Gukurahundi Not “Small A Issue”: Rights Group

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By Anna Chibamu

THE Gukurahundi massacres are not “small a matter”, and the atrocities need to be addressed as a matter of urgency, the National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) has demanded.

In a statement, the NTJWG said it noted with concern recent utterances by the spokesperson of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Obert Gutu recently when remarked at a press conference that “Gukurahundi is just a very small, tiny fraction of the various other disputes we are talking about.”

However, the human rights lobby group said the utterances by Gutu, a former senior MDC official were; “callous and showing no regard for the pain, suffering, and trauma that has been endured by the victims and survivors of Gukurahundi as well as their families also noting that most of them were dying in silence without getting any necessary help.”

The NTJWG said it was also regrettable that Gukurahundi survivors were dying without receiving redress from the government for the human rights violations.

“While the NTJWG acknowledges that Zimbabwe has had various epochs of violence which require the NPRC’s attention, this does not reduce Gukurahundi to a “small, tiny” issue.

“Furthermore, given the lapse of time since Gukurahundi happened, many survivors and victims, and families of victims are dying without getting redress for the violations.”

The NTJWG added; “The NPRC should, therefore, be prioritising addressing Gukurahundi to ensure that the wounds of the past are healed. Gukurahundi has previously been denied and trivialised to enable perpetrators of the violations to control the narrative around the atrocities and deny victims, survivors, and their families the space to discuss their lived experiences and seek redress. Considering this, the utterances by Commissioner Gutu are regrettable and concerning.”

According to the rights group, Zimbabwe has for years been marred with violence and human rights abuses, which have left the nation divided.

Gukurahundi happened in the early 80s to mid-80s when an estimated 20 000 civilians were killed following the deployment of the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade army by the late former President Robert Mugabe in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.

“Although the violations occurred over three decades ago, no official apology has been given nor any other reparations given to the victims and survivors of the violations. As a result, this issue remains emotive, triggering pain and trauma with the need for justice remaining to date,” added NTJWG.

The NPRC’s mandate includes ensuring post-conflict justice, healing, and reconciliation.