‘ED unsurping NPRC powers’
THE exhumation and reburial of Gukurahundi victims should be overseen by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and not the State which is a conflicted party, activists and analysts have said.
This comes after Justice ministry permanent secretary Virginia Mabiza told State media recently that President Emmerson Mnangagwa will superintend the implementation of resolutions made at his initial meeting with Matabeleland Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in March last year.
She also added that the president will soon convene a consensus-building indaba with Matabeleland chiefs to craft a way forward on the exhumations.
The meeting resolved, among other things, that government must expedite the issuing of birth and death certificates to those affected by Gukurahundi in addition to reburying and exhuming the remains of the massacres.
Activists and analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday, however, said Mnangagwa wants to usurp the role of NPRC.
NPRC is constitutionally mandated to deal with post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation as well as recommending legislation to ensure that assistance, including documentation, is rendered to persons affected by conflict, pandemics and other circumstances.
“It is not proper for Mnangagwa to preside because he is conflicted. Besides, there is a constitutional body mandated to deal with this subject, the NPRC. What Mnangagwa is doing is usurping the mandate from the responsible body.
“It is not done to bring healing to affected communities, but as a public relations tool to score political points … How do you fast-track the exhumations? Will they be chaotic like the fast track land reform?
“If he was sincere about addressing this, Mnangagwa must empower the NPRC, help on truth telling, assist families on their abducted relatives,” Mbuso Fuzwayo from Matabeleland-based pressure group, Ibhetshu likaZulu, said.
Another activist, Mbonisi Gumbo from Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP), said exhumations cannot be conducted by a compromised government.
“We cannot allow a compromised government to do exhumations. We have no problem with the process being done by a purely independent, non-partisan body that is why MRP at some point was comfortable working with Ukuthula Trust,” Gumbo said.
Ukuthula Trust is an independent Bulawayo-based pathological expert. Last year, the organisation exhumed the remains of a Tsholotsho couple that was killed by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade.
“If the government is sincere, it must unconditionally apologise to the people of Matabeleland. The government cannot decide what is appropriate on behalf of grieving people before consulting them.
“The current efforts are nothing but a waste of taxpayers’ money,” Gumbo added.
Political analyst Dumisani Nkomo weighed in, saying the process needs a neutral arbiter so that it is a credible process.
“The process must be led by a neutral arbiter or institution. The role of the NPRC in the exhumation process appears vague though it is constitutionally mandated to deal with such issues,” Nkomo said while urging the government to entrench the process in legislation.
Speaking during the president’s second engagement meeting with CSOs on February 14, Mabiza emphasised that exhumation must be done in an orderly manner and in terms of the law but highlighted that some families had attempted to illegally exhume their loved ones.
It was brought to our attention that there were some who had attempted to carry out illegal exhumations.