BULAWAYO – President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s position on the emotive Gukurahundi issue will be put to test this Friday when the controversial pressure group Ibhetshu Likazulu holds its annual celebrations to mark the end of the genocide.
According to human rights activists, about 20 000 innocent civilians from Midlands and Matabeleland provinces perished at the hands of the crack North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade in what has come to be known as the Gukurahundi massacres.
The ethnic violence ended when former president Robert Mugabe and the late vice president Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo signed a Unity Accord on December 22, 1987 that brought an end to five years of mass killings in the country’s southern region.
For years, Ibhetshu Likazulu has failed to hold its Gukurahundi commemorative activities under the brutal regime of Mugabe as police would swoop on them.
The pressure group’s secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said they had confidence that the new administration of Mnangagwa will do things differently as guaranteed by the army.
“We are confident because the military promised us on restoring our freedoms, and the spirits of our dead relatives will be in our corner, leading us,” Fuzwayo said.
“As an organisation, the coming in of Mnangagwa’s administration we expect a change of policy in dealing with the past issues; on how can we move forward without ignoring the past.
“We are hopeful that as we commemorate our fallen ones on Friday, this will be the first test for the new government to show how it feels or deals with issues of the past,” he said.
Fuzwayo added: “Under the new political dispensation our expectations are simple; we need truth telling dissent reburial for the victims, restorative justice and compensation. We also want people to be allowed to mourn, commemorate and do their rituals as much as they do in Chimoio or any other shrine.”
Fuzwayo said the event will start in the morning with a gathering at Joshua Nkomo statue in the central business district after which there will be a march to Stanley Hall in Makokoba where speeches will be given. The commemorations are running under the theme, ‘‘My day! born out of our blood’’.
“The event will be attended by different stakeholders, survivors, members of civic society, churches and the community and we will have solidarity speeches.”