Own Correspondent|PRESIDENT Mnangagwa arrived in Bulawayo on Thursday to meet a highly divided civil society from Matabeleland region at State House on Valentine’s Day.
The President last year acceded to requests for a meeting with the Matabeleland Collective to discuss a number of issues affecting the region ranging from development to reconciliation and inclusivity.
Matabeleland Collective has since split into two warring factions with the new faction being led by former MDC stalwart Paul Temba Nyati calling itself the Matabeleland Forum.
The reason behind the split emanated from the meeting with Mnangagwa after some organisations blamed the Jenny Williams led Matabeleland Collective of failing to fully deliver the Matabeleland issues and endorsing Mnangagwa as a credible President to Matabeleland.
The organisations that have since declared that they will boycott Mnangagwa’s meeting tomorrow claim that the Matabeleland Collective failed to get Mnangagwa to account for his involvement in the Gukurahundi atrocities.
Today’s meeting has been expanded to accommodate organisations outside the ambit of the Matabeleland Collective and also include traditional leaders.
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission has also been invited for the crunch meeting. Other notable invited guests to the meeting is the ZIPRA former veterans which claims a major stake in the Gukurahundi atrocities.
Addressing a press conference in Bulawayo yesterday evening, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza who is also head of secretariat in the engagement and dialogue with Matabeleland civil society organisations, said the President will receive feedback on the progress of engagement last year.
“It is an opportunity for the President to receive feedback on the engagement that the Government has so far had with civil society. I’m sure you know that sometime last year and in fact on the 21st of March 2019, His Excellency came here to Bulawayo and dialogued with civil society.
“So, as a listening President, His Excellency has taken time to travel and hear personally the voice of the people of Matabeleland so that he strengthens the relationship and continues to build the trust,” said Mrs Mabhiza.
“By honest and frank dialogue, he hopes to improve interaction between civil society and Government. In fact it is the prime purpose for such dialogue.”
Mrs Mabhiza said after the initial engagement, the Government and civil society organisations developed a matrix on various areas of implementation.
“May I say at this point that the matrix is one of the key issues on the agenda and I would not like to pre-empt what we are going to discuss,” said Mrs Mabhiza. “When we initially came here it was upon the invitation of a specific grouping which is the Matabeleland Collective hence his Excellency had to have a dialogue with that grouping.
“However, as we progressed with engagement and dialogue for the sake of dialogue and peace-building it was seen fit that we can expand to any other interested civil society organisation from the same region to assist us.”
President Mnangagwa landed at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport accompanied by Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe and other Government officials.
He was welcomed by Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Judith Ncube, National Peace and Reconciliation Commission chairperson Retired Justice Selo Nare, his deputy Commissioner Lillian Chigwedere and commissioner Mr Lesley Ncube, senior government officials and service chiefs.