GOVERNMENT is crafting a policy that will guide the exhumation and reburial of Gukurahundi victims as it implements measures aimed at national healing.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage on its part is leading the crafting of the exhumation and reburials policy.
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) is also part of the stakeholders crafting the policy.
NPRC chairperson Retired Justice Selo Nare on Friday said while Covid-19 has disrupted their plans, the commission has slowly started rolling out its programmes aimed at addressing the Gukurahundi issue.
He said the exhumation and reburials of Gukurahundi victims remains top of the NPRC agenda.
Rtd Justice Nare commended Government for working on a policy that would guide the process. “At the moment the policy is being worked on and several stakeholders including the NPRC are involved. It is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage. The exhumation and reburial policy that exists only covered episodes that happened up to 1979 but the new policy is holistic as it covers events that occurred after 1980,” said Rtd Justice Nare.
He said once the policy is out and approved by Government, the process of exhumations and reburials will then follow guided by the policy.
“This will see some of the people who were improperly buried being reburied according to their norms and culture,” he said.
Rtd Justice Nare said Zimbabwe needs a healing process as a lot of people are hurt as a result of some unresolved conflicts.
He said before conducting public hearings, the commission needs to counsel victims affected by various conflicts, including Gukurahundi.
Rtd Jutice Nare said counselling enables some victims to openly speak about hurtful things, which is very vital in the healing and reconciliation process.
“If you take into consideration the conflicts that have occurred in the past, you’ll realise that people have been boiling but they have not had an opportunity to open up.
“This is an opportunity for people to open up on something that they were not discussing from the 1980s.
“We know that some people are going to break down hence offering of psychological social support is important in order to encourage people to open up,” he said.
Rtd Justice Nare said NPRC will continue offering psycho-social support to victims as long as there is need for such a service.
Asked if it was not too late for counselling, Rtd Justice Nare said:
“That sort of thing is continuous, it’s not too late as it were. I think there is time when people need to be counselled, remember when there was this agreement (Unity Accord) between the Presidency in the 1987, the grassroots had not been involved, it was the top hierarchy. It’s the grassroots that must be involved, it’s the grassroots that need to be looked into.”
The High Court in Bulawayo recently dismissed an application by a pressure group, Ibhetshu Likazulu and alleged Gukurahundi survivor Charles Thomas to block exhumation and reburials of Gukurahundi victims.
The applicants had rushed to the courts claiming that President Mnangagwa, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe and Ms Jenny Williams of Matabeleland Collective wanted Government to illegally exhume and rebury Gukurahundi victims.
Justice Martin Makonese threw out the applicants’ case for being presumptuous and premature as there was no evidence that Government wanted to rush exhumations and reburials of Gukurahundi victims.