Police in Bulawayo reportedly refused to clear a Gukurahundi commemoration organised by a local pressure group Ibhetshu LikaZulu which was set for Stanley Hall in Makokoba on Saturday.
Mqondisi Moyo, spokesperson for the pressure group told NewsDay yesterday they cancelled the function after being denied police clearance.
“We have since cancelled the commemoration because we have been denied police clearance to hold the event.
“We will now have it on International Genocide Day next weekend, that is if we manage to get police clearance,” he said.
All public meetings are subject to clearance by the police.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone went unanswered.
Moyo said police did not cite any reasons for the ban.
Earlier during the week, Moyo had hinted at using a church to avoid problems with the police, but later moved the function to Stanley Hall in anticipation of a huge attendance.
This year’s commemorations were set to be held under the theme “Towards Restorative Justice”.
The pressure group said it had invited lawyers, civic society groups and church leaders to participate at the function.
The annual commemorations are in honour of the estimated 20 000 villagers from Matabeland and Midlands who were massacred during a government-sanctioned military crackdown on perceived insurgents between 1983 and 1987.
The military operation was aimed at civilians supporting the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s PF Zapu party.
The violence only ended after the late PF Zapu leader agreed to a truce with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF and signed a peace pact on December 22, 1987.
Gukurahundi has remained an emotive issue in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces with most political and civic leaders calling for restorative justice and prosecution of the perpetrators.
President Mugabe and Zanu PF have described the era as a “moment of madness” and “a closed chapter”, but other party leaders are advocating for a fresh probe and the arrest of those involved.