Mashudu Netsianda, Deputy News Editor
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has launched a manual on the Gukurahundi community engagement processes by chiefs including a report on their consultative meetings as the Second Republic takes a bold step towards finding a lasting solution and fostering national unity for the healing of the victims.
Traditional leaders crafted and adopted the 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.
The manual, which is a product of inclusive engagements between chiefs and various stakeholders, is a culmination of traditional leaders’ meetings with President Mnangagwa, which started in March 2019.
Chiefs are expected to lead the public hearings in communities on Gukurahundi, which remains a thorny subject in some parts of Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
The president of the Chiefs Council, Chief Fortune Charumbira yesterday presented the document, which is in two volumes, to President Mnangagwa during its launch.
Information contained in Volume 1 is on what has been done so far in terms of the Gukurahundi issue while Volume 2 reflects on what will be done after the launch.
The manual will guide chiefs on how to conduct the consultative and engagement process in the communities.
The President has already mandated traditional leaders to hold meetings in their communities to capture their views and ascertain possible solutions.
In his keynote address during the launch of the manual at the State House in Bulawayo yesterday, President Mnangagwa said the Gukurahundi community engagement programme aptly demonstrates the Second Republic’s commitment to resolving internal conflicts without interference from outsiders.
“The process we are about to engage in, should not be misconstrued as an isolated endeavour designed for only a fraction of our citizenry. It is indeed a defining occasion for the whole country as it is an apt demonstration that under my watch, the Second Republic is determined to resolve whatever conflict between us internally and without interference from external forces,” he said.
“After all, churches, bishops, NGOs and chiefs, among others, have always been in existence, yet conflict was experienced. As President, I took a bold and yet decisive initiative for the nation to open up, discuss and more importantly, bring to finality this Gukurahundi issue.”
The President castigated external forces and the country’s detractors bent on destabilising the country using the Gukurahundi issue.
“For too long, we have let our differences hinder our collective development. We have allowed external forces with hostile intentions towards this country to dictate to us how we should conduct our affairs and relationships with each other,” he said.
“Today we make an unapologetic statement to the effect that tribalism, regionalism and ethnic hostilities have no place in our beloved motherland, Zimbabwe.”
President Mnangagwa said despite the Government’s determination to achieve unity, the nation has not been spared of the divisive machinations of its detractors who seek to drive a wedge between citizens.
He said the Gukurahundi issue has provided fertile ground for those who seek to retain Zimbabwe in a locked position of perpetual conflict and acrimony.
“We are determined to build as one nation, acting in unison and speaking with one clear voice. From Zambezi to Limpopo, Plumtree to Mutare, as a unitary State, under one flag, singing one national anthem,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said in the spirit of inclusiveness and promoting dialogue, the Second Republic took a deliberate decision to invite all Political Actors who participated in the 2018 harmonised elections to join in a platform of national convergence.
“The objective is to engage in constructive dialogue amongst ourselves in the quest to achieve a collective goal of national development for the benefit of all our citizens regardless of political persuasion. The overriding desire is to achieve peace, unity and harmony amongst our people,” said President Mnangagwa.
The vast majority of the 2018 harmonised election Presidential candidates heeded the President’s call for unity. Since 2019, the political players joined hands in national dialogue under the banner of POLAD. Consequently, numerous activities and community programmes have been undertaken by the platform for the benefit of the country.
President Mnangagwa said the journey towards forging national unity started when the nation’s founding fathers, the late former President Mugabe and Vice-President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo signed the Unity Accord in December 1987.
He noted that some political formations have sought to use the Gukurahundi issue as a political weapon which they deploy in Matabeleland and Midlands to gain political mileage for selfish political ends.
“You will have noted that whenever we approach elections external forces using political parties which they control, make a concerted effort to incite citizens to engage in divisive conduct, ostensibly all under the quest of achieving what they term justice for the region,” said President Mnangagwa.
“I urge you all to be vigilant and to disregard any attempts by any party or grouping to achieve political mileage through the Gukurahundi issue. Never again shall we be divided by those who purport to teach democracy.”
President Mnangagwa said traditional leaders, who are the custodians of culture, are best placed to deal with issues affecting their respective communities in consultation with Government.
He said Zimbabweans have continued to boldly seek the path of peace and dialogue as a way of resolving all the issues that confront the nation.
“To the external detractors who seek to maintain Gukurahundi as a perennial fountain of conflict, I say to you ‘lingena ngaphi? This is a matter for Zimbabweans and shall be resolved by the people of Zimbabwe. These mischievous actors have not succeeded and they will not succeed,” said the President.
He said it is against this background that in March 2019, a grouping of non-governmental organisations working under the umbrella of Matabeleland Collective sought an audience with him to discuss issues affecting the region.
“It is at this inaugural meeting that I made the unambiguous statement that all matters affecting our nation, including the Gukurahundi issue, are not out of bounds for discussion amongst our citizens, contrary to the misleading notion suggesting otherwise that had hitherto been peddled amongst our citizens,” said President Mnangagwa.
“On this issue, a decision was made during our collective discussions that chiefs, as the authority that is closest to the people, should lead the community engagement programme.”
The country’s Constitution and customary law empower chiefs to resolve conflicts among people in accordance with traditions and customs.
“The resolution of conflict in our tradition is not a prescriptive process, but one that involves consultations and dialogue amongst affected parties. The very construction of our traditional conflict resolution system renders Chiefs the most suitable leaders to engage in the process of finding concrete and lasting solutions to all the challenges that our people encounter,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said the consultations and dialogue between chiefs and their communities on historic and other issues affecting their welfare resonate well with the Second Republic’s thrust to leave no one and no place behind.
President Mnangagwa implored chiefs to diligently carry out their duties guided by the principles of Ubuntu as they begin the hearings.
“In the same vein, I also appeal to the general public to unite behind this noble cause. I urge the affected people and communities to cooperate with our traditional leaders in this process,” he said.
Government has already identified some of the key result deliverables, which include the issuance of national identity documents, among others, in line with the provisions of the Constitution.
Already, the Civil Registry Department rolled out a programme targeting undocumented individuals with the assistance of traditional leaders.
President Mnangagwa said the exercise will go a long way in ensuring that citizens realise their full rights and identity.
He called on churches, civil society organisations and community leaders to continue contributing positively to this nation-building process.
“I further call upon all the provinces and the nation at large to join hands in solidarity with this discourse. This irreversible process, we have embarked on will enhance our developmental agenda to strengthen the unity of our people through a shared narrative that affirms our common identity, dignity and humanity,” he said.
“Rest assured that my Government shall avail the necessary resources required for this initiative. Our traditional values should be respected at all times and divisive ideologies that perpetuate conflict should be shunned.”
The President urged citizens to remain united towards a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe for the present and future generations.
“The nation’s founding fathers moved past their differences and dedicated their lives to bring equality, justice, and peace for all. Shame on anyone who seeks to divide,” he said.
The event was attended by Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, Information, Public and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa and several chiefs drawn from all districts in the country.
Article Source: The Chronicle