Bulawayo pressure group, Ibhetshu LikaZulu, says it plans to conduct a memorial service for Gukurahundi victims buried in a disused mineshaft in Maphisa, Matabeleland South.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
The commemorations, set to coincide with former President Robert Mugabe’s birthday, are being held under the theme Dispossessed in Life, Dishonoured in Death. Bhalagwe Victims Remembered.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu co-ordinator, Mbuso Fuzwayo said they chose Mugabe’s birthday to hold the memorial service to “remind him of the suffering that Gukurahundi victims went through”.
“Our people are still hurting over Gukurahundi, they are still in mourning, but have never been given an opportunity to share their experiences and mourn. It is in our culture to go to Bhalagwe to pay our respects to the departed,” he said.
“We find it an insult that government has declared Mugabe’s birthday a holiday, but in the same vein failed to acknowledge the atrocities or allow the victims a chance to mourn. For us, February 21 is a reminder of the suffering that Gukurahundi victims and survivors went through.”
The planned memorial service comes as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission has begun nationwide consultations to find closure to the 1980s mass killings and other human rights violations.
Mugabe unleashed a North Korean-trained militia to crack down against alleged dissent to his rule in Midlands and Matabeleland, resulting in the death of an estimated 20 000 civilians.
Zapu spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa said the party’s leaders will attend the Bhalagwe memorial service, but could not confirm whether president, Dumiso Dabengwa, will be in attendance. Dabengwa was among the several politicians and human rights activists barred from visiting Bhalagwe last year.
“We thank the organisation for providing victims and survivors a platform and space to finally mourn their loved ones. Mugabe’s birthday best suits the holding of the commemorations since he was the instigator and instructor to the genocide,” Maphosa said.
“Our children will know that on this day, a man was born who in 1982 embarked on a genocide on Matabeleland people. This version of our history will also remember Mugabe for not only refusing to acknowledge the genocide for over three decades, but for putting a lid on the subject such that it became taboo to talk about it.”
During his tenure, Mugabe refused to apologise for the atrocities, which he described as “a moment of madness”.
The Chihambakwe report that contains findings into the Gukurahundi massacres has never been made public by government. The commission reported to Mugabe.