CONSULTATIONS over the exhumation and reburial of victims of post-independence disturbances in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces will commence early next year, with Government now crafting a roadmap to steer the process.
It was resolved at a recent meeting between President Mnangagwa and the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs (ZCC) that traditional leaders should immediately roll out public consultations in the affected communities as the first step in the process.
President Mnangagwa has committed to facilitate restorative justice and take measures to provide healing to communities affected by the civil disturbances that rocked parts of the provinces, in an operation commonly referred to as Gukurahundi.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs secretary Mrs Virginia Mabhiza told The Sunday Mail that Government is prioritising resource mobilisation to kick-start the initiative. She said the meeting was a follow up to previous consultations held between Chiefs and the President.
“The President pointed out that the dialogue process was initiated by Matabeleland Civic Society under the banner of the Matabeleland Collective,” said Mrs Mabhiza.
“Moreover, it was in that process that the role of the Chiefs was highlighted in resolving the issue of Gukurahundi.
“The Council of Chiefs took a collective position to resolve the issue of Gukurahundi.
“The President informed the meeting that the issue of Gukurahundi was now an open issue which can now be discussed freely.
“The President emphasised the need to prioritise resource mobilisation so as to kick-start the initiative.
“Further, His Excellency pointed out that it was necessary for every region to be on board so as to address the Gukurahundi issue.”
She added: “A priority matrix of execution of the agreed issues will be made with timelines on implementation.”
ZCC deputy president Chief Lukas Mtshane-Khumalo said consultations will commence once resources are made available.
“The responsibility that has been given to traditional leaders, that is the chiefs, headman and village heads, is for them to source information about how they want the process to be undertaken from the people that were affected,” said Chief Mtshane-Khumalo.
“We cannot pre-empt what the people will say about how they want the exhumations and the reburials to be done because we are just mere facilitators of the process.
“If it were up to us we would have long decided. But it is those people who were directly affected who must tell us what they want done for their loved ones who lost their lives.”
He said following the consultations, a consolidated report from all three provinces will be produced in order to come up with a framework for undertaking the reburials.
“We do not have a timeline as yet because there is still a lot of preparatory work that has to be done first. You can expect that there will be a lot of travelling and that is where Government comes in to provide for the logistics.
“Mind you, we are heading towards the end of the financial year so there may not be funds available as yet. So maybe at the beginning of next year, we will kick off the consultations.”
In April last year, Government met with the Matabeleland Collective to kick-start the process of finding solutions to ensure healing among victims of Gukurahundi as well as developmental aspirations of the provinces.
Authorities are now working to fast-track the implementation of the resolutions including ceding ownership of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project to locals and issuing of civic documents to surviving children of victims of the disturbances.