Mashudu Netsianda Bulawayo Bureau
President Mnangagwa will today meet civil society leaders from Matabeleland here as part of a follow up to previous meetings revolving around issues affecting the region, including dialogue towards finding closure to the emotive Gukurahundi issue.
He arrived in Bulawayo yesterday evening for the meeting, which is scheduled to take place at State House this morning. He is also expected to launch the issuance of birth and death certificates for Gukurahundi victims in due course.
The President is committed to holding robust discussions with Matabeleland civic groups, stressing the need for national cohesion and collective efforts in taking the country forward.
In line with the New Dispensation’s thrust of collective engagement towards development, today’s meeting will see the President interfacing with some organisations that had previously been hostile towards the Government, expressing commitment to contribute towards the development of the country.
The President has so far held two meetings with the civil society under the Matabeleland Collective banner and a separate one with chiefs to promote national healing.
Matabeleland Collective is a grouping of non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations, community-based organisations, trusts, savings clubs and social movements from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South.
Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana, said President Mnangagwa was committed to the finalisation of the Gukurahundi issue, among other developmental issues affecting the Matabeleland region.
“There have been meetings regarding the engagements around Matabeleland Collective such as marginalisation, Gukurahundi and development in this region. This is a third engagement for His Excellency President Mnangagwa and he will give an update on this whole journey and how we are moving forward,” he said.
“However, most of the information will be available tomorrow after the engagement itself.”
Mr Mangwana said despite the Covid-19 induced lockdown, the President saw it fit to travel to Bulawayo to meet relevant stakeholders involved in the discussions.
“This is a follow-up of a programme that has already started and His Excellency does not start something and not see it to its logical conclusion. The issue of Gukurahundi, past marginalisation within this region is an issue which His Excellency is seized with and close to his heart,” he said.
“Even under lockdown, he has decided that we need to continue to follow through to see everything to finality and good end. The President will give a speech tomorrow (today) and all the stakeholders will also be able to talk to the media after the engagement itself.”
Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mrs Virginia Mabhiza, said there has been tremendous progress in the discussions.
She said President Mnangagwa will soon launch a programme for the issuance of birth and death certificates for victims of Gukurahundi.
“The issues are mostly to do with birth and death certificates for victims of Gukurahundi and we are also looking at the issue of exhumations, which is currently being handled by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission. Our bigger vision is to conduct a launch and His Excellency is going to launch the issuance of births and death certificates in a province of his choice in Matabeleland. We are also looking into the issues of exhumations,” she said.
“We are here as a follow-up to the July meeting and this is basically a follow-up on issues that we have discussed with the civic society based in Bulawayo. This is not about Gukurahundi issues only but other broader developmental issues affecting the region. There is a lot of progress so far around the issues under discussion.”
In his previous meetings, President Mnangagwa has hailed the interaction which he described as the first of its kind in terms of social dialogue.
Speaking on behalf of Matabeleland Collective, Ms Jenni Williams, who is also director of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, said the grouping was working to help citizens look ahead with hope and energy rather than looking backward with sadness.
“We are meeting the President to discuss challenges around our ongoing dialogue, which has been going on for two years now. The Minister of Home Affairs was recently here on the same issues and we have now requested the President to come and engage us so that we are able to deal with some of the issues around the dialogue,” she said.