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How Mzila's family suffered during Gukurahundi genocide

12 Feb 2024 at 13:52hrs | Views
IN 1982, I was assaulted by five Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) uniformed young men donning red berets at my Luveve house number 4136 where I lived, while I taught at St Bernards High School in Pumula, Bulawayo.

One of the weapons the Gukurahundi shock troops used beside the gun butts was a home-made metal hammer whose head looked like the beak of a hornbill (ukoro) with a nut welded to its point to assault me all over the body and in the wanton attack striking my head for not being fluent in Shona and not knowing my identity card number by head, causing me to black out and collapse. Luckily, I sagged along a wall. They had also accused me of not restraining my Alsatian dogs I had bought from a Mr Hadebe, an education officer who resided in the same neighbourhood.

They left me for dead after ransacking the whole house, getting off with food from the fridge and some special non-military souvenirs I had brought from Angola and Egypt during my training, things that had become part of me throughout my years in the armed struggle.

As freedom fighters, we did not have many personal belongings neither did we want them.

I was taken to Galen House medical centre for treatment by an Umkhonto weSizwe friend by the name Bongani after about a week, treated for visible wounds by the late Dr Nicholas Ndebele who then referred me to a specialist called Dr Cohen where examinations including X-rays of the skull were done and revealed a starlike depression caused by the attackers' hammer on the skull.

Cohen recommended immediate surgery but I failed to raise the money beyond my public service medical aid. I have lived with that pain for 42 years and have been getting frequent severe headaches when the weather is extremely cold as today or when it is extremely hot.

I have to forego other life needs in order to cover the medical expenses brought upon me by the wretched sons and daughters of sellouts. I was convinced that the ages of those Gukurahundi were mostly under-20 and they had never fought in the liberation war and therefore that their parents were supporters of Ian Smith and Abel Muzorewa. It is the questions they raised and the remarks they made as they interrogated me which exposed their indoctrinated deep tribal hatred. They asked different questions at the same time, clearly not interested in the answers I gave, but accusing me of not answering each question.

A few days earlier, they had badly assaulted a now late friend from the war, Sthayi Godknows Mabuza, with logs. He was diabetic and could not continue starving during the cordon-and-search operation in Bulawayo and dared go to the shops. He came to my house hardly able to walk as he couldn't proceed to his brother, Patson Gregory Mabuza's house.

I nursed him till he was able to walk under the cover of darkness to his abode.

Back in my rural home, Thekwane Mission, almost at the same time, Zanu-PF leaders Enos Nkala, Mark Dube and Callistus Ndlovu were going to address a rally at South Nata Rural District Council just across the Thekwane River.

The Five Brigade ferried villagers with Puma trucks from designated points the same way Zanu-PF buses people to its rallies during elections. My mother, Mrs Tabulawa Mvangile Mzila (Mme Baka Bhabi), could not make it to the gathering point on the Thekwane/Plumtree road.

Some Five Brigade Units were rounding up villagers from their homes to maximise rally attendance. When they got to our home they found my mother alone. She said they asked her why she had not gone to the rally. When she explained that she was disabled by polio at a young age and was in pain from her hip joint, one gukurahundist grabbed the foot of the sore leg and violently twisted it several times, causing a total dislocation at the hip after dragging her for about 50 metres, leaving her wailing and groaning in pain.

After learning of her ordeal, I braved the roadblocks, especially the notorious Makaramu Shops lay-by in Figtree which had become a killing zone during the clampdown, and went to bring her to Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo. She never recovered and later died from a swollen heart.

I promise you Mme, BaGonde Nhaba I will not die before justice is done over what happened to you and many other parents in Matebeleland and Midlands.

My brother Mandlenkosi Mzila was a Zipra ex-combatant who had joined Zipra earlier than me and operated mostly in the Lupane area. At integration, he was stationed at Birchenough Bridge. Same year he was killed in an ambush near Dete after he fled with a few of his colleagues from attacks by Zanla in the National Army at their Birchenough Brigade base. We buried him in Bulawayo under a tense atmosphere uncharacteristic of a funeral. Uyizele ngekhaya nyalala mfi Mandla. Rest In Eternal Peace, Kumbudzi.

I went to look for your daughter you sired during the operations, took her through school and college and she is a married teacher now. Her maternals aptly called her Ntombiyezwe/MaNdlovana and we did not change that name.

The Gukurahundi accused the family of harbouring dissidents.

Two of us out of five siblings risked being killed by the settler regime for demanding freedom from the white man to free everyone, including those in Zanu-PF, in an independent Zimbabwe.

I demobilised and went back to teaching and furthered my education. To this day I am being persecuted by Zanu-PF for having fought to free Zimbabwe, firstly, and, secondly, for holding political opinion that is truth based and exposes Zanu-PF for the wicked organisation it is.

My brother, Felix Mzila Ndlovu, was severely assaulted at his flat in Magwegwe North in Bulawayo in the presence of his traumatised young children soon after the burial of Mandlenkosi at Pelandaba Cemetery.

Most families in Matebeleland and the Midlands have similar if not worse experiences than the Mzila family. Some families have no one to tell the gruesome accounts of what happened to them between 1980 and 1987.

The same perpetrators have the guts and shameless faces to come to Matebeleland and demand votes. They come to display symbols of their ill-gotten riches, fat cars, greedy slay queens, expensive and imported garments and smooth baby faces, displaying bulgy pot bellies and sausage necks even at 80 as if they live in another country.

Of course, they have their own economy based on the gap between the RTGS and the US dollar. How can it be unitary when it had a dual economy? Their coming to the crime scene, Matebeleland, is indicative of the arrogance that typifies thieves.

It is in fulfillment of one murderous Robert Mugabe who said then: "The people of Matebeleland and the Midlands need proper political orientation", when he was quizzed by a foreign journalist on why he had unleashed such horror on innocent and unarmed civilians.

For those people of Matebeleland and the Midlands in Zanu-PF, my advice to you is ungelusi inkomo zalapho okwendele khona unyoko ngoba ilifa lelo angeke ulidle (literally meaning don't herd cattle where your mother is married because your won't get the inheritance).

To our young who had not been born, I say never ignore history as told by your own people preferring to hear the oppressors' account that is riddled with falsehoods. They lie to you because you know nothing else.

In short, you are tabula rasa. What is the point of supporting a party that even if you had the best leadership qualities they would rather be led by an idiot or even a donkey for that matter than a person from Matebeleland? To my fellow ex-Zipra combatants, I say why leave a legacy (ilifa) to your children that hides your heroic deeds in the war of liberation unless if you were an agent of the Rhodesians?

Some of you intimidate the same voters who were brutalised by Zanu-PF during and after Gukurahundi, including yourselves and you have such short memory spans that you commit yourselves to an agenda of your tormentors in exchange for useless money and perishable political power to commit crimes within your communities with impunity (no punishment).

It is not about education, but it is about desperation. My grandmother BaMpembelegwa (Sgabade) predicted Gukurahundi when she was told that Joshua Nkomo lost the 1980 elections. She had been born in 1880 or thereabouts and died in 2004. She had never seen the doors of school, but was educated enough to put together the pieces of events and correctly predicted a calamity to befall us when Mandla and I went to see her for the first time since the war ended. To the genuine ex-Zanla combatants, I say you will never be permanent darlings of this cruel system. I hear now you are derogatorily called "machembere" at Chibuku House to denote that you are spent forces, bunches of expendables. It is a question of time, wake up and smell the njengu if you love your children and thus country.

Ask yourself why you are so skinny, so run down, so sickly, so poor, and your children are going to schools that are falling apart and clinics that have no medication as your physical activities during the war are fast catching up with you.

Look at Tyson's pictures, even in exile he is living off the fat of corruption acquired over the years; he has never been smoother, he has a ballooned body that vibrates untrammelled opulence.

The same corruption has caused stinking national economic decay as they get richer and richer. Now they invest in real estate in Dubai and other countries without a single gold mine which hide gold stolen by despotic and corrupt African leaders, especially Zimbabwe, while your families starve. They steal and smuggle gold out of the country in mafia-like syndicates on your behalf. You can only be insane to believe such nonsense. You tell yourself this is what you fought for. Where is your hard-earned wealth? You have nothing. You don't even have title deeds to the piece of land you call yours which you have reduced to another rizeva (rural home) because of your poverty. The white man may be on your doorstep in the same way you were on his doorstep to evict him.

You will be clueless sacrificial lambs as the wealthy in Zanu-PF join hands with the wealthy white man in partnerships to own all the land save for your rizeva. Why? Because you simply do not think this land is your sweat and blood. Why should you be poor and be the scum of Zimbabwe? We each live once; stop being lied to by crooks. Your bones will never rest in peace if you allow yourselves to die on the wrong and evil side of life.

To my Shona friends and relatives, our relationship cannot be based on my suffering as a second-class person and that of my children. Zanu-PF arrested my underage children and through their Shona-speaking militia masquerading as police investigators at Figtree Police Station subjected them to questions that induced a sense of shock, accusing them of having been trained by me, while I was held in another room.

Who does not train their children on how to become good citizens except Zanu-PF who train theirs on how to steal, murder, maim and hate? That makes three generations in my family abused by Zanu-PF, while they pamper their children with good life from my sweat.

Next time you interact with me show some respect, sensitivity and empathy to the gross abuse my family has endured under Zanu-PF thugs ostensibly on your behalf. Our relationship must be based on good values and sound beliefs.

I expect you to stand for justice, not condemning Zanu-PF and in the same breath insisting that "nyika ino hayimbofa yaka tongwa nemuNdevere" (this country will never be ruled by a Ndebele person). Or that MaNdevere are foreigners. Where were they when we fought the white man? Anything less than this, please stay away from me; I will do likewise. Imagine if Zanu-PF had done to your mother what they did to my mother on your behalf.

*About the writer: Moses Mzila Nkalange is a Zipra ex-combatant and former opposition MDC political leader.

Source - newshawks
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