CiZC blasts govt over Gukurahundi comments

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Obert Masaraure

BY LORRAINE MUROMO/TAPFUMANEI MUCHABAIWA/SILAS NKALA

CRISIS in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has accused government of insincerity in dealing with the Gukurahundi issue and failure to bring closure for victims over three decades later.

In a statement yesterday, CiCZ, a conglomeration of 80 independent civil society groups in the country, condemned the recent comments by Presidential spokesperson George Charamba to the effect that the erection of memorial plaques in honour of Gukurahundi victims was illegal and against government policy.

The massacre of about 20 000 civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces by members of the Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwe National Army remains an emotive issue up to  today, especially because Zimbabwe’s current President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was the Minister of State for National Security at the time.

Pressure group Ibhetshu LikaZulu erected memorial plaques at Bhalagwe in honour of more than 1 000 people that were killed and their bodies dumped in a disused mine, but Charamba said its actions were illegal.

CiCZ spokesperson Obert Masaraure said by declaring the erection of the plaques illegal, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government had proved that it did not have the political will to ensure that the Gukurahundi issue is addressed so that the victims have closure.

“Charamba’s sentiments exposes the government’s cosmetic approach towards resolving the Gukurahundi issue and further prove that President Mnangagwa’s pledge to address the Gukurahundi issue is mere politicking,” he said.

The civic group said it was impossible for Zimbabweans to trust perpetrators of the genocide to lead the truth-telling process, adding that destroying the plaques was tantamount to sweeping the Gukurahundi issue under the carpet to silence the aggrieved citizens.

“From Charamba’s sentiments, it is very much clear that the State is not committed to a genuine process that will result in truth, justice, reconciliation, healing and closure. It is foolhardy to expect victims to seek permission to erect memorial plaques in honour of their dear departed ones from the chief culprits,” they said.

It called on the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission to exercise independence and impartiality, and to address the Gukurahundi issue through a bottom-up approach in an inclusive and honest manner. Opposition Zapu spokesperson Msongelwa Ndlovu said: “Their (Ibhetshu likaZulu) persistence to keep the Gukurahundi genocide alive is revolutionary, indeed. That Ibhetshu LikaZulu drew a clumsy response from (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa through his spokesperson is a win for victims of the genocide.

“As Zapu, we are appalled by what Charamba said by suggesting that erecting an innocent plaque is more criminal than the murder of over 20 000 innocent souls. The plaque is meant to be a reminder to both survivors and perpetrators. While the survivors celebrate the erection of the plaque, perpetrators will bomb it.”

In a statement yesterday Ibhetshu LikaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said the communities should never give up on their pursuit for justice, truth-telling and a victim-centred resolution to the Gukurahundi genocide as truth can never be bypassed.

“Charamba speaks for Mnangagwa and his statement is revealing of the Zanu PF government’s disregard of its victims, both the dead and the surviving. If, according to Charamba, erecting a plaque in Bhalagwe is unlawful, is bombing it lawful? In any case, was the genocide lawful? Laws are supposed to protect people, but in Gukurahundi the law did not protect people and it still does not protect them
now.”

He said Ibhetshu LikaZulu would not seek permission from the perpetrators of the genocide to remember the dead.

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