ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa has expressed concern over the Zanu PF government’s rush to issue identification documents to children of Gukurahundi victims without investigating the causes of their parents’ death, saying the exercise was a ploy to destroy evidence of the mass killings.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Dabengwa told journalists last week that the government should first investigate and document the evidence to ensure birth certificates given to the survivors indicate the cause of death as Gukurahundi.
“This is a sensitive issue and there is need for transparency in the handling of this process,” he said.
“A haphazard approach of just dishing out birth certificates will create problems, especially if proper documentation processes, as prescribed in the Home Affairs Act, are not followed.”
Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko recently launched a programme to issue birth certificates and identification documents to children whose parents were killed in the 1980s
The exercise, which was launched at Tshino Primary School in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North province, came following reports that thousands of children, particularly in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, were struggling to obtain the identification documents, as their parents were killed during the Gukurahundi era.
Mphoko, who recently stirred a hornet’s nest after he claimed that Gukurahundi was a Western conspiracy to tarnish President Robert Mugabe’s image, said the documentation exercise was necessary to put closure to the contentious issue.
“The documentation process should cover all the affected, that is the deceased, and the children of those who died,” Dabengwa said.
“Both need documentation, hence, the call to follow all the proper identification processes to accompany the documentation procedures.
“Death certificates have to be issued and, like birth certificates, the two documents should specifically denote the cause of death as Gukurahundi genocide to ensure the evidence or statistics of the mass killings is not lost or destroyed.”
Under the programme, the government is also constructing monuments on mass graves of the people who were killed.
This has, however, infuriated civic society groups, who argue the programme does not address the psychological effects on the massacres.
An estimated 20 000 civilians were killed during the State-sanctioned massacres, with Mugabe describing the era as a “moment of madness”. – NewsDay