CIVIC society organisations and human rights groups have called on government to assign the responsibility of leading the exhumation and reburial of Gukurahundi victims to the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).
BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently tasked chiefs in Matabeleland to preside over the process.
Mnangagwa met Matabeleland chiefs recently in Bulawayo to discuss how best to handle the emotive Gukurahundi issue and bring closure to it.
Most survivors of the 1980s massacres which left more than 20 000 civilians dead still do not have identity documents such as birth certificates.
The survivors have also demanded that the exhumations and reburials should be handled by the NPRC as Mnangagwa is perceived to be a perpetrator of the genocide.
Human rights activist Effie Ncube said the chiefs should not usurp the powers of the NPRC which should retain its constitutional role of ensuring peace and reconciliation, so that it deals with the emotive issue.
“Whatever the weaknesses that the NPRC has, it is still a constitutional body mandated to lead the national healing and reconciliation exercise. To that extent, Mnangangwa does not have the right whatsoever to create any other body to deal with this besides the NPRC,”Ncube said.
“We do believe that the NPRC must be adequately resourced. It has sufficient skills to deal with a very complicated situation like the Gukurahundi genocide,” he said.
Ncube said there was no need to create a parallel structure composed of chiefs to deal with the issue.
“The victims of Gukurahundi need a body that is specific to Gukurahundi and that deals with these issues daily. The chiefs cannot lead, and must not lead the issue of Gukurahundi, that is a joke and a waste of time,” he said.
Ibhetshu likaZulu secretary- general Mbuso Fuzwayo, who together with Gukurahundi survivor Charles Thomas, and opposition party Zapu, recently sued Mnangagwa to stop him from conducting exhumations and reburials, also said the chiefs should not preside over the matter.
“We cannot have chiefs from Mashonaland placed at equal level with chiefs from Matabeleland in dealing with the Gukurahundi issue. It is no longer clear who is leading and these other players should be there to assist, not to take over from the NPRC.
“It must be made clear what role the government plays in addressing the matter. You cannot have the government indirectly taking over from an independent body like the NPRC,” Fuzwayo said.
He said it was sad that the perpetrator was now deciding what was supposed to be done without consulting the victims.
“It should be the NPRC that facilitates, not the perpetrators choosing whom they want,” Fuzwayo said.
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