President Mnangagwa warns against politicians seeking to politicise Gukurahundi

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Bulawayo (New Ziana)-President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday warned the people of Matabeleland against individuals and parties that want to use the Gukurahundi issue for their selfish political ends.

He said this at the Bulawayo State House when he launched the Community Engagement Programme for Matabeleland and other areas affected by the post-independence disturbances.

Gukurahundi was a period of disturbances which occurred in Matabeleland and the Midlands region in 1982 and ended with the Unity Accord in 1987 between Zanu led by former President Robert Mugabe and ZAPU then led by the late revolutionary icon Joshua Nkomo.

“I urge you all to be vigilant and to disregard any attempts by any party or grouping to achieve political mileage through the Gukurahundi issue,” said President Mnangagwa.

“Never again shall we be divided by those who purport to teach democracy,” he added.

Some political parties and civil society organisations have sought to use the Gukurahundi issue to stir hostility among the Ndebele people towards the ruling Zanu PF government.

President Mnangagwa encouraged Zimbabweans to seek the path of peace and dialogue as a way of resolving all issues confronting them.

“To the external detractors who seek to maintain Gukurahundi as a perennial fountain of conflict, I say to you Lingena ngaphi? (where do you come in?). This is a matter for Zimbabweans and shall be resolved by the people of Zimbabwe.

“Our traditional values should be respected at all times and divisive ideologies that perpetuate conflict should be shunned. Shame on anyone who seeks to divide us.

“We must remain united towards a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe for the present and future generations. The nation’s founding fathers moved past their differences and dedicated their life to bring equality, justice, and peace for all.”

The engagement programme, which seeks to bring closure to the disturbances that affected the Matabeleland and parts of Midlands soon after independence, during which many people died during fighting between government forces and dissidents, will be spearheaded by traditional leaders in consultation with the government.

President Mnangagwa took the opportunity to launch the manual which was compiled for traditional leaders on how they are going to engage the communities.

Chiefs Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira presented the manual to President Mnangagwa.

President Mnangagwa said traditional leaders were best placed to deal with issues affecting their respective communities since they were the custodians of culture and heritage.

He said the Constitution and customary law empowered traditional leaders to resolve conflicts among their subjects in accordance with local traditions and customs.

“The resolution of conflict in our tradition is not a prescriptive process but one that involves consultations and dialogue amongst affected parties.

“The very construction of our traditional conflict resolution system renders Chiefs the most suitable leaders to engage in the process of finding concrete and lasting solutions to all the challenges that our people encounter.

President Mnangagwa appealed to affected families and communities to cooperate with traditional leaders in the process.

“We have already identified some of the key result deliverables, which include the issuance of national identity documents, among others, in line with 10 provisions of our Constitution.

“We have already designed and rolled out a programme targeting those undocumented individuals with the assistance of the Traditional Leaders and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage’s Civil Registry Department,” he said.

He called on churches, civil society organisations and community leaders to continue contributing positively to the nation building process.

The process of addressing the Gukurahundi issue was irreversible, he said, as it would assist in enhancing the development agenda and strengthen the unity of Zimbabweans through a shared narrative that affirmed a common identity, dignity and humanity.

In March 2019, a grouping of Non-Governmental Organisations working under the umbrella of Matabeleland Collective sought audience with President Mnangagwa to discuss issues affecting this region.

At the inaugural meeting, President Mnangagwa declared that all matters affecting the nation, including the Gukurahundi issue, were not out of bounds for discussion amongst the citizens.

A decision was made during the engagement that Chiefs, as the authority that was closest to the people, would lead the Community Engagement Programme.

New Ziana

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