Confusion surrounds the planned exhumations and reburials of Gukurahundi victims with the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) alleging that they were excluded from a high-level meeting involving traditional chiefs from Matabeleland and President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Bulawayo recently.
President Mnangagwa met the traditional leaders at the Bulawayo State House on October 24, where chiefs presented reports on Gukurahundi following consultations with their communities.
On behalf of Matabeleland North was Chief Siansali of Binga while Chief Nyangazonke of Kezi presented his report on behalf of Matabeleland South with five other chiefs also making contributions.
It is reported that the chiefs were given a nod to lead in the exhumations and reburials of Gukurahundi victims.
But more surprising is that the commission still has not been formally briefed about what was agreed in that meeting, as the NPRC is yet to meet the country’s leadership for an appraisal.
According to Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution, Chapter 12: Part 6, Sections 251 to 253, the NPRC is the one mandated to spearhead all reconciliatory processes, make sure there is post-conflict justice, healing, reconciliation; develop and implement such programmes to promote national healing, unity and cohesion in Zimbabwe among other initiatives of peaceful resolution of disputes.
NPRC Chairperson, Retired Judge, Sello Nare claimed the commission was not invited to attend the meeting.
The NPRC chairperson, speaking at a NPRC consultative meeting with peace committees from Matabeleland North Thursday held in Bulawayo, said he did not want to spread ‘hearsay’ but was also just as surprised to learn that chiefs were to lead the process of exhumations.
“Unfortunately as I said I went on leave (to access treatment in South Africa)…but I will in two weeks take time to find out from the leadership that heads the commission, that is from Vice President Kembo Mohadi, to find out the progress and position towards that. I am planning to take some of the commissioners to that meeting,” he said.
Justice Nare added that even when he was in South Africa, he often asked his fellow commissioners for update on the meeting.
“Their meeting was closed and when a meeting is closed, the agenda is not supposed to be leaked unless someone comes and informs you. Maybe I will receive those details when I go to Harare after this exercise,” said the chairperson.
He, however, assured stakeholders that NPRC had good working relations with traditional leaders.
“We work with the chiefs and they are part of us. Whatever they discussed during that meeting – I saw it from the newspapers. (One of the commissioners, Dr) Chekenyere also called me asking about it. But I think let’s be patient and not step on each other. I believe in the process and we have a working relationship with the chiefs. I’ve been invited to their many meetings and have also gone to the office of president of the Chiefs’ Council, Chief Fortune Charumbira and I have also shared my ideas,” Nare said.
The NPRC chairperson pointed out Zimbabwe’s constitution empowered the commission to carry out reconciliatory and justice programmes.
“You are aware the constitution mandates us as NPRC to deal with these issues, maybe people sitting at home reading the newspaper thought our work had finished but no. We still have our jobs, that’s why we are still here,” he joked.