By Staff Reporter
HOPES of seeing justice in their relatives’ death as a result of Gukurahundi atrocities could be fading by the day for many as President Emmerson Mnangagwa has put up a programme to have those who were dumped in shallow graves reburied.
Past attempts during the Robert Mugabe era to have victims of Zimbabwe’s genocide reburied were strongly resisted by those who felt the government was trying to interfere with evidence of the army killings.
There were hopes that the genocide would one day be revisited with possible prosecution visited upon perpetrators of what Mugabe once described as “a moment of madness”.
Mnangagwa, who was security minister during the Gukurahundi period in the early 1980s, has refused to apologise for waging the atrocities on 20 000 civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
The Zanu PF leader has, instead, chosen to go by way of appeasing the hurting survivors, through reburials of their relatives.
The President is now expected to convene a “consensus-building meeting” with Matabeleland traditional leaders soon to co-ordinate and fast-track exhumations and reburials of the victims as well as issue identity documents to those who have failed to acquire them after traces of their parentage were lost through Gukurahundi deaths.
Mnangagwa has had some recent meetings with a group of Matabeleland based civil society organisations to try and find ways through which the Gukurahundi issue could best be resolved.
Justice Permanent secretary Virginia Mabhiza is coordinating the engagement.
She said President Mnangagwa will “soon” preside over a consensus-building meeting to prepare for commencement of exhumations and reburials.
Government is reportedly exploring ways to facilitate legally and culturally acceptable processes.
Mabhiza, through state media said: “On the other difficult issues such as exhumations and reburials, we will soon have a consensus-building meeting with chiefs, civic society groupings and other stakeholders, including the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, to plan the way forward.
“After the consensus-building exercise, we will then craft a way forward in terms of how to facilitate the exhumations.
“This will bring on board our development partners and any interested funders to bankroll the exercise.”
She added, “The consensus-building meeting shall involve His Excellency, but we do not have a date yet, but it is going to be very soon.
“You may be aware that we were expecting chiefs to attend the meeting that was held in Bulawayo, but unfortunately, due to some budgetary and other logistical challenges, the Ministry of Local Government (and Public Works) was not ready to sponsor the chiefs to be on board during that meeting.”
The law provides only for the Minister of Home Affairs to grant an order for exhumation.
Government has expanded the scope of engagements to include other civic organisations outside the ambit of the Matabeleland Collective.
At this month’s meeting with civic society leaders at State House in Bulawayo, Mnangagwa indicated that restorative justice could only be achieved through dialogue.
“We must resist the urge to elevate any differences that arise out of discussions aimed at resolving the issues in Matabeleland to a level where they become permanent barriers that prevent meaningful dialogue among us,” he said.
“Let me assure you that, as I have demonstrated by convening this meeting today, I shall continue to monitor this dialogue very closely and hold all my officials accountable for the successful implementation of issues discussed here . . .
“I reiterate that, as Zimbabweans, we are one. Together we can overcome any challenges that confront us.”
Former War Veterans Minister and Zanu PF politburo member Tshinga Dube has warned that the Gukurahundi grudge people in Matabeleland have with Mnangagwa will not go away anytime soon if the national leader does not own up and publicly apologise for his own role and that of government in the killings.