BY SILAS NKALA
Matabeleland-based human rights activists say the decision by government to deploy chiefs from the region to deal with the emotive Gukurahundi issue will not work as there are no clear terms of reference for the programme.
The activists made the remarks during a virtual debate on the atrocities organised by the Nkayi Community Parliament last week.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu secretary general Mbuso Fuzwayo said it was unfortunate that President Emmerson Mnangagwa wanted to sidestep the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) by delegating some of its duties to the traditional leaders.
“Commissions of inquiry were put in place during the late former president Robert Mugabe era and I do not see what Mnangagwa has done,” Fuzwayo said.
“What he has done is to violate the constitution, in that when we have a constitutional body, NPRC, you create a chiefs organ which is unconstitutional and it has no clear terms of reference.
“Even today no one knows what the chiefs are supposed to do and they report to whom and we understand he told them to report to him but he is a perpetrator.”
Fuzwayo said Mnangagwa was wasting time and resources by creating many structures to deal with the issue.
“When did the chiefs start dealing with rape cases, when did they start dealing with genocide?
“We are talking of an international crime and you reduce it to a level where chiefs are to deal with such and when you listen to them they tell you they are sent by a perpetrator,” he said.
“The chiefs in this case stand for the perpetrator not victims and this is wayward.
“We want a non-criminal process, which will bring the aspect of truth, justice and healing that is when peace will prevail.”
Journalist, researcher and film producer Zenzele Ndebele said Mnangagwa must be sincere and look at the issues that people have been talking about for decades now.
“If there are issues that can be solved by the chiefs, let them be solved by them,” Ndebele said.
“The issues of documents, reburials, some families who fail to conceive because their fathers’ spirits need appeasement in the bush.
“Those are cultural issues that the chiefs can solve, but the chiefs cannot go to Mnangagwa to ask him who was in the fifth brigade as they must come and apologise.”
He said chiefs cannot counsel women, who were raped, and they will not solve the issue of those who disappeared.
Post-Independence Survival Trust founding chairperson Felix Magalela Mafa Sibanda said the deployment of chiefs to deal with Gukurahundi will make them enemies of the people.
“This is a deliberate ploy to buy time and make the chiefs enemies of their own people,” Sibanda said.
“It is very disturbing to find that some of our chiefs are now corrupt and think they can do this.
“Traditional leaders have an Act and its Chapter 15 has to be aligned so that they deal with traditional issues not murder, not massacres, those are criminal activities that can be dealt with by police and courts.
“He should have instituted transitional justice,” Sibanda said.