CHIEFS have unanimously resolved to urgently set up a taskforce to tackle the emotive Gukurahundi massacres that claimed about 20 000 lives in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the early 1980s.
BY BRENNA MATENDERE
The resolution was made at the just-ended National Chiefs conference held in Kadoma. Chief Masendu from Matabeleland moved the motion to endorse the resolution and it was seconded by Chief Gambu and was supported by the majority of the traditional leaders.
Chiefs Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira said the traditional leaders will now formally brief President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the development before setting up the taskforce, whose mandate will be to bring closure to the Gukurahundi issue. He said the resolution had been arrived at in order to counter moves by civic society organisations that advance their political agendas using the Gukurahundi issue.
“Some politicians have been using the Gukurahundi issue to settle political scores. We also had churches and NGOs that had begun to ride on the issue. Just yesterday I was told that some of our chiefs in Matabeleland North had been invited by some NGO to meet in Bulawayo over the Gukuraundi issue. So with this resolution all such moves including those of politicians seeking relevance through the Gukurahundi issue have been foiled,” he said.
Chief Charumbira said that chiefs from Matabeleland North, South and Midlands, where the wave of the massacres swept through, will form the taskforce reporting to the National Council of Chiefs.
“The main objective is to heal the affected people. So at the first meeting of the taskforce, each chief from the affected area will bring two elders so that modalities and terms of reference are agreed upon. We must bring closure to this issue of Gukurahundi,” Chief Charumbira said.
Earlier, Chief Malisa from Silobela put National Peace and Reconciliation Commission chairperson Retired Justice Selo Nare in a tight spot when he demanded that he explains how his team would handle the Gukurahundi issue and cause arrest of perpetrators when leaders of the operation are now occupying top government posts.
This was in apparent reference to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri, whose names are mentioned as enforcers of the operation carried out by North Korean-trained 5th Brigade soldiers.
Nare said Mnangagwa had assured his commission that he will act fairly on its recommendations.
The other resolutions made at the Kadoma meeting include pressuring government to build provincial offices for chiefs and National Chiefs Council headquarters in Harare.
The chiefs also resolved that their yearly budgets be channelled directly to the National Chiefs Council and not be managed by the Local Government ministry.
Another resolution was that the chiefs leadership urgently push for review of welfare and benefits of traditional leaders and that chiefs be involved in the devolution process.