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Mugabe's govt warned of bloodbath over Gukurahundi

by Hansard
15 May 2017 at 08:33hrs | Views
Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, the outspoken Matebeleland South proportional representation MP, has warned of a bloodbath in Zimbabwe if the Mugabe led government continues to ignore the concerns of survivors of Gukurahundi and other past atrocities.

She further warned the fresh conflict will also be fuelled by alleged deprivation of national assets on some tribes in the country by the Zanu PF led government.

The MDC legislator was debating the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill in parliament this past week.

She insisted the draft law contained none of the major concerns raised by "angry" citizens who attended the outreach process by MPs who were gathering citizens' input into the envisaged law.

Below is Misihairabwi-Mushonga's contribution to the debate.

HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker.  Let me start by saying, I am hoping that as we get into this debate we can be as frank and perhaps as brutally frank as we can.  If we do not, we will not be able to get to the bottom of what this is all about.

I want to join my colleagues and chairperson in saying the general view that we got was not that people did not want the Bill; the general thing that we got was that people wanted the Bill but they wanted a Bill that made sense and this particular Bill was not making sense both in the way it was drafted and the manner in which the contents and the issues therein where expressed.

Before I get into why I am saying so Madam Speaker, let me just say to you that the anger that we faced when we went for this public hearing is amazing.  It is unfortunate that we are unable to bring the audio tapes or the electronic taps…

HON. MLISWA: On a point of order! Madam Speaker, this debate is very serious, I saw Members of Parliament from the other side, especially women, going out, what for, I do not know.  The Masvingo election is done.  So, what are they going to talk about - I do not know [Laughter.]-

THE TEMPORARAY SPEAKER (MS. DZIVA): I think there is no point of order.

HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Madam Speaker, I was speaking to the anger that we found and to some extent, just this last comment by the colleague is relevant because I think if the people that we met actually had a way of sitting and watching the way we are debating this, they would be very disappointed.  For many of them, it speaks of their lived realities, their day to day lived realities.  It is unfortunate that as a nation we have gotten to a point where issues of conflict, healing, issues that should be bringing us together, we do not care much about them, we are so used to just living life as life without necessarily understanding where people are coming from.

Madam Speaker, for me the debate and the public hearing showed me a divided nation, an extremely dived nation - divided in a number of ways.  Firstly, divided in the appreciation and understanding of the issues that happened in the pre-colonial era, divided in the issues about what happened in the post colonial era and divided around the issues that happened just after independence and what is currently happening today. I think that is the unfortunate part about this particular Bill, whoever is drafting the Bill has just thought it is mechanical, business as usual without dealing with what exactly we want to address and you are not finding what exactly we want to address.  Are we trying to do a truth and reconciliation commission, we are trying to just create a certain institution that is going to be dealing with issues generally about healing. So unlike my other colleagues,  I actually think the disappointment is in that after the first time where we took this particular Bill for people to speak, those issues have not been brought in because the basic thing that people said is that do not give us something that is not talking about truth.  Our concern is somebody who comes back and said this is the truth about what happened during Gukurahundi, this is the truth about what happened during the liberation struggle.

 The unfortunate thing that has happened with this Bill is that the moment people hear about National Peace and Reconciliation, the first thing that comes to their mind is Gukurahundi.  Unfortunately it stops you from thinking.  If you go step by step, you should be saying to yourself why is it today we are still talking about war veterans not getting anything and not being supported.  It is because we never dealt with the issue around reconciliation, we would have said, what is it that we are going to do about those that participated in the struggle and the pains that they experienced during the liberation struggle - nothing like that happened, so we have not debated that, we have not debated what happened immediately after independence.  I am prepared Madam Speaker because these are some of the very uncomfortable conversation that we started facing.  I remember and I hope some of my colleagues who were at the hearing also remember this, a very young woman standing up in Bulawayo, saying this war between amaShona lamaNdebele can only be described in this manner yikulwa kukaSatan loJehovah – it can never finish.  This is a young person who was not there during the Gukurahundi era but the pain is about what she is dealing with in terms of the marginalisation that she lives with on a daily basis.

So, until you address the problems and issues that people are facing, you will not deal with this.  To play around and pretend that you have a national peace and reconciliation when you are not dealing with the issues of transitional justice which are issues of who has gotten land, jobs and resources in this country, it is why you could clearly separate the issues that were being raised in Matabeleland and Mashonaland regions.

For example, I remember when we went to Mashonaland West and somebody in the group was standing up and saying, ‘Stop talking about Gukurahundi, after all the maNdebele people took inkomo zethu and our wives.'  At a very basic level, it is a very upsetting statement for some of us but it is a real statement.  I am saying if that is the reason why the people of Matabeleland today continue to suffer marginalisation because there were cattle and women that were taken – then let us talk about it.  And if there is supposed to be reparation of the cattle coming back to Mashonaland, let those cattle come back then we can go back to the issues that we are talking about.  I do not know what we are going to do with the women that were supposedly taken.  We cannot have them and take them back.

In reality, we cannot pretend that certain things are being said and we ignore them.  If it is a general feeling that somebody thinks it is justified to continue to oppress and subject a particular tribe on the basis that you believe that there were cattle and women that were taken away – then let us deal with it.  Unfortunately, this Bill does not deal with that.  So, it is a useless Bill as far as we are concerned because that Bill is supposed to be talking about why when you go into Matabeleland you necessarily find people who are angry?  They are angry because of certain things that are being done systematically.

Madam Speaker, if you look at Section 18 of our Constitution, as we drafted that Constitution, we put in a provision around equality of regions because there was an understanding and appreciation that the issue around inequality was important.  Inequality comes from the fact that historically, people believe and live through the realities that they are not being treated fairly.  If you go to an interpretation stage and do not find a definition of why there is a need for reconciliation, then we are talking nonsense.

I have said in this House, and I am glad the Hon. Vice President Mnangagwa is here - when I raised the issue around the reburials of people who were killed during the Gukurahundi era, the Vice President, at that stage said to the House, we will facilitate for those that want to do the burials.  As I speak to you right now, if anybody is trying to have a memorial service, not a reburial – to basically just get people in a community to talk about what happened and how they think, they are arrested and stopped from having those conversations taking place yet those people watch day in and day out here in Mashonaland, people sitting down and saying we are doing reburials.  How do you think those people feel?

For me, these are the issues that we are supposed to deal with.  If we pretend that there are no ethnic issues, we are joking and not being serious.  When we are here, let us not talk about Matabeleland and Mashonaland – let us talk about here in Mashonaland.  The Zezuru and Karanga divide – completely there and we live with it in this very House.  We have those major differences about whether you are Karanga or Zezuru and who is in control of what resources at this particular point in time and what it means.  Let us not pretend that those are not realities that we are talking about.  If we do not include the issues around ethnic conversations and how we are going to deal with it, day in and day out, we are going to be dealing with them.  We are going to be saying to ourselves, ‘MaZezuru ambotongawo, tavekuda kuti maKaranga ambotonga.'   That is the debate that is there and if we continue to pretend that the debate is not there, we are lying to each other.

I think it is important that in terms of a way forward, we do not play around with this if we really intend to do a proper truth and reconciliation process.  Let us go back and look at what happened in Rwanda, like Hon. Gonese was saying.  They said to themselves, ‘We are going to do a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and it will mean that truth is about dealing with the things that we are unhappy and uncomfortable about.  We will have to deal with issues of will there be arrests or amnesty?  We cannot have situations were amnesty is given; part of the problems that we have right now is, if we go to post 2000,  there are people who murdered people during the general elections, arrested, convicted yet they were given an amnesty.  Every other day, when you declare some of them heroes, people are upset.  They are hurt because they know that these people have a particular history that they have had before.

Trust me, people may get away with it now in the current context but the generations that are going to be coming tomorrow and in the future – this thing will come back. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]-  The children of those who were murdered will also come back to murder because you are not going to be in power in perpetuity.  There will be a time that you will be out of power and when you are out of power, that person who comes in and is in control is going to come back and deal with you. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- We need to be able to understand and appreciate that particular aspect.

Madam Speaker, as a Committee, which is one of the things that was missing in our report, had an opportunity to visit South Africa and Kenya and do an analysis around what happened.  In both areas, we found that whilst South Africa had done a good job around truth and reconciliation, they had not dealt with some of the fundamental issues around transitional justice which is why in South Africa today they are beginning to have serious divisions and contradictions around policy issues, issues of land and the redistribution of land and resources … -[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections. ]-

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Members, may Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga be heard in silence.  I think those who wish to engage in private conversations can do so outside the House.

HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA:  I am just giving you an example of South Africa that whilst South Africa dealt with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, one of the lessons that we learnt from there is that it was too limited because it just dealt with the things that had happened during the apartheid era.  It did not deal with the fundamental issues around transitional justice, resource allocation - who is getting what and if something does not happen well, there is going to be a disaster in South Africa.  I think we should learn from that particular aspect and not allow things to continue to fester and hope that they will go away.  They will not go away Madam Speaker, as at one stage those things will come back to bite us.

We went to Kenya, for example, Kenya did the same.  They had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) but they failed to organise it in a way that they would then say we have done a TRC but how are we going to implement the issues that are coming out of the TRC and up till now, they are grappling with those issues.  So in Kenya, things may seem to be working well but the issues around ethnic problems are still there.  The fortunate thing about some of these countries is an acknowledgement that they have a problem.  The sad thing about Zimbabwe is the denialism that we have, a pretence that we have no problems.  So you will have somebody sitting here and saying, but in our country we have not had conflict; in our country we do not have ethnic problems yet we know that if we are organising our factions, we are doing so on the basis of ethnicity.  Why are we pretending that it is not a problem that we are having?  Let us deal with it and deal with it once and for all.

I gave an example, which is on my favourite subject, around the issues of war veterans and gender.  Madam Speaker, when I went back to look at, for example, those who were at the Lancaster House Constitution, I found out that there was a woman called Kadungure.  She was the only woman who was there and it was noted.  I do not know whether that woman is there right now and I do not know whether she died. I do not know what her circumstances were but I am giving that example in that it is clear because we never had a conversation about what happened during the liberation struggle that perhaps those that really participated, worked and suffered are the ones that are not being acknowledged today.

It is because we never really did a truth and reconciliation process.  I am saying what we noticed during the hearings is that we have a bigger problem than what we are talking about here.  We have an angry society and in fact, most of us were being abused. They said, you are wasting money and they were right - you came here last year and you said to us let us talk about this Bill; now you are coming back again with this Bill and for us it has not changed anything fundamentally in terms of what we have done.

So, if we do not want to have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, let us just come back here and be honest that we do not want to have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  We will have it when every one of us who are leaders today and who are governing have gone and we forget about it.  Let us not pretend that we want to have a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

In conclusion Madam Speaker, let me give you this warning.  We are going to have a huge uprising in this country and that uprising is going to come from the generality of the people who are not beneficiaries of the assets that people are using every other day.  We will have people in the streets burning homes and burning everything else because the language of speaking will not have worked.  We are going to have an uprising in the area around issues of ethnicity.  We will pretend to talk about it right now but I can tell you as somebody who comes from that region that one day you will have a situation where people will stand up and they will say anyone who is not coming from here, we will hack to death and we will beat up.

You will not have an excuse for it because they keep giving you warnings and warnings and you are refusing to deal with issues that they are raising.  I thank you Madam Speaker.

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