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Zapu protests exclusion from Gukurahundi hearings by government

Opposition party says it deserves to be heard over solutions in resolving emotive issue

HARARE – The Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (Zapu) has questioned government’s commitment to a genuine resolution of the Gukurahundi massacres after the Zanu PF led authority has excluded key stakeholders from taking part in planned hearings set to be rolled out in affected communities around the emotive subject.

Gukurahundi was the code-name used during the widely condemned military operation in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces early years of independence.

An estimated 20,000 civilians, according to independent estimates, died in the hands of the military during the time.

The operation was waged in the ostensible attempt to deal with some dissidents who were reportedly wreaking havoc in the western parts of the country.

Addressing the media in Harare on Friday, Zapu leader Sibangalizwe Nkomo highlighted the exclusion of his party as one of the signs the current government was not keen on a genuine resolution of the atrocities.

“Fellow Zimbabweans, we have witnessed an attempt by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to deceive our people into thinking that he sincerely wants to address the Gukurahundi genocide.

“Our major discontentment is the fact that the perpetrator is not only in charge of the process but determines the terms of the whole process.

“As if that is not enough, Zapu, the primary target of the Gukurahundi military operation, has not been considered by the government.

“We have clearly stated that any process that does not include us as victims is an exercise in futility,” said Nkomo.

Through hearings to be spearheaded by traditional leaders in communities affected by the disturbances, Mnangagwa has opened up public platforms to allow survivors to speak about their ordeals.

Little has been mentioned about restorative justice against the perpetrators.

His administration appointed traditional leaders to lead public hearings in affected communities.

Deputy president of the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs and ally to Mnangagwa, Chief Fortune Charumbira recently appeared downplaying the damage caused by the massacres when he refused to acknowledge Gukurahundi as genocide.

Nkomo said the process was flawed and rather designed to conceal evidence and exonerate perpetrators.

“Compatriots, Gukurahundi affected our people in different ways,” said the opposition leader.

“Those who lost loved ones need healing and closure. Those who were raped deserve healing. Many lost their properties and deserve compensation.

“ZAPU and ZPRA also lost properties which are yet to be returned. ZAPU insists that the starting point in addressing Gukurahundi is making public the Chihambakwe report.

“It is for this reason that we appeal to President Mnangagwa to halt the process and consult widely so that for once, he can do something that can outlive his chequered legacy,” he said.

Nkomo urged survivors to avoid exposing themselves to possible retribution by the state through certain utterances during the hearings.



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