The ongoing National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) public hearings have been characterised by victims of the Gukurahundi genocide expressing their grief and anger over what they experienced and witnessed.
The NPRC was in Entumbane this week, a suburb that witnessed ferocious fighting between Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) and Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (Zanla) guerrillas.
The two liberations armies clashed on February 11, 1981, while authorities were in the process of integrating the fighters into the regular army.
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Speaking during the NPRC public hearings in Entumbane, this week one of the participants reportedly said:
You are playing and wasting time. For how long must we continue talking about this while you keep on investigating? Is there anyone with doubts that Gukurahundi occurred or anyone who doesn’t know?
The NPRC commissioner responsible for Victim Support, Gender and Diversity, Netty Mushanhu, conceded that people were extremely emotional and angry. She said:
From our meetings, people have shown that they are extremely emotional and are angry. The meetings taught me that we have left it too long but I think we have an opportunity to engage.
If we don’t do anything about this, we may create a very difficult future for ourselves.
… The stories I heard here are heart-breaking, no one deserves to go through what women went through. A lot of women are afraid to talk about what they have gone through; they fear the unknown and also fear what is known.
I think as a nation; we owe it to our children and ourselves to make sure we have safe spaces for truth-telling. We need to engage with our violent and emotional past.