BY SENZENI NCUBE
Seventeen civil society organisations in Bulawayo have broken away from the Matabeleland Collective, a network of the clergy and civic society groups in the region, to form a new platform known as Matabeleland Forum.
The loose coalition developed some cracks after some of the members felt uneasy with being viewed as aligned to the Zanu PF-led government.
The Matabeleland Collective came into the spotlight in March last year after its members met President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House in Bulawayo, where they confronted him over his failure to deal with Gukurahundi.
Mthulisi Hanana, the Dumiso Dabengwa Foundation director, said the organisations had resolved to form the Matabeleland Forum as commitment to a genuine process of truth recovery, healing, justice and reparations for communities affected by the Gukurahundi atrocities.
“We, the undersigned civil society organisations, have agreed to reorganise ourselves into a non-partisan loose coalition of civil society organisations that are promoting genuine debate on historical experience and current developments that are pertinent to the Matabeleland region,” he said.
“Consequently, the undersigned organisations have resolved to alternatively form the Matabeleland Forum and commit themselves to the pursuit of a genuine engagement on the issues raised in the compendium, in particular a genuine process of truth recovery, healing, justice and preparation for those communities and individuals affected by the Gukurahundi genocide.
“This should be a truly consultative process involving all partners and all those affected.”
Hanana said over the last nine months, the Matabeleland Collective members had failed to resolve their internal challenges.
“Over the last nine months, the undersigned civil society organisations have, with little success, explored all available avenues of conflict resolution within the Matabeleland Collective,” he said.
“This was being done with the hope that these internal processes would assist in driving the collective back to its original mandate and structure.”
Hanana said decision-making within the Matabeleland Collective was now limited to a very few self-appointed individuals.
“There have been no genuine efforts towards dealing with concerns, by members on the alleged capture of Matabeleland Collective by partisan forces existing outside it,” he said.
Ibhetshu likaZulu’s Mbuso Fuzwayo said the Matabeleland Forum would do things differently.
“The Matabeleland Forum is going to do things differently from what Matabeleland Collective is doing where an individual can sit and make decisions on behalf of the Collective without consulting members where we end up seen more like advancing a particular party agenda or as doing public relations to people who massacred people in Matabeleland,”said Fuzwayo.
Civic society organisations that make up the Matabeleland Forum are Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association, CITE, Christian Legal Society, Community Youth Development Trust, Dumiso Dabengwa Foundation, Emthonjeni Women’s Forum and Habakkuk Trust.
The other organisations are Ibhetshu LikaZulu, Masakhaneni Trust, National Youth Development Trust, South Western Region Gender Network, Tree of Life, Ukuthula Trust,Victory/Siyanqoba Trust, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development, Women’s Media for Development Foundation and Zimbabwe Christian Alliance.