Jeffrey Muvundusi 13 December 2017
BULAWAYO – Civic and opposition groups in Matabeleland region have
challenged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to show commitment
towards providing meaningful national healing to the victims of the
Among some of the steps that government should take, include allowing the
organ on Peace, National Healing and Reconciliation, to work independent
of the President’s Office.
This came out during a discussion on possibilities in the aftermath of
former president Robert Mugabe departure which was organised by the
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) in conjunction with WILD and
Norwegian Peoples Aid whose theme was “Post 37 years of Mugabe’s rule
wither Zimbabwe and Possibilities for National Healing.”
“It’s quite a very emotive issue where we find that from this part of the
region, we actually have stateless persons who don’t actually belong to
Zimbabwe or to any part of the southern region.
“Because of that we become excluded from any developmental processes and
you are excluded from participation. I think it’s an issue that we need to
address as a nation and we need to get to the root cause of it,” said
civic leader, Liberty Bhebhe.
An estimated 20 000 people were killed in a government-sanctioned
operation in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces which became known as
Government said it was an operation targeted at containing insurrection
which was being driven by alleged members of Zapu, claims which were
dismissed by rights groups who argued that it was a well-orchestrated plan
to create a one party State by Mugabe and Zanu PF.
During the discussion matters almost boiled over as panellists and
delegates reacted with anger at Mnangagwa’s special adviser, Christopher
Mutsvangwa, whose remarks on Gukurahundi, torched off a fresh storm on the
“The departure of Mugabe has revealed that change can happen so now there
is an opportunity to make sure that we begin to push for the things that
we need in terms of ensuring that national healing happens.
“We need an independent National Peace and Reconciliation Commission; we
do not need it to be controlled from the office of the president.
Allow the commission to function, give it the tools to enable it
function,” Bhebhe told delegates.
Outspoken MDC deputy national spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo said Mnangagwa
and his government had an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past
which have driven thousands of undocumented people into neighbouring South
“Why are people from Matabeleland scattered in South Africa because they
do not have national identity cards. These are the hazards of Gukurahundi.
So where are we healing here when the people who are supposed to heal have
decided to eke a living in a country where they are working like dogs?,”
Feisty director of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) pressure group – Jenni
Williams whose organisation had many run-ins with Mugabe government – said
the people of Matabeleland needed to unite on what they wanted done to
have the emotive issue given full attention by the authorities.
“National healing will not occur until we decide to be united on what we
want and how we want it.”