By Mandla Dube | The 2023 Zimbabwean presidential elections have taken an unexpected turn with the emergence of independent candidate Saviour Kasukuwere. One of his key promises is the establishment of a US$1 billion Gukurahundi compensation fund, aimed at addressing the deep wounds inflicted upon the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces during one of Zimbabwe’s darkest periods. However, skepticism surrounds Kasukuwere’s commitment, as critics point out his previous inaction on the matter during his tenure as a government minister for over a decade.
Background on Gukurahundi
Gukurahundi refers to a series of violent crackdowns that occurred in Zimbabwe from 1983 to 1987. It was a period characterized by the suppression of accused so called dissidents and the brutal targeting of the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces. The exact number of casualties remains disputed, but it is widely acknowledged that tens of thousands of innocent lives were lost and many more were subjected to torture and displacement.
Saviour Kasukuwere’s pledge to establish a US$1 billion Gukurahundi compensation fund appears, on the surface, to address a critical issue that has long plagued the affected regions. The fund aims to provide reparations to the survivors, families of victims, and communities affected by the atrocities committed during Gukurahundi. Such reparations could include financial compensation, medical support, trauma counseling, and initiatives for sustainable development in the affected provinces.
Criticism and Skepticism
Despite Kasukuwere’s promise, the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces are rightly skeptical of his commitment to the Gukurahundi issue. Critics highlight the fact that he served as a government minister for over a decade during which little progress was made on addressing the historical grievances of these regions. This raises questions about his sincerity and ability to deliver on his campaign promise.
Building Trust and Restoring Confidence
To overcome the prevailing skepticism, Kasukuwere needs to demonstrate tangible efforts towards reconciliation and justice for the victims of Gukurahundi. This includes transparently outlining a comprehensive plan for the compensation fund, engaging with survivors and affected communities, and consulting with relevant stakeholders, including human rights organizations and local leaders.
Furthermore, Kasukuwere must acknowledge and take responsibility for his previous inaction on the matter. By doing so, he can demonstrate genuine remorse and a desire to rectify past shortcomings. It is essential for him to address concerns raised by the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces and offer a persuasive explanation as to why he failed to act during his time in government.
Collaborative Approach and National Healing
The Gukurahundi issue is deeply rooted in Zimbabwe’s history and has had lasting effects on the affected communities. It cannot be resolved by the actions of one individual alone. Kasukuwere should emphasize a collaborative approach by engaging with other political leaders, civil society organizations, and the affected communities to foster a sense of national healing and reconciliation.
Saviour Kasukuwere’s promise of a US$1 billion Gukurahundi compensation fund brings hope for the long-overdue resolution of a painful chapter in Zimbabwe’s history. However, skepticism surrounding his commitment is justified given his previous inaction during his time in government. To restore trust, Kasukuwere must take concrete steps towards reconciliation, including transparent planning, consultation, and collaboration with all stakeholders involved. Only through genuine efforts and a comprehensive approach can the wounds of Gukurahundi be healed and the affected communities find closure.