The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA) has said it is now time for Matabeleland to be healed from the emotive issue of Gukurahundi, which has remained unresolved for nearly 40 years.
About 20, 000 innocent civilians in Matabeleland and the Midlands were killed when the government deployed the Fifth Brigade in the two regions in 1983 ostensibly to deal with ‘dissidents’ activities.”
Gukurahundi, which has been described by the late former president Robert Mugabe as a” moment of madness” remains unsolved with the government being accused of lacking convincing political will to do so.
Speaking during the funeral proceedings of the late Chief Mabhikwa in Jotsholo, Lupane on Saturday, ZCA director, Reverend Useni Sibanda said it was high time the Gukurahundi issue be resolved.
“I believe it’s time for Zimbabwe to be healed; it’s time for healing for Matabeleland,” said Rev Sibanda.
“Time does not heal wounds but honest talk about what happened will heal this nation and this was the chief’s focus. We worked together. There were valleys and mountain tops as we worked together but in all those situations, he was with us. I have said all this to show you that although he was young, he knew the wounds of his community.”
Rev Sibanda who acknowledged that peacebuilding was not an easy task, said the late chief was concerned with the healing of Lupane and the entire province.
Matabeleland North is home to Gukurahundi shallow mass graves.
“His (Chief’s) first focus was that ‘our people need healing,’ he did not run away from this as a leader,” explained Rev Sibanda.
“He said you know what happened. We went to Silwane, we went to St Paul’s, we went everywhere where there were afflictions post-independence. He said we cannot run away from that; it’s time something be done about this issue.”
But ZANU-PF secretary for administration, Obert Mpofu, who hails from Matabeleland North said discussing Gukurahundi was counter-development.
“What I request from you our people is that while we build, we should not be removing sticks from the fire; let us build,” said Mpofu.
“There are some people who have time to talk about bad things instead of talking about good things. Something painful does not build. Whenever you remind people about something painful you are not building but destroying.”
He added: “We are the ones leading people and we are the ones voted for by the people. People do not want to be always reminded about painful things. They want development going forward.”
He claimed that Mugabe and nationalist Joshua Nkomo sat down with other leaders and resolved Gukurahundi.
“Some people now live on criticising things which they don’t even know how they were handled,” he said.
“We are the ones who live where those things happened. I speak as your child and as a leader in Zimbabwe.”
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga however differed from Mpofu’s stance, acknowledging Gukurahundi was bad.
“He (Rev Sibanda) raised issues which happened, which were bad and which we are looking into and the President and the Chief’s Council are dealing with these matters on almost monthly and every time over and over again,” said Chiwenga.
“They are looking into these issues and solutions will be found as we are all Zimbabweans.”