LUPANE — National Healing co-minister Moses Mzila-Ndlovu says he has started lobbying local authorities in rural Matabeleland to set aside land for reburial of victims of the Gukurahundi massacres, saying some of the remains were still lying in unmarked and shallow graves since the 1980s.
“Allocating land for reburials would be legitimate and legal. I know it will not make sense and encounter resistance from officials in the ministry, but that will not deter me,” said Mzila-Ndlovu.
He said in developed countries, vast tracts of land were set aside for reburial of massacre victims, adding Zimbabwe should not be an exception.
The minister, who is also MDC MP for Bulilima West, said repeated attempts to talk about Gukurahundi in his ministry had received cold reception from his counterparts who include Vice-President John Nkomo (Zanu PF) and Sekai Holland (MDC-T).
“I will still push ahead and create my own platform because in the ministry no one is interested in it and programmes to do with Gukurahundi do not get funding,” he said.
An estimated 20 000 civilians in Midlands and Matabeleland were reportedly massacred during Gukurahundi in the early 1980s after a special army unit, the Fifth Brigade, was unleashed in the region to weed out suspected armed dissidents.
Of late, the Gukurahundi issue has turned emotive with President Robert Mugabe and senior Zanu PF officials declaring it a closed chapter while civic society groups and other politicians from the region are demanding a public apology and compensation for the victims.
Civic society groups are alsodemanding that perpetrators of the massacres be brought to book.
A few weeks ago, villagers in Lupane said they had discovered an unmarked grave containing remains of suspected Gukurahundi victims at Silwane Primary School in Matabeleland North Province and urged government to organise a reburial of the remains.
In April, Mzila-Ndlovu was arrested for allegedly attending a memorial service organised by Lupane Roman Catholic Church priest Father Mark Mnkandla.
Police ruled the church service as illegal and the matter is still before the courts.