Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday denied ever uttering inflammatory statements that could have stoked tensions during the Gukurahundi era, but the denial could yet trigger questions on his role during the 1980s killings.
Mnangagwa said statements attributed to him that dissidents were cockroaches that needed DDT was to exterminate them were total fabrications and that he had never uttered those words.
Mnangagwa was responding to an article in the Southern Eye that quoted David Coltart’s autobiography, saying his lawyers were perusing the book before “considering appropriate action to be taken to address the false and malicious statements”.
However, in newspaper articles that are likely to further embarrass the Vice-President, the Chronicle of March 5, 1983 reported Mnangagwa uttering those exact words.
“Likening the dissidents to cockroaches and bugs, the minister (Mnangagwa) said the bandit menace had reached such epidemic proportion that the government had to bring in DDT (Five Brigade) to get rid of the bandits,” the Chronicle quoted the Vice-President saying at a rally Victoria Falls.
Then Mnangagwa was the Minister of State Security.
The article said the government had two options to deal decisively with the dissidents, with the first being to burn down all the villages “infested with the dissidents and the other was in the Five Brigade. The government chose the latter”.
Mnangagwa has not challenged the statements in the past after they were published in Breaking the silence, a report that lifted the lid on the Gukurahundi killings.
Responding to a question on Twitter, Coltart said Mnangagwa would be badly advised if he sued.
More to follow….