HARARE – Former Vice President and now Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) leader, Joice Mujuru, yesterday launched a blistering attack on President Robert Mugabe — describing the Zanu PF strongman’s recent rant against war veterans, that invoked ugly memories of Gukurahundi, as “reckless”.
The popular widow of the late liberation struggle icon, General Solomon Mujuru, also bluntly told the increasingly frail nonagenarian that his injudicious tirade risked threatening the country’s relative peace and stability.
Speaking through her spokesperson, Gift Nyandoro, Mujuru also said the ill-thought utterances were testimony that Mugabe was not remorseful about the killing of an estimated 20 000 innocent civilians by the army, mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands, in the early 1980s.
“We note with grave concern as the Zimbabwe People First family the reckless utterances by Mugabe when he threatened war veterans with the use of violence in the manner he did during the ‘alleged dissidents’ era.
“Such utterances have no place in today’s global village that seeks to establish love, peace and harmony, as the ever-lasting foundation of humanity’s togetherness. We believe that a leader who trusts the use of force and violence in crushing opposing views is a hallmark of intolerance to say the least.
“It is on public record that people who were Zimbabwean citizens and civilians for that matter, were killed, raped, tortured and had their homes and properties destroyed by the notorious and infamous Fifth Brigade mainly in and around Midlands and Matabeleland,” Mujuru chided Mugabe.
She added that she was “disturbed” that her former boss was keen to “evoke memories of the Gukurahundi era in a manner typical of a president boasting of a genocidal record, wherein documented evidence suggests that over 20 000 civilians were killed on unfounded allegations of supporting dissidents”.
Mujuru also pointed out that there were many citizens who were still “traumatised” by the Gukurahundi atrocities and that many children had grown up without parents “because of the heinous act of political barbarism”.
She vowed that when she was elected into power in 2018, she would work to close “the sad chapter”, by ensuring that all perpetrators of the massacre were made to account in their individual capacities, while victims were compensated.
She said real closure of the matter could only be achieved through “honest engagement” of victims and affected communities — in apparent reference to Mugabe’s previous description of Gukurahundi as “a moment of madness”.
“Each and every one of those who were involved should be able to explain the role they played in those atrocities if we are to put closure to the Gukurahundi chapter and move forward as one country.
“If anyone is to be found on the wrong side of the law, then as a law-abiding nation we should let the law take its own course,” Mujuru said, adding that there was need to set up “a genuine and non-partisan” commission of inquiry to look into the Gukurahundi atrocities.
She said such commission would ideally involve all stakeholders, including churches, civil society bodies and political actors among others, because Zimbabweans had “fought for people power and not one-man power”.
Mujuru also said political atrocities that had been committed since 2000 against opposition MDC supporters, including the abduction of journalist-cum human rights activist Itai Dzamara, would also be investigated under the ZPF government.
“The painful disappearance of people like Dzamara, a democracy activist among others, should not be taken lightly. Wrong doers need to be held accountable. That also goes to the victims of illegal operations like Murambatsvina, wherein people were displaced and traumatised.
“Only then, if we genuinely come together as Zimbabweans, the dream to have another prosperous Zimbabwe should be possible — a Zimbabwe that does not live in fear of its leadership and a Zimbabwe that is driven by wishes of the people,” she said.
Mujuru also expressed sadness that the 1987 Unity Accord between Zapu and Zanu had up to now failed to address the Gukurahundi atrocities.
“It has failed to bring closure to the sad Gukurahundi chapter but it is simply a decoy of political supremacy by one man over the rest. Our heart bleeds when the president of a country threatens sons and daughters who went to war to liberate our country from the yoke of oppression and suppression with violence.
“May our well-meaning war veterans know that we are together in making Zimbabwe prosperous again. Genuine war veterans know that in whatever we do, we put ‘People First’ and not ‘fight first’.
“Genuine war veterans know that we fought for freedom of association, assembly and expression. We never fought for the creation of a family dynasty. I therefore urge genuine war veterans to remain steadfast in safeguarding the gains of our independence,” she said.
During his Zanu PF central committee rant a fortnight ago, Mugabe launched one of his fiercest attacks on members of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, who are agitating for embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed him.
Mugabe described the war veterans’ remarks as tantamount to a rebellion, threatening to deal with them severely if they continued on their stubborn path.
“The dissidents tried it. They were war veterans, and you know what happened. Lots of trouble, lots of fighting, lots of suffering of course, to our people and these dissident activities cannot be allowed,” he thundered ominously.