EXACTLY five years after an attempt on his life in Zaka, Masvingo province, the life of Denis Gwenhure has never been the same again.
Gwenhure was in the same building with other MDC-T activists, Washington Nyamwa from Ward 19 and Chrison Mbano from Ward 18 in Zaka, who lost their lives after suspected Zanu PF militia petrol-bombed their party office. Nyamwa and Mbano’s bodies were burnt beyond recognition while Gwenhure and two others had their faces disfigured.
“It has never been easy for me,” said Gwenhure. “Things are not that good for me and plots are still there to instill fear in our lives.”
His only hope remains a new government though. Gwenhure is not the only one pinning his hopes on a new government to change their lives for the better and instill unity in areas divided along political lines.
Thousands of people across the country have fallen victim to politically-motivated violence in recent years. These include little Nigel Mutemagau, nicknamed “Zimbabwe’s youngest terrorist”, who in 2008 was taken into police custody after his parents, known MDC-T supporters were arrested in Banket.
His parents, Violet Mupfuranhewe and Collen Mutemagau, were among dozens of MDC-T supporters and human rights activists that were rounded up and charged with terrorism. Nigel spent two months in remand custody including part of it at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
In an interview with NewsDay on Saturday, Nigel’s mother said she was not deterred by her arrest in 2008 together with her husband and son as she was still fighting for change. She said she expected the next government to work on unifying people divided along political lines and hoped that if the MDC-T got in power, it would recognise and reward those who fought for democracy.
“As people who have been at the centre of the fight for a better Zimbabwe, we certainly look forward to a new government to address our concerns,” she said.
“We look forward to a government that will recognise us as fighters and allow us to enjoy the fruits of democracy. They should look at provinces we come from and know the people who remained resolute despite the threats.
“They must look at us and not allow people who come from nowhere because they are wives of politicians to enjoy the fruits of democracy while they shut us out. Fear is still there sometimes because of what we went through. Some people died, but we are lucky to be alive. It’s unfair for politicians’ wives to be elected at our expense. I fought in this struggle and spent months with a baby in cells with no nappies or what and I hope they will recognise us.”
Justice and Legal Affairs deputy minister Obert Gutu said a programme should be put in place to counsel victims of political violence and compensate them.
“There should be a programme to properly counsel victims of political violence. In addition, the new government should adequately compensate all people who lost their property as a result of political violence.
“The National Reconciliation Commission should be capacitated to effectively undertake a genuine, broad-based national healing and reconciliation programme,” he said.
MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa said: “We need a response at a national level. There is need for restorative and rehabilitative justice and restore people to their normal lives.
“It’s not possible to restore those who have died, but to act on surviving spouses and children which is important for the healing of our country. There has to be restoration not only in the MDC-T, but for all victims of politically-motivated violence.
“We can’t go forward, we need catharsis. A Zimbabwe under president Tsvangirai is a Zimbabwe where diversity is celebrated.
Zaka West MP Festus Dumbu (MDC-T) said that a new government should act to unite families and to bring normalcy in people’s lives. We expect the government to reunite families and not bear grudges and the victims to get something to heal emotionally and materially. Others lost lives need rehabilitation and families should be united,” he said.
“The people’s only hope is a new government and the gospel is leave violence and don’t force people to vote for you.”
Spokesperson for the Welshman Ncube-led MDC Nhlanhla Dube concurred: “Victims of political violence are many. The reality is that there are generations which are now indirect victims of the violence. The Gukurahundi atrocities were our highest level of black-
on-black violence and the solutions to the psychological and physical scars are very complex.
“The beginning of dealing with all this, including the 2008 violence, is seeking and telling the truth. When the truth is told, people will be able to express what they desire. It is important to allow the victims to participate in finding solutions. A prescriptive approach cannot be adequate.”