National Healing, Integration and Reconciliation Co-minister Moses Mzila Ndlovu on Saturday told a stunned audience how his mother was brutalised by soldiers from the ruthless 5th Brigade at the height of the Gukurahundi genocide over two decades ago.
The minister was speaking at a local church in the city at an event organised by the activist group, Ibhetshu LikaZulu, to commemorate 28 years of the unleashing of the Matabeleland genocide.
Ndlovu said the issue of Gukurahundi was serious because a lot of people had horrible tales to tell of their experiences at the hands of the 5th Brigade.
“I want to take a minute of your time and tell you my personal experience with Gukurahundi,” Ndlovu said.
“Last year in August, my mother died. She was 99 years old. It is a miracle how she lived that long because she was a victim of Gukurahundi.
“During that time, Callistus Ndlovu, then a minister, called for a meeting in our area and my mother, as someone who had been a victim of polio, could not go. The Zanu PF thugs found her and dragged her for not less than 100 metres. I want to ask: when you are dragging a woman by her feet, where will you be looking? I am not pained by the physical pain that my mother went through but by the humiliation she suffered.
“We should not be confused, Zanu PF and Gukurahundi are one and the same thing,” he said.
Five other people, most of them former liberation fighters, gave testimonies of their experiences at the hands of the crack unit that political analysts say was put together to wipe out PF Zapu, its military wing, Zipra, and its supporters mostly in the Ndebele areas of Matabeleland.
Hundreds of people and leaders from across the political and civil society spectrum attended the commemorations.
Leaders who attended the commemorations included MDC-T MPs, Dorcas Sibanda, Seiso Moyo, and Reggie Moyo, Ndebele prince, Zwidekalanga Khumalo, Gukurahundi artist, Owen Maseko, PUMA president, Bancinyane Ndiweni, MPC chairman, John Gazi, Zapu Secretary General, Paul Siwela and the late nationalist Joshua Nkomo’s son, Sibangilizwe Nkomo.
Ndlovu said it was important to come up with a law that would allow people in Matabeleland to re-bury thousands of people buried in unmarked graves, disused mines and other places.
“We want a law that allows us to exhume our people and bury them the way we want, according to our culture and customs. We want the 50 people who were buried together in a single grave in Kezi, the day (President) Robert Mugabe was conferred with an honorary degree by Edinburgh University, to be exhumed and re-buried properly.
“We have to identify all mass graves and dig them up. This is happening in Rwanda and Cambodia and we want it here too. We will then get experts to inspect the bones and identify the relatives. We want this so that we can mourn our relatives, bury them and be at peace again.
“As leaders we must be able to seek redress and recourse on behalf of the people of Matabeleland and Midlands. How can we claim to be representing the people when we have not sought re-dress on their behalf,” he said.
Ndlovu said it was important for the perpetrators to come and face the people of Matabeleland, tell the whole story of what their intentions were and ask for apologies.
“The perpetrators must apologise. They should not apologise with this air of assuming the perogative of forgiving themselves, claiming that it was a moment of madness. Just like that! As if it was just rain that thundered and went away,” he said.
Ndlovu said the fact that 28 years after its onset the genocide was still not recognised and did not appear on the Zimbabwean calendar showed that the nation was still a long way from national healing.