Conflict resolution training for chiefs ahead of Gukurahundi hearings

The Chronicle

Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
CHIEFS are set to undergo training on conflict resolution before they roll out hearings on Gukurahundi, with proceedings being recorded as Government moves to ensure that victims get closure on one of the country’s darkest chapters.

Traditional leaders have been given the mandate to play a pivotal role in efforts to bring healing and resolve the Gukurahundi issue because of their proximity to victims.

The chiefs are still mapping the road to resolve the issue that left many victims in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
Resolving the matter remains top on Government’s agenda.

In his Unity Day message, President Mnangagwa said he has made it his personal mission that the country addresses Gukurahundi to unburden future generations.

President Mnangagwa said the public should give traditional leaders time to resolve the matter.
In an interview, National Council of Chiefs president Chief Fortune Charumbira said traditional leaders are expected to undergo conflict resolution training this month which will be a precursor to public hearings.

He said experts on conflict resolution will be invited during the capacity building process.

“We want to say we can capacitate them but this does not mean that they have no capacity. They already have an inherent capacity to handle disputes but this one is a bit unique because it involves a lot of recording. In the usual conflict resolution process with traditional leaders the issue of recording is not as detailed as they simply summarise what transpired and close cases. But in this case the records are of national interest and everyone is interested,” said Chief Charumbira.

He said part of the training will be to determine how the recordings will be conducted as well as the interview processes.

“We also want a structured way depending on the culture and community. We want to give people an opportunity to present their cases without being asked leading questions. We want people to come out and express themselves,” he said.

“Some of the meetings the people might get emotional, some might break down during the presentation. So, we want to capacitate them on handling those who might become emotional. How do you introduce this subject which is emotional and delicate? In this capacity building the chiefs will share among themselves what needs to be done. They can even inform each other that in our culture we don’t do it like that.”

Chief Charumbira said since cultures are not homogenous, traditional leaders will need to be trained on how to handle diverse traditions within a community.

“There are different cultures within a certain chieftainship, the cultures may not be homogeneous for example, you can be in a community like Chief Mathema’s in Gwanda where there are also Suthu so we need to respect all cultures,” said Chief Charumbira.

National Council of Chiefs deputy president Chief Mtshane said the capacity building will also assist traditional leaders who may not have experienced Gukurahundi because of their age.

“So, the capacity building will detail how we are going to approach communities especially when we reach affected communities. This will enable a chief to be able to handle cases even if they had no direct experience with Gukurahundi.

Actually, most of the information is not supposed to come from chiefs but people who were affected by Gukurahundi. Chiefs should have a uniform and systematic approach in handling this issue as it was done with the Constitution making processes. The questions that are supposed to be asked in communities should be similar,” said Chief Mtshane.

He said while chiefs will pose similar questions to their subjects, they may not arrive at similar resolutions.

“The situation was not the same in every area. This thing was conducted differently in different places. It’s not possible to expect that the outcomes would be the same. In some areas people were being shot, while others were being hit using knobkerries and all those things. Some were buried in shallow graves, so all these circumstances were different. So, we don’t expect similar responses during the hearings,” he said.

Last month, President Mnangagwa said he has made it his personal mission to address the issue. The President said his continuous interactions with relevant stakeholders is a testament of how he seriously wants the matter to be resolved for the nation to move in unison.

“As I address you, efforts continue to be deployed to build on that precious legacy of peace and national unity which the Unity Accord bequeathed us. I have made it a personal mission to engage our citizens and our communities in the conflict zones of that unfortunate time of early Independence,” he said.–@nqotshili

Article Source: The Chronicle

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