PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday addressed fragmented Matabeleland civic society organisations at the State House in Bulawayo where he promised his government was committed to exhuming Gukurahundi victims and giving them decent burials.
Addressing a faction of the Matabeleland civic society organisations (CSOs), under the newly formed Matabeleland Forum, Mnangagwa said it was disappointing that little had been done to address fundamental issues affecting the region nearly a year after his last meeting with same CSOs.
Last March, he met the region’s civic society members at the State House under the Matabeleland Collective banner, which was being coordinated by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) leader Jennie Williams and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, a senior member of the Thokozani Khupe-led MDC.
However, the Matabeleland Collective has since collapsed due to in-fighting.
“It is my sincere desire that we conduct the exercise of the exhumations in a manner that will bring healing to those in pain and unity within our society,” Mnangagwa said.
He pointed out that he was in Bulawayo to assess progress made on issues which were raised at the initial meeting last year.
“I have no doubt that the problems raised by this gathering in March last year can and will be resolved through the same method that has brought us success before, which is dialogue,” he said.
Mnangagwa said one of the contentious issues that arose from their last year’s dialogue was exhumation and proper burial of Gukurahundi victims.
“As you are aware, this is a sensitive issue that requires careful consideration, with due regard being given to the sensitivities of the affected families, their communities and the relevant culture and customs that are in place in the locations of burial sites.
“My government is working at achieving consensus on how best to address this situation in a manner that will not offend against anyone. In due course, I will receive recommendations from all concerned parties including the affected families, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and the traditional leaders and other civic society groups,” he said.
The President said his desire was to see the reburial exercise being conducted in a manner that will bring closure and healing to those in pain and unity within communities.
However, some members of the newly formed Matabeleland Forum boycotted the meeting accusing the organisers of pursuing a hidden political agenda.