Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda has urged the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to advocate a national apology for past conflicts, including Gukurahundi.
He said a confession from Government would help the country move on from its past and pave way for successful reconciliation, national healing and integration.
This dovetails with President Mnangagwa’s initiation of dialogue on the subject, long considered taboo.
The President has gone on to take practical steps to bring about closure of this chapter by meeting Matabeleland-based civil society and traditional leaders from the region and the Midlands where the fractious conflict hit hardest.
Additionally, Government is consulting on mechanisms to address past conflicts and avoid their recurrence.
The Speaker of Parliament addressed Parliamentarians during a capacity-building workshop for the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Thematic Committee on Human Rights on the mandate of the NPRC here yesterday.
“Fundamentally, the NPRC must vigorously agitate for the national institutional apology for the past conflicts, especially Entumbane One and Two as well as the Gukurahundi tragedy. Let’s confess that era of conflict so that we go beyond the acknowledgement of ‘the moment of madness’. Confession is a condition precedent to letting bygones be bygones. Once that confession is done, the spring of hope, national healing and reconciliation will abundantly germinate without any doubt.”
Adv Mudenda commended the political will to bring closure to cases of violations of human rights committed in the pre- and post-independence era.
Adv Mudenda however, emphasised the need for the NPRC to handle the issues with greater sensitivities and diplomacy.
This, he added, will help the commission to balance and moderate different demands and expectations from the people.
Adv Mudenda said after the confession, there should be traditional and cultural expatiation ceremonies as well as truth telling in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, where Gukurahundi was most pronounced.
“In tandem, the low-lying fruit of reconciliation is a concerted and strategic issuance of birth certificates and identity documents and reburial orders of victims where necessary. In the affected provinces, we now have three generations with no birth certificates and identity cards. The responsible department should move from village to village and make sure the affected people get these documents,” said Adv Mudenda.
He said the exercise should be done by people who understand the languages spoken by the affected people so that they don’t misspell their names on the identity documents.
Adv Mudenda said it is important for the NPRC to deliberately dissect the root causes of conflicts that have affected the country before and after independence.
“The correct diagnosis of such root causes should assist the NPRC to come up with appropriate remedies for national reconciliation in order to achieve national consensus building,” he said.
Adv Mudenda said during the Entumbane One and Two and Gukurahundi conflicts, people in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces experienced violence, forced disappearances and gruesome murders, which seriously affected development in their areas.
He said most schools were under developed with no science laboratories, while roads were bad.