Gukurahundi: Mnangagwa should go beyond ‘window dressing’

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s recent remarks that victims of the Gukurahundi massacres must openly speak out on their experiences without fear of reprisals amounts to window dressing, as authorities have failed to take concrete steps to find a solution, a pressure group has said.

In a prerecorded Independence Day speech, President Mnangagwa urged victims to come forward, freely discuss Gukurahundi and chart the way forward.

“In my view, it is not useful to avoid an issue which affects us as a nation. It is better we discuss the issue and find a lasting solution. In future what is not good for our country can be avoided. Everybody affected has an opportunity to come forward so that we can discuss it together. We can chart the way forward,” he was quoted in the state media.

But Ibhetshu LikaZulu says President Mnangagwa’s utterances are not new, as he has been saying the same thing since 2018 but no pragmatic action has been taken.

“His words are not accompanied by pragmatic steps that seek to address the Gukurahundi genocide to the full expectation of the victims and the nation,” said Mbuso Fuzwayo, Secretary-General of Ibhetshu LikaZulu.

Fuzwayo indicated that for the past two years, the government has been using a divisive strategy to set institutions against the other, “which had become a delaying tactic, if not contemptuous.”

“The president has shown intentions of taking over the authority of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and to give it to the traditional chiefs yet the NPRC is the only constitutional body with the mandate to carry out this task whose recommendations will be legally binding,” he said.

The activist also cited that in his recent engagement with the chiefs on the emotive issue, President Mnangagwa submitted that chiefs from the Midlands community must not be part of the Gukurahundi outreach programmes, yet the Midlands was also adversely affected.

“People in Midlands lost lives, development and many other human rights violations occurred,” Fuzwayo said.

He added that when dealing with conflict resolution, international best practice has shown that truth-telling was a necessity.

“There cannot be a sustainable resolution of the genocide without truth-telling. To this day, the government has not made any realistic initiative towards truth-telling to address the Gukurahundi issue,” Fuzwayo said.

“The statement by the president may just be window dressing, a talk to pass time. We advise the government that only a victim-centred approach will bring true peace and reconciliation to our beloved country.”

President Mnangagwa has met with traditional leaders, civic groups and churches from Matabeleland to address Gukurahundi but observers have criticised that to date no binding solution has been made.

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