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Moyo urges Gukurahundi hearings rethink

Traditional leaders have been tasked to lead the public hearings to find closure to the 1980’s mass killings in Matabeleland and Midlands.

Former speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo has cast doubt that the yet to be held Gukurahundi public hearings will deliver justice, healing and reconciliation as he urged authorities to consider the Rwandese and South Africa models on addressing atrocities.

Traditional leaders have been tasked to lead the public hearings to find closure to the 1980’s mass killings in Matabeleland and Midlands.

The government has not announced when the hearings will start, and the time frame. There has also been secrecy surrounding the formula that the chiefs have been directed to use by the government.

The traditional leaders underwent training in January on how they will conduct the exercise.

Moyo, who is also the leader of the United Movement For Devolution (UMD), said the secrecy surrounding the formula to be used was concerning.

According to Moyo, adopting the Rwandese or South African model towards a more comprehensive approach that includes truth-telling, justice, healing, and reconciliation between victims and perpetrators is vital.

“We urge the government to consider abandoning the current proposed Gukurahundi genocide resolution model and adopt either the South African or Rwandan models in order to achieve closure to the Gukurahundi issue,” Moyo told the Southern Eye on Sunday.

“For the record, we made our views publicly known and crystal clear in an article entitled "Gukurahundi genocide: Framework for Resolution" published on the 10th of November 2020 in which we submitted recommendations for consideration and possible inclusion in the development of the Gukurahundi genocide resolution matrix.”

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, thousands of people were arrested, and many were charged and tried under the Rwandese Gacaca system for the genocide that killed an estimated 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Gacaca took its name from a community-based dispute resolution mechanism traditionally used to resolve minor disputes, but drew heavily on a more conventional model of punitive justice.

Its objectives included not only delivering justice, but also strengthening reconciliation, and revealing the truth about the genocide.

A gacaca pilot phase began in 2002, but it was not until 2005 that gacaca courts began functioning.

Gacaca courts then processed almost two million cases until their closure in June 2012.

South Africa adopted a court like Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995 to deal with human rights violations that occurred under apartheid.

Its emphasis was on gathering evidence and uncovering information from both victims and perpetrators. The South African model was hailed as an innovative model for building peace and justice as well as holding accountable those found guilty for human rights violations.

“Therefore, we firmly submit that there's a need for the government to rethink about the current Gukurahundi resolution processes and consider facilitating public hearings on  truth telling, justice, healing and reconciliation involving the victims and perpetrators face to face,” Moyo said.

“We argue that an inquiry must be conducted by an independent commission comprising of international and local eminent personalities.”

Moyo said it was clear that the proposed public hearings have failed to pass the general public court of opinion and victims' credibility test.

 “More importantly, the proposed Gukurahundi genocide resolution does not meet the international standards, norms, and practice,” he said.

“The question of security of the victims, relatives, and participants cannot be guaranteed given the history of our security agencies in dealing with Gukurahundi genocide related activities.

“Our firm contention relates to the lack of equilibrium in the envisaged Gukurahundi resolution processes where there's dead silence on the role of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against humanity.”Suspected state security and Zanu PF agents have in the past been accused of destroying memorial plaques at identified mass graves for Gukurahundi victims.

Human rights groups have said this is an attempt to instill fear on victims as well as suppress the truth on the mass killings that were later classified as genocide.

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