Co-operate with chiefs, ED tells Gukurahundi victims

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday pleaded with communities affected by Gukurahundi atrocities to co-operate with traditional leaders during consultations to solve the emotive issue.

Addressing delegates during the launch of the Gukurahundi manual at Bulawayo State House yesterday, Mnangagwa said citizens had allowed the Gukurahundi issue to divide them, hindering collective development.

The 1980s massacres resulted in the brutal killing of 20 000 unarmed civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.

Yesterday’s launch was attended by traditional leaders and government officials.

“We have external forces with hostile intentions towards this country to dictate to us how we should conduct our affairs and relationships with each other. Today we mark an unapologetic statement to the effect that tribalism, regionalism and ethnic hostilities have no place in our beloved motherland Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said.

"The journey towards forging national unity did not commence today. Indeed history records that in 1987, the founding fathers of our nation made a decision to unite our people under the national banner by signing the 1987 Unity Accord.”

He pointed out that the Gukurahundi issue provided fertile ground for perpetual conflict and acrimony, as he accused some political formations of using the genocide as a political weapon.

“I urge you all to be vigilant and to disregard any attempts by any party to achieve political mileage through Gukurahundi. Our traditional leaders who are the custodians of our culture are best placed to deal with issues affecting their respective communities in consultation with the government. To the external detractors who seek to maintain Gukurahundi as a perennial fountain of conflict, I say to you lingena ngaphi? (where do you fit in?” he said.

He also indicated that in March 2019, non-governmental organisations working under the umbrella of Matabeleland Collective sought audience with him to discuss issues affecting the region.

“Today we launch the beginning of our chiefs, driven programme. The chiefs will commence the consultations and dialogue with their communities on historic and other issues affecting their welfare. I appeal to the chiefs as they embark on this very important assignment to diligently carry out their duties guided by principles of ubuntu/ hunhu. In the same vein, I urge the affected communities to co-operate with our traditional leaders in this process,” he added, also saying that issuance of national identity documents was one of the key deliverables of the programme.

Human rights activist Effie Ncube said the Gukurahundi issue could not be dealt with through a process led by the Executive; the perpetrators of the genocide.

“The launch is not in the interest of victims and survivors and is against international best practice that require independent institutions to deal with the abusive past,” Ncube said.

Chiefs, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told NewsDay that Gukurahundi victims should lead the process.

"What is supposed to be done first is acknowledgement of the Gukurahundi massacres and a national apology. We are supposed to take a leaf from other countries,” said one of the chiefs.


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