The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance has accused drafters of the proposed new constitution of tampering with the draft’s preamble and secretly deleting a section acknowledging the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres as part of the country’s historical legacy.
Useni Sibanda, executive director of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, told guests at a women’s peace-building conference in Bulawayo on Saturday, Gukurahundi had initially been incorporated into the preamble of the draft constitution released two weeks ago.
“During the outreach programmes which were carried out, people had mentioned Gukurahundi as part of their legacy and as part of our history so we were meant to acknowledge that issue of Gukurahundi,” he said.
“I was one of the people who wrote the national report and we wrote: ‘ . . . also remembering post-independence conflicts that occurred and we don’t want them to occur again’. This part was removed from the preamble. But you see, you can never heal a country or nation by trying to forget the past, by trying to bury the past.”
Sibanda said it was important to acknowledge in the constitution what happened during Gukurahundi from 1983 to 1987 when a North-Koreaan-trained army crack unit, the Fifth Brigade, was unleashed on Matabeleland and Midlands ostensibly to deal with armed dissidents, but ended up killing an estimated 20 000 innocent civilians.
Sibanda said the preamble of the constitution should clearly state that no one should be killed because of their ethnicity.
“We recognise there is a period we killed each other because of tribes so we must write about it, the period of Gukurahundi. We should make a commitment in our constitution that never again in our generation will we have people killed because of ethnicity.”