THE National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) will soon set up a 10-member committee to investigate Gukurahundi atrocities and other political violence incidents that occurred in the country.

BY SILAS NKALA

This was revealed by NPRC commissioner Lesley Ncube at a national healing indaba organised by Habakkuk Trust in Bulawayo yesterday.

He said the commission will seek citizens’ views and feed into their planning for the fact-finding mission into the atrocities, particularly the Gukurahundi massacres, which he described as unique to the Matabeleland region and would be treated with exception.

According to Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice, over

20 000 people were killed by the government-sponsored North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade soldiers in the 1980s in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.

Ncube said the national healing committee would be drawn from civic society, communities and churches.

“The committee will comprise 10 members, with six drawn from Matabeleland and four from Mashonaland provinces,” Ncube said.

“That committee will be on the ground to consult and find facts. The committee will be picked from reputable organisations. In actual fact, when life is lost, there can be no measure of how much can be compensated and the commission does not have the prescription of what should be done, hence, the committee will deal with such issues.”

Ncube said the committee will consult community members on healing and reconciliation initiatives and what compensation is needed by whom, while it is possible that some people do not want to be compensated, but want the truth to be revealed.

Ncube said as the NPRC embarks on national healing and reconciliation, the citizens need to be tolerant, indicating that their role is driven by the
Constitution.

He said when they begun consultations recently in Gwanda, Matabeleland South, Bulawayo and Lupane, Matabeleland North, though there were disruptions, particularly in Bulawayo and Lupane, they took the people’s views and feelings into consideration that issues pertaining to Gukurahundi had been swept under the rug for too long, hence it was possible for people to be emotional.

Mthwakazi Republic Party activists early this year disrupted NPRC meetings in Lupane and Bulawayo, disputing the composition of the team leading the process, which they said had one Ndebele member and did not want non-Ndebele speakers to address them on Gukurahundi.

“People had not been free to talk on these issues for too long and when the noise occurred we considered such issues,” he said.

“When we left Gwanda, Bulawayo and Lupane, we were clear on what people in these places wanted the 1980s violence (Gukurahundi) to be addressed exclusively, and even in Manicaland where there issues of violent diamonds exploration, in Mashonaland, where there were issues of 2008, where the so-called short sleeve and long sleeve election violence occurred, had their own demands as to what they wanted about those issues.”

Speaking at the same event former MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi said NPRC knew the areas in the country where people’s rights were violated and its mandate was to establish the truth about what happened and why it happened.

Masakhaneni Trust chief executive Dumisani Mpofu said there is a need to find out who benefitted from the Gukurahundi atrocities.

“It is clear that there are some organisations that benefited from the killings,” he said.

“Those who looted people’s property we must have victims who know them, allowed to take them to court to demand their property back if they physically know them.”