THE National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) yesterday said Gukurahundi is the “top conflict” that it is aiming to resolve, while distancing itself from sentiments made by one of its commissioners.
NPRC commissioner-in-charge of communication Obert Gutu last week was quoted in the media saying Gukurahundi was a “small tiny fraction” of issues that the NPRC was dealing with.
His sentiments caused outrage on social media as members of the public described his views as insensitive.
NPRC chairperson Justice Selo Masole Nare yesterday apologised to the nation for the comments.
He said the commission does not view Gukurahundi as a “small tiny fraction” of conflicts, but the most significant conflict in post-independent Zimbabwe.
“Following that statement, I had a meeting with the commissioners and I expressed my displeasure over the words that were used that Gukurahundi is a ‘small tiny fraction’ of the issues that are being dealt with by the commission. In my view and in the view of the commission, those words ‘small tiny fraction of the issues’ were his sentiments,” he said.
“The Commission’s view and my view is that Gukurahundi is a serious conflict that needs to be handled properly. So, on behalf of the commission, I apologise for those sentiments and I apologise to the nation for the words.
“The Gukurahundi issue has been dealt with as the number one conflict in particular in this region.”
Justice Nare said he understands the reaction by members of the public following Comm Gutu’s statements.
He said the commission remains guided by President Mnangagwa that the country has to openly speak about Gukurahundi in order to resolve the sensitive matter.
Justice Nare said the commission last week had to tap into historian Pathisa Nyathi’s knowledge as it sought to make commissioners understand the gravity of the Gukurahundi issue so that they do not go off-track.
The chairperson will also invite other experts to enlighten new commissioners about the work the commission is doing.
He said NPRC has held several meetings with victims of Gukurahundi as it seeks to resolve the emotive issue.
“We have held a number of workshops on Gukurahundi. There were safe space meetings involving women in Entumbane, Maphisa, Silobela as a follow up to our work. We held workshops where people talked about Gukurahundi. We could have gone out to the places which were affected and talk to the people in rural areas had it not been for the Covid-19 lockdown,” he said.
“As a form of healing, we also took an initiative to attend to some of these exhumations that took place in particular the one that took place in Silobela, Tsholotsho and we are going to attend another one in Lupane if we were not told to stop because a law is being put in place.
“So, it cannot be said in no uncertain terms that the Gukurahundi issue can be a small tiny fraction of issues that we are dealing with. It is our number one issue when we look at the issues that we are dealing with.”
He said beside the Gukurahundi issue, NPRC is handling the Chiadzwa diamond conflicts, post-election violence that rocked the country in the past and others.
“We are in the process of conflict mapping and on a daily basis we deal with several conflicts.
“This year fortunate enough we have had good rains where there is adequate food because food has previously been a source of a conflict. But this year we have not heard such a thing because of good rains,” he said.