PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga are today scheduled to meet Matabeleland traditional leaders in Bulawayo, with the Gukurahundi issue on top of the agenda.
This is not the first time the President has met chiefs from Matabeleland over this sensitive matter and many other unresolved issues in the region. Resolutions have been made in the past, but no action has been taken to put closure to the Gukurahundi issue.
Today’s meeting comes hardly three months after unknown people, suspected to be State agents, stole Gukurahundi memorial plaques at Bhalagwe and Tsholotsho in Matabeleland South province.
Bhalagwe was a torture camp during the 1980s atrocities perpetrated by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade deployed by the late former President Robert Mugabe’s government, which left approximately over 20 000 civilians dead, according to the Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice.
We implore Mnangagwa to initiate a healing process as Gukurahundi remains a thorn in the flesh for the people of Matabeleland and Midlands provinces. Mnangagwa should know that people in these regions are itching for the closure of the issue, and the more he buys time, the more they lose confidence in his overtures.
Sadly, some victims and family members affected by Gukurahundi are dying before witnessing closure of the issue.
It is our hope that today’s meeting will not be one of the too many government talkshows that have not achieved anything.
It is high time Matabeleland chiefs stood up to him and demand a clear roadmap.
The Zanu PF leader stands accused of participating in the Gukurahundi genocide when he was State Security minister, hence he should come clean and put the lid on the matter.
There is fear that Mnangagwa will, as has become tradition, dangle the carrot to chiefs so that they sweep the Gukurahundi issue under the carpet. Over the years, chiefs have been pampered with top-of-the-range vehicles and allowances to buy their silence over sensitive issues affecting their communities. Chiefs should stand firm and not be hoodwinked by trinkets at the expense of the people they represent, who are itching for justice to be served on perpetrators of the genocide. Justice delayed is justice denied. When Mnangagwa assumed power through a coup, there was much hope that he would open a new chapter that would address the Gukuraundi issue. It was taboo to talk about Gukurahundi during the tenure of the late former President, but Mnangagwa’s new dispensation pledged openness.
Mugabe even blocked the publication of the Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry report that contained findings into the Gukurahundi massacres. Without addressing these issues, these meetings will be a farce. Time is ticking away and witnesses are dying. Quick action is needed now.