Former Zanu PF minister Enos Nkala has once again distanced himself from the 1980s’ Gukurahundi massacres after his recent statement criticising the people of Matabeleland sparked fresh debate about his alleged role in the killings.
Nkala told NewsDay in a wide-ranging interview at his Bulawayo home last week he had expressed his displeasure over the army-led killings to his Cabinet colleagues then.
According to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, about 20 000 villagers in Matabeleland and Midlands were killed during the Gurkurahundi era when the Fifth Brigade stormed the region in pursuit of perceived ex-Zipra military insurgents.
“I used to tackle issues and make a stand,” the former Defence minister said. “I did not have to go for a rally to talk about Gukurahundi, but I would talk within the framework of the party.
“I was tasked by (President Robert) Mugabe and went around to Midlands and Matabeleland to hear what the people said about the so-called massacres.
“I had the officers of the army with me. I did not have to tell them what the people had said because they were there.”
Civic society groups and political parties last week said they held Nkala directly responsible for the massacres.
Zapu Bulawayo provincial national executive committee representative Mqondisi Moyo said despite his public denials, Nkala is widely believed to be the brains behind the mass killings.
“It is people like Enos Nkala who in 1963 formed Zanu by defecting from Zapu and today boast of creating the breakaway party,” Moyo said.
“Nkala continues to boast of starting Zanu in his house and after that, Nkala said he was going to send insikizi ezilamakhanda abomvu (bedbugs with red heads).”
But Nkala shot back, claiming: “I did not have to climb a mountain and say look at what I have done.
“I say this because people keep asking what did you do when you were there,” he said.
“Robert Mugabe and (Defence minister) Emmerson Mnangagwa are both alive and they know what I did.
“I did not have to call a rally and say I have done that, I confronted issues as they came. I would raise issues with the relevant minister.”
Nkala said he was able to “change things from within” after he was appointed Minister of Home Affairs by Mugabe.
“Mugabe in his wisdom moved me to Home Affairs and I started to fix things from within,” he said.
“I did not have to sing songs ukuthi sengilungisa izinto buyani lizobona (I am setting issues right, come and watch).
“That is babyish. What type of a minister does that? You just tell your colleagues and ministers that are being accused of those acts.
“I have never killed anybody in my life, I do not have blood on my hands, but if people who were working with me were killing people, I confronted them and would tell them of the accusations.
“So that is what leadership is like, (the late Vice-President Joshua) Nkomo, I wish he was alive. There were plans, I believe, to assassinate him, I contacted him to get out and he went to London.
“I had to verify the facts and found out that the President, who was alleged to have wanted to kill Nkomo, actually did not want to do so, he had received unconfirmed and uncollaborated information.”
Nkomo skipped the country to England in 1983.
Nkala said he later travelled to London “and told Joshua to come back because he had a role to play in his country and he came back, he was not killed”.