HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsChombo, Gukurahundi very much a burning issue

Chombo, Gukurahundi very much a burning issue

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Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo lost the plot on Wednesday in Parliament when he tried to explain a governmental drive to ensure everyone in the country is documented by describing Gukurahundi as a non-issue.

Comment: NewsDay Editor

Ignatius Chombo
Ignatius Chombo

Whatever the circumstances and excuses that Chombo might dream of can never make up for his statement that Gukurahundi is a non-issue and again spotlights the need for closure on the 1980s killings.

President Robert Mugabe’s statement that Gukurahundi was “a moment of madness” is wholly inadequate and does not begin to address the concerns of the affected people, particularly in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions.

What is needed is a formal acknowledgement from the government that such killings took place and that there is need for restorative justice.

This way, the affected people can start piecing their lives together again and can approach the government for documentation, rather than this situation where their suffering is unacknowledged, yet they are supposed to approach authorities for help.

Failure to admit that there were killings from the government’s part is what leads to people like Chombo to put their feet in their mouths trying to explain Gukurahundi.

After acknowledgment, the government should start on a truth and reconciliation process, where there is open dialogue between the State and the affected individuals and this will help the process of healing.

Also, there should be a discussion on reparations — and this does not necessarily have to be monetary — as this will show the people that the government understands their plight and is willing to help them.

Without undertaking these steps, the Gukurahundi issue will always haunt this government leading to reckless statements like the one Chombo issued in Parliament.

The issue of the 1980s killings has been outstanding for far too long and there is a desperate need that the government addresses it so the country can move forward.

Due to the government’s failure to address this issue, people of Matabeleland and Midlands will always be suspicious of Chombo and his colleagues and the lack of trust between the government and citizens foments underdevelopment and tensions.

It is no wonder Zanu PF struggles for votes in Matabeleland – it is because lines of communication between the government and the people in that region are clogged by mistrust and suspicion.

Chombo’s statement in Parliament was foolhardy, but as long as there is denial and no closure about the Gukurahundi issue, then there should be an expectation that more such faux statements will be the order of the day.

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