I AM one of those people who have faithfully and painfully followed the Gukurahundi genocide developments, ever since being a first-hand witness to one of history’s most gruesome and evil episodes.
By Tendai Ruben Mbofana
When I was a Grade Five pupil in 1984, who was supposed to have been enjoying the fruits of his childhood, I was “forced” by circumstances to watch — in grave fear and trauma — as Zanu PF militia brutalised several, mostly Ndebele-speaking families, in my neighbourhood in Redcliff — including my friend’s family — as they proceeded to torch down their homes.
As my innocence was so gruesomely shattered by this Zanu PF barbarity, it dawned on me just how evil human beings could be — a traumatic event that forever changed my life and how I perceived Zanu PF, in particular, and humankind in general.
While the Zanu PF regime found pride, joy and satisfaction in the brutal murder, beating up and torture of innocent, defenceless and unarmed people — men, women and children — I have never ceased wondering what type of a human being can do such things and continue to live normally.
I also have always wondered if such people were actually created by the same Jehovah God we worship, or that Satan created his own people — although, I know deep down that the Devil has never created any humans, but can I be blamed for thinking that way? Never have I read of any other parallels to such evil than the escapades of such demented dictators as Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany and his ilk.
To make matters worse, the people who carried out Gukurahundi — and so joyously took down the lives of nearly 20 000 without bating an eyelid — were, and still are, the same people leading us in this country.
Their soullessness can easily be witnessed by their apparent lack of empathy for the victims of this genocide and their families — as they seem oblivious to the extent of what they did in the 1980s —as they fail to even acknowledge that this occurred, let alone apologise for what they did.
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So just how is Zimbabwe supposed to heal without even an acknowledgement?
How are we supposed to move on and let bygones be bygones when there is not so much as an apology?
To show the hypocrisy of those in power, they would want those they fought in their petty Zanu PF internal squabbles — namely, the G40 and Gamatox cabal — to acknowledge, apologise and repent before being forgiven and readmitted into the party.
So, what is so different when the nation needs healing and reconciliation?
Are the victims and families of Gukurahundi not entitled to the same treatment before bygones be bygones?
Can those in power please help me here…
How should this work?
Let us say, someone comes and brutalises my family, and kills my father — how am I supposed to let bygones be bygones?
What are the processes involved for that to effectively happen?
Am I expected to just “move on”, and conveniently forget about it, and start treating my family’s brutaliser and father’s murderer as a friend — without so much as an apology from him?
Is that not asking for too much?
And if these events still traumatise me, and I continually clamour for justice, should I be accused of “causing trouble” and “opening old wounds”?
Such is the attitude of this Zanu PF regime, which further makes me wonder if these people are really humans with the same blood that flows through the rest of us.
It is about time that all the victims and families of the nearly 50 000 victims of Gukurahundi came together in unity and stood bravely with one voice against this continued callousness by this rogue Zanu PF regime.
We — yes, we, as I am also a victim due to the massive trauma I suffered as a witness at a tender age of 11 years old — need to use all the constitutional provisions at our disposal to stand up against this regime and finally get justice.
How can we continue letting this regime get away with murder, especially without remorse, yet they portray themselves as a “new dispensation” that values human rights?
We have the numbers firmly on our side — imagine families of nearly 20 000 people gathering together!
Just the 20 000 victims — had they been alive today — would have been a force to reckon with — so what is to stop us coming out in our hundreds of thousands?
This should be a constitutional and peaceful, but firm and fearless demonstration of our might for justice.
This is the opportune time to test the sincerity of this “new” dispensation’s commitment to justice and human rights, in the full view of the whole world.
As this Zanu PF government mascaraed itself throughout the world as the new hope of the country, and vastly different from the brutality of the Mugabe era, this needs to be proven.
One cannot claim to have changed, or to be different, without the chance to prove it.
For starters, why were those demonstrating in Bulawayo — where there was a church service attended by Mnangagwa — for justice for Gukurahundi victims arrested?
So, what is so different?
Is that not the same city in which people who booed former First Lady Grace were also arrested? Ummm, new dispensation yeah?
What is so different with this “new dispensation” from Mugabe, and his wife, who did not tolerate any questioning by the people they lead?
Do these people even have a clue what democracy is?
Oh yeah, stupid question — they are the same people who massacred nearly 20 000 just because they were perceived opposition supporters!
Gone are the days that we sat back expecting some knight in shining armour to come along and save us!
That is the mistake Zimbabweans made with former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, as we allowed him to ride roughshod over the whole country — only to jump with joy when the military intervened, and we saw them as heroes — yet, have since proven to be no more than birds of a feather with the ousted leader.
We have no one to wait for, but ourselves.
The man, woman, and child you see in the mirror every morning is the one you are waiting for your own justice.
The knights we expect to do it for us, will only turn out to be no better than opportunistic vultures, as we have already seen in the past two months.
Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is the programmes director of the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also ‘Like’ the ‘ZimJustice’ page on Facebook.