VICE President Phelekezela Mphoko says the 10 years set aside by the country’s constitution for the Peace and Reconciliation Commission to effect healing over the Gukurahundi issue is not enough.VP Mphoko, who heads the Commission, said in Bulawayo yesterday he would advocate for the extension of the time frame to fully engage affected people.
Responding to a question by Pastor Trevor Masuku at a meeting with church leaders from different sects and denominations at the Large City Hall, VP Mphoko said reconciliation was an important part of life.
“You were asking about the time frame, my opinion is that the 10 years set aside by the constitution aren’t enough for a Commission to have dealt with all the issues and I’ll advocate for an extension,” he said.
VP Mphoko was responding to Masuku who had said as the church they were worried that for the past two years the Commission had not done anything.
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission was set up to ensure post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation, to develop and implement programmes to promote national healing, unity and cohesion in Zimbabwe and the peaceful resolution of disputes and to bring about national reconciliation by encouraging people to tell the truth about the past and facilitating the making of amends and the provision of justice.
Referring to Gukurahundi, VP Mphoko said as the head of the commission, he would engage elders from the affected areas to be commissioners.
“For us to be real, relevant, I wish to visit the affected areas, Nkayi, Tsholotsho, Lupane, Kezi , Gweru and Beitbridge.
The commission will be made up of people from these areas, old people who know culture and what needs to be done. Wisdom comes from the elders,” he said.
VP Mphoko said the church was key in reconciliation and some of the commissioners would be chosen from among the clergy.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, VP Mphoko said civil disturbances that rocked Zimbabwe in the early years of Independence were part of a region-wide conspiracy to destabilise Southern Africa and not part of any anti-Ndebele agenda by Shonas.
VP Mphoko, said his work was cut out for him in this regard.
“That’s a very sensitive area because people lost lives. But we need to solve a situation. We need to heal those wounds. It would be very important that eminent persons in the affected areas participate in the healing system. That’s very important.
“You see, we should avoid the tendency of: ‘Wow, jobs have opened up, this is an interesting ministry…’
“No, no, no. It’s a very serious matter. It needs eminent people. There’re people who were killed … where people have died you’ve to be very careful.”
VP Mphoko said unity between Shonas and Ndebeles predated the Unity Accord with the first formal and nationwide collaboration coming in 1972 after the Organisation of African Unity meeting in Benghazi, Libya.
Key to this healing, VP Mphoko said, was analysing the roots of the problem; which he traced to a wider conspiracy formulated within the context of the Cold War politics that sought to discredit black nationalist rule as informed by Socialist and Communist ideological underpinnings.
“There’s one point which hasn’t been articulated to my satisfaction: The issue of Gukurahundi,” said VP Mphoko, who was Zapu Chief of Logistics and was the direct link between President Mugabe and Dr Nkomo during the Second Chimurenga.
VP Mphoko continued: “Now, I’ve always said the post-Independence Gukurahundi was a conspiracy of the West. This I maintain . . .
“When Portugal gave up its overseas territory in 1974 . . . the Rhodesians, the South Africans, General (Hendrik van Den) Bergh who was head of the BOSS (apartheid Bureau for State Security) and Ken Flower who was head of CIO here, they almost walked to Portugal to protest to the Portuguese.
“‘Why are you doing this? You’ve opened the gates in Mozambique. ANC terrorists will walk into South Africa. Rhodesian terrorists will walk into Rhodesia. The terrorists of the ANC from Angola will walk into South West Africa(Namibia) and into South Africa. Why did you do this? Can’t you reverse this?’
“The Portuguese said, “No, we can’t do that. Find your own solutions’.
“South Africa and Rhodesia insisted ‘you’ve opened gates to Communism’.
The VP said the situation deteriorated into a wider conspiracy formulated within the context of Cold War politics that sought to discredit Black Nationalist rule as informed by Socialist and Communist ideological underpinnings.
He said the conspiracy gave birth to Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe.
VP Mphoko said he was happy to meet the church leaders in Bulawayo and urged them to work closely with the government and support Zim-Asset.