Ibhetshu Likazulu demands victim-centred Gukurahundi resolution

Ibhetshu Likazulu, a local pressure group that has been pushing for the resolution of Gukurahundi, has called for a victim-centred and inclusive process that addresses the fundamental need for acknowledgement towards addressing the genocide.

They made these pronouncements during the erection of a fourth memorial plaque in Bhalagwe, Matobo, Matabeleland South Province, where some victims of Gukurahundi bore the brunt of the Fifth Brigade operations, with thousands killed and buried in mass graves.

In 2022, the third plaque erected at Bhalagwe was bombed by unknown assailants.

Posting on their social media account, Ibhetshu Likazulu emphasised the need for a clear legislative framework despite the unclear roles of chiefs.

“We reiterate our demand for a victim-centred and inclusive process that addresses the fundamentals of acknowledgement, truth-telling, justice, and a clear legislative framework, even in the face of the unclearly defined chiefs’ process,” they stated.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has yet to declare the date of the Gukurahundi outreach project, though chiefs are mandated to spearhead it.

Ibhetshu Likazulu vowed to continue erecting memorial plaques as they spotlight the genocide.

“We were at Bhalagwe putting up plaque number four. The first two were stolen/destroyed and the third plaque was bombed. We will never let up. As part of our memory and memorialisation program, we placed five crosses to highlight those killed, disappeared, tortured, raped, and maimed, and laid five wreaths of flowers in their honour. By adding 21 other crosses, each representing a thousand killed, we spotlight the genocide,” they said.

The group highlighted their work with communities and traditional leaders under difficult circumstances of fear and apprehension.

“But we remain thankful for the resilience of our infrastructure in the villages, partners, and traditional leaders,” they said.

Ibhetshu Likazulu Secretary General, Mbuso Fuzwayo, also stated that villagers were now being misled into believing Bhalagwe is a heroes’ acre.

“Villagers are really happy with the memorial plaque. They were now being misled that the place is a heroes’ acre, so the efforts are bringing another narrative that the perpetrator is not telling,” he said.

Fuzwayo condemned the vandalism of memorial plaques as an attempt to erase memory.

“The plaque was put up by the community with the support of Ibhetshu Likazulu. Our feeling about the vandalism is that this is a sign that someone is trying to conceal or erase the memory,” he said.

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