wildest dream) would be the natural and unadulterated culmination of open engagement in the progressive, victim-centred approach to genocide redress. It becomes a movement by its component parts in the form of various organisations and individuals. The striking quality of this approach is that it could resonate with the aspirations of the victims (while also accommodating the perpetrators) because it would be their brain-child but not a perpetrator induced initiative that shies away from truth-telling. This may also serve as a vital empowerment tool for the victims on other aspects of their existence. It is this community-based movement which would now facilitate and guide national debate on the genocide by representing the interests of the affected individuals and communities. Concurrently or otherwise, the same grassroots-derived movement would lobby the region and the rest of the world through the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN).

However, the whole process demands selfless sacrifice by the victims to unite and throw the ball into the perpetrator's court. It demands that victims willingly break all the barriers in their way to have the genocide resolved. If Raphael Lemkin, a survivor of Hitler's holocaust, managed to convince the UN to adopt the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (called the Genocide Convention) single-handedly, what can stop the people of Matabeleland from attaining justice? Nothing defeats a united people!

The proposed victim-centred methodology to Gukurahundi resolution could be the only sustainable panacea to the inescapable settlement of the tribal genocide. Any road that skirts reality and the truth is disastrous. In that regard, the need for responsible leadership and ubuntu cannot be overemphasised. Could this not be the simple, but lasting solution to the Gukurahundi holocaust, I wonder!

Those with ears, let them hear!

Nhlanhla Moses writes in his personal capacity as one of the genocide survivors.
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Source - Nhlanhla Moses
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