Peace Commission Downsizes Gukurahundi Hearings As Funds Run Dry

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

THE National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Thursday came under fire for planning to cut down its outreach activities including the numbers of victims to give evidence during the Gukurahundi public hearings.

The NPRC is set to hold nationwide public hearings on several internal conflicts which affected the country including the Gukurahundi atrocities which left over 20 000 civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces dead in the early 1980s.

Speaking at an NPRC consultative meeting with Matabeleland North province peace committees, the NPRC commissioner in charge of finance and administration, Golden Chekenyere said the commission was facing serious financial challenges.

“The South African Truth Commission started with R10 million, by the time they finished, their budget was over R300 million. You can then begin to have at the back of your mind the requirement of what is needed to be in Tsholotsho to gather statements in three months,” he said.

“Look at our budget from 2016 up to now. It’s inadequate but we are not the only entity that is knocking on Treasury. We understand and sympathise that the money is inadequate.

“In Kenya, the commission had well over 100 Prado vehicles for transportation to different parts of the country. We have a pool of 10 cars, imagine the resources that are required.”

The commissioner said due to limited resources, not every victim of violence will be afforded an opportunity to be heard because of the huge costs involved in the exercise.

“There are other five independent commissions, government departments all needing funding but resources are limited and stretched over many other entities,” he said.

During the meeting, members of the peace committees persistently questioned the government’s commitment to the reconciliation and peace building process.

However, Chekenyere defended the government’s commitment to the process.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the meeting, the commission’s chairperson Retired judge, Selo Nare echoed Chekenyere’s sentiments.

“From time to time, there is a review of the budget and it is increased but is not sufficient. Now we have been given room to employ officers on the ground to deal with the hearings. We received funding from the UNDP through the government for this seminar,” said Nare.

The NPRC consultative meeting with peace committees was to lay to the background for the impending public hearings on Gukurahundi massacres.