Stakeholders have welcomed the decision by Government to address the festering wounds of civil disturbances that occurred mainly in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces in the 1980s, saying the measures would help affected people find closure.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Secretary Mrs Virginia Mabiza on Tuesday announced that the Government will exhume and rebury victims of Gukurahundi, offer medical assistance, implement protection mechanisms and provide relevant documentation for the affected.
The announcement followed a meeting that President Mnangagwa had in Bulawayo last month with NGOs and civic groups, known as the Matabeleland Collective.
Yesterday, there were a lot of reaction to the news.
On its Twitter handle the United States Embassy in Harare wrote: “There are positive things happening in Zimbabwe and it should be applauded. We encourage the Government to stay on the path to reform. Reforms Government is pursuing is the right thing for the Zimbabwean ppl. Added benefit is, it eases concerns of the intl community . . . we believe Zim has a bright future, we want to be here to support & partner with the ppl of Zim going forward.”
Political analyst Mr Methuseli Moyo said this was a huge and authentic demonstration of seriousness by the Government to heal and build a new Zimbabwe.
“Indeed this is a new dispensation. The process to heal and integrate each other will make Zimbabwe the great country it ought to be. Allowing people to talk about Gukurahundi freely has a curative effect,” Mr Moyo.
Zimbabwe Christian Churches Alliance leader Reverend Useni Sibanda commended the Government’s decision.
“We’ve advocated for open discussion on Gukurahundi for a long time. We’re happy that Government has responded because those who have been grieving will have closure. It’s important to know that healing is a process that takes time.
“We’ll continue engaging Government to ensure that the pledges are fulfilled. The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission will also continue to work with the communities,” said Rev Sibanda.
Pastor Trevor Masuku of the Matabeleland Collective said: “It’s a positive development to get such a commitment from the Government. We’ll wait for the implementation of what has been pledged.
“Our members on the ground know the victims and can assist in the different exercises that the Government has pledged to undertake,” said Pastor Masuku.
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) leader Ms Jenni Williams also commended the Government for responding to calls from the people of Matabeleland.
“We’re happy to have received a positive response from the Government regarding the Gukurahundi atrocities. For a long time Gukurahundi issues could not be discussed in public so we’ll engage affected communities and assure them that they are safe before the Government plays its role,” said Ms Williams.
Political and legal analyst Mr Obert Gutu described the move as an important step in genuine national healing process.
“The victims of this unfortunate episode in the history of post-independent Zimbabwe need closure as a matter of urgency,” said Mr Gutu.
“They have suffered physical, psychological and emotional trauma for far too long. Most, if not all of them, still suffer from the chronic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Mr Gutu said it was imperative that the Gukurahundi should be confronted wholeheartedly and holistically to enable the victims to get on with their lives.