Zimbabwean media urged to respect privacy in upcoming Gukurahundi hearings


BULAWAYO – In a recent call to action, Deputy President of the Chiefs Council of Zimbabwe, Fortune Charumbira, urged the media to respect the privacy of families set to testify in the forthcoming Gukurahundi Outreach programme. The plea was made during a Gukurahundi media sensitisation workshop held in Bulawayo on Friday.

Zimbabwean media Gukurahundi hearings
Image: NewZiana 

President Mnangagwa has recently convened a meeting with traditional leaders from Matebeleland North and South at State House to finalize the arrangements for the Gukurahundi outreach hearings. 

The aim is to bring closure to this sad chapter of the post-independence era and foster unity in the country. Traditional leaders have been entrusted to spearhead this process.

The Gukurahundi conflict, which took place in the early 1980s, primarily affected the Matabeleland and parts of Midlands regions. 

The conflict concluded with the signing of the Unity Accord between former President Robert Mugabe and his former deputy Joshua Nkomo in 1987.

Charumbira emphasized the need for sensitivity towards the privacy of individual families. 

He stated, “We are here to find ways of engaging the villagers. There is need to protect the privacy of individual families. The media should be sensitive to other issues of privacy."

He further outlined the ultimate objective of the initiative, “The ultimate objective is to promote peace and harmony among our people and find closure to the sad episode of Gukurahundi. 

“We are also going to engage experts from countries such as Rwanda which also experienced such sad encounters but people are now united and living in a peaceful environment.”

The Deputy President explained that the workshop is part of a roadmap to reach survivors in the villages. 

He urged the media to allow the affected individuals to speak for themselves in a safe environment.

He also highlighted the role of chiefs in ensuring the privacy of villagers within their jurisdiction, to prevent any potential infiltration of the process for personal gains.

Charumbira clarified that only in-person testimonies will be accepted, with no virtual submissions allowed for those living outside their communities. 

This measure aims to collect accurate data and prevent any infiltration during the exercise. 

A six-month window period will be provided for those abroad to make their submissions before a 14-member panel led by a local chief.

He further explained, “This is a victim-centered approach, it is the family that was affected that will make submission to that panel of 14 chaired by the Chief so the family cannot be hundred. 

“This is not a ward rally so there will be no room for outsiders to come and infiltrate the process. It’s not a rally where we are inviting everybody to converge at a particular venue, it is specifically for those who were affected as a family.”

Charumbira added that affected families will be engaged in their communities, and those who migrated should return to the places where they lived during the disturbances. 

He concluded, “This won’t be a one-day event, probably 3 -6 months so if you can’t find two days in the six months to go back to Tsholotsho and present your case to your Chief then it becomes problematic.”

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