‘Gukurahundi victims’ exhumations, reburials will bring closure’


THE Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJPZ) has said exhumations and reburials of Gukurahundi victims buried in mass graves in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces is the first step towards healing and reconciliation.


Speaking at a meeting with Matabeleland Collective — a network of the clergy and civic society groups in the region, President Emmerson Mnangagwa last month indicated that his government wanted to put closure to the issue by reburying the victims.

The CCJPZ compiled a comprehensive Gukurahundi massacres report in the 1980s in which it revealed that about 20 000 civilians were killed in the Midlands and Matabeleland by the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade soldiers.

In a recent interview with the Southern Eye, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC), Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office and CCJPZ, Bishop Rudolf Nyandoro, who is also Bishop for Gokwe Diocese, said they welcomed the steps being taken by Mnangagwa in pushing for the reburial of the massacre victims, as it would put closure to the emotive issue.

“This is something positive although there could be differences on the modalities to be taken, but what the government is doing will bring closure to the issue and victims. It’s good that something is being done to bring closure to the emotive issue than to be silent about it,” Nyandoro said.
He said the ZCBC and CCJPZ produced a report of the massacres with the view that the issue would be resolved.

The Catholic bishops’ sentiments come a fortnight after the Matabeleland Collective told Mnangagwa that people in the region did not believe he was sincere about addressing the Gukurahundi issue.
Women of Zimbabwe Arise director Jenni Williams said special commissioners should be appointed to deal with Gukurahundi.

Zipra Veterans Association Trust spokesperson Buster Magwizi demanded the publication of reports 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 amicably resolving the most acrimonious disputes among its people through internal dialogue and negotiations.

“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,” Mnangagwa 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.”

However, MDC president Nelson Chamisa last week accused Mnangagwa’s government of attempting to destroy evidence of the Gukurahundi massacres through secret reburials of the victims’ remains without consulting those most affected or have direct interest in the genocide.

Chamisa questioned why the government was speeding up processes around reburial of victims, instead of promoting national healing first.

He said it was improper for Mnangagwa to impose solutions on those most affected by the killings.
Mnangagwa was State Security minister at the time of the killings.