‘Mat’land chiefs afraid to speak out on Gukurahundi’

Traditional chiefs from the Matabeleland region are afraid to speak about the Gukurahundi atrocities despite their proximity to the issue, a human rights commissioner has said.

The 1980s atrocities orchestrated by the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade claimed more than 20 000 lives in Matabeleland and Midlands.

Addressing survivors of the atrocities at an inter-district indaba on missing persons in Bulawayo, Tuesday Zimbabwe Human Rights commissioner Japhet Ndabeni Ncube said less than four Matabeleland chiefs are actively pursuing the issue of Gukurahundi.

“Let us get the chiefs to say something about this,” he said.

“I know they are afraid. I am talking to almost three chiefs who are not afraid and have urged them to rope in others. Chiefs cover the whole ground”.

He said chiefs should engage with village leadership in getting people to freely speak out on what transpired.

“The chiefs have to get down to the ground to their village heads and headmen so they get all the truth from their communities”.

He said the only solution to the issue would be involving people on the ground and conduct a thorough investigation on what transpired.

“For us to talk about it there must be a thorough investigation on how this happened and to whom it happened and how. We have to say it as it is so that those at the top responsible will give a substantial report,” said Ndabeni.

However, Ncube highlighted there will never victims and survivors of the atrocities will never find closure.

“Closure of the Gukurahundi issue, how Ndebeles were butchered and buried in heaps? Today their bones are crying. Let us not talk about that. That will never happen,” he said.

Ncube added: “The only thing that’s there today is to talk openly about this thing and come to an understanding of how we can agree on this.”

He said Gukurahundi will remain the slaughter of complete slaughter of innocent Matabele people.

“Imagine pregnant women having their bellies open. Tell me that a lot of people being thrown in mass graves.”

Recently, Filabusi Chief Vezi Maduna Mafu petitioned President Mnangagwa to set up a special commission of inquiry to investigate the atrocities.

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