Mat South Chiefs Question Government Sincerity on Gukurahundi

Some traditional leaders in Matabeleland have questioned the government’s sincerity in solving the Gukurahundi atrocities after they were detained by police, Sunday, while on their way to Bhalagwe in Maphisa, Matabeleland South for a Gukurahundi memorial event.

The chiefs were part of the delegation led by Ibhetshu LikaZulu who were initially blocked by the police from proceeding to Bhalagwe before they were cleared after several hours.

In 2019, President Mnangagwa called for open debates on the 1980s mass killings in Matabeleland and Midlands. Mnangagwa also endorsed Chiefs to lead the exhumation and reburials of victims of Gukurahundi.

“There is an agreement between the chiefs and the government which gives us the authority to have these meetings and talk about Gukurahundi freely but whenever we want to come to Bhalagwe we are stopped,” said Chief Fuyane of Maphisa.

He said the agreement on paper is different from what they are experiencing on ground.

“This is the second plaque which is being erected here, and it was installed within our community so who removed it, I am giving you all homework. I am happy that the government said we must freely talk about Gukurahundi which means this plaque that we are erecting here must be protected by the government, not by people,” said Chief Fuyane.

He said there is a need for scholars to document the history of Bhalagwe for future generations.

“There are intellectuals here, I want them to document the history about the atrocities which happened in this place. This history must not be written by people we don’t know but must be written by our people writing for our people. Our people are now living abroad so we must document this history so that the future generations know about it so that even if we are no longer here, they will know the history. What pains me the most is that this place is called heroes acre but there are no heroes but people who were murdered while innocent but this place is called heroes.”

Chief Fuyane of Maphisa

Chief Fuyane indicated that they are failing to perform their traditional rituals due to the atrocities which occurred in Bhalagwe.

“We used to ask for the rains as a community in these mountains but when we remember what happened in this place it becomes difficult. My plea is that we should have a task force in this area to map a way forward on how to handle this situation, something is definitely not going well, we cannot go to those graves and celebrate when innocent people are sleeping there,” he added.

“Traditionally, we are the ones who ought to be inviting people to come to this place but the situation is vice versa, why are things happening this way.”

Meanwhile, Chief Mathema from Gwanda said it is important for the affected communities to take control of the processes themselves.

“People of Matabeleland together with Midlands should stand together with one voice and do not expect much from Chiefs as it’s not all of them who talk about Gukurahundi in the meetings,” he said.

MDC Alliance Vice President Professor Welshman Ncube who also attended the memorial service commended Ibhetshu Likazulu for holding the event in different provinces.

“This is a great job because when you are ruled by oppression and where the perpetrators are denying it is important to constantly remember and Honour the Gukurahundi victims, we must never forget,” he said.

“The first rule is for the perpetrator to agree that they wronged people and that those who were wronged have a right to get justice, without justice there can be no healing, no matter how much they try to cover up this issue it will forever come out as these are fresh wounds,” said Professor Ncube.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology

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