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Former MDC senator recounts Gukurahundi disappearances

by Staff reporter
22 Jan 2024 at 09:59hrs | Views
ONE will not understand the pain of another's wound until he or she falls into the same predicament, goes an adage.This is the feeling that many Gukurahundi victims and survivors ponder daily since 1982 when the government-sponsored Gukurahundi cracked down on them and their families, leaving unhealed wounds.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe reported that an estimated 20 000 people, mostly of Ndebele origin, were killed during the notorious military crackdown in Matebeleland and Midlands provinces.

It is reported that thousands of women were raped, and many people were displaced during the atrocities by the North Korea-trained soldiers. For former MDC senator for Matebeleland North, Chief Ndlovu, the wounds of Gukurahundi are still fresh in his mind. Everyday, his family ponders the whereabouts of his brother, Tryagain, an ex-Zipra member who was abducted in 1982 at his furniture shop in Bulawayo.

"I am a survivor of Gukurahundi. As a family, we lost our eldest brother who was an ex-Zipra soldier. We have no idea where his remains are. No one has contacted our family just to hear our views on how we believe the issue of Gukurahundi victims and survivors are to be treated," Ndlovu said.

"In our case, the government is aware of the circumstances leading to the disappearance of my brother. We compelled the government through the courts to declare my brother dead. His sin was fighting for the liberation of Zimbabwe under Zipra and PF Zapu, then led by the late Vice-President Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo."

Ndlovu added that when his brother got back from war, just like many ex-combatants, he preferred a civilian life and started a successful furniture business in Bulawayo."In 1982, the government's secret service looked for him and took him away, leaving his car parked on the street. We only managed to track and trace him to Ross Camp and Central Police, where his trail then disappeared. He had two young kids. At that time, his youngest son was less than a year old," Ndlovu recounted.

"Now the government wants chiefs to lead in the hearings of the Gukurahundi survivors and victims. "How does listening and recording the gruesome accounts from victims and survivors bring closure as there are no perpetrators to take responsibility and give an account of why, how and where the victims are buried?"

Ndlovu added: "Two scenarios that brought some sort of closure for victims, survivors and their families was the South African model of truth and reconciliation where perpetrators and victims and survivors came face to face, and everything was laid bare, and questions responded to by perpetrators.

"The other one is the Rwanda model, which unfortunately the Zimbabwe government seems to have adopted but failed dismally to recognise that again in Rwanda victims, survivors and families of victims came face to face with the perpetrators in a process that was led by chiefs in their local communities where the atrocities were committed by known individuals who fell under the jurisdiction of the chiefs."

Ndlovu said Rwanda adopted this because of the scale of crimes committed."Families married across tribes turned against each other, neighbours and priests and pastors turned into murderers. The State would have taken a long time to reach families of the over one million victims murdered and survivors affected. It was appropriate and effective that chiefs led in the hearings in their villages as no one was left behind," Ndlovu said.

"In the case of Zimbabwe, where are the perpetrators? Will they go back to the villages where they committed the crimes to face their victims? I believe this whole exercise falls short of addressing critical issues that will bring closure."

The former legislator said it is a huge farce and a waste of resources by the government that is desperate to soothe its damaged image when it comes to the highly emotive Gukurahundi issue.

"The absurdity is that the report has to be given to the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) who was the Security minister at the time when these crimes were committed," he said.Meanwhile, the government has announced that the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry will on January 28 hold a Gukurahundi outreach programme media sensitisation meeting in Bulawayo, where editors from across the media divide will attend ahead of Gukurahundi hearings.

Attorney-General Virginia Mabhiza said the purpose of the meeting is to sensitise the media on issues relating to Gukurahundi.Government is currently making final modalities to come up with the specific date when the hearings will begin.

Source - southern eye