BY BLESSED MHLANGA/SILAS NKALA/DESMOND CHINGARANDE
GOVERNMENT should stop public relations stunts and political gamesmanship by making token visits to Rwanda, which is commemorating the International Day of Reflection on Genocide, while paying lip service to the post-independence Gukurahundi massacres in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has said.
Chamisa told NewsDay yesterday that Mnangagwa’s government should open public debate on Gukurahundi, the history of electoral violence and forced disappearances of activists in order to heal the wounds in the hearts and minds of victims of State-sponsored violence.
He was speaking as Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga was expected to fly back home from Rwanda, where he joined other international delegates for commemorations to mark the
International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda, which saw ethnic Hutu extremists killing over 800 000 minority Tutsis in just 100 days in 1994.
Chamisa said it was deception for Chiwenga, accused of having had a hand in the Gukurahundi massacres, to fly to Rwanda and offer solidarity when his regime was suppressing talk on State-sponsored violence.
“Our hearts and minds are with the great people of Rwanda who commemorate the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 genocide which saw the slaughter of over 800 000 minority Tutsis. This reminds us all in Zimbabwe to resolve the Gukurahundi massacres for true national healing,” the opposition leader said.
“Most of the people who have been given the task to lead the national peace process have their hands dripping with blood. They were perpetrators of these evils on our people and should not be anywhere near that process. We need honest and genuine talk around this area.”
Zimbabwe Christian Alliance executive director Useni Sibanda said Zimbabwe needs to learn key lessons on how Rwanda dealt with its painful past and not just attend these events
to show face.
“It’s not late for Zimbabwe to start. Now, we have the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission in place and President (Emmerson Mnangagwa)’s commitment that the issue must be dealt with. In Rwanda, the State allowed memorilisation by communities as well as by the nation … Rwanda Genocide Memorial Museum is key in the nation having a collective memory in terms of what happened and also to say that this must never happen again,” Sibanda said.
Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa said his party hoped the visit to Rwanda signalled a shift on Chiwenga’s stance on Gukurahundi.
“We are sincerely hoping he went there to take lessons from Rwanda, whose history pertaining to genocides is similar to ours. We hope by the time he comes back home, Chiwenga will know the importance of acknowledgement by the Zanu PF government of the genocide taking place and also them taking responsibility for it,” Maphosa said.
“Also, the importance of the players, which include Chiwenga himself while he was commander at Brady (Mzilikazi) Barracks, and Mnangagwa as Security minister, to account for their documented actions so as to find the first steps to resolving the genocide.”
Rural Community Empowerment Trust co-ordinator for Lupane, Vumani Ndlovu, said it boggled the mind to see Chiwenga attending the commemorations of a genocide in another country when he had totally failed even to talk about genocide in his own backyard.
“The Rwandan genocide happened in 1994 and strides have been made to heal wounds, while the Gukurahundi happened in the 1980s and nothing has been done about it,” Ndlovu said.
“It is also surprising that Chiwenga has the guts to commemorate the genocide while his government outlaws commemorations of a similar genocide that happened in his own country perpetrated by his government.”
Mthwakazi activists Hloniphani Ncube said Chiwenga was not a politician, but an opportunist who was favoured by events.
“I expected such hypocrisy from him. These people are not concerned about nation building. It’s very obvious that charity begins at home, but to Chiwenga and Mnangagwa it’s never the case. The Gukurahundi victims must not expect any sincere intervention around the Gukurahundi genocide,” Ncube said.
“They failed a very simple thing since they were given power which is to agree that they were wrong and to apologise. It’s very unfortunate that Chiwenga celebrates the progress of other nations which are working hard on nation-building while failing to adopt the same attitude at home.”