Former ZPRA veterans are unhappy after they were left out of a meeting between Matabeleland Collective and President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday.
The grouping met President Mnangagwa in a closed door meetin at the Bulawayo State House to discuss among other issues, the exhumation and reburial of Gukurahundi victims and the documentation process for both the victims and survivors of the 1980s atrocities.
But the ZPRA veterans argue that any initiative concerning Gukurahundi must involve them as they are victims.
The Matabeleland Collective leader, Jenni Williams, said the ZPRA veterans failed to submit their names in time for the engagement while the meeting had to subscribe to Covid-19 protocols that do not permit large gatherings.
“This was also not a full meeting but just a small delegation and all members were advised to submit names. Their representative, Magwizi failed to submit his details before cut-off time for meeting protocols with the OPC. ZPRA is aware along with all Matabeleland Collective membership that there are security protocols and the Covid-19 protocols to enter state house,” she said.
In an interview with CITE, ZPRA veterans association spokesperson, Buster Magwizi said the former freedom fighters had attended the previous meetings.
“We attended the February 14, 2020 meeting and the other subsequent meeting held on July 2, 2020, that was attended by the collective, Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Kazambe Kazembe and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Legal, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Virginia Mabhiza.
“On February 14, we proposed our peacebuilding mechanism and principles regarding the exhumation process. But this latest meeting was done at our exclusion. As ZPRA we weren’t there to support discussions or the position taken after the meeting,” he said.
Magwizi said the Matabeleland Collective held a planning meeting before the engagement with President last week which they did not attend.
”There was a planning meeting within the governance of MC firstly but we are not happy with how that meeting was organised. Secondly we didn’t go to that meeting and we don’t know who was there but we suspect there were members of the Office of the President and Cabinet in that planning meeting so that president can be able to answer questions in gallery day of the presentation,” he claimed.
He said now the veterans would now have to wait for a debrief from the Matabeleland Collective.
“As ZPRA, our position is as the victims we can talk on our own behalf, that doesn’t need representation even if we are part of the Matabeleland Collective. Whatever the Matabeleland Collective agreed with government, they must be able to stand for it. We are not happy because we wanted to talk on our own behalf but we were not part of that meeting. When you mention Gukurahundi, exhumations, and reburying of victims, that is not child play,” he said adding that traditional leaders were also supposed to present in all discussions.
“Chiefs are the ones who saw what happened, as it happened in their communities so they must be the ones leading the charge. As ZPRA we will look for them.”
Magwizi, also noted that during the July meeting with the Home Affairs minister, he demanded that government come up with an exhumation process.
“But on the following day, we read that government was drafting a Gukurahundi victims’ exhumation policy. Much of hype and nothing was done. In that policy ZAPU and ZPRA are not just stakeholders but actually stockholders without a doubt,” he said.