PRESSURE group, Ibhetshu LikaZulu, is set to clash with authorities after announcing that it will lead commemorations to mark Gukurahundi State-sponsored atrocities in the country’s western regions.
By KHANYILE MLOTSHWA
The lobby group said it will hold a service to narrow the beginning of the Gukurahundi atrocities in January 1983 and console the surviving victims of the atrocities and those who lost relatives.
Mbuso Fuzwayo, Ibhetshu LikaZulu secretary-general, said the service will be held under the theme, Looking upon the hills for peace.
“Our theme is based on Ezekiel 37 in the Holy Bible. We will use the service to mark the beginning of the operation, and also to remember all those who died at the hands of government forces. We will use the service to console those who survived as well,” he said.
Previous attempts to commemorate the massacres, including through theatre and poetry events have been disrupted by the government.
Mugabe has described Gukurahundi as “a moment of madness” but is yet to publicly offer an apology.
Recently, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has consistently been characterised as Gukurahundi’s chief enforcer washed his hands off, saying he was neither President nor Defence minister at the time. Fuzwayo said they have invited victims and survivors from a number of communities in Matabeleland, together with civil society and church leaders.
The planned commemorations come less than a month before President Robert Mugabe celebrates his 93rd birthday at Matobo just outside Bulawayo, amid rising anger against the choice of venue from opposition groups in the region.
Matobo is a few kilometres from Bhalagwe, home to a mass grave for victims of the State-sponsored atrocities that left more than 20 000 dead.
Then Prime Minister, Mugabe, signed an agreement with North Korean President, Kim II Sung, in October 1980, for the training of the crack Fifth Brigade that was detached from the country’s regular army. In August 1981, 106 North Koreans arrived to train the new brigade.
The Fifth Brigade was disbanded in 1988, less than a year after Mugabe signed a unity pact with his then rival Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo, who went on to become the country’s Vice-President.