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Gukurahundi hearings under scrutiny

File pic: A memorial plaque

ZAPU has called for the indictment of dead people named as the lead perpetrators of Gukurahundi when public hearings on the emotive matter begin.

The public hearings meant to address the mass killings and find closure to the country’s dark past are set to begin in the next few weeks focusing on Matabeleland North and South before Midlands.

Traditional leaders in January underwent training on how to conduct the hearings.

The exercise falls under the Office of the President and Cabinet.

Last week, chiefs were forced to make an about-turn on their decision to bar the media from attending the hearings following an outcry.

Last Thursday,  Zapu submitted a position paper for conflict resolution and management, which includes acknowledgement of Gukurahundi as a genocide and a public apology.

The late Robert Mugabe never apologised for Gukurahundi until he passed away.

Chiefs Council deputy president Fortune Charumbira invited brickbats last week when he said Gukurahundi was not a genocide.

Zapu said the hearings must be victim-centered while calling for restorative justice and the return of properties as well as assets taken by the state or stolen during Gukurahundi.

The state seized Zapu properties following the alleged discovery of arms catches precipitating Gukurahundi and it is yet to return the properties.

Zapu also demanded that victims must be legally guaranteed safety after giving testimonies and said perpetrators must be called to account.

The party also said there must be a posthumous indictment for dead people who would be identified as perpetrators.

Zapu, however, expressed reservations on chiefs leading the exercise citing the law among others

“The Traditional Leaders Act does not permit chiefs to be involved in politics,” the party submitted.

“Collection of evidence is a professional process that needs well trained personnel, as such evidence may be used in a court of law.

“Chiefs do not have the capacity nor status to handle genocidal matters as they were politically motivated."

The public hearings are set to run for over 6 months, according to Charumbira.

“Chiefs cannot preside over rape and murder cases, as they are outside their jurisdiction,” Zapu said.

“It noted that chiefs as custodians of cultures, customs and traditions are also victims of Gukurahundi but can work under duress, against their conscience, for fear of losing their material benefits.

"This must be an open process where the media is permitted to inform the public about proceedings.”

Zapu cast doubt that findings of the public hearings will be made public as the programme falls under the Office of the President.

“This reminds us of the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe commissions of inquiry whose final reports on the Entumbane clashes and the Gukurahundi massacres were never made public by your predecessor, (Mugabe)."

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