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Activists call Mnangagwa`s bluff on Gukurahundi exhumations and reburials

Activists in Matabeleland have described the recent meeting between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and traditional chiefs, as an attempt by the former to absolve himself of any culpability in the early 1980s Gukurahundi atrocities.

President Mnangagwa met Matabeleland traditional leaders at the Bulawayo State House on Saturday where chiefs presented reports on Gukurahundi following consultations with their communities.

On behalf of Matabeleland North was Chief Siansali of Binga while Chief Nyangazonke of Kezi presented his report on behalf of Matabeleland South with five other chiefs also made contributions.

It is reported that the chiefs were given a nod to lead in the exhumations and reburials of Gukurahundi victims. 

But, political parties think the chiefs were cheated by President Mngangagwa who must apologise for his role in the genocide that killed about 20 000 people.

“First and foremost the Gukurahundi killings of 1983 to 1987 were not political disturbances as reported by the government, instead this was a calculated project by the government of Mnangagwa and Zanu PF,” said Mqondisi Moyo, president of the Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP).

Moyo said allowing the chiefs to lead the exhumations was not enough and warned them not to “be sold a dummy.”

 “We have proof that in 1981 on September 12, Mnangagwa as the Minister of State Security paid $12 983 Zimbabwe Dollars at that time for the 106 North Korean mllitary personnel who were to come and train the more than 5000 fifth brigade army soldiers only for the purposes of killing innocent Ndebele people from Midlands.”

The MRP leader argued that the Gukurahundi killings were not just disturbances but were carefully planned.

“We can’t call the killings that were pre-planned and we’ll funded by the Zanu-led government a disturbance, actually it is people like the current president of Zimbabwe, Mngangagwa and (the late) Robert Mugabe who initiated Gukurahundi with the assistance of Britain,” he claimed.

Instead, the chiefs were supposed to demand for an International Independent Commission such as the inquiry that was created to look into the August 1, 2018 killings, suggested Moyo.

“Over 20 000 people were killed in the 1980s and six in 2018, an inquest into that is needed,” he said. 

The MRP leader also demanded that the government release the Chihambakwe and Sandura Commission reports. 

“The government and chiefs should first of all acknowledge the report by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), which is in the public domain. That report is close to the truth compared to any other reports that were never made public,” he said.

The MRP leader also claimed that the other worrying challenge they had observed was most of the Ndebele chiefs were “now compromised and serving the interests of Zanu-PF more than their subjects.”

It is alleged that in Saturday’s meeting, President Mngangagwa said he would not apologise for Gukurahundi as the 1987 Unity Accord resolved the matter.  

However, a local pressure group, welcomed the decision by the government to allow chiefs to lead the exhumations and reburials.

Secretary General of Ibhetshu LikaZulu, Mbuso Fuzwayo, praised the chiefs for standing together to stop the government taking a lead role in exhumations.

“We salute the resolve by the chiefs to speak with one voice, a voice that is a reflection of all the communities that were affected by the genocide,” he said.

“As Ibhetshu LikaZulu we have read reports to the effect that the government of Zimbabwe as the perpetrator of genocide in Matabeleland and the Midlands will not participate the exhumations and reburials of the victims of genocide.”

Fuzwayo highlighted activists had relentlessly fought and seen then approach the courts in a bid to bar the government from involving itself in exhumations.

“We are of the view that the graves of our fellow countrymen that were massacred for selfish and narrow political interest are a crime scene and the presence of the perpetrators will contaminate the scene,” he said.

“We are comforted by their principled stance on this matter, it proves once again that those who have used Gukurahundi as a profit making initiative, as a tool to bring them closer to the table of the perpetrator that the survivors know what they want, not some prescription from those that want to use the people’s pain as an avenue to proximity to power.”

Fuzwayo reiterated that their commitment was to work towards a survivor driven restorative justice in Zimbabwe, which was the “only way that will guarantee true peace and national unity.”

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