GOVERNMENT will provide social security benefits, among a host of other forms of assistance, to victims of Gukurahundi as part of President Mnangagwa’s pledge to find a lasting solution to address problems from post-independence political disturbances that affected Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
The provision of the benefits will not be a one-size-fits-all, but will be carried out according to the needs of affected communities who will work with their local chiefs.
This emerged after a crucial meeting at State House in Bulawayo yesterday between President Mnangagwa and the National Council of Chiefs, where among other things, each chief was tasked with resolving issues within their area of jurisdiction by consulting with local communities on their needs and expectations.
Presenting the resolutions after the closed-door meeting, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said following the deliberations, the President highlighted that a systematic approach should be adopted.
“Concerning 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 by traditional leaders,” said Mr Mangwana.
He said once chiefs had gone back and consulted on issues raised, the Government would deploy the necessary resources to address the problems highlighted.
“So whichever chief is ready, the President will deploy resources to their areas to support the resolution of issues in that area,” said Mr Mangwana.
It was key for individual chiefs to guide the Government on the best approach to be taken, emphasising that the Gukurahundi issue should not be tribalised.
“The process will be victim-centred and will also involve stakeholder engagement. It was reiterated that the Gukurahundi issue should not be tribalised in order to foster nation-building and national healing. Chiefs requested to organise themselves and come up with implementation plans detailing preparedness in their areas of jurisdiction so as to guide the process,” said Mr Mangwana.
Issues to be addressed include documentation (birth, national identity and death certificates), underdevelopment and marginalisation of the Matabeleland region, national healing, reconciliation and nation-building, counselling and psychosocial support, consultation of victims, reburials and memorials, reparations and compensation and social security benefits (pensions, free education, social welfare and health services).
“Regarding exhumations and reburials, these should be resolved on a case-by-case basis, taking into account custom centric factors and the relevant chief should give guidance and direction,” Mr Mangwana said.
He said it must be noted that the President was committed to resolving the Gukurahundi issue.
“We need to emphasise that this programme that we are gathered here to deal with was and is the President’s initiated programme. It is not only initiated by the President but it’s also driven by the President. The President was not under pressure from anybody to do this. Through the spirit of fostering national cohesion, he saw it appropriate that for this country to develop it needs peace and harmony,” said Mr Mangwana.
Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, the president of the National Council of Chiefs, Chief Fortune Charumbira, commended President Mnangagwa’s passion for resolving the Gukurahundi issue.
“It is now or never. We are going to resolve this issue. As chiefs we are happy that this is finally coming to fruition and it is us, as the traditional leaders, who will be leading this process,” said Chief Charumbira.
His deputy, Chief Mtshane Khumalo, said the biggest takeaway from the meeting was that they now have a clear path on how to approach the matter.
“This has been a process, we first met the President in 2019 concerning this issue of Gukurahundi. We have been trying everything regarding resolving this issue but now we have reached a point where we can now go back to the people who were affected by Gukurahundi. We have heard from other organisations on what they are thinking but what is important is to go back to the grassroots. We know chief among the problems that have been identified is that of documentation but the President has assured us that he will be availing funds to ensure that these people get the necessary documentation,” said Chief Khumalo.
Since 2019, President Mnangagwa has held several meetings with various stakeholders to find lasting solutions to the Gukurahundi issue.
Also present at the meeting yesterday were Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Bulawayo Metropolitan Judith Ncube and other senior Government officials.