Peace: Gukurahundi hearings to set tone for resolution of historical conflict

Political Review Writer

This year marks a turning point for Zimbabwe’s history as the Government is set to conduct hearings on the post-Independence conflict that is widely regarded as a stain on the nation after thousands lost their lives mostly in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces.

This Friday, President Mnangagwa is meeting chiefs from the Matabeleland region, who are expected to lead public hearings, while in February a media outreach will be conducted in Bulawayo.

National Chiefs Council president, Chief Mtshane Khumalo said in an interview on Thursday that discussions with President Mnangagwa will focus on the state of preparedness to begin the sensitive hearings.

“We are going to have a meeting with the President to brief him on the journey we have travelled so far in our mandate to address the Gukurahundi issue. We are now preparing to start the Gukurahundi community engagements,” he said.

There are 72 chiefs from Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces, and each of them is expected to lay out a plan for his community engagements and requirements.

The formal launch of the hearings is set to be announced soon after this initial meeting.

This is the beginning of a review of the dark and uncomfortable past, four decades later, with President Mnangagwa having set his administration to address the issue which some commentators accuse the former state security minister of playing a major part.

And, for the past two years, the administration in Harare has put work to confront the dark past with a clear roadmap including such critical components as public hearings, assistance of the historically disadvantaged, as well as possible restitution and other social justice measures.

And, for the past two years, the administration in Harare has put work to confront the dark past with a clear roadmap including such critical components as public hearings, assistance of the historically disadvantaged, as well as possible restitution and other social justice measures.

The President has held several meetings initially with a collection of civil society organisations under Matabeleland Collective to address problems in the region with one of the issues raised then being the Gukurahundi issue.

Thereafter, the President engaged traditional leaders from the Matabeleland region and parts of Midlands where it was resolved that chiefs should take a leading role in addressing Gukurahundi.

Since then chiefs have conducted extensive training in preparation for the public hearings which are expected to start this year.

Something that the regime of former President Robert Mugabe couldn’t muster, the process is brave and hoped to achieve goals of national healing, peace-building and national cohesion, but it will definitely not be without raw emotion and polarising debates.

However, observers have long believed that the issue requires a solution as a precursor to true national unity and nation-building.

Experts believe that Zimbabwe needs a process that involves truth-telling, transparency, justice and accountability – something that South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was meant to achieve in post-apartheid period in the 1990s.

Experts believe that Zimbabwe needs a process that involves truth-telling, transparency, justice and accountability – something that South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was meant to achieve in post-apartheid period in the 1990s.

Zimbabwe signed the National Unity Accord on December 22, 1987 following the cessation of hostilities, and led to the creation of co-governing mechanism between Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and Zapu led by the late Joshua Nkomo who became vice president.

The Unity Accord has been criticised for not addressing all critical issues, something that has led to lingering political and ethnic tensions.

It remains to be seen what the new process will achieve to guarantee the peace and unity dividend.

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