GUKURAHUNDI REBURIAL PROCESS MUST ADDRESS HISTORICAL INJUSTICES
We note with concern plans by the State to fast-track exhumations and reburials of Gukurahundi victims before there has been any accountability for the massacres and without the consultative participation of all stakeholders, particularly survivors and victims. Over 20 000 people were killed during Gukurahundi in Matabeleland and the Midlands between 1983and 1987. Most of the victims were buried in shallow graves.
However, over three decades later, there has been no formal acknowledgement or apology from the State for the commission of this genocide and the grave atrocities that took place. The perpetrators have never been brought to book.
The proposed reburials constitute the first indirect, official acknowledgement of the atrocities.
While the reburial of the victims is important, the surviving relatives’ and other key stakeholders must be heard and consulted on how the process should be carried out. The communities that were affected must play a central role in the reburials through their traditional leaders and churches. Truth-telling and justice must accompany any redress for survivors.
The evidence associated with the atrocities must be carefully managed. This is the only way we can ensure that there is full closure on this important national issue.
We call for a transparent, comprehensive, inclusive, gender-sensitive and consultative transitional justice process for the victims and survivors of Gukurahundi. The process should be victim-centred and must involve representatives of all stakeholders including the traditional leaders, the surviving victims, rights based groups, the Church and civic society. Reburials must be a part of this comprehensive process, not a standalone initiative.
The MDC Alliance stands for restorative justice, rehabilitative justice and, in appropriate cases, restorative justice.
Reburying the victims without healing, justice, truth telling and reparations will undoubtedly result in the wounds resurfacing in the future to the detriment of nation building, lasting peace and reconciliation.
Hon Blessing Chebundo
Secretary for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration