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‘Gukurahundi is our top priority’

By Helen Kadirire

Addressing the Gukurahundi Matabeleland massacres of the 1980’s is among the top priorities that the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission will tackle, chairperson Selo Nare said.

Retired Justice Selo Nare
Retired Justice Selo Nare

At a peace dialogue yesterday, the retired High Court judge said Gukurahundi, as it is known, will not be ignored.

The Gukurahundi massacres that occurred in Matabeleland in the 1980’s saw thousands of mainly Ndebele people being killed.

“We created a strategic plan and noted our country’s elections as a major area. The second issue we are going to deal with is that of Gukurahundi. We are quite aware as a commission that people are still boiling on the inside because of the issue of Gukurahundi, hence they need to be healed.

“Very soon we will spread out to Matabeleland and its border areas and try to solve the issue. We know people are saying that we have delayed in dealing with the matter but everything has its own time. One of our visits in Beitbridge revealed that people are still bitter over the issue and want it resolved and the accused brought to book,” he said.

Nare added that the Gukurahundi atrocities were not going to be buried before a resolution because the commission knows that a lot of people in the nation were carrying a burden.

“The violators carry a burden because they have violated the law, the people who have been wronged are also carrying a burden. We are going to go to the people and seek to know the answers despite the area being wider than our capacity,” Nare further highlighted.

The Gukurahundi massacres have been a very emotive topic in the country with activists accusing President Emmerson Mnangagwa of being one of the henchmen in the atrocities. Political activists in Bulawayo recently lambasted Mnangagwa’s government for tampering with Gukurahundi mass graves at Bhalagwe Shrine, in Kezi, Matabeleland South Province.

This came after it emerged that government had erased inscriptions on the mass graves leaving them blank in what political activists say was a move to conceal evidence of the deadly atrocities which left thousands dead.

After erasing the inscriptions, authorities are said to have replaced them with a commemoratory structure inscribed: “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” erected behind the two mass graves.

Bhalagwe is the Gukurahundi flash point where thousands of those killed were thrown into a disused mine. Initially, soon after the atrocities, names of victims were inscribed on the mass graves but were later removed by the Mugabe regime, in what observers viewed as a clear attempt to conceal evidence.

Adding insult to injury, the Gukurahundi graves were later mixed with those of local war heroes which saw the shrine being turned into a Matopo District Heroes Acre. DailyNews