HARARE – Opposition political parties have said President Robert Mugabe’s “reckless” statements in which he referred to war veterans rallying behind Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s presidential ambitions as dissidents evokes painful Gukurahundi memories, a chapter they say is still to be closed since the 92-year-old has not apologised for the death of an estimated 20 000 civilians.
In a press statement former Vice President Joice Mujuru, who now leads Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), expressed deep concern over Mugabe’s utterances that have sent shivers down the spines of many Zimbabweans.
“Ordinarily, such issues are a preserve for Zanu PF internal processes and should remain as such but Mugabe’s allusion to Gukurahundi where he used the disgruntlement of a handful war veterans as an alibi to embark on ethnic cleansing of mostly Ndebele-speaking citizens in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces gives rise to fears that the cornered dictator might once again use this excuse to unleash unprecedented violence on the swelling opposition to his failed incumbency countrywide,” ZPF spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire said.
The party described Mugabe’s “gloat” as “shameless and callous”.
“That Mugabe wants to use the barbaric massacre of innocent civilians, children and pregnant mothers disembowelled in front of their now traumatised, impoverished and pauperised offspring to scare off disgruntled war veterans is psychopath taken too far,” Mawarire further said.
Mawarire also warned that Mugabe’s threats must not be taken lightly, as history proves that he is a man who uses all means necessary to remain in power, including the isolation of his allies.
“His reaction to political challenge has often been excessive hence the need for us to rise and stop this madness at the polls in 2018 or earlier if he brings them forward. At the moment, however, we urge all opposition political parties, civil society and every right-thinking and patriotic Zimbabwean to register their disquiet with the aging dictator and pile pressure on the regime to attend to pertinent issues affecting the country,” he said.
Adding its voice to the discourse, the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, through its spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi, also castigated Mugabe’s stance.
“The MDC is utterly shocked that as the country is still trying to come to terms with the senseless killing of thousands of innocent people in Matabeleland and Midlands at his command, Mugabe has the temerity to utter a reckless statement like: ‘Dissidents tried it, and you know what happened’,” Chihwayi said.
He said the statements showed that Mugabe is unrepentant.
“At his old age we expect him to be asking for forgiveness and exercising wisdom in words and deeds, but he is giving the people of Zimbabwe the exact opposite. It is unfortunate that this sickening tirade from Mugabe has just taken efforts and what little progress there was towards peace and reconciliation in the country a thousand steps backwards,” he said.
He further said that Mugabe’s statements were a “stark reminder of the sheer evil, hate and selfishness that drove Gukurahundi”.
“While it is easy to dismiss these utterances as being a result of senility and old age, it is clear that Mugabe through anger and hate allowed his guard to drop and spoke the evil that is truly in his heart,” Chihwayi said.
He said Mugabe’s tactics are aimed at assuring his continued stay in power, which in turn exposes his hypocrisy.