HIGHER Education minister and Zanu PF politburo member, Jonathan Moyo’s family has sought permission from the Tsholotsho district administrator (DA) to allow them to rebury his father, who was allegedly killed during the Gukurahundi massacres.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
The family wants to be allowed to exhume the remains of Moyo’s father, Melusi Job Mlevu, so he can be accorded a decent burial at the family shrine in Tsholotsho.
The process is being led by Moyo’s close family members, with the reburial tentatively set for this weekend in his Tsholotsho North constituency.
Mlevu, who was a PF-Zapu councillor, was reportedly abducted by the Fifth Brigade in 1982 and ordered to dig his own grave before he was killed in cold blood and shoved into the shallow grave.
He became one of the earliest victims of one of the darkest chapters in Zimbabwe’s history.
Moyo’s family recently sought permission to conduct the reburial ceremony from the DA, Gloria Raundi.
“As the Mlevu family, we, therefore, seek your approval for the reburial of our late relative and former councillor for Tsholotsho, Melusi Job Mlevu, who passed away in 1982,” read a letter to the DA dated September 28 and signed by Headman Mlevu, which was gleaned by NewsDay.
“His remains were buried between Kapanyana and Ziga. As a family, we want to properly rebury the remains where we have other family graves according to our cultural practices.
“The reburial will be open to members of the public and, if permission is granted, we will notify your respectable office of the time and date.”
Moyo yesterday confirmed Mlevu was his father, but professed ignorance over the family’s letter to the DA.
“I don’t know what you are talking about regarding the letter you are referring to, since I am neither its author nor its addressee,” he said in emailed responses.
“I don’t even know whether there’s such a letter and if there is, whether it’s authentic. But what I can say is that Melusi Mlevu, whom you mention, is not just a close relative, but my late father.”
Asked if the move was not likely to open old wounds, Moyo said: “I’m, therefore, insulted by the suggestion that finally giving him a decent resting place at his homestead would open any wound. To the contrary, the shallow grave in which his soul has failed to rest in peace all these years after he was tortured and made to dig it in the bush, before he was brutally murdered, is an open wound that needs to be closed.”
Moyo has repeatedly refused to be silenced over the thorny Gukurahundi issue, despite efforts by his Zanu PF colleagues to close the chapter without addressing the issues.
Thousands of affected people have failed to properly rebury their relatives for decades, with President Robert Mugabe describing the period as “a moment of madness”, but is yet to publicly apologise for unleashing the army on innocent civilians.
Remains of the Gukurahundi victims continue to be uncovered in some parts of Matabeleland, particularly in Lupane, an area that bore the brunt of the mass killings.
According to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Mugabe unleashed the North Korean-trained militia to crack down on alleged dissidents against his rule in Midlands and Matabeleland, resulting in the death of about 20 000 civilians.
In August, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa urged families, whose relatives died during the atrocities, to approach the Home Affairs ministry for permission to conduct reburials of their loved ones.
Habakkuk Trust director, Dumisani Nkomo yesterday said the move by Moyo’s family vindicates the quest by many affected families who want to rebury their relatives.
“There are a number of organisations that wanted to do the reburials, a few of the graves were done, but most of them were unsuccessful because the genocide has not been properly acknowledged,” he said.
“Moyo’s case shows that a lot of people in government and outside government are all victims of the massacre.
“There is need to have proper truth-telling instead of doing the process in instalments. Families have a right to rebury their loved ones and I think individual families should be allowed to do that.”
The reburial of Moyo’s father also comes following a nasty exchange of words between the Higher Education minister and former War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa, who claimed the late Zanu leader, Ndabaningi Sithole was the minister’s father.
The two were fighting at the height of serious factional wars in Zanu PF between war veterans and the G40 faction.
Mutsvangwa alleged Moyo was a “traitor” like his father, Sithole, a rant that prompted the former to threaten legal action against the expelled Zanu PF minister, whom he accused of defaming his mother.