BY SILAS NKALA
CHIEFS in Matabeleland have been urged to invite President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and former Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, who were involved in the 1980s Gukurahundi genocide in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces to meet the victims and formally apologise to facilitate closure.
This follows Mnangagwa’s weekend visit to Bulawayo where he met traditional leaders from Matabeleland to discuss the emotive Gukurahundi issue.
More than 20 000 unarmed civilians were butchered during the 1980s genocide and the issue is still under discussion.
Sections of Matabeleland human rights groups were, however, not impressed by a statement issued to the Press after the meeting by Information ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana.
They said his utterances during a Press conference watered down the emotive issue.
Mangwana had told the media that government will provide social security benefits to the Gukurahundi victims, among other benefits.
“On the issue of social security benefits, this shall also be resolved on a case-by-case basis. Issues have been clarified and this should enable the chiefs to carry out their tasks, this issue is traditional and should be dealt with traditionally by traditional leaders,” Mangwana said.
Bulawayo civil rights activist Thembelani Dube said instead, chiefs should demand the release and publication of the Dumbutshena Commission report and the Chihambakwe Commission report on the issue.
“They must also invite Mnangagwa, Chiwenga and Sekeramayi to their areas to interface with the victims and apologise on behalf of government. The affected tribes and communities cannot heal without truth telling and punishment of perpetrators. They cannot do all what they are saying they will do without acknowledging their misdeeds,” Dube said.
Rights activist Effie Ncube described the weekend meeting between Mnangagwa and the chiefs as an electoral gimmick meant to buy time for perpetrators and fool the people of Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
“It is a perpetrator-driven and perpetrator-manipulated waste of time. The Gukurahundi genocide cannot be resolved by chiefs period and neither can it be solved by the perpetrator. The double standards are unmistakable. They have an I don’t care attitude painted all over the joke. They must set up an international inquiry to sort out this issue,” Ncube said.
Nkayi resident Nkosilathi Ncube said: “We do not understand what we will be talking about with our chiefs; some of them were not yet born when the Gukurahundi massacres occurred. They have set parameters of what we should talk about.”
Another human rights activist Nhlanhla Moses Ncube said: “Mangwana says Gukurahundi was traditional, does he mean killing of innocent people was a tradition, and it means this should continue if it’s a tradition? This is sad.”