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'Gukurahundi killings not a closed issue'

by Staff reporter
03 Dec 2019 at 07:43hrs | Views
RESPECTED former Cabinet minister Tshinga Dube has re-ignited debate on the highly-emotive killings that occurred in the southern parts of Zimbabwe in the 1980s  declaring boldly that the sad chapter is not closed, the Daily News On Sunday reports.

This comes after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced in March this year that his government had okayed the exhumation and reburial of thousands of people who died during the Gukurahundi massacres  mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands.

Exhumation of the bodies kicked off weeks later, with the first ceremony being held at Sipepa village in Tsholotsho  where villagers witnessed the reburial of Justin Tshuma and his wife Thembi's remains.

Apart from facilitating the re-burial of the victims, the government also committed itself to providing birth and death certificates to the children and relatives of the affected people who - for decades now  have been facing insurmountable hurdles at the Registrar-General's offices.

Writing in his book, Quiet Flows the Zambezi — which was launched recently - Dube said while Mnangagwa had commendably instructed his government to deal with the emotive saga, officials had done very little practically in that regard.

"Gukurahundi, in my view should be seen as callous, senseless and greedy ... a campaign engaged to eliminate one group which is perceived as black colonists.

"Sadly, there are a few people who probably were not affected by Gukurahun- di and who think it is a closed chapter.

"What was closed was the killing. The legacy and memory continue to endure and recreated with intensifying vigour," Dube - a strong supporter of Mnangagwa - said in his book.

"Our president (Mnangagwa) has appointed various government members to the Organ of National Healing and Reconciliation. But none have achieved even five percent of success.

"This is because of them thinking of their own jobs more than the fate of the affected people.

"But those who have been assigned to take the necessary steps to carry out the healing process have produced no results.

"To pretend Gukurahundi is over follow- ing the Unity Accord is to bury one's head in the hot sand when the rest of the body is tormented by howling and desiccating Harmattan winds," Dube continued.

The retired army colonel and serving Zanu-PF politburo member also said many people from Matabeleland had fled to neighbouring countries during the post- independence disturbances — something, which he observed, was continuing to this day.

"The Gukurahundi military and political campaigns have enduring negative effects which demand arresting.

"The flight of personnel from Matabeleland created a vacuum which has since been filled by people coming from elsewhere.

"The flight of the youth in Matabele- land continues and is a trend that ought to be arrested. To then suggest that Gukurahundi ended with the Unity Accord is an insult of greatest proportions.

"Our young are in South Africa where they do menial jobs as waiters in hotels and restaurants.

"Employment in Bulawayo has been taken by people from other regions," the former War Veterans minister said further.

"If you want to kill a people, ensure they lose confidence. Without doubt the people of Matabeleland have lost that very necessary confidence to help them deal with everyday challenges.

"It will take a creative and brave leader or leaders to emerge and instil lost confidence in the people.

"Gukurahundi simmers and lives on in people's hearts and minds, and also outside their hearts and minds," Dube continued.

But above all, the liberation stalwart had some suggestions for the government in terms of the way forward.

"As long as we don't make a serious apology to the families that were affected by Gukurahundi in our country, we shall forever remain with wounds that shall never heal.

"Perhaps if we involved the chiefs they may drive sense into our political leaders. There are people who think apologising
is admission of guilt. No, you are merely being sorry and remorseful.

"You do not lose anything. If anything, you gain the respect of a healed nation. If we pass the hatred from father to son our challenges will never come to an end," Dube said.

An estimated 20 000 people are said to have been killed mainly in Matabele- land and the Midlands when the government deployed the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade to the two regions — to fight an insurrection there.

Unity Day was subsequently set up to commemorate the Unity Accord, which was later signed between Zapu and Zanu on December 22, 1987, and ended hos- tilities between the two parties.

However, the Gukurahundi saga has remained a topical and emotive issue, especially in Matabeleland  despite the consummation of the unity deal.

Chiefs from Matabeleland, while acknowledging the government's plans to deal with the hot issue, submitted a 22-page document to Mnangagwa during their meeting in June, in which Gukurahundi atrocities topped the agenda.

Among other things, the chiefs demanded in the document that Mnangagwa apologises over the killings  and that he declares a day of public mourning for victims, and also facilitates the exhumation and reburial of victims.

The traditional leaders further demanded the immediate release of reports on Gukurahundi such as the Chihambakwe and Dumbutshena commissions of inquiry into the atrocities.

Source - dailynews