Governments and ruling parties the world over want a good and clean record.
They will do whatever it takes to mute anyone highlighting their dark past.
Zanu PF has tried to airbrush critical strands of Zimbabwe’s historical narrative – Gukurahundi, political violence since 2000, Murambatsvina, land reform and a litany of other monumental misdeeds.
Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa recently accused the private media and other political parties of undermining the Unity Accord and opening “healed wounds” by discussing Gukurahundi.
Healed wounds? Whose reality is it: Mnangagwa’s or victims’?
Mnangagwa said: “The Unity Accord is a symbol of national unity. It was a profound and decisive initiative meant to reconcile the two revolutionary parties, Zanu PF and PF Zapu. President (Robert) Mugabe and Dr (Joshua) Nkomo reached a consensus. There is really nothing that Zanu PF needs to be open about now because Dr Nkomo, was also part of Zanu PF.”
He accused the private media of misleading people.
“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, we will be undermining and failing to recognise the statesmanship exhibited by President Mugabe and his counterpart, Dr Nkomo, when they signed the Unity Accord in 1987,” he said.
However, Zapu national security chief and former Zipra cadre Ekam Nkala responded saying Gukurahundi victims were still grieving the loss of relatives, hence the matter was still fresh in their minds.
It’s interesting how Mnangagwa — accused of being one of the chief architects of Gukurahundi — can speak for the victims of Gukurahundi.
Victims are the only ones who can tell whether their wounds have been healed or not, not Mnangagwa.
National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration co-minister Moses Mzila-Ndlovu recently said perpetrators of the Gukurahundi atrocities should be accountable for their actions if transitional justice is to be attained in Zimbabwe.
The minister told an Independent Dialogue debate in Bulawayo perpetrators of Gukurahundi and political violence since 2000 were reluctant to promote the national healing process.
“Let’s deal with the real issues of truth-telling. We can’t tell people to desist from violence and then go for elections, instead we must address issues of the past first then we move forward,” he said.
For the healing process to take place, there is need for truth recovery. For as long as that has not happened, the wounds may never heal.
Water Resources Development and Management minister and MP for Lobengula Samuel Sipepa Nkomo recently gave an eyewitness account of harrowing Gukurahundi experiences.
“I saw the Gukurahundi horrors with my own eyes. I saw them tear apart pregnant women’s stomachs and the little thing (foetus) falling down just like that. I saw my relatives being marched into a hut and that hut set on fire,” Nkomo said.
“I saw with my own eyes people being murdered simply because they came from this region and were labelled dissidents.
“There can be no healing without truth-telling. Some of the people who did this are still walking the streets with us. No matter how much Zanu PF wants, there can be no healing without the people of Matabeleland telling their story.”
One unfortunate thing is the Zanu PF government not only refused to acknowledge the atrocities, but it also thwarted the activities of other players interested in helping the victims.
What Zanu PF fails to realise is that seeking to airbrush dark aspects of our past is ignoring significant challenges that the nation faces.
The nation cannot lean on selective memory.
Zimbabwe’s collective future depends on willingness — on the part of all politicians — to move beyond divisions and tackle concrete problems that we face.
In an article titled Fighting Amnesia, Reclaiming Zim Memory, Dzikamai Bere wrote: “The coalition government is charged with the duty to heal the nation. Victim families, and all Zimbabweans, have the right to truth. What actually happened? Why? Can it be prevented?”
Zanu PF denialism is further hurting victims that expect better consideration from the government.