‘Give NPRC more powers to deal with Gukurahundi of the 1980s’

A Matabeleland South traditional leader has called on government to amend the Constitution to give the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission more powers to allow it to bring closure to the emotive Gukurahundi issue.


Chief Mathema from Gwanda, in Matabeleland South, said this at Amagugu International Heritage Centre during the ongoing National Transitional Justice Working Group symposium in Bulawayo, under the theme Never Again.

The traditional leader also demanded that there be ownership of the atrocities to ease the pain of the victims of the mass killings perpetrated in the 1980s when then Prime-Minister Robert Mugabe deployed the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to deal with alleged insurgency.

Over 20 000 people in Matabeleland and Midlands regions died in the operation, according to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace.

Chief Mathema also demanded that government allow the exhumation of Gukurahundi victims, so that they could be reburied according to their culture.

“We want government to amend the Constitution to make sure that the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NRPC) is not given a sunset clause to make sure that the Gukurahundi massacres are given closure,” Chief Mathema said.

“The new Constitution was signed in 2013 and the NPRC was given a 10-year-lifespan. Six years have gone by, we are left with four years and nothing has happened to bring the Gukurahundi issue to closure.”

He said it was worrisome that Gukurahundi was not being treated as a stand-alone project, but has been bundled together with Murambatsvina and the August 1 shootings yet “20 000 people died, many tortured and raped”, during the atrocities.

He said government should not politicise the massacres.

Ukhuthula Trust, a non-governmental organisation involved in the exhumations and reburials of Gukurahundi victims, gave harrowing experiences of how most of the victims met their fate.

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