PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa is today scheduled to meet Matabeleland traditional leaders in Bulawayo to, among other things, discuss the emotive Gukurahundi issue, marginalisation and development of the region.
This is not the first time that Mnangagwa has met traditional leaders from the region to discuss festering issues in the region, but there is a worrying trend that these indabas are becoming empty talkshows.
The President has also met members of the Matabeleland Collective (MC) at the State House in the city not once, but more than twice.
In all these engagements, regional leaders have been clear that they will not settle for anything less than a sincere Gukurahundi apology and a truth-telling process led by the chiefs and civic society organisations from the region. They contend that this is key towards finding a lasting solution to Gukurahudi.
In all the past engagements, Mnangagwa has skirted over the apology part and rushed to facilitate exhumations and reburials of Gukurahundi victims and issuance of identity documents to the survivors.
This has left many affected citizens sceptical over his sincerity in dealing with the issue. They still believe that Mnangagwa, as one of the perpetrators, must not dictate the direction to be taken, but allow them to lead the healing process. In short, he should talk less and listen more. That’s true statesmanship.
The message has been very clear that the President cannot put the cart before the horse. From Mangwe to Tsholotsho, Bulawayo and Nkayi — demands of an acknowledgment, apology and a truth-telling process before reburials are uniform.
Why does he now want to fast-track an issue that is as old as the country’s independence? We wonder why Mnangagwa is not doing the right thing.
Mnangagwa should listen to the people who were affected in order to make his meetings meaningful. If the meetings fail to achieve anything, the people of Matabeleland will lose confidence in him and those meetings will be a wasted opportunity to resolve the crisis.
Mnangagwa should simply own up to the atrocities, apologise and seek the consent of the victims on how they would want the crisis to be resolved. This is a key ingredient of transitional justice.