The Matabeleland Forum has demanded that the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) publicly disown a recent statement made by Obert Gutu, one of its commissioners.
Gutu, a former MDC spokesperson who recently joined ZANU PF, told reporters early this week that the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres were a “small, tiny” part of the issues the NPRC intends to deal with.
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Pindula News publishes a statement by the Matabeleland Forum seeking the NPRC to state its position regarding Gutu’s statement:
The Matabeleland Forum has noted with alarm and concern the recent statement by the spokesperson of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), Obert Gutu, that the Gukurahundi is a ‘small, tiny part of what the NPRC intends to deal with under its mandate.
We note that the atrocities committed against the citizens of Matabeleland during the early 1980s resulted in the deaths of an estimated 20,000 innocent people.
Many of these mass murders were deeply premeditated, constituted as policy and were deliberately cruel.
This era further resulted in massive property destruction, infrastructural damage, rape, torture and destruction of the social fabric of families, villages and communities.
The lack of accountability and the lack of genuine space to deal with this past remains burning, unfinished business for us in Matabeleland.
The deliberate under-development of the region during the 1980s and since, keeps many Matabeleland citizens in a state of depression and subjugation.
The shredding of the social fabric which dates to the 1980s, underlies many other issues and conflicts that we as NGOs and churches work with the inability of every kind of development committee can be traced back to the fear of taking leadership roles at the village level for fear of being chopped down in the future by a state that does not allow for dissent.
To deal with the conflicts of the present, it is essential to trace them back to the impact of the Gukurahundi era.
There is no other starting point for us, the lack of accountability and the perpetrating of atrocity against the innocent must be dealt with, back to the 1980s in Matabeleland.
We are aware, having collaborated with the NPRC for the last few years, that Gukurahundi is in fact the number one issue to be dealt with in their five-year strategic plan. This is appropriate and necessary.
There is an urgent need for the NPRC to distance itself from and to correct the recent statement by their official spokesperson.
The NPRC needs to clarify that Gutu’s description of the murder of 20,000 civilians and the long reach of the multiple traumas of the 1980s into the present, is NOT a small, tiny’ matter, and remains a primary focus of this Commission.
If the NPRC does not distance itself from Gutu’s statement, and confirm the primacy of Gukurahundi in its activities, the Matabeleland Forum will take this to mean that the NPRC no longer has any interest in working with the issues we as NGOs and churches in Matabeleland consider central. Matabeleland Forum represents more than 29 civic society and Church groups.