Mnangagwa says citizens allowed Gukurahundi genocide issue to divide them

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday pleaded with communities affected by the Gukurahundi atrocities to cooperate with traditional leaders in consultations to resolve the emotional issue.

Addressing delegates at the launch of the Gukurahundi Handbook at Bulawayo State House yesterday, Mnangagwa said citizens had let the issue of Gukurahundi divide them, hampering collective development.

The massacres of the 1980s resulted in the brutal murder of 20,000 unarmed civilians in the provinces of Matabeleland and the Midlands.

Yesterday’s launch brought together traditional leaders and government officials.

“We have outside forces with hostile intentions towards this country to dictate to us how we should conduct our affairs and our relations with each other. Today we mark an unabashed declaration that tribalism, regionalism and hostilities ethnicities have no place in our beloved homeland Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said.

“The journey to national unity did not begin today. Indeed, history records that in 1987, our nation’s founding fathers made the decision to unite our people under the national banner by signing the 1987 Unity Accord.”

He pointed out that the Gukurahundi issue was fertile ground for perpetual conflict and acrimony, as he accused certain political formations of using genocide as a political weapon.

“I urge you all to be vigilant and ignore any attempt by any party to achieve any political objective through Gukurahundi. Our traditional rulers who are the guardians of our culture are best placed to deal with issues affecting their respective communities in consultation with the government. To outside critics who seek to maintain Gukurahundi as an eternal source of conflict, I say lingena ngaphi? (where do you stand?), he said.

He also said that in March 2019, non-governmental organizations working under the Collectif Matabeleland asked him for an audience to discuss issues affecting the region.

“Today we are launching the start of our Chiefs-led program. Chiefs will begin consultations and dialogue with their communities on historical and other issues affecting their well-being. I call on Chiefs as they s “engage in this very important task to diligently carry out their duties guided by the principles of ubuntu/hunhu. In the same vein, I urge the communities concerned to cooperate with our traditional leaders in this process”, he added, also saying that the issuance of national identity documents was one of the key deliverables of the program.

Human rights activist Effie Ncube said the Gukurahundi issue could not be dealt with by an executive-led process; perpetrators of genocide.

“The launch is not in the interests of victims and survivors and goes against international best practice which requires independent institutions to deal with the abusive past,” Ncube said.

The chiefs, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told NewsDay that Gukurahundi victims should lead the process.

“What is supposed to be done first is the acknowledgment of the Gukurahundi massacres and a national apology. We are supposed to learn from other countries,” said one of the leaders.

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