‘Help us on Gukurahundi’

BULAWAYO – Popular pressure group Ibhetshu Likazulu, which for years has been fighting a somewhat losing battle to have the Gukurahundi atrocities nationally recognised under former president Robert Mugabe’s regime, has pinned hope on new President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Ibhetshu’s secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo told the Southern News recently that while they are embracing a new political dispensation under Mnangagwa, who is also perceived to have had an influential role during the Gukurahundi era, they cannot rush to expect a bunch of roses from him.

“What I am not sure about is when Mnangagwa said let bygones be bygones during his maiden speech, what did he mean?,” Fuzwayo said.

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“I hope he was not referring to Gukurahundi because unfortunately, it’s something that cannot be wished away. I am sure he was referring to their internal factional fights,” he said.

“While we wish him to be different from Mugabe on the matter, for now we can’t tell because we are not sure that it was Mugabe’s position or a Zanu PF position.”

In expressing his hope to the leadership of Mnangagwa — who has since pledged servant leadership to the people of Zimbabwe, Fuzwayo said: “Mnangagwa said he is now a Christian and what that means to us is that he has repented. So in that regard, if he is a true Christian he should give room to national healing and reconciliation.”

The Ibhetshu activist said it was not for the new president to address the past by himself but he should set up an independent commission that will be mandated to look into the issue.

The former president refused to apologise for the atrocities, preferring to say “it was a moment of madness”.

“The issue of Gukurahundi is not about individuals, therefore we don’t expect Mnangagwa to be the one doing it, but his office must facilitate for a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to be functional. While politicians are stakeholders, they should not be key stakeholders of this peace and reconciliation process, we need churches, civic society, traditional leaders and former freedom fighters to be involved in this whole process,” Fuzwayo explained.

Under Mugabe, Ibhetshu clashed with the law enforcers on several occasions as they sought to conduct commemorations of the victims of Gukurahundi.

The latest was last month when hundreds of activists, led by Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa, were blocked by heavily-armed police from visiting Bhalagwe in Kezi where thousands were said to have been thrown in a disused mine.

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