By Mandla Tshuma
Former president, Robert Mugabe, who was in charge of government that massacred over 20 000 civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the early 1980s has died before he could testify on the genocide.
Mugabe, who was at the helm of the country for 37 years before he could be dethroned by the military, did not want to openly discuss the issue of Gukurahundi, which he once described as a “moment of madness.”
Failure to address Gukurahundi by Mugabe has been cited as one of the causes of divisions that exist among Zimbabweans.
Mugabe never apologised or accounted for the massacres despite calls by pressure groups to do so and now that is not be since he is no more.
George Mkhwananzi, a South African based Zimbabwean said the death of the former president was meaningless to him considering the pain he inflicted of the people of Matabeleland.
“Robert Mugabe’s death today, almost two years since he was overthrown from power by his colleague in Zanu-PF is virtually irrelevant to me except that I feel robbed of a key witness in the Matabele Genocide of the 1980s,”said Mkhwanazi.
“He would have been more useful alive to testify before a Gukurahundi Tribunal and share the information regarding his trail of murder and torture of his perceived enemies.”
Mkhwanazi said Mugabe leaves behind a bad legacy.
“He leaves behind a legacy of tribal triumphalism, ethnic and political disunity and hatred. He is the biggest misfortune that ever befell Zimbabwe,” he said emotionally.
Mbuso Fuzwayo of Ibhetshu Likazulu said Mugabe should have been made to account for Gukurahundi before his passing on.
“I think his passing on without facing the justice system is very unfortunate, it leaves a lot of unanswered questions. It’s sad that he has passed on without facing trial especially on the genocide that he committed with his comrades,” Fuzwayo noted.
“Zimbabwe with Mugabe and without Mugabe is not going anywhere. Zimbabwe is on an auto pilot. We have been without him for the past two years and we have not gone anywhere.”
Kudzani Ndlovu, a political analyst and PhD candidate in Political Studies at the University of Johannesburg, said the former ruler would be remembered for Gukurahundi.
“The fact that Robert Mugabe died at a hospital in a foreign land summarises his legacy,” he said.
“The man eulogized pan-Africanism but his words were never supported by actions. He will be remembered for leading a genocide that claimed tens of thousands of innocent civilians in the Matabeleland region soon after independence.”
Ndlovu added, Mugabe would be remembered for his brutality on those that threatened his grip on power.
“Mugabe will be remembered for destroying a country. Instead of mourning his inevitable death, we shall be mourning the unimaginable destruction that he has done to a country that had so much potential at independence.”
Thabani Ncube, a Bulawayo resident, also echoed that Mugabe leaves behind a bad legacy in Matabeleland.
“He has a bad history in Matabeleland; he killed a lot people and did not apologise at all though he was a leader who stood for what he wants,” he said.