TWO Bulawayo-based opposition leaders Dumiso Dabengwa (Zapu) and Moses Mzila-Ndlovu (Alliance for National Salvation (Ansa) have blasted the British embassy in Harare for denying them visas to travel to the United Kingdom for a Gukurahundi conference this week.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU/SHARON SIBINDI
Dabengwa and Mzila-Ndlovu were reportedly supposed to leave early last week for the conference running at St Andrew’s University this week, where they were also listed as panellists.
“I got an invite from St Andrew’s University through a Matabeleland group called Matabeleland 1893 to attend the conference to discuss the 1980s mass killings. The Matabeleland group was working with Hazel Cameron, an associate professor there, who has written a lot about Gukurahundi,” Mzila-Ndlovu said in an
“I submitted my application for a visa about four weeks ago, have been making follow-ups until the day of my departure (Wednesday) arrived, but still no luck. I got a call from the visa application office that my passport was now ready, but I am not sure whether I got the visa or not, but my suspicion is that the delay was deliberate since I have been vocal about Gukurahundi, and vocal about the role of the UK during the atrocities.”
There have been reports that the UK government knew about the mass killings in Matabeleland, but turned a blind eye.
Researchers say over 20 000 civilians were left dead in Matabeleland and Midlands after former President Robert Mugabe unleashed a North Korea-trained military unit to contain suspected Zapu dissidents.
Dabengwa last year claimed Gukurahundi was planned way back as early as 1979 at the Lancaster House talks, with the tacit approval of the UK government to “destroy” Zapu, then led by the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo.
Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa also confirmed delays in the issuance of Dabengwa’s visa.
“Dabengwa’s visa was applied for on April 19 and turnaround time given to it was 15 working days. We, therefore, await response, maybe Monday (today) and that is when we can know the outcome. For now, I think it’s safe to say it’s premature to say he has been denied a visa. Other than Gukurahundi, Dabengwa was meant to discuss the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, violations and remedy offered,” he said in a telephone interview.
Dabengwa is a victim of the Gukurahundi atrocities, having spent several years in jail despite being acquitted by the courts.
A call to the UK embassy went unanswered yesterday.
Gukurahundi remains an emotive issue in the affected regions, with victims piling pressure on the Zanu PF government to set up a truth and reconciliation commission to put the matter to rest.
Mugabe refused to publicly apologise for the atrocities which he described as “a moment of madness, while his successor Emerson Mnangagwa, has declared that the issue was a closed chapter.