President to launch Gukurahundi hearings

The Chronicle

Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
CHIEFS from Matabeleland region are set to meet today and tomorrow in Bulawayo as part of their final engagement ahead of the official launch of hearings by President Mnangagwa to tackle the Gukurahundi issue within the affected communities.

The traditional leaders are expected to lead the reburial of victims of Gukurahundi in Matabeleland and the Midlands while Government will be involved in funding the process, as part of initiatives meant to address the emotive issue and promote national healing.

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

He said the public should give traditional leaders time to resolve the matter, which remains top of the Government’s agenda.
President Mnangagwa will launch the Gukurahundi hearings on a date to be announced.

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.

Chiefs from the Matabeleland region and Midlands Province were mandated to handle the Gukurahundi issue following a series of meetings with President Mnangagwa.

The last meeting between the President and the Chiefs was held at the State House in Bulawayo in September last year,
Due to their proximity to communities, it was resolved that the traditional leadership institution is a key stakeholder in handling problems affecting communities including the Gukurahundi matter.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic which has forced the Government to restrict movement of people through lockdowns has largely hindered chiefs from implementing resolutions that were made with the President.

In an interview yesterday, National Council of Chiefs president Chief Fortune Charumbira said the two-day meeting marks the end to their series of engagements and charting the way forward.

“Chiefs from Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces will tomorrow (today) and Friday meet in Bulawayo to finalise on our outreach as part of efforts to bring healing and resolve the Gukurahundi issue.

It will be a closed-door meeting where we are sharing the tools of engagement when chiefs will be on the ground such as how they access the victims using a common approach,” he said.

“We have different approaches depending on the culture, which is why it is important to meet and share knowledge. After this meeting we then go into the official launch of the hearings by President Mnangagwa somewhere in Matabeleland South.”

Chiefs have on several occasions held several meetings behind closed doors to discuss a range of issues, with Gukurahundi on their agenda.

The resolutions that the chiefs are going to come up with are going to be presented to President Mnangagwa before implementation.

The chiefs have in the past called for patience as they try to resolve the emotive issue stating that peace building takes time.
Since President Mnangagwa came to power, following Operation Restore Legacy in 2017, he has called on the country not to be a hostage to its past, but confront it head on.

The President said Gukurahundi should be openly discussed to enable the nation to move on, which in itself was a break from the past.

He said traditional leaders should be given time to resolve the issue as they can better engage with affected communities who are their subjects.

The 1980s conflict affected many people in the Matabeleland region and parts of the Midlands. Noting that some Gukurahundi victims do not have national identity documents in violation of their rights, President Mnangagwa instructed the Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Ministry to forego bottlenecks that were inhibiting citizens, especially victims of Gukurahundi, from getting the documents.

Chiefs have started compiling a database of members of the public in their communities without IDs after which they invite the registry department to process the documents.

Budgetary allocations for chiefs to roll out Gukurahundi programmes have been approved and disbursement is expected to commence shortly, giving impetus to the national healing exercise.

For the first time post the Gukurahundi era, the Government will be providing traditional leaders with funding for programmes aimed at resolving the emotional issue.

Financing of the Gukurahundi programmes will be managed by the Office of the President and Cabinet following release of funds by the Treasury.


Article Source: The Chronicle

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