By Alois Vinga
MDC Alliance has urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to suspend its controversial plans to rebury victims of the 1980s government massacres before embarking on a process to consult victims’ families and survivors.
In attempts to bring about closure to the emotive issue, government has pledged to roll out a programme to ostensibly give decent burials on thousands of civilians who died in the hands of the military in the early years of independence.
An estimated 20 000 civilians in predominantly Ndebele Matabeleland provinces and Midlands were targeted by government which accused them of harbouring armed army deserters viewed sympathetic to then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s rival, Joshua Nkomo.
Thousands were buried in shallow graves.
The hostilities ended with the signing of the unity accord in 1987 by Zanu and Nkomo’s PF Zapu.
Mnangagwa has been fingered as one of the key architects of the massacres.
In a statement, MDC Alliance National Healing and Reconciliation secretary, Blessing Chebundo slammed government for “fast tracking exhumations and reburials” before both coming clean on its role in the killings and also consulting those affected.
“Over three decades later, there has been no formal acknowledgement or apology from the state for the commission of this genocide and the grave atrocities that took place.
“The perpetrators have never been brought to book. The proposed reburials constitute the first indirect, official acknowledgement of the atrocities,” he said.
Chebundo said while reburials were important, it was imperative to hear the views of surviving relatives and other key stakeholders.
The MDC official said the communities that were affected must play a central role in planned reburials through their traditional leaders and churches.
“Truth telling and justice must accompany any redress for survivors. The evidence associated with the atrocities must be carefully managed. This is the only way we can ensure that there is full closure on the important national issue,” he said.
Chebundo also called for a transparent, comprehensive, inclusive gender sensitive and consultative transitional justice process for the victims and survivors of Gukurahundi in a victim centred process involving representatives of all stakeholders including traditional leaders, the surviving victims, rights based groups among others.
He underscored that reburials must be a part of a comprehensive process and not a stand-alone initiative.
“Reburying victims without healing, justice, truth telling and reparations will undoubtedly result in the wounds resurfacing in the future to the detriment of nation building, lasting peace and reconciliation,” added Chebundo.