Mnangagwa and Matabeleland leaders finally find each other

Mnangagwa and Matabeleland leaders finally find each other
Published: 22 March 2019 (97 Views)
Yesterday, 21 March 2019, more than 120 civic societies, church bodies, faith based and community based organisations' leadership met the President of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa at State House in Bulawayo. The meeting was organised by the Matabeleland Collective (MC), a grouping of over 70 members and drew participants from all wards of Bulawayo, Bubi, Plumtree, Nkayi, Lupane, Gwanda, Insiza, Mangwe, Matobo, Umzingwane, and Victoria Falls among other areas.

The "Collective" was formed with the objective of building consensus and an effective social movement within Bulawayo, Matabeleland South and North for unified voice on issues. This group mandated its leadership to engage the Presidium on the position contained in the Collective's "Compendium" which was developed to influence national and regional policy in support of participative democracy, healing, peace and reconciliation, economic renewal, social inclusion and equality and devolution based on compensatory development.

The State House meeting was to frankly engage the President on issues impacting the development of Matabeleland. In his opening remarks, the President said, "I have come to listen as I am a listening President, I will listen to the good and the bad." The President did indeed listen and respond to all issues raised.

Participants were encouraged to engage in direct and truthful dialogue with the President and express their ideas and initiatives without fear.

Welcoming remarks were delivered by Ms. Jennifer Williams on behalf of the Matabeleland Collective Convener Pastor Trever Masuku. Masuku emphasised the importance of dialogue and we quote his remarks verbatim:

"Your Excellency, the people you see in front of you have cracked their heads and debated together on how we can lead our communities towards a lived sense of peace and healed hearts, we talked about economic renewal and pointed fingers at Government but when you point a finger there are three fingers pointing back at you, reminding you that you have a role to play. We helped each other understand new concepts like Equalisation and compensatory development. As we engage, we hope you will not only come to understand these concepts, but engage us on how they can bring a policy shift in how Government looks at Matabeleland. We hope you will consider how working together we can develop an Equalisation policy for our people, and that a compensatory development approach could strip away the social exclusion turning it instead into social cohesion. We are here as we told each other that it is time to engage the Government of Zimbabwe – for to always feel excluded is to also exclude oneself. Yes you are the President
but today we speak Zimbabwean to Zimbabwean praying that you will see and feel the genuine desire for us to feel a part of your life and that you will also feel one with us."

Thematic issues extracted from the Compendium were presented.

Doctor Dumisani Ngwenya from Grace to Heal presented the Collective position on Gukurahundi. The key ask was that the President should confirm that it is not a policy directive from his office that bars the events surrounding Gukurahundi being spoken about.as well as preventing the legal exhumation and reburial of victims lying in shallow graves. Ngwenya called for victims to be free to conduct reburials without hindrance by state agents to which the President agreed that this must go ahead within the confines of the law. There was debate on the fact that victims' families cannot especially access documentation and the President agreed this matter required attention as families of Gukurahundi victims should be assisted with death certificates that clearly state the causes of death. Consensus between the Collective and the President was therefore reached that those affected by Gukurahundi should be allowed to discuss their experiences openly; families of Gukurahundi victims be allowed to rebury their loved one
s for healing and closure and that there should be a special provision for medical treatment of victims that require it.

The Devolution and Compensatory Development presentation was done by Mr. Dumisani Nkomo who heads the MC Secretariat. He opened his presentation by prefixing that there should be recognition that during the Gukurahundi years, there was no meaningful development in the Matabeleland region and there is need to compensate citizens for the years lost through a special compensatory development or equalization programme. The President put it another way showing his understanding "if you mean we need to leapfrog people from areas where Gukurahundi happened, then I understand what you mean by Compensatory Development."

Key asks on Devolution and Compensatory Development as follows:

• Prioritisation of Zambezi Water Project – The completion of the project will unlock economic value to citizens across Matabeleland Provinces and will also free up water resources in Matabeleland South for agricultural purposes.

• Harmonization of laws – laws governing Local Authorities should be harmonised expeditiously to ensure efficiency and ease in the implementation of devolution.

• Devolve government processes – government should prioritise local businesses in the awarding of tenders and locals should be given first preferences when filling in positions in government. There is a further need to decentralise decision making and provincial government departments should be able to serve citizens efficiently without unnecessary delays caused by consulting Head Offices in Harare.

• Improve social service delivery through provision of schools, clean safe potable water and clinics.

• Education – To look into the numbers of schools in Matabeleland and where possible upgrade primary schools to include secondary schools.

Ms. Sikhathele Matambo of Emthonjeni Women's Forum represented the Collectives' position on women's issues. She called on Government to ensure that there is an increase in the number of women in Parliament, Cabinet and other governance organs. The President in his responses said the introduction of the quota system was identified as a way to deal with this challenge but he confirmed that theory sometimes does not turn into reality as most of the contested seats were being contested by men leaving the proportional seats to women perpetuating gender imbalance.

In the company of the President was the Minister of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Dr. Sekai Nzenza. Minister Nzenza noted that she had been inspired by the clarity on issues coming from the meeting. She committed to establish an NGO/State Engagement Platform for sustained dialogue between State and non-state actors.

The President made final closing remarks after all presentations and acknowledged the frank cordial refreshing discussions. The President committed to work with civil society organisations and churches for the betterment of Zimbabwe. In closing remarks he said "Our heads were buried in the sand but they are out now. We congratulate the Matabeleland Collective for inviting us and engaging in this way we will be looking for you and you may be the ones to run away from our engagements. I now see that civic society has the people at heart.

The President committed to the following:

1. Engaging on input towards crafting the kind of devolution of power that will take power from central government to provinces for them to set their own development priorities. He warned that central government must not be off the hook to also fund key capital projects such as infrastructural development. However Provinces should also have their funding allocation under their own control. The allocation to Provinces will continue to increase with each year to support the devolution process. However, he recommended removing Parliamentarians from Provincial devolved government so that they could play a national oversight role. This will require legislative amendments.
2. He confirmed that there is no legislation inhibiting people from talking about Gukurahundi and said anyone should be free to discuss their experiences freely without victimization on media or any other re-vicitimisation.
3. Gukurahundi survivors with challenges accessing health care should be identified and assisted by the Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare.
4. There is need to strengthen government departments to be efficient and be able to serve citizens equally and without bias and respecting cultural diversity and spoken language. He also went on to suggest that the Zimbabwe he would like to see is one where everyone at least speak two local dialects and especially the one of the province they are resident in.
5. Government has the power to amend legislation to cater for development needs hence legislation can be amended to ensure that the proportional representation clause in the constitution may be revisited to maintain the sixty seats reserved for women in Parliament.
6. He agreed that the lifespan of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission should be extended to enable the Commission to complete its work as there was minimal progress in the Commission's first five years.
7. The Ministry of Home Affairs will be supported with resources to issue birth and death certificates to Gukurahundi victims in affected areas.

Matabeleland Collective participants were however concerned at the arrest of CITE Director Zenzele Ndebele whose home and office where unlawfully searched. Zenzele and 3 other Directors were manhandled by security at the entrance gate when Zenzele Ndebele car was searched and empty teargas canisters were found in his vehicle. The Matabele Collective expects Zenzele imminent release and for all his property to be returned to him intact.

For more information please contact official spokespersons Jenni Williams 0772898110, Dumisani Nkomo on 0779617926 or email matabelelandcollective@gmail.com

Statement endorsed by attending organisations:

Amagugu Heritage Trust
Bulawayo United Residents Association
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA)
Brethren in Christ Compassionate and Development Services
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA)
Center for Innovation and Technology (CITE)
Christian Legal Society
Christian Youth Volunteers
Community Youth Development Trust (CYDT)
Dumiso Dabengwa Foundation
DP Foundation
Ecumenical Church Leaders Forum
Emthonjeni Women's Forum
Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe
Grace to Heal
Godlwayo Community Development Trust
Gwanda Community Economic Justice Development Trust
Gwanda Residents Association
Habakkuk Trust
Inkanyezi Development Trust
Kwahlala Development Trust
LIBADE
Lupane Women's Centre
Matabeleland Development Initiative
Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust
Maternity and Newly born care
NANGO Western Region
National Youth Development Trust (NYDT)
Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP)
Plumtree Development Trust
Public Policy Research Institute Zimbabwe (PPRIZ)
Rural Communities Empowerment Trust (RUCET)
Sethule Orphans Trust Zimbabwe
South Western Region Gender Network (SWRGN)
Streetwise Informal Traders Association (SWITA)
Triple D Women's Indaba
Ubuntu Youth in Development - Plumtree
ULUNTU-CIISE TRUST
Victory Siyanqoba Trust
Victoria Falls Civic Society Consortium
Women's Institute for Leadership Development (WILD)
Women in Development Association Zimbabwe (WODAZ)
Women's Media Development Trust
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
Secure Future Africa
Young Women's Alliance
Youth for Innovation Trust (YITT)
Youths for Today and Tomorrow
Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA)
Zimbabwe Council of Churches and Greater Bulawayo Women's Fellowship
Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association
ZIPRA Veterans Association
 



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