BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
ZANU PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu has said the Gukurahundi issue was resolved in 1987 with the signing of the Unity Accord and apologising for the mass killings will needlessly open old wounds
Mpofu argued that forcing government to apologise would be catastrophic for the regime and Zanu PF, adding if ever there was need for any discussion on the emotive issue, the ruling party should set the agenda and dictate the process.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has been cited as one of the architects of Gukurahundi as State Security minister at the time, has refused to be drawn into
apologising for the massacres after shifting blame on his predecessor, Robert Mugabe.
“The Gukurahundi issue was resolved on December 22, 1987 by former President R G Mugabe and the late Vice-President (Joshua) Nkomo. If discussions on
Gukurahundi are to happen, Zanu PF, as the custodians of the Unity Accord, should define the agenda and own the process,” Mpofu wrote in a column titled
Exploring the Causes of Gukurahundi (Part 2) published by a State-owned publication.
“Finally, let bygones be bygones. If government is to be dragged into formally apologising, this will open closed wounds, which may be catastrophic to the
party and government.”
In June, traditional leaders from Matabeleland and Midlands met Mnangagwa at Bulawayo’s State House, where they demanded an apology for the Gukurahundi
In March, the President met the clergy and civic society groups, where the issue of an apology was also topical.
In an interview yesterday, Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni said Mpofu was offside in saying an apology was inessential.
“We are saying it was genocide and there is no such thing as a Unity Accord, government or agreement that can erase genocide. All the arguments put forward by
Mpofu show lack of understanding of the issue. He is talking of the political perspective, yet we are talking of a legal issue,” Ndiweni said.
“We are talking about a legal issue. If I may give an example; should we find the bones of a Gukurahundi victim, those bones become a scene of a crime and if
the person who committed the crime is located, there is no Unity Accord to the crime committed, there is no agreement, there is no politics that comes into
play, but the law will simply take its course.”
In November last year, Chief Vezi Mafu (Maduna) of Filabusi petitioned the United Nations (UN) seeking the setting up of an independent inquiry into the
In February this year, Matabeleland chiefs wrote to the South African Parliament, requesting permission to be allowed to present “facts” about the 1980s mass
killings in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces to lobby the regional powerhouse to push for an independent investigation into the atrocities.
In his article, Mpofu – while admitting that Gukurahundi left victims “with permanent psychological and physical injuries” – suggests that the victims had
healed and moved on following the signing of the Unity Accord.
“One of the most tragic effects of events in the 1980s is that it served to harden ethnic and political differences in Zimbabwe, resulting in ethno-political
polarisation, which has continued to characterise Zimbabwe’s present day political and social landscape,” Mpofu wrote.
“What has remained contentious among many scholars is the fundamental question which asks if Zanu PF is perceived to be a symbol of fear and violence, yet it
has continuously won more parliamentary seats during elections in those areas that were hit most by Gukurahundi…
“Given the above fundamental questions, this paper proposes two broad assumptions for this reality: (a) The people who were affected by Gukurahundi accept that the issue was resolved by former President R G Mugabe and the late Vice-President J N Nkomo. More importantly, they have healed and moved on and are now
focused on the future and not on the past.”
The article, however, drew scorn from Zapu, Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) and Ibhetshu LikaZulu pressure group that have been in the forefront of demanding
redress for the Gukurahundi massacres.
“We are aware that Mpofu’s sentiments about the Gukurahundi-Genocide could be a way of trying to buy his sympathy since the Zanu PF youths are up in arms
against Mpofu, who they continuously accuse of corruption,” MRP president Mqondisi Moyo commented.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu co-ordinator Mbuso Fuzwayo added: “He must go hang.”
Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa noted: “He (Mpofu) has no moral leg to stand on and talk of the infamous Unity Accord, for he is part of the killing
machine that arm-twisted our leadership in 1987 into signing a document that was never negotiated by Zapu.
“There is no way the Unity Accord could have dealt with a crime of genocide.”
Mnangagwa has announced a cocktail of measures in address the issue such as facilitating exhumations and reburials.