Zimbabwe: Justice At Last for Atrocity Victims

Bulawayo — ZIMBABWE is to embark on a healing process for victims of the atrocities committed by security forces in the southern parts of the country where an estimated 20 000 people were killed in the 1980s.

The Southern African country is drawing lessons from Rwanda, where Vice President Constantino Chiwenga attended the 25th commemoration of the killing of some 800 000 minority Tutsi.

Upon his return from Rwanda, Chiwenga and President Emmerson Mnangagwa have consulted locals, including victims of the atrocities known as Gukurahundi, on how to conduct a transparent, inclusive and fair healing process.

Among other proposed healing strategies are the exhumation and reburial of victims of Gukurahundi and the provision of medical assistance to those injured.

Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Virginia Mabiza, who met the Matabeleland Collective, a pressure group, said other strategies proposed include restorative justice measures to be rolled out to the victims.

The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) spent three weeks working on mechanisms on healing and reconciliation in the country's second largest city, Bulawayo.

"Some people are still suffering from various pains inflicted on them during the disturbances. The government will, therefore, facilitate that these people receive medical assistance," Mabiza pledged.

The moves by the government are set to bring reprieve to what is the most divisive occurrence in post-independent Zimbabwe's history.

The government under the era of former president Robert Mugabe deployed the North Korean trained 5th Brigade military to quell dissident activities by some hardliners in the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) after independence in 1980.

Thousands of civilians, mostly the Ndebele tribe, were killed in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions.

Njabulo Ngwenya, a resident of Nkayi, said the Gukurahundi was an emotive issue that required the entire nation to participate.

"We would want to know what caused Gukurahundi, who were the culprits, who the victims were and what remedies should be put on the table," Ngwenya said.

Former information minister, Jonathan Moyo, was critical of the government's stance.

He has claimed his father was killed during the atrocities.

"Issuing death or birth certificates, allowing proper reburials and providing healthcare to Gukurahundi victims 36 years later without truth and justice is no healing. None whatsoever. It is Satanic," Moyo stated.

But Moyo's tweets criticising Government were sharply described by Zimbabweans from all walks of life as "hypocrisy".

They accused him of working with former president Mugabe for two decades but did nothing about Gukurahundi arguing new president Mnangagwa should be praised for the positive steps he is taking.

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