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Chief Mathema demands Gukurahundi death certificates

Outspoken Gwanda Chief Khulumani Mathema has emphasised the urgency of issuing identity documents to Gukurahundi victims, adding that the cause of death should be clearly spelt out in their death certificates.

Mathema whose views have been largely backed by  Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP), argued that any haphazard approach without proper documentation processes, as prescribed in the Home Affairs Act, will not only create problems but will result in evidence and statistics of the mass killings being destroyed.

Gukurahundi survivors have struggled for years to obtain birth certificates, national identity cards, passports, and other legal documents.

Government through the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) has repeatedly announced the importance of issuing the identity documents, but the process is seemingly stalling.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa last Saturday met traditional leaders where he agreed to let chiefs handle all processes linked to the massacres such as exhumations and reburials.

“As it is some people do not have birth certificates and identity cards (ID)s, if ever they will rush through with ID’s, these should carry a correct record of the cause of death to preserve that history,” Mathema told this publication.

MRP president Mqondisi Moyo added: “Death certificates have to be issued and, like birth certificates, the two documents should specifically denote the cause of death as Gukurahundi genocide to ensure the evidence or statistics of the mass killings is not lost or destroyed.”

NPRC commissioner Leslie Ncube when contacted for comment said the matter is under discussion at its strategic meeting being held in Gweru, Midlands.

“We are having a strategic meeting where this matter; its processes among others is being discussed,” Ncube said on Wednesday adding “a position on this will be announced in due course.”

However, Mathema said issuing identity documents does not exempt government from allowing truth telling processes to take place to ensure victims find closure.

“Why are they rushing instead of consultations and allowing truth telling processes to take place. Even in court, you do not get convicted before a trial is held; truth is told . There are a lot of things that have to be done such as truth telling, and acknowledgment,” Mathema added.

Any mention of exhumation and reburials of Gukurahundi victims divides opinions among various stakeholders.

The MRP had vowed to stop the exhumations and reburials if government has having a lead role in the process.

In August, Gukurahundi survivor Charles Thomas, Zapu and Ibhetshu LikaZulu filed an urgent High Court application to stop government from undertaking exhumations and re-burials of the 1980’s massacres.  

High Court Judge Justice Martin Makonese ruled against the litigants, paving way for exhumations and reburials to commence.

Mnangagwa was State Security minister during the 1980’s massacres in Midlands and Matabeleland that left approximately 20 000 civilians dead. 

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