CIVIL society groups in Bulawayo have urged opposition Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) leader, Joice Mujuru, to cancel her planned tour of Gukurahundi victims’ graves, saying the visit could trigger a backlash from the victims’ surviving families, who believe her concerns were not genuine.
By SHARON SIBINDI/SILAS NKALA
Mujuru, at the weekend, told her supporters at a rally in Gwanda that she was planning to visit mass graves of Gukurahundi victims, particularly Balagwe in Maphisa, Matabeleland South province.
The atrocities, which claimed an estimated 20 000 people in Midlands and Matabeleland regions in the 1980s, were sanctioned by President Robert Mugabe’s administration under the guise of crushing ex-Zapu dissidents.
Mujuru was one of Mugabe’s ministers then.
Zenzo Nyoni of the Education and Unemployed Youth Forum of Zimbabwe, yesterday said Mujuru’s new-found concerns over the Gukurahundi massacres smacked of hypocrisy.
“It’s interesting that Mujuru has never condemned Gukurahundi till now that she has been fired from Zanu PF. We wonder what her agenda is,” he said.
“So whatever her agenda is, may she leave the people of Matabeleland and the Gukurahundi victims in peace. We are still in a healing process.”
Busani Sibindi, of Save Matabeleland Coalition, said Gukurahundi was an emotional issue, which should not be used as political capital whenever elections draw near.
“We have observed with utter disbelief the kind of hypocrisy that has been going around in regard to the Gukurahundi genocide,” he said.
“We have countless times heard and seen our killers making a mockery of the horrors they perpetrated. We have heard people issue statements that not only add salt to the wounds, but re-open the wounds and add on new ones. Our lives on this earth have been a walk in the valley of the shadow of graves.”
Sibindi said Zimbabwean politicians have trivialised the pain and suffering to the extent that they called mass murder “a moment of madness”.
“We have watched in dismay as politicians of all hues use this region as their spring board,” he continues.
“They have walked the lands of our beloved region setting themselves a political future at the expense of our very existence. This planned visit to Gukurahundi graves by Mujuru is part of that oriental approach to Matabeleland; she wants to see the mass graves as if she is shocked that they even exist.
“Was she not the Vice-President of the Republic of Zimbabwe when then National Healing and Reconciliation minister Moses Mzila Ndlovu was arrested by junior police officers for visiting the same graves?”
Mthwakazi Liberation Front spokesperson, Ndabezinhle Fuyane, also expressed concern over Mujuru’s planned tour of the Gukurahundi sites.
“She may regret her visit for the rest of her life, if she is not careful,” he said.
“She is just a Zanu PF prodigal daughter, who cannot measure the gravity of the pains endured during the era.”
But ZimPF spokesperson, Methuseli Moyo, said, as much as civil society groups’ concerns were understandable, “stopping Mujuru or anyone from going there will only dramatise and not solve the problem”.
“Gukurahundi must be solved by the next government and we believe that ZimPF will lead the next government,” he said.
“Our party is determined to face the truth, no matter how unpalatable, and come up with a comprehensive reconciliation programme. The civic organisations must be careful not to push the Zanu PF agenda of not wanting to talk about Gukurahundi.
“Importantly, it is not true that everybody who was in Zanu PF supported Gukurahundi. Mugabe is behind everything that has happened and continues to happen in this country.”