The failure by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to openly apologise for past acts of State-sponsored violence targeting innocent citizens such as the Gukurahundi massacres is hindering Zimbabwe from moving forward, African Union goodwill ambassador Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda has said.
By Tinotenda Munyukwi
Speaking at an Alpha Media Holdings Conversations running under the theme The Zimbabwe We Want, Gumbonzvanda challenged the winner of next week’s presidential race to publicly apologise for all State-sponsored violence against citizens to heal the wounds of past atrocities.
“I will ask whoever is coming as the Head of State to do a public apology on what happened in 1982, just to say: ‘We are sorry, we hurt each other as a people’. An apology from the highest office opens the space for other things to happen,” she said.
The hallmark of violent acts, which were perpetrated by former President Robert Mugabe’s government, was witnessed in the 1980s during the infamous Gukurahundi massacres, which saw close to 20 000 lives being lost in the Midlands and Matabeleland regions.
From the time he was sworn-in as the country’s President in November last year, Mnangagwa has only admitted that there were acts of commission of the past, but has not openly apologised for what happened.
Businessman and cleric Shingi Munyeza echoed similar sentiments, saying a government apology was urgently required to heal the nation.
“It (Gukurahundi) was endorsed and sponsored by the government, so they (the government) should say there were certain things that the government of the day allowed to happen and, therefore, we apologise and we would like this nation to move on,” he said.
But Zanu PF legal secretary Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana dismissed the call for a public apology, saying Mnangagwa had already signed the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill into law, which had the mandate to clear out such issues.
“We set up a constitutional commission to look into that past and let us give it space. Our push should be that the government which is coming should give sufficient resources to enable that commission to do its work,” he said.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said the approach being taken by the commission was wrong, as the victims should be the ones articulating their issues and suggesting possible solutions, and not the other way round.
“The moment the aggressor then sets up things to go and investigate, they might deliberately cover up and deliberately misrepresent things to the victim,” he said.
“People must be allowed to speak freely and we need to accept that this is the truth because without the truth we are lying to ourselves.”