HARARE – Former President Robert Mugabe has to eat humble pie and lead the process of healing people in Midlands and Matabeleland who were victims of the infamous Gukurahundi.
While Mugabe was forced to retire from politics, it is to his advantage to tackle the Gukurahundi issue and apologise because this dark episode will haunt him forever.
Even if he were to die, his children will continue to carry the Gukurahundi skeletons wherever they would be.
Mugabe was the commander-in-chief of the defence forces and president of Zimbabwe when these atrocities happened; hence he knows what really transpired during that time.
The massacres cannot just be wished away and there are choruses from several quarters that are calling for the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s intervention.
They believe Mugabe is being persistently arrogant when he knows he oversaw an ethnic genocide or ethnic cleansing.
But as Zimbabweans we are saying before the ICC route, Mugabe must be given the chance to ask for forgiveness and possibly lead the healing process.
While I applaud President Emmerson Mnangagwa for appointing his deputy Kembo Mohadi to head what he calls an “independent commission” to deal with Gukurahundi, I strongly believe that the commission is not really independent.
In the past we have had vice presidents who were tasked to lead this healing process and they failed dismally.
And why is it that those leading this process have to be Ndebele speaking, from John Nkomo to Phelekezela Mphoko and now Kembo Mohadi? How independent are these vice presidents so as to head the Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration?
I agree with playwright Cont Mhlanga’s assertion that any apologies for Gukurahundi should not be made to the gallery or media and that this Gukurahundi enterprising in posh hotels must come to an end.
Indeed no Gukurahundi victims are buried in hotels and none in the cities share their everyday lives with Gukurahundi mass graves.
Any apology should be for the people of Midlands and Matabeleland and Mnangagwa should facilitate for Mugabe to come to the districts and have dialogue with the local people in the presence of traditional leaders.
In other countries former heads of state are usually engaged as peace brokers and Mugabe as a statesman should take up the challenge and bridge this gap between the affected people and those in authority.
I am sure with political will-power resources can be sourced that could go to compensate the victims some of whom left behind children, husbands, wives and parents.
If Mnangagwa’s government is promising to compensate the white farmers who lost their land, I do not see why it cannot compensate those who lost loved ones.
I spoke to a number of political and social analysts recently after the Gukurahundi issue resurfaced at the Davos interviews that Mnangagwa held and they were of the view that unless this dark episode is amicably resolved, there will be no total peace in the country.
But the analysts are of the opinion that no one should apologise for the Gukurahundi genocide except Mugabe.
And they argue that if Mohadi has been tasked by Mnangagwa to lead on Gukurahundi then all he has to do is bring Mugabe to the districts so that the dialogue can move to a closure.
The issue of choosing a Ndebele to lead the processes, which Mugabe also used to do, has the analysts thinking these appointments are just cosmetic and that even
Mnangagwa is not genuine in all this.
Indeed what type of independent commission is chaired by a vice president, who himself also suffered directly or indirectly from the atrocities and has been compromised over the years by being opted into the camp of the perpetrators?
And if Mugabe remains arrogant and refuses to apologise or engage with affected communities, then it would be unfortunate as this will force Mnangagwa to apologise and compensate victims as he was part of the team that executed the operation.