MDC-N president Welshman Ncube says debate surrounding the Gukurahundi massacres — which claimed an estimated 20 000 people in Matabeleland and Midlands — can never be wished away because the manslaughter left an indelible mark on the lives of people in the two regions.
Addressing journalists at his party’s Bulawayo offices at the weekend, Ncube said there were a lot of people in the region who still carried the scars of Gukurahundi and hence the genocide could not be dismissed easily.
“Just as the colonial injustices can never be a closed chapter, Gukurahundi can never be a closed chapter, no matter how you look at it. We have worked for the past 30 years to try and close the colonial chapter, but it has not worked,” he said.
Two weeks ago, Vice-President John Nkomo reportedly told the State media Gukurahundi was a closed chapter.
Gukurahundi was a codename for a State military crackdown on perceived anti-government insurgents, mainly of Ndebele origin, carried out in Matabeleland and parts of Midlands between 1982 and 1987.
A few years ago, President Robert Mugabe fell short of publicly apologising for the massacre, describing it as “a moment of madness”.
Ncube said it was not the prerogative of any single individual to declare Gukurahundi a closed chapter.
“No one individual can say to all those people who lost their relatives, people who can’t get birth certificates, that Gukurahundi is a closed chapter. You can’t come to them (victims) and tell them that they are a closed chapter,” he said.
Ncube also said no matter how much people might want to dismiss the marginalisation of Matabeleland, it remained a fact that was hard to dispute.
“The reality is that if you look at industry, more companies have closed in Bulawayo than anywhere else. No companies have relocated from Gweru to go to Harare, no companies have relocated from Mutare to go to Harare, no companies have relocated from Masvingo to go to Harare.
“It is a fact that you cannot dispute that over the past 30 years there has been neglect of the development of this region,” Ncube said. “If we are to build a nation we need to be inclusive. We need to treat every region and every citizen equally. You can never build a nation by discrimination. People cannot be apologetic about it (underdevelopment).
“Each and every Zimbabwean should be treated in the same way by their government and their institutions. Denying it (marginalisation) can only make the problem worse. We should build a nation where each of us feels free,” he said.