No healing without Gukurahundi victims’ involvement, says Chief Mathema

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

OUTSPOKEN Gwanda Chief, Khulumani Mathema has urged the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to engage communities which were affected by Gukurahundi, saying people in Matabeleland were still bitter about the 1980s government sanctioned atrocities.

Speaking at the launch of the Churches Convergence on Peace (CCOP) in Bulawayo on Thursday, Chief Mathema said the Gukurahundi issue can only be resolved amicably if affected communities were involved in the healing processes.

“Go and talk to the people in the rural areas. Come to my constituency in Matabeleland South. The people are willing to talk and can tell you how this matter should be handled.

“The NPRC should be doing its mandate and relieve people of their pain by enabling them to talk about their experiences,” said the Chief.

Chief Mathema said time has come for all Zimbabweans to openly talk about the civilian massacres perpetrated by the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade at the behest of then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe.

“There is a wound that needs to be healed. It is known by everyone even though some do not want to openly talk about it.

“We are here talking about preserving peace but yet there are people who need to be healed otherwise they will continue being angry. To heal, we should make sure people engage in honest dialogue about what is affecting them,” he said.

The traditional leader said the elderly in some communities still vividly remembered ordeals which they went through during the disturbances which were pronounced in Matebeleland and Midlands provinces.

“This matter is still a problem as people need to release their anger. You should relieve the people of their pain because we have elderly people who up to today relive those horrors and memories. The grandmothers need to voice out what is affecting them,” he said.

Chief Mathema and Chief Vezi Maduna of Filabusi have been vocal about Gukurahundi, a military operation waged in the early 1980s against army dissidents in Matebeleland and Midlands provinces resulting in the killing of an estimated 20 000 innocent civilians.

Chief Maduna early this year wrote a letter to the United Nations (UN) appealing for its intervention on the emotive matter.