More than 60 civil society organisations operating in Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South under the auspices of the Matabeleland Collective today met President Emmerson Mnangwagwa at the Bulawayo State House to discuss issues affecting citizens, NGOs, CBOs and civic activists in the three provinces.

The engagement was anchored on four key areas of focus which are healing, devolution of power, social inclusion as well as compensatory development.

Some of the key asks were as follows:

  1. Decriminalization of Gukurahundi – Those affected by Gukurahundi should be allowed to discuss their experiences without fear of being arrested.
  2. Reburials – Families of Gukurahundi victims should be allowed to exhume and rebury their loved ones in order for them to find healing and closure.
  3. Access to documentation – Families of Gukurahundi victims should be assisted with death certificates that clearly state the causes of death.
  4. Compensatory Development – Government should be conscious of the fact that during Gukurahundi, there was no meaningful development in the Matabeleland region and there is need to compensate citizens for the years lost.
  5. Harmonization of laws – laws governing Local Authorities should be harmonized expeditiously to ensure efficiency and ease in the implementation of Devolution.
  6. Devolve government tender processes – government should prioritize local businesses in the awarding of tenders
  7. Devolve deployment of civil servants – Locals should be given preference when filling vacancies in government departments.
  8. Decentralize Decision Making – Provincial government departments should be able to serve citizens efficiently without unnecessary delays caused by consulting Head Offices in Harare.
  9. Prioritization of Zambezi Water Project – The completion of the project will unlock economic value to citizens across provinces and will free up water resources in Matabeleland South for agricultural purposes.
  10. Representation of Women – Government has to ensure that there is an increase in the number of women in parliament, cabinet and other leadership positions.

President’s responses to Civil Society

  1. Central government allocation to provinces will continue to increase with each year to support the devolution process.
  2. Gukurahundi victims should be allowed to discuss their experiences freely without victimization.
  3. Gukurahundi survivors with challenges accessing health care should be identified and assisted by the Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare.
  4. There is need to strengthen government departments to be efficient and be able to serve citizens equally and without bias.
  5. The role of Members of Parliament in Provincial councils needs to be relooked to ensure effective parliamentary oversight.
  6. The Proportional Representation clause in the constitution may be revisited to maintain the sixty seats reserved for women in parliament.
  7. The lifespan of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission will most likely be extended to enable the commission to complete its work. The ten years as stipulated in the constitution will be counted from the time the commission started its work.
  8. The Ministry of Home Affairs will be supported with resources to issue birth and death certificates to Gukurahundi victims in affected areas.
  9. The establishment of NGO/State Engagement Platform by Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare for sustained dialogue between State and non-state actors.

Source: Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD)