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Gukurahudi: churches draft principles

03/02/2018 00:00:00
by Staff reporter

THE Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) says there is concern in the manner in which the issue of Gukurahundi atrocities is being handled and have come up with principles for comprehensive engagement on the 1980s genocide.

Key actors, who met under the auspices of ZCC in Bulawayo recently and are calling themselves the Working Group on Gukurahundi, have since come up with 10 principles that they recommend should be used to deal with the atrocities.

The state sponsored atrocities which claimed about 20 000 innocent lives in Matabeleland and Midlands in the 1980s, have once again been thrown onto the spotlight with the country`s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa recently refusing to offer a public apology.

President Mnangagwa-seen as the chief architect of the atrocities – in November last year, refused to take blame for the killings and has urged the country to “let bygones be bygones” and move on.

ZCC Secretary General, Reverend Kenneth Mtata, said the working group came up with the principles on “the realisation that many people were dealing with the issue yet no generally accepted principles guided the processes”.

“It was realised that some people were addressing the Gukurahundi issues for personal, financial and political gain. It was agreed that engagement on Gukurahundi must not be instrumentalised for any purpose but should be viewed as a means towards national reconciliation, healing and contribution to the broader vision for social cohesion in Zimbabwe.

“It was observed that the history of Zimbabwe is littered with different forms of atrocities. However, the Gukurahundi remains an exceptional case in terms of magnitude of the loss of lives and its clearly regional, ethnic and political slant.

It was agreed that Gukurahundi must be given its unique place without ignoring other past atrocities and violations of human rights,” said Rev Mtata.

On the principle of continuity, Rev Mtata said the group had noted that there had been other past efforts to address the Gukurahundi, including reports from different commissions.

“It was agreed that, current engagement with the Gukurahundi issue must not be done in isolation but must build upon past initiatives,” he noted.

The Working Group on Gukurahundi also came to a realisation that some people were either minimising or exaggerating the effects of the Gukurahundi out of ignorance or with other ulterior motives.


They then agreed that engagement with the issue must not be driven by falsehoods, exaggerations and misinformation but must be informed by independently verifiable facts of what actually happened.

“While engagement on Gukurahundi must focus on empowering the victims to move on with their lives in spite of the effects of their brutalisation, it must also result in the healing of the perpetrators so that they are transformed and reintegrated into healthy society,” said Rev Mtata.

“It must lead to the reconciliation between the victims and perpetrators as much as this is possible.”

The group also noted that the atrocities must be memorialised through dignified re-burials, monuments and rituals at multiple levels of society so that future generations will not be misinformed through falsified and sanitised national history-telling.

Preventive justice mechanisms should also be put in place “so that never again will one group of people in Zimbabwe execute systemic violence against another”.

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