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Vice President Mphoko’s call for Closure on Gukurahundi Atrocities Very Commendable

Heal Zimbabwe welcomes the call by Vice President Phekezela Mphoko for the government to take responsibility and address Gukurahundi atrocities. VP Mphoko said this during a meeting with members of the late Chief Masuku’s family in Nzula, Nathisa in Matobo district on April 3 2017. “We’re the leaders of this country and it’s our responsibility to address those (Gukurahundi) matters. What we have to do is to issue birth and death certificates to those who were affected by Gukurahundi and rebury their loved ones properly in terms of the laws of our country as well as economically empower them,” he said.

VP Mphoko also announced that government has started exhuming those who were buried in shallow graves so as to give them descent reburials. He also said it was important to deal with the scars of the post-independence disturbances so that the victims can move on with their lives.

Heal Zimbabwe welcomes the Vice President’s gesture towards addressing the country’s past muddy conflict history. Issuing out birth certificates to the Gukurahundi victims and facilitating reburials is a long overdue process which will hopefully contribute towards community healing and reconciliation. However, as the Minister responsible for healing and reconciliation VP Mphoko should consider a holistic reconciliation package espousing all the pillars of transitional justice such as Truth Telling, Restoration, Justice, Institutional Reform and Memorialization.

During the recent National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Bill public  hearings in Matabeleland, victims of Gukurahundi demanded truth telling, compensation, prosecution of perpetrators and public apologies by the perpetrators. In this view, to bring closure to Gukurahundi atrocities and other past violations, the government must engage multiple stakeholders including victims and perpetrators if proper healing and reconciliation is to be achieved.

Heal Zimbabwe implores the government to swiftly take requisite steps to bring closure to the contentious issue of Gukurahundi among other conflict episodes affecting Zimbabwe’s unity, peace and development. The government must also speed up the setting up of the NPRC and operationalizing it before violence recurrences ahead of the 2018 elections.