Nduduzo Tshuma, Political Editor
THE National Council of Chiefs yesterday endorsed an initiative of traditional leaders taking leadership in the emotive Gukurahundi issues as the Government inches towards closure and healing from the period through collective dialogue.
The endorsement was made during a meeting between the National Council of Chiefs and President Mnangagwa at State House in Bulawayo which also touched on a number of developmental issues the traditional leaders wanted addressed.
The meeting was a follow-up to previous ones held between chiefs and President Mnangagwa, the last one being a consultative engagement at the same venue between the Head of State and Chiefs from Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South last Saturday.
In the last meeting, it was resolved that traditional leaders will now take over the exhumation and reburials of victims of Gukurahundi in Matabeleland and Midlands while the Government will be involved in funding the process as part of initiatives meant to address the issue and promote national healing.
Giving a brief after the closed-door meeting which was also attended by Cabinet Ministers and senior Government officials, yesterday evening, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo said National Council of Chiefs president, Chief Fortune Charumbira reported on the breakthrough with regards to finding a resolution to Gukurahundi.
“The President of the Chiefs Council briefed the meeting on the outcome of the deliberations from an earlier meeting of National Council of Chiefs. He noted that traditional leaders had made a major breakthrough with respect to issues of Gukurahundi.
“All the 36 members endorsed the initiative of traditional leaders taking leadership in resolving issues of Gukurahundi,” said Minister Moyo.
He said the meeting also resolved to be inclusive in handling key issues; include communities with special emphasis on unity of purpose and the chiefs council to work with the ministry and other stakeholders.
He said it was further resolved that chiefs will work out their methodology within their respective areas of jurisdiction, agree on the methodology which is suitable to their communities and that the methodology should include all stakeholders.
Minister Moyo said Chief Charumbira commended President Mnangagwa on the stabilisation of the economy, the support given to communities in form of agricultural inputs and Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the ministers who attended the meeting were given an opportunity to respond to various issues raised by the chiefs as presented by the President of the Chiefs Council.
“The Government ministers all pledged to address the issues in close consultation with the chiefs,” said Minister Moyo.
He said in response, President Mnangagwa acknowledged yesterday’s meeting as a culmination of the process that was initiated by Matabeleland Collective, a grouping of non-governmental and church organisations from the region.
“It was in that process that the role of the chiefs was espoused leading todays collective position taken by the chiefs which puts the chiefs at the centre of the resolution of Gukurahundi,” said Minister Moyo.
“His Excellency mentioned that Gukurahundi was now an open issue which can now be discussed freely.”
Minister Moyo said President Mnangagwa addressed the chiefs on other issues including the drought mitigation programme in the country, food security, devolution and other social economic development issues affecting the traditional leaders in their respective areas.
“He acknowledged with approval the presentations by the ministers and the chairman of the Public Service Commission (Dr Vincent Hungwe). He also acknowledged receipt of a checklist from the President of the Chiefs Council which would be considered by Government and feedback would be given to chiefs. A priority matrix of execution of the agreed issues will be made with timelines on implementation,” said Minister Moyo.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and his permanent secretary Mrs Virginia Mabhiza, Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Nqobizitha Ndlovu, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima, and State Security Minister Owen Ncube attended the meeting.
Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Judith Ncube, her counterparts Richard Moyo from Matabeleland North and Abednico Ncube from Matabeleland South also attended the meeting.