NPRC, Zapu hold memorial for Gukurahundi victims

President Emmerson Mnangagwa


THE National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) at the weekend led political parties and villagers in a Zapu-organised memorial for 11 Gukurahundi victims.

Three of the victims were believed to be teachers and the others were either villagers or Zapu supporters killed on February 17, 1983 and buried in two shallow graves at Zibungululu Secondary School in Tsholotsho.

“It then becomes imperative that the government, which is the perpetrator, explains why people were persecuted in that manner for subscribing to a legal and constitutionally allowed political ideology that was Zapu. It is not enough to just say it was a ‘moment of madness’. We need closure and justice for this crime against humanity,” Zapu Matabeleland North provincial chairperson Retired Colonel Lot Khuphe told the gathering.

“We insist on the proper processes of resolution to be followed, not these machinations we see being done by (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa, who has created a group of pseudo civic organisations and is pretending to have dialogue with them.”

Khuphe said as a representative of government and also an active participant, it was ill-conceived that Mnangagwa appoints himself to preside over resolution, on his terms.

“We need a process that will entail acknowledgement that a genocidal crime was committed by the State, truth telling, justice – both restorative and punitive, reparations and memorialisation. This process must have the State and, indeed, Mnangagwa participating on equal terms as victims and survivors, not the current set-up. There is no other way,” Khuphe said.

Some survivors narrated their ordeal at the hands of the army on the fateful day.

“People are grieving and still asking themselves many questions as to why did government do what it did? Why were their relatives killed?” one villager asked.

The NPRC was represented by Bulawayo provincial peace committee deputy chairpersons, former magistrate Johnson Mnkandla and Nokuthula Dube, a Gukurahundi victim. Mkandla told the villagers that Mnangagwa had decriminalised Gukurahundi.

“President Mnangagwa has decriminalised the Gukurahundi issue and now people are free to talk about it, commemorate their loved ones and rebury them where necessary,” he said.

This was after villagers and Zapu officials said they had no confidence in the government and could not participate at such gatherings because of fear of victimisation by State security agents.

MDC members who also lost their relatives to the Gukurahundi genocide said they were still young when the heinous acts took place.

Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) organising secretary Patrone Xaba said they had no faith in the NPRC.

“NPRC can’t be trusted with such a huge task when it is funded and controlled by the same government that killed our people.”

Xaba then listed those who masterminded the genocide and insisted that only an independent international commission could deal with the Gukurahundi genocide. MRP member Mbonisi Gumbo said, becuase of Gukurahundi, Tsholotsho now lags behind in development as there are no good roads and during the rainy season, it is almost impossible to access some areas.