Activists in Matabeleland have criticised attempts by a junior minister to absolve President Emmerson Mnangagwa of his involvement in the Gukurahundi atrocities.
Information deputy minister Energy Mutodi, torched a storm, Sunday when he claimed former president Robert Mugabe had killed more people in the 1980s than his successor has in his short period in charge of state affairs.
“We have noted some words of repentance by former President Mugabe saying army must protect not kill. True that a few have lost lives in running battles with the police but that cannot compare with Gukurahundi or the 2008 violence when he was at the helm,” Mutodi tweeted.
He was reacting to remarks by Mugabe at his 95th birthday celebrations where he reportedly criticised Mnangagwa for using the army to kill civilians during protests.
However, the two men, have been fingered in the Gukurahundi atrocities where Mugabe as Prime Minister and Mnangagwa as state security minister orchestrated the atrocities that claimed the lives of more than 20 000 civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands.
The Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) said it was saddening that Mutodi used the atrocities to justify Zanu PF factional battles.
“This is disgusting, foolish and heartless,” charged Njabulo Ngwenya, MRP`s information and publicity officer.
“Mutodi insinuated without regret, that it is okay to murder people, as long as you are at the helm of the ruling party. Gukurahundi was a tribal and ethnic cleansing genocide and any careless talk that reminds the people of Matabeleland of the horrors of the 1980s under Zanu PF is very traumatic and painful”.
He highlighted that both Mugabe and Mutodi have admitted that the government had a hand in the death of thousands of civilians.
“Mutodi is even aware of the high record killings in Matabeleland by Mugabe, but has never expressed any desire for justice for the victims.
“Such bias confirms that Gukurahundi was surely an ethnic genocide. It is pleasing though, that the truth is eventually coming out, regardless of it, coming from the mouths of the devils themselves”.
Ibhetshu likaZulu, a pressure group which has been vocal about the Gukurahundi matter, said Mnangagwa cannot be absolved from the atrocities as he was heavily involved.
“We saw that during Gukurahundi, Mnangagwa was there and now he is still there, actively involved in the killing of people. Mnangagwa has to try and understand what Mugabe is telling him, which is to repent since he is talking about a new dispensation.
“In fact now we want to know who was in charge of the Gukurahundi killings since he -Mnangagwa was the face of those killings and people are still being murdered when Mugabe is long gone,” said Fuzwayo.
Mnangagwa has publicly denounced any involvement in the atrocities.