Gukurahundi: President seeks lasting solution

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has praised progress made towards the launch of the Gukurahundi public hearings, which are expected to start in the first quarter of the year. He reaffirmed the Second Republic’s dedication to finding a lasting solution to the emotive issue, with victims at the centre of the process.

The public hearings, which will be led by chiefs in their communities, aim to address the legacy of Gukurahundi, a period of violence and conflict that affected some parts of Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the 1980s.

President Mnangagwa has shown his commitment to facilitating processes that will bring closure to post-independence conflicts, as part of his vision of nation-building and fostering national unity.

He delivered his keynote address during the fourth interface with chiefs from the Matabeleland region at State House in Bulawayo yesterday. He said his administration was determined to ensure the process was efficient and vigorous, with the best interests of the people in mind.

“I cannot over-emphasise the fact that this initiative is being implemented for the benefit of our people. Our commitment to a victim-centred approach remains steadfast, ensuring that the process is not just efficient but also emphatic,” he said.

The meeting was the fourth of its kind between President Mnangagwa and the Chiefs Council, as the Government continues to work towards strengthening peace and harmony in the country.

President Mnangagwa said his administration embarked on the initiative to pursue the resolution of the Gukurahundi issue through an internal and home-grown process in February 2019, as part of the Second Republic’s efforts to maintain and strengthen national unity among Zimbabweans.

He said after extensive consultation with all stakeholders, he decided to entrust the National Council of Chiefs, through its selected members, to spearhead the initiative.

“This decision was not made without some reflection. The National Council of Chiefs, as the custodians of our culture, traditional practices, and values, are best placed to handle this issue through their intimate and close relationship with the people,.

“As we embarked on this process, we were not unaware of, nor had we forgotten, the external factors that ignited this conflict in our midst.

“The decision to resolve this issue on our own, amongst ourselves, is based on the realisation that none but ourselves can determine our destiny as a nation.”

President Mnangagwa urged those involved in the exercise to be vigilant against external influences that seek to derail the process and plunge the country into a situation of internal disputes and conflict.

He said the unity among Zimbabweans must be protected from detractors, both internal and external.

President Mnangagwa commended the chiefs for their hard work and dedication to ensure the process is comprehensive, transparent, and victim-centred.

“It is with no small measure of satisfaction that I stand before you today and announce that the implementation of the initiative to resolve the Gukurahundi issue has reached an advanced stage. I am humbled by the work ethic of the chiefs, mandated with this solemn task, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the process is comprehensive, transparent, and victim-centred,” he said.

He said that through extensive consultations, a comprehensive report and a manual guiding the conduct of the exercise have been developed, setting the stage for a transformative journey towards healing.

The chiefs have crafted and adopted the Gukurahundi manual, which will guide the holding of victim-friendly public hearings, to ensure national healing as the country confronts its unfortunate past.

The manual, which is a product of inclusive engagements between chiefs and various stakeholders, is a culmination of traditional leaders’ meetings with President Mnangagwa.

President Mnangagwa also commended the Matabeleland Collective for its active role in the process since its inception four years ago.

“Our journey has been marked by collaboration with various organisations, civic societies, faith-based groups, and chiefs from Matabeleland North and South,” he said.

The Government has capacitated over 1 008 service providers, including chiefs from the affected regions, and trained them to conduct the Gukurahundi Community Outreach Programme.

“Their commitment and dedication exemplify the spirit of unity that defines us as a nation. These individuals have been equipped with the skills necessary to navigate this delicate process, ensuring that every voice is heard, and every story is acknowledged,” said President Mnangagwa.

“All the participants of this exercise have been availed with the necessary equipment to enable them to achieve our noble objectives.”

President Mnangagwa assured the nation that all the necessary equipment and modalities were in place for the successful implementation of the exercise.

“As we approach the official launch in the first quarter of this year, I want to acknowledge the challenges we face. Disinformation and political posturing have attempted to cast a shadow over our efforts,” he said.

“This is not a recent phenomenon, the Unity Agreement of 1987, which serves as the foundation of our current initiative, was consummated against the efforts of hostile elements some of which were instrumental in the sowing of seeds of division amongst us.”

The President said in the face of these challenges, the nation stands united, driven by a shared commitment to reconciliation, and healing.

“These challenges are not insurmountable and as was the case in the past they shall not succeed. Our dedication to the resolution of the Gukurahundi issue is unwavering. We understand the need for closure,” he said.

“While we hope that this process will not extend beyond a year, we are prepared to invest the time required to bring about a resolution that is just, comprehensive, and accepted by all parties involved.”

President Mnangagwa also announced that the budget for the Gukurahundi Community Outreach Programme is confirmed and in place.

“We are committed to ensuring transparency and accountability in this process, and the figures will be reviewed before being made public. Let us remember that this journey is not just about addressing the wounds of the past, it is about building a stronger, more united Zimbabwe for the future,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said the Gukurahundi Community Outreach Programme is a testament to the country’s collective resilience and determination to confront its history with courage and compassion.

“May this initiative be a beacon of hope, paving the way for healing, understanding, and a brighter future for all Zimbabweans. Okonakalayo elizweni, kulungiswa ngabanikazi balo. Zvinokanganisika munyika, zvinogadziriswa nevene vayo. Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo,” he said.

Herald

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