BULAWAYO pressure groups have sued former President Robert Mugabe, incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Vice-President Kembo Mohadi and British Premier Theresa May demanding release of the findings of the Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry on the Gukurahundi massacres.
BY SILAS NKALA
Represented by Mathonsi Law Chambers’ Dumisani Dube, Ibhetshu LikaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo, Dumisani Mpofu of Masakhaneni Trust and Charles Thomas, a victim of Gukurahundi, yesterday filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court seeking the release of the findings.
They cited Mugabe as first respondent, and Mnangagwa, Mohadi and May as second to fourth respondents, respectively. In his founding affidavit, Fuzwayo listed Mugabe as the chief architect who ordered the ethnic cleansing of the Ndebele tribe when he was Prime Minister between 1980 and 1987 and was the one to whom the Fifth Brigade directly reported during the killings.
Mnangagwa is cited as the current President of the country, while Mohadi is cited as the VP responsible for Healing and Reconciliation. May is cited as the head of the British government which was the guarantor of the Lancaster House Agreement and was directly in charge of the demobilisation process of ex-fighters between 1979 and 1985, the period in which Gukurahundi occurred.
“This is a constitutional application to compel the respondents jointly and severally to release the official findings of the Zimbabwe Commission of Inquiry into the Matabeleland disturbances, also known as Chief Justice Dumbutshena and Justice (Simplisius) Chihambakwe Commissions respectively, and/or alternatively first and second respondents to set up a public inquiry (Truth and Reconciliation Commission into the Gukurahundi genocide) and ensure post-conflict justice, healing, reconciliation and reparation amongst other measures,” Fuzwayo submitted.
“In 1981, the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) opposed Mugabe’s Zimbabwe National Liberation Army (Zanla) and violence broke out in areas surrounding guerilla camps throughout, particularly Entumbane. Politically-motivated violence in Entumbane during 1981 was followed by killings in Matabeleland, a western region in Zimbabwe inhabited by Ndebele, Xhosa, Venda, Kalanga, Sotho and Nambya people, among other minority tribes who were opposed to Mugabe’s rule.”
Fuzwayo said the government responded with a series of military campaigns in which thousands of civilians were raped, butchered, tortured and lost their property.
He said the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Confederation and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace spoke to Mugabe and provided documented evidence on the killings and as a result a curfew was ceased on April 5, 1983 and the Fifth Brigade was withdrawn from Matabeleland.
“After widespread international condemnation and domestic criticism, first respondent set up a commission of inquiry headed by an international jurist and then Chief Justice Enock Dumbutshena (now late) to investigate the killings and other atrocities,” Fuzwayo submitted.
He said findings made by the inquiry team did not please Mugabe, leading him to dissolve the commission. He said in September 1983, Mugabe set up a four-member commission chaired by Zimbabwe High Court judge Justice Chihambakwe to further investigate and it compiled a report on the atrocities through recording of statements from victims and witnesses.
The inquiry team presented the report to Mugabe, who did not make it public. Fuzwayo prayed for an order compelling the respondents to release the report.
Mpofu and Thomas in their affidavits concurred with Fuzwayo and prayed for the release of the report demanding that the government should set up another commission of inquiry on the killings for healing to take place.
The respondents are yet to respond to the application.