Govt bows to pressure from activists to address Gukurahundi issue

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, permanent secretary Virginia Mabhiza, says the government is ready to engage victims and survivors of the Gukurahundi massacres with a view to bring closure to the emotive issue.

Mabhiza said President Mnangagwa has also mandated the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage to devise mechanisms for those affected by the atrocities to be allowed to openly share their experiences.

According to some reports, more than 20 000 civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands lost their lives during the reign of terror ocherstrated by the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade.

Announcing the written undertaking by President Mnangagwa on issues discussed with civil society that took place at the Bulawayo State House on March 21, Mabhiza said several ministries have been roped in to facilitate the process of addressing some of the issues raised by a consortium of civil society organisations from Matabeleland known as the Matabeleland Collective.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, Health and Child Care and that of Local governance are some of the appointed ministries to deal with the issues.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs will engage locals to issue birth and death certificates for all Gukurahundi victims,” she said.

“The government understands that pain not transformed is pain transmitted hence the need to address these issues.

“Considering that these are issues that have burdened the people for so long there is a time frame set, citing that relevant ministries implement this process immediately.”

She added:”Exhumation of those who died during Gukurahundi must be carried out legally and their reburial be conducted in an orderly manner.”

Mabhiza said the new dispensation has given greenlight for the ammendment of devolution Act which is expected to assist Matabeleland locals to benefit from their resources.

“There has been an outcry that Matabeleland locals are sidelined when employment opportunities arise in the region. The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and that of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs are expected to harmonise laws governing local authorities to ensure efficiency and ease in the implementation of devolution, “she said.

She said this process has to be implemented immediately and be finalised within six months.
Mabhiza implored Matabeleland locals to bear with the assigned ministries time to raise funds to implement some of the projects which need to be carried out.
Members of the Matabeleland Collective were however adamant, citing thay although they appreciate efforts made by the government to address Gukurahundi issues they need the President to apologise for the atrocities.

“We need an apology and acknowledgement from the leaders of the country and we deserve to know what happened to the Chihambakwe reports,”said one of the members.
They also emphasised that for the process to move smoothly the documents have to be properly articulated to what really affected the people.

“We need to have those documents clearly stating the circumstances. They should state that the bearers were affected by the genocide,” said another member.

Mabhiza said the government wishes to prioritise the Matabeleland Zambezi water project which has been running for so many years as it will unlock economic values to the citizens across the country and monthly reports are supposed to be sent to the President’s office to monitor progress.

She emphasised that President Mnangagwa has ordered for investigations and report on the causes of police inaction and perceived insubordination during the January protests and reports need to be submitted within 3 months from April 4, 2019.

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