AMHVoices: Gukurahundi victims must demand justice

AS Zimbabweans brace themselves for the July 30 general elections, various sections of the nation have only two months left to seriously consider who will best lead them to meet their needs, hopes and aspirations.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana,Our Reader

Zimbabweans have had a very checkered history with decision-making when it comes to crucial elections, and have always been known for choosing unwisely, thereby, spending the following five years of the electoral cycle moaning and groaning over unfulfilled or broken promises by candidates.

Furthermore, some Zimbabweans have been gripped by a curse I prefer calling the “soccer fan mentality syndrome”, where voters fanatically support a particular political party even if it does not deliver. This is where we have a serious weakness as a society in Zimbabwe, electing leaders and parties on emotional and not rational grounds. We chose demagoguery over wisdom; rhetoric over substance.

One of the most aggrieved communities in this country is to be found in Midlands and Matabeleland regions were horrible human rights atrocities were committed by the Zanu PF regime against mostly Ndebele-speaking citizens of this country. Tens of thousands of innocent and unarmed men, women and children were brutally massacred for political and other reasons.

However, for over 30 years now Zanu PF leaders have sought to cowardly avoid dealing with this issue. They have not even apologised for the massacres which bordered on genocide and inflammatory statements or hate speeches they delivered. We have only been told that the killings were “a moment of madness”.

Understandably, as the perpetrators of the atrocities, Zanu PF leaders are afraid of coming out in the open to deal with this emotive issue.

I am sure it is also human nature; how many criminals willingly admit their crimes even when are caught red-handed, or willingly hand themselves over to the police?

As such, it would be foolhardy for anyone to seriously expect the perpetrators of such heinous crimes as Gukurahundi to willingly accept wrongdoing and responsibility.

Victims of Gukurahundi and activists can make as much noise as possible in calling for justice, accountability and restitutions, but as long as the “policeman” or “redeemer” we are running to is also the perpetrator then nothing positive will happen.

How can someone who has just been raped run to the rapist and call for him to acknowledge his crime and hold himself accountable — even by throwing himself into jail? This is just plainly ridiculous!

The victim must realise that even if the rapist is the sheriff in town, there are many other avenues of seeking and pursuing justice. So victims of Gukurahundi must use other methods to get justice and voting is one of those ways. They must vote for a candidate who will genuinely and decisively address the issue, not one who thinks the issue is a bygone. Gukurahundi victims cannot run to the perpetrator and then expect justice after voting him or her into power.

The Zanu PF regime still fails to or refuses to acknowledge its role in the atrocities; they want to shift blame or cover up the issue through shadowy inquiries like the one currently unfolding under the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission auspices.

Gukurahundi victims should not expect the Zanu PF regime to be perpetrator, law enforcer, judge or jury, prison officer and prison guard on the killings. Zanu PF leaders are masters of cruelty, propaganda and re-writing of history.

As they die one by one we will end up with no one to hold accountable and that will subsequently change the course of history. If that were to happen, it would be another tragedy on top of a tragedy. History can never, and should never, be forgotten!

That is why Zanu PF will never allow anyone to forget what happened during the colonial period. They will always remind us of the pioneer column, Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi, among others. They will always tell us of the ruthlessness of the Rhodesians, conveniently forgetting their own. In fact, they want us to forget what happened during the past 38 years ago.

The opposition must speak boldly, openly, and bravely about Gukurahundi and demand accountability and justice for the victims. It is sad to hear some powerful opposition figures using Gukurahundi during campaigns without demanding justice for victims and demanding that perpetrators be held accountable. Yet we have been hearing perpetrators insisting that we need to look ahead, and not backwards, meaning that no one should be held accountable for the killings.

The opposition must speak out about these issues. How can someone — especially who is not even a victim — advocate for perpetrators to be let scot-free without justice or even compensation for the sufferers? How can someone who never felt the pain of Gukurahundi dare say that holding perpetrators to account is counter-productive as we all need to move on? What shocks me the most is that some of the people saying these sorts of things are supposedly lawyers.

If someone is raped and seeks justice from the police, what exactly would they be hoping for? To be told: let us move on? Justice means accountability and restitution. And indeed without accountability, there is no justice. As such, Gukurahundi victims, their families and friends, and all those who seek justice, need to elect leaders who will openly, boldly, and bravely declare and stand for justice on such issues and others. It is important Zimbabwe deals with this issue honestly and decisively to allow the country to move on.

Leaders in these elections must make firm promises and commitment that these atrocities will be fully and fairly investigated by an independent commission of inquiry set up for this purpose, with clear terms of reference, competent and independent people, expertise, resources and deadlines.



  2. Not really sure if there is any leader who will be able to address this issue amicably and as per expectation by the so called relatives of victims. What I have gathered however is that these guys want one of the Ndebele guys to be the president and solve this issue (Dabengwa). There are not really looking at it as a problem to be solved but use it to have their own. Mark my words, even if opposition (MDC-T) comes into power, this Gukurahundi problem will not disappear. it is a tool that will be used by anyone campaigning to get into power in the matebeleland and midlands regions, just like what Zanu PF was doing with the Land issue. That’s what I think, lets hear what your thoughts are.

  3. “History can never, and should never, be forgotten!” If so, then lets start by addressing the many atrocities committed by the Mzilikazi and later on Lobengula’s Impis among the indigenous people of Zimbabwe. The many atrocities committed by the Ndebele’s have never been addressed and should be together with “Gukurahundi”.Lets begin a time of real national reconciliation. For all honest people this can best be tackled after our harmonized “free and fair elections.”

    1. There is one major difference between the actions of Mzilikazi and Lobengula apart from the simple fact that they existed in a different error – well before modern political social administrations. The ‘alleged ‘ perpetrators ie Mzilikazi and Lobengula and their ‘governments’ no longer exist and cannot be made to account or be accountable, yet the perpetrators of Gukurahundi are still alive today, walking amongst us and whatsmore, they are still sitting in positions of power in today’s government and DENYING that they were anywhere near the attrocities or even the decisions that led to such. The opportunity must not be missed to make them, in their persons as individuals, to take responsibility and let today’s society decide it’s own way forward – perhaps in some way akin to how Ruwanda has been able to move forward peacefully but AFTER putting all known and living perpetrators of genocide through an acceptable ‘process’.

      It is foolhardy to wish or hope that the victims, individually as well as a society, and their relatives and friends should just forget and allow the wounds – still festering – to be ignored and swept under the proverbial carpet.

      Justice needs and must be seen to be done, particularly in the eyes of the victims.

  4. @tabvireyi,thats awesome,i like it

  5. There are two issues in this concern, those who saw Mzilikazi killing the shonas should take Him and his soldiers to the courts, similarly, those who saw and witnessed the shona government butchering the Ndebeles should do the same! We cannot allow killers and murderers surviving in our societies.

  6. The Catholic Commission for
    justice and Peace did compile a report on these atrocities, to relive that period via another commission of inquiry surely is to my mind , another torture. Justice, compensation should be granted to the victims, living and dead. Inga people are awarded Degrees posthumously, wani.

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