Govt knuckles down on Gukurahundi

Source: Govt knuckles down on Gukurahundi | Sunday Mail (Local News)

Lincoln Towindo
The exercise to officially launch the issuance of civic documents in communities affected by post-independence disturbances in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces will be held at Maphisa Growth Point in Matobo District, Matabeleland South, before the end of September.

The launch was initially scheduled for Tsholotsho (Matabeleland North) but was switched to Maphisa after consultations with community leaders from the region.

Government is also in the process of crafting a legal instrument — which will take into account views canvassed from across around the country — that will pave way for exhumations of victims of the disturbances caused by Gukurahundi.

Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Permanent Secretary Aaron Nhepera confirmed that President Mnangagwa is expected to headline the event.

“They (community leaders) wanted the exercise to be launched in Matobo District, which is something that emerged in a meeting that the Minister of Home Affairs (Kazembe Kazembe) chaired on the 2nd of July.

“From there on, we have been liaising with them over the issue and have agreed with them that before the end of September, the registration exercise will be launched by His Excellency, the President,” said Mr Nhepera.

“Basically, for us it has been the issue of ensuring that those who, because of the Gukurahundi disturbances, did not have registration documents were actually given the documents.”

Government is presently engaging the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), which had made a commitment to fund the exercise in Tsholotsho, to redirect the resources to Matobo.

“What has happened so far is that with regards to the issue of documentation, we have put in place a programme, working with UNICEF, which would have seen us commence issuance of death certificates and birth certificates in Tsholotsho.

“But this arrangement had omitted to communicate with the Matabeleland Collective group and the communities in that region because they had a different view and different priorities altogether . . .

“As I have indicated, UNICEF had committed to funding the exercise in Tsholotsho, so now we are in the process of engaging them to see if they can redirect resources to the Matobo programme; if they are not, it means we have to find other resources for Matobo,” added Mr Nhepera.

As part of efforts to ensure restorative justice to the affected communities, Government is actively working on the legal framework that will enable exhumations and reburials.

Consultations with key stakeholders such as the Matabeleland Collective — a network of civic society organisations and churches based in the region — and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) are already underway.

Mr Nhepera said: “We have had meetings with them with regards a policy we are trying to come up with that speaks to the exhumation of human remains, which initially was only for mass graves from the liberation struggle.

“But the NPRC had to advise that we also had to include the disturbances that happened post the liberation struggle.

“We are in the process of amending our draft policy, which we will eventually take to the community in that region, but also throughout the country to get everyone’s views on it.

“When we are through with that, then we are informed on how we should proceed in terms of exhumations that are related to the Gukurahundi period.”

NPRC chairperson Justice Sello Nare could not be reached for comment last week.

President Mnangagwa, who has continued to reiterate that the country should confront its ugly past, met members of the Matabeleland Collective for the third time on August 22 at State House in Bulawayo.

The engagements are also meant to prioritise developmental projects such as the Zambezi Water Project in the region.

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