COMMENT: Journalists should report responsibly on Gukurahundi

ZIMBABWEAN journalists were on Thursday urged to help resolve and not incite conflict when reporting on the Gukurahundi issue.
Addressing journalists attending a two-day sensitisation workshop on the Gukurahundi hearings which ended in Bulawayo yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Mr Nick Mangwana urged journalists to report responsibly on Gukurahundi to help resolve the post-independence conflict. He said the media has a critical role to play whenever a resolution or conflict of the past is being tackled.

Mr Mangwana therefore urged the journalists to play an active role in resolving the past conflict.

President Mnangagwa has said in the past that Zimbabwe should take a leaf from Rwanda’s post-genocide reconciliation model as it embarks on its healing process.

Rwanda witnessed the massacre of at least a million people in about 100 days in 1994. Rwandans every year mourn the genocide victims for 100 days from April 6 to July 4.

On April 6, a plane carrying President of Rwanda Juvenal Habyarimana and his counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi, both Hutus, was shot down killing all on board.

The Hutu extremists immediately started a well organised mass killing of Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The plane was allegedly shot down by the Hutus to provide an excuse for the genocide. Women were beaten, raped, humiliated, abused and ultimately murdered often in sight of family members.

Today the people of Rwanda who butchered each other using weapons such as machetes, clubs, knobkerries and guns are one united family working to develop their country. Hutus and Tutsis are working together to revive Rwanda’s industries as well as attract foreign direct investment.

Rwanda today is a shining beacon of a united nation that is enjoying the benefits of a shared national vision. It is a fact that Rwanda experienced one of the most horrific ethnic clashes in contemporary world history but managed to successfully bury its painful past.

President Mnangagwa has said what Zimbabwe needs is a strong political will to defeat the merchants of division. The challenge to the Zimbabwean media is to assist the nation find each other like what happened in Rwanda.

Media practitioners follow proceedings at a recently held Media Sensitisation Workshop on Gukurahundi.

The focus should not be on who did what during the period which has been described as ‘‘moment of madness’’ but to assist the nation to successfully bury its painful past.

Zimbabwe like Rwanda needs to emerge from these Gukurahundi hearings as one united nation with a shared vision to build the Zimbabwe we all want. This is only possible if the media plays its important role of assisting citizens to find each other as opposed to inciting conflict and retribution.

The Office of the President and Cabinet appreciates the important role of the media in this healing process hence it organised this sensitisation workshop ahead of the Gukurahundi hearings.

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