BULAWAYO – Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says there is an urgent need to craft a government policy that will address the legitimate grievances of the people of Matabeleland, including the thorny issue of the Gukurahundi massacres of innocent civilians in the 1980s.
Tsvangirai’s call came as rights groups have recently described to the Daily News as insensitive, the decision by Zanu PF’s youth league to celebrate President Robert Mugabe’s 93rd birthday next month at Matopos National Park.from P1
The park, which is in Matabeleland South, is situated a few kilometres from Bhalagwe, one of the areas which witnessed some of the worst Gukurahundi atrocities between 1983 and 1987.
Speaking to journalists after meeting civil society organisations and members of the clergy in Bulawayo on Friday, Tsvangirai said it was very important that the government faced up to the country’s ugly past, to heal festering wounds.
“The issues of marginalisation an the undermining of other cultural groups, the issue of violence, especially Gukurahundi, all understandably keep popping up in these areas.
“Fundamentally, there is a feeling of not being part of Zimbabwe and as such, whatever policy we craft, we have to craft it with an idea that we need an integrated and democratic society,” Tsvangirai said.
“I am very much alive to, and more appreciative of the extent to which marginalisation is happening, the extent to which hate has happened, and what we can do to address that hate of the past,” he added.
Turning to ongoing opposition coalition talks, Tsvangirai said no deal had been reached yet, adding that there was a need to ensure that there would be “a policy agreement, as well as a post-government and election agreement in the whole negotiation process”.
“We are talking of a post-Mugabe transition, including what form it will take if we are going to have a peaceful and stable transition,” he said.
Throughout his whirlwind tour of Matabeleland, as part of his consultations with party structures ahead of the 2018 polls, people in the region have consistently complained to him about their marginalisation by the Zanu PF government, which they also accuse of refusing to bring closure to the Gukurahundi saga.
An estimated 20 000 civilians are said to have died mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 1980s killings of innocent civilians when the government deployed the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade of the army in the region.
Recently, the Americans released damaging claims of who among Zimbabwe’s ruling class allegedly directed the Gukurahundi massacres.
According to declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports, very senior government and military officials allegedly plotted at the time to annihilate Zapu and the Ndebeles, as Zanu PF sought to create a one-party State.
The reports further claimed that a rattled Zanu PF leadership also feared at the time that the then in power apartheid South Africa government, working with unrepentant Rhodesians, would join forces with the late revered Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo, to destabilise the new Zimbabwe government.
The released documents also reveal in startling detail how the army allegedly “blocked all movement and stopped all food shipment into what was then a drought stricken region”, to starve perceived supporters of Nkomo.
The Americans also claim that Zanu PF wanted to create a one-party state soon after independence, and the Gukurahundi massacres were an attempt at breaking “the will of the remainder of the Zapu leadership to resist absorption into a one-party State”.
“We believe Harare’s allegations that the dissidents are directly controlled by Zapu political leaders are untrue and that they are intended to provide justification for suppressing Nkomo and his party,” the documents say.