President Emmerson Mnangagwa said he is committed to dealing with the aftermath of Gukurahundi so that present and future generations can move forward.
Gukurahundi is a term used to refer to disturbances in Matabeleland and Midlands in the 1980s which resulted in the death of an estimated 20 000 people mainly from the Ndebele ethnic group.
In his 2021 Unity Day address at State House on Wednesday, Mnangagwa said he has met with interest groups and chiefs from the affected areas to establish what needs to be done to deal with the emotive issue. He said:
We must boldly confront and tackle the aftermath of that era, heal wounds it left in its wake, and where possible, assuage persistent difficulties and challenges traceable to it.
This, I am resolved to do until we remove whatever bitter memories may still exist and are likely to linger.
We are the generation that must resolve issues of early independence conflict, so we release our children to move forward and ahead as a united people.
On countless occasions, I have met and interacted with interest groups, community, and traditional leaders from Matabeleland and parts of Midlands all with a view to establishing what needs to be done so the aftereffects of this regrettable era are put behind us.
He said chiefs have an important role to play in resolving the Gukurahundi issue and should lead in the process of reconciliation. Mnangagwa said:
Our traditional leaders led by our chiefs have a great role to play in this regard. They preside over communities affected by the conflict, those hurt by the conflict are their subjects.
They know the hurts, hear all the cries from the ear and have suggestions on what needs to be done.
As we give space to our traditional leaders to lead processes of reconciliation and repair, we should guard against those negative elements which aim to re-ignite frozen differences to throw us back into renewed conflict.
As always there are sinister forces that seek to profit from a divided and divisive past. They must not succeed.
Gukurahundi was carried out between 1982 and 1987 by the North Korean trained 5th Brigade which was an elite regiment of the Zimbabwe National Army.
Mnangagwa was the State Security Minister in the late Robert Mugabe’s government during the dark era. Mugabe was Prime Minister at the time.