NATIONAL Healing, Integration and Reconciliation co-minister Moses Mzila-Ndlovu yesterday described the government’s plans to convert Bhalagwe camp near Maphisa business centre in Kezi into a district heroes’ acre as an insult to the people of Matabeleland South.
Report by Senior Reporter
Mzila-Ndlovu’s remarks came amid calls by politicians and villagers in Matobo district for the government to reverse its decision to set up a district heroes’ acre at the place.
Villagers argued that the camp reminded them of Gukurahundi atrocities. At least 50 villagers were killed by the Fifth Brigade and buried in a mass grave at the site. “The action is provocative, insensitive and vulgar,” the minister said. “It is meant to cover up the evidence for the use of Bhalagwe during Gukurahundi.
“What they are doing is to rub salt to injury and remind people that as long as Zanu PF is in power, one must forget about justice.
“We need, as the people of Zimbabwe, to bring this party’s grip (on power) to an end.”
He said it was not the first time that Zanu PF had defiled the place.
“Bhalagwe is a traditional cultural heritage site, because local artefacts’ for our ancestors were kept there and it was a respected shrine in our culture,” Mzila-Ndlovu said.
“The government knows that Herbert Ushewokudze (now late) participated in the removal of those artefacts during the Gukurahundi period.”
“Up to this day, they have not been returned, but Zanu PF lied that they had returned them. It is well known that those were not the original pots. Zanu PF will do these things knowing that people are powerless because of the brutal past they experienced.”
“I am also powerless to stop those issues that hurt the people to recur, as a minister responsible for that portifolio.”
Mzila-Ndlovu said next to Bhalagwe there was Antelope Mine, where a number of bodies were dumped during Gukurahundi.
“I will make a follow-up with the relevant ministers to establish what is going on,” he said.
Matobo South MP Gabriel Ndebele (MDC-T) recently said he was once tortured and left for dead at the site during the Gukurahundi era in the 1980s.
He said as one of the victims who passed through the camp, he would not dance at the place during Heroes’ Day commemorations.
Ndebele urged the government to look for an alternative placed to establish a heroes acre.