Chief Mathema of Gwanda says the Gukurahundi atrocities deserve special attention due to the severity of the human rights violations encountered during the massacres.
The traditional leader made the remarks while addressing delegates at the 2018 transitional Justice Policy Symposium at Amagugu International Heritage Centre in Matobo, Thursday.
The Symposium is running under the theme: Defining the Transitional Justice Agenda in Zimbabwe.
“Gukurahundi is not like (Operation) Murambatsvina or the shooting of 6 people in Harare because 20 000 people perished. There were rape cases, children born out of rape people were tortured and killed,” he said.
Mathema also said the composition of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) should be revised and include the victims of some of the violence experienced in the country.
He encouraged Parliamentarians to amend the constitution so that it does not have a timeframe of when to deal with the Gukurahundi massacres.
“Chapter 13 of the constitution was signed in 2013, for the past 5 years, nothing has been done in terms of addressing Gukurahundi. Only four years are left, which l do not think anything will be done,” he said.
“The constitution of Zimbabwe gives us sunset clauses when it comes to the Gukurahundi issue, it should be revised,” he added.
Chief Mathema suggested that the Ministry of Home affairs should capture the correct details on the death certificates of those who were killed during the 1980s killings so that their relatives can find closure.
“Death certificates should have the correct records for those who were killed during Gukurahundi. If someone was shot, that should be written as it is on their death certificate.
He also called on government to allow survivors to speak out without fear of any reprisals.
“We have seen Commissions and other people especially who do not have firsthand information spearheading the issue of Gukurahundi. The victims have to be also given the same platforms to talk,” said Chief Mathema.
“State security agents should desist from victimising people. Survivors have a right to speak out”.
Mathema also demanded that the government should allow survivors to rebury their relatives.
“We demand that the government allow relatives to do exhumations and collect remains and rebury according to their tradition and culture,” he said.
Concurring with Mathema, OSISA Director Mr Siphosami Malunga said the NPRC should have a committee which will solely deal with the issue of Gukurahundi.
The symposium is ongoing and participants are drawn from civic society organisations, current and former commissioners from various selected countries, national and international NGOs, churches, the labour movement, business community and constitutional commissions.