The Sunday Mail
Zimbabwe will conduct fresh research on post-Independence civil disturbances in Matabeleland and Midlands to establish exact issues that require redress.
This will inform decisions related to the disturbances.
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission is leading the research, which includes one-on-one interviews in affected communities.
The Commission will soon visit Gwanda and Bindura, engaging religious organisations, civil society, traditional leaders and any concerned residents.
NPRC Acting Chairperson Mrs Lilian Chigwedere told The Sunday Mail: “We need to address the real issues, but we can’t do that without visiting the past and the affected communities to hear what they experienced, otherwise we will be making assumptions.
“As it stands, what we know is what (civil groups) say. What do the people say? Only the affected communities can really tell us what happened. There is need to follow up with proper research.
“The communities will open up during our consultations and then we will investigate further and come up with our own reports. All these reports (there is talk of the Dumbuchena report; the Chihambakwe report, both of which are said not to have been released) … Then there is the CCJP (Catholic Commission on Justice and Peace) report.
“Our focus as we go out is to encourage people to tell the truth, with the ultimate goal of sustainable peace. This is going to be a community-driven initiative.
“Even recommendations are going to come out of what society wants; if it is an apology they want, if it is compensation or reburials, the communities will guide us accordingly. We will walk with the people all the way.”
Mrs Chigwedere said the NPRC would deal with other past conflicts apart from Gukurahundi.
“Conflicts date back to time immemorial. They are specific to communities or periods. The issues raised by people from Mashonaland Central are likely to be different from those that will be raised in Masvingo or Matabeleland.
“Section 10 of the NPRC Act gives us the power to engage anyone whom we believe can contribute to our findings. So, while it is still too early to say whom we will engage, no one is above the law.
“Apart from addressing post-conflict (scenarios), the Commission also seeks to mitigate future conflicts through early detection of potential conflict areas.”
In an interview with the BBC in Switzerland two weeks ago, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Government wanted to bring closure to matters around Gukurahundi.
Vice-President Kembo Mohadi heads the Organ on National Peace and Reconciliation.
The NPRC, which was in 2013 given a 10-year mandate to achieve peace and bring about healing and reconciliation through the Constitution, has the mammoth task of investigating the conflicts that the country has endured in the past and come up with recommendations.
Nine members, led by the late chairperson Cyril Ndebele, were sworn into office on February 24, 2016. President Mnangagwa signed the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill into law on January 5, 2018, operationalising the Commission.
“Already five years have been lost so we have to move with speed,” said Mrs Chigwedere. “We have to do 10 years’ work in the remaining five years and we are eager to move Zimbabwe to a level of cohesiveness, where there are no demarcations.”
According to Section 252 of the Constitution, the NPRC is mandated to ensure post conflict justice, healing and reconciliation and developing programmes that promote national healing, unity and peaceful conflict resolution.