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Chiefs commence community engagements on Gukurahundi atrocities 

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By Mary Taruvinga


The initiative to resolve Gukurahundi atrocities tensions through engagements with victims in Matebeleland North and South has officially commenced under the supervision of the National Chiefs Council, Information Ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana has said.

Mangwana was giving his keynote address at a media sensitisation workshop held in Bulawayo.

The much-needed engagement according to Mangwana is expected to run throughout this year and is aimed at bringing closure to victims.

Mangwana said the media plays a critical role in informing the public and should work together with authorities, be professional and remain committed until the consultations are complete.

“Resolutions of conflicts of the past are being sorted. We are here to confront the positive things that help resolve the conflicts.

“We are not taking away your independence by bringing you here and by asking you to be partners. We are not taking away your editorial independence but we are asking you to walk with us responsibly,” he said.

He urged the media not to lose interest no matter how monotonous the subject may become.

“We urge you (media) to remain focused in those communities to remain engaged no matter how many times things are repeated because the nation needs to know what’s going on.

 “It is important for you to report those stories. We should continue to arouse public interest.”

Mangwana also said the media should not inflame emotions.

“Gukurahundi is a painful phase, yes we have been asked to speak liberally but now we are at a stage where reconciliation and resolution is taking place. Let’s report responsibly”.

A total of 72 chiefs will be presiding over these consultations and media briefings will be held every fortnight.

Chief Fortune Charumbira, the Deputy President of the National Council of Chiefs said chiefs and those who will be involved in the process have received intensive training.

“Our model of resolving conflict will be based on traditional values and all those who deserve compensation will be compensated.

“You may find that some of them will narrate harrowing experiences and the media should be sensitive to other issues of privacy,” he said.

Consultations are coming four years after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that chiefs will take the lead in resolving Gukurahundi.

Affected communities have also been demanding that Mnangagwa should issue a public apology first before any discussions on the Gukurahundi atrocities can begin.

More than 20 000 civilians in Matebeleland and Midlands provinces were, in the 1980s, massacred as former president, Robert Mugabe, unleashed violence on ZAPU supporters.

Four decades later, victims have not been compensated and perpetrators have not been brought to book.

Conservative figures claim some 20 000 civilians were killed by a crack military unit known as Fifth Brigade deployed by Mugabe between 1980 and 1987 under the guise of putting down an insurrection in the western parts of the country.

However, critics argue the campaign was aimed at hunting down then opposition ZAPU leader Joshua Nkomo’s supporters.