Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
TRADITIONAL leaders have crafted and adopted a Gukurahundi manual to guide the holding of victim-friendly public hearings to ensure national healing as the country confronts its unfortunate past brought about by the 1980s conflict.
Chiefs are expected to soon lead the public hearings in communities on Gukurahundi, which remains a thorny subject in some parts of Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
The conflict ended in 1987 when the late former President Mugabe and late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo signed the Unity Accord on December 22 of that year. While the Unity Accord produced a political solution to the conflict, the underlying social problems remained and the Second Republic has been on a mission to address that.
The ongoing process is expected to lead to reburials of some victims while Government has already intervened in ensuring citizens have access to national documents.
In March this year, traditional leaders identified an inclusive panel that includes traditionalists, pastors, counsellors, women, men and youth to conduct Gukurahundi public hearings.
Since last Friday, chiefs from Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South have been engaging in Bulawayo to move the process forward. They have since come up with a manual which will guide them as they conduct the defining public hearings.
In a landmark development, President Mnangagwa is today expected to launch the public hearings manual in Bulawayo at the State House. In an interview on the sidelines of the Chiefs’ meeting yesterday at a local hotel, National Chiefs Council President Chief Fortune Charumbira said the manual they produced is a product of inclusive engagements with various stakeholders.
He said it is also a culmination of traditional leaders meeting with President Mnangagwa.
“We reported to the President here in Bulawayo about engagement with stakeholders on Gukurahundi. We are launching the roadmap to community engagement and the event will be graced by His Excellency the President. We have engaged civic society organisations and other groups on how we should go about on Gukurahundi and they gave their views and submissions on how it can have resolved,” said Chief Charumbira.
“Remember we did a report which was led by the National Chiefs Council and we worked very closely with Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North provinces in every step and that report was presented to His Excellency, the President at Bulawayo State House.”
He said public hearings which are yet to be held are part of stakeholder engagements, findings and recommendations made by chiefs.
Chief Charumbira said it was going to be flawed to jump into public hearings without conducting necessary preparations.
He said chiefs have been capacitated for the Gukurahundi public hearings hence their ability to produce and adopt a uniform manual to guide them.
Chief Charumbira said a victim centred approach has been adopted in the crafting of the manual.
“And the way forward is that we should go to the communities, we want the victims to speak out under the process led by the traditional leaders, the chiefs. Part of that was to prepare for what we call the outreach, community engagement by the chiefs; victim engagement by the chiefs,” he said.
“In preparation for that we held workshops with the chiefs to share views and manualise the step-by-step process of engaging the community. How do you do it, how do you invite those meetings, who attends, who assists the chiefs, so the chiefs came up with a manual on the step-by-step approach to victim consultation and the document was validated yesterday and it will be launched on Monday by the President.”
Today’s launch is a follow-up to a series of meetings between President Mnangagwa and traditional leaders in a bid to come up with home grown solutions in addressing Gukurahundi.
Since ascending to power in 2017, President Mnangagwa has made concerted efforts to ensure that the country confronts its past head-on.
The President has encouraged citizens to openly discuss the issue which was previously deemed taboo.
In his Unity Day message last year, President Mnangagwa said there is a need to boldly confront and tackle the aftermath of Gukurahundi; heal wounds it left in its wake, and where possible, assuage persistent difficulties and challenges traceable to it.
It is expected that the outcomes from the forthcoming public hearings between chiefs and communities will produce recommendations on how the State should intervene for the victims as well as the region. – @nqotshili
Article Source: The Chronicle