BY SILAS NKALA
CHRISTIAN lobby group, Shalom Project Trust, has rapped Mthwakazi activists for disrupting a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) outreach programme in Lupane on Monday, describing the action as retrogressive.
The NPRC team, led by deputy chairperson Lillian Chigwedere had toured Lupane in Matabeleland North province, to gather public views on how to implement the peace and reconciliation programmes among Gukurahundi victims.
The Lupane incident came a week after the same activists disrupted another NPRC meeting in Bulawayo disputing the composition of the committee, claiming it only comprised of one Ndebele speaking official. Shalom Project Trust director Anglistone Sibanda yesterday accused Mthwakazi activists of misdirecting their anger and violating the people of Matabeleland’s rights to be heard.
“… disruptions of meetings by Bulawayo-based MRP youths does not only violate the rights of other people who attended NPRC meetings wishing to vent out their pain, anger and frustrations, but serve the interests of the perpetrators who would not want the issue to be discussed and brought to closure,” Sibanda said.
“It is disgusting, appalling and frustrating that our own young people have decided to be barbaric and retrogressive in their quest to vent out their anger and find themselves behaving exactly like the perpetrator in violating the rights of other citizens.”
Sibanda said it was naive for MRP youths to believe that they had the authority to act on behalf of the people of Matabeleland.
“The actions by MRP youths in their quest to gain recognition, attention from the world for their own political and personal expedience, is not representative of the thousands people suffering in pain who want a time to confront perpetrators and ask them why they did what they did to them,” Sibanda fumed.
“As a direct psychological victim of Gukurahundi, I personally long for a day when I can face Perence Shiri and ask him why they did what they did in front of me as a child, that left me with lifelong scars and trauma. I also long to meet some of the dissidents that operated in our area and ask them why they killed my grandfather like they were slaughtering a goat.”
Sibanda said many survivors would want to meet the perpetrators to find closure and chanting slogans and disrupting meetings does not resolve anything
But, MRP spokesperson Mbonisi Gumbo said the secessionist party will continue piling on pressure on government to dissolve the commission and appoint an independent regional body in its place.
“This so-called commission inflicts and resuscitates pain on Gukurahundi victims and survivors with no tangible results. Team MRP Lupane said no to nonsense, when they stopped the meeting as soon as the Commissioners were about to start the programme,” he said.
Chigwedere told journalists after the disruption of the Bulawayo meeting that the MRP and Bulawayo-based civic society protests were an eye-opener, but said the commission could not address its composition.
“As far as the composition, it’s not our mandate to address it but we have heard the people’s concerns and in our programming and recommendations, we will see how we can take that message back to the nation because the commission is a constitutional body which was put in place by the people of Zimbabwe.
“The composition aspect of it can be dealt with better by other organisations, not the commission,” Chigwedere said.
NPRC commissioner, Leslie Ncube said the commission respected the views of the demonstrators, but noted that some sections of the society were unaware of NPRC’s duties. “Those who were demonstrating were expressing their constitutional right, and their views and voices were captured in the process. We have an open door policy, and when people vent their anger, as NPRC we view this as part of the process.
“The commission respects the views of the people, but what is important is that this commission is independent, and should meet its mandate. I will even advise the people to familiarise with the constitution, but all we are saying is that those issues will be addressed as we move on.”
She said people do not understand the commission’s key roles, which are to capturing the views of key stakeholders who believe in peace building.