Traditional leaders from Matabeleland have requested for a meeting with Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga to resolve the issue of Gukurahundi as a matter of urgency.
The request was made in a letter to Chiwenga dated December 10 before he was appointed VP following the November military operation that toppled former president Robert Mugabe and replaced him with Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The request was made in a letter congratulating Chiwenga for his role as Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in staging a successful military operation.
The emotionally charged letter received on behalf of Chiwenga by one Major General Muradzi on December 11 came after a meeting between Chiwenga and the chiefs from Matabeleland on December 7.
According to the letter which the chiefs say is yet to be responded to, the traditional leaders proposed January 5 this year (tomorrow) for the beginning of open talks on Gukurahundi. They said the time to continue shrugging off debate on the massacres as if they never happened was over.
“Sir, let us have a face to face engagement over the issue and find a long-lasting internal resolve without engaging the outside world,” part of the letter signed by one Chief Ndiweni on behalf of the head of delegation Chief Vezi Maduna reads.
“Let us mutually together and collectively have a closed roundtable meeting not for revenge, but to bring finality to this issue.
“We are all mature. Let us face it amicably and we free ourselves once and for all. Let us frankly engage not blame, revenge each other on these disturbances, but let’s bring Godly mutual finality without spilling blood or having unnecessary name-calling and retribution.”
The Gukurahundi issue has been an emotive subject since the 1980s when the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade descended on the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces, killing people under the guise of thwarting a dissident movement.
Statistics claim over 20 000 people were killed although Mnangagwa, during a recent interview in Davos, Switzerland where he was attending the World Economic Forum said the figure was over-stated.
He, however, could not be drawn into apologising for the atrocities which took place when he was the State Security minister.
Mugabe also refused to commit himself to debate on the killings, opting to say it was a “moment of madness”.
But the chiefs said they had confidence that Chiwenga would preside over the engagement process to bring closure to the emotive issue following the December 7 meeting.
They said the engagement would help heal the country and spearhead unity and development and thus implored Chiwenga to openly debate the issue with all the affected people.
Mnangagwa has signed the Bill on National Healing and Reconciliation to deal with many issues, among them the Gukurahundi genocide.
– The Standard