BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
CIVIC society organisations operating under the Matabeleland Collective banner yesterday told President Emmerson Mnangagwa that people in the region did not believe he was sincere about addressing the Gukurahundi issue.
The CSOs made the remarks during a meeting with Mnangagwa at State House in Bulawayo to discuss measures needed to address the emotive issue.
Matabeleland Collective member Maqeda Ngwenya said the government and securocrats involved in Gukurahundi killings should apologise for the atrocities, which left 20 000 civilians dead in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces between 1983 and 1987.
He also said the issue of Zipra properties seized by the government after independence had still not been addressed, despite Mnangagwa’s promise to return them to the rightful owners.
Women of Zimbabwe Arise leader Jenni Williams said Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe had not yet engaged the community since the meeting last year on the issue of birth and death certificates.
She also said Registrar-General Clemence Masango had not met Matabeleland Collective members, claiming they only see him on television.
“Birth and death certificates are rights. People want documents and they are told their parents died in the crossfire. People are demanding that their parents died in Gukurahundi (and) it should be written on their death certificates,” Williams said.
She said special commissioners should be appointed to deal with Gukurahundi.
Zipra Veterans Association Trust spokesperson Buster Magwizi demanded the publication of the Dumbuchena and Chihambakwe Commissions of Inquiry into Gukurahundi which were not made public by the late former President Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa said the country had demonstrated before that it was capable of resolving amicably even the most acrimonious disputes among its people through internal dialogue and negotiations.
He said one of the issues that was contentious that arose in the dialogue was exhumation of bodies buried during the Gukurahundi era.
“You are aware, this is a sensitive issue that requires careful consideration, with due regard being given to the sensitivity of the affected families, communities and relevant culture and customs that are in place at the location of their burial sites,” he said.
“My government is working on achieving a consensus on how best to address this situation in a manner that will not offend anyone. In due course, I will receive recommendations from all concerned parties, including the affected families, National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, traditional leaders and other civic society groups.”