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Govt criticised for failing to censure Charamba on Gukurahundi remarks

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has accused the government of lacking sincerity in addressing the Gukurahundi atrocities, with particular reference to its silence over Deputy Chief Secretary, Presidential Communications, George Charamba’s sentiments over the destruction of the Bhalagwe Memorial plaque.

The plaque was erected by villagers in memory of the victims who lost their lives during the mass killings on October 30, 2021, and was destroyed on January 4, 2022, by suspected State agents with what appeared to be explosives.

In a statement, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition noted that Charamba’s sentiments are testimony to the fact that the government lacks the political will to ensure that the Gukurahundi issue is addressed in an inclusive and comprehensive manner.

“We categorically stated that the government’s continued silence pointed to unbridled intransigence and insincerity towards genuinely addressing issues of national healing and reconciliation, almost three decades since the Gukurahundi massacres which resulted in the loss of over 20 000 innocent lives,” the statement read.

“Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has noted with great sadness recent utterances by Charamba to the effect that the construction of a memorial plaque in honour of victims of the Gukurahundi genocide at Bhalagwe in Maphisa, Matabeleland South province is illegal. On January 17, 2022, Charamba confirmed the government of Zimbabwe’s stance when he told an online publication that the construction of the memorial plaque at Bhalagwe was done ‘arbitrarily’.”

The coalition said Charamba’s sentiments justify the government’s cosmetic approach towards resolving the Gukurahundi issue and further prove that Mnangagwa’s pledge to address the Gukurahundi issue is just mere politicking.

“It is now quite apparent that Zimbabweans cannot trust perpetrators to lead a truth-telling, reconciliation and national healing process and consequently, the dream of nationhood in Zimbabwe continues to be a pipe dream. Destroying memorial plaques and refusing affected families the chance to mourn their departed ones is an attempt to sweep the Gukurahundi issue under the carpet and silence aggrieved citizens,” the statement read.

“From Charamba’s sentiments, it is very much clear that the State is not committed to a genuine process that will result in truth, justice, reconciliation, healing and closure. It is foolhardy to expect victims to seek permission from the chief culprits to erect memorial plaques in honour of their dear departed ones. Who, amongst this regime has ever sought state consent to put memorial tombstones on graves of their beloved? Why should Bhalagwe be different?”

The coalition further implored the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to exercise independence and impartiality and address the Gukurahundi issue through a bottom-up approach- in an inclusive and honest manner.  

“Allowing politicians and perpetrators to lead the process can only serve to derail efforts towards truth-telling, reconciliation and national healing. It is also incumbent upon the NPRC to publicly denounce the sentiments from Charamba and reaffirm their commitment to a genuine process of truth-telling, justice, healing and reconciliation,” the statement read.

“As Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we shall continue to offer organic solidarity and support to various citizens’ initiatives pushing the agenda of national healing and reconciliation. We reiterate that the dream of converting Zimbabwe from a Country into a Nation starts with inclusively and comprehensively dealing with Gukurahundi!”

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