A war of words has erupted in Zanu PF over the emotive Gukurahundi issue, with party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo maintaining the chapter was closed in 2000 when President Robert Mugabe made the proclamation.
However, Zanu PF Politburo member Jonathan Moyo, seen by some in the vanguard party as an irritant, recently came out guns blazing, telling State media the Gukurahundi issue was still wide open and only Zanu PF could resolve it.
The Politburo is Zanu PF’s supreme decision-making body in between congress, but subordinates the central committee.
Moyo’s position sharply contradicted the stance by party stalwarts including Vice-President John Nkomo and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who recently declared the issue shut.
“Some comrades in the nationalist movement and in Zanu PF seem to believe that this issue is a closed chapter in our country, yet it’s not,” the former Information minister told a local weekly.
The Tsholotsho North MP sang from the victims’ corner: “. . . it cannot be true that the wounds were ever closed.”
But, Gumbo yesterday said Moyo’s opinion was not a party position.
“The President said in 2000 that it (Gukurahundi) was a closed chapter and that’s the position. I can’t give you anything more until the party deliberates,” he said.
Last month, Mnangagwa, who was the National Security minister during the Matabeleland disturbances, told the local media Gukurahundi was “water under the bridge” and talking about it was tantamount to opening old wounds.
“We do not want to undermine efforts by our national leaders to reunite the people. If we try to open healed wounds by discussing such issues (as Gukurahundi), we will be undermining and failing to recognise the statesmanship exhibited by President Mugabe and his counterpart, Dr (Joshua) Nkomo, when they signed the Unity Accord in 1987,” Mnangagwa reportedly said
Earlier, Vice-President Nkomo had echoed similar sentiments.
“President Mugabe came to Bulawayo when we were over that period with the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo and we all went to Brethren-In-Christ Church here in town and he said it was a moment of madness. They agreed with Umdala uNkomo that it should be a closed chapter,” said Nkomo.
However, women’s affairs secretary in the politiburo Oppah Muchinguri was cautious on the sensitive issue, saying: “What is important at this juncture is to heal our nation. The national healing process is well in progress.
“They (National Healing Organ) have been to Matabeleland and have heard what the people of that region want. This issue has to be handled cautiously and let’s not fan divisions.” But Moyo’s hard-hitting statement came hard on the heels of yet another one last week which many interpreted to mean President Mugabe must now step down.
“Why is it that some comrades in the nationalist movement in general and Zanu PF in particular seem to be afraid of change when it is a fact of everyday life and is thus essential to the survival of any living thing, whether biological, social, economic or political?” queried Moyo, who was catapulted into the Politburo at the party’s last congress in December last year.
Party insiders said the current sharp differences over the Gukurahundi issue exhibited the split along factional lines in Zanu PF.
“Some people in the Politburo are backing Moyo while others say he (Moyo) has stirred a hornet’s nest. Only President Mugabe can save the situation.
And it is such kind of divisions that keeps President Mugabe in power, hence his statement that he was hesitant to leave because there a high probability the party could sink into political oblivion,” said a Zanu PF insider.