ZAPU president Dumiso Dabengwa is maintaining his onslaught on the new government led by Emmerson Mnangagwa saying the new political dispensation was no different from the old order under Robert Mugabe.
The former Cabinet minister who was a guest at an event organised by pressure group Ibhetshu Likazulu to mark Gukurahundi on Unity Day here said there was nothing new about the new government as it was just the same old “gang” that led the post-independence atrocities.
“We continue to suffer silently, we continue to live in fear and the same crocodiles that devoured our people are still in power, they recently changed faces and names, the system and the attitudes simply mutated yet remain the same,” Dabengwa told the gathering.
“We have continued to suffer in silence simply because those who butchered our people, maimed our mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, raped our sisters and mothers destroyed our property are in charge of State power and they continue to frustrate every effort that we make to express the pain and grief that we are harbouring within ourselves,” he said.
The former chief of intelligence in the Zapu military wing said Gukurahundi was never put to an end by the signing of the Unity Accord.
“Gukurahundi did not only leave permanent scars nor did it end by the signing of the Unity Accord, it simply mutated from being direct violence into structural and systematic violence underpinned by grossly centralised system of governance that is grotesquely corrupt and self-serving, characterised by gross marginalisation of the same communities that were affected by Gukurahundi,” he said.
Dabengwa added: “Thousands of our people were never accounted for, they lie in mass graves scattered around the country and their families have lived in trauma for the past 35 years, seeking closure but being denied every opportunity for truth recovery and transitional justice.”
This, he said, was the reason why they have called the establishment of a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission in terms of the Constitution and for its operationalisation if “Zimbabwe is to move forward and we begin an inclusive nation building project.”
But above all, the former Home Affairs minister said he has never respected the Unity Accord, since it was meant to serve Mugabe’s interests.
“The Accord was in actual sense not a fair arrangement but a zero sum that benefited Mugabe in person and Zanu more than the people of Zimbabwe.
“It created the sad era our history that of a one party state whose agenda was to further the interests of Mugabe and Zanu at the expense of democracy and the people of Zimbabwe, contrary to what we had spent our lives in the bush fighting for,” he said.
“The Accord was not only a zero sum agreement but it was a culmination of the very reason why we don’t celebrate the day but mourn the loss of our loved ones who were mercilessly massacred by the Fifth Brigade, their crime being supporters of Zapu and of belonging to a certain tribe.”
This also comes at a time Dabengwa set August 2018 as a date for the reburials of Gukurahundi victims.
“…let’s agree that soon after the rain season around August to October we go and collect all the bones on the mass graves and give them a decent burial,” he said adding that they no longer needed any government approval.
“We already have pathologists on standby to help with identification. We have many of them who have been highly trained to do that and are willing to assist. We know by law we should ask for permission from government through the ministry of Home Affairs but that will not do, for they were given 30 years to do the right thing but they ignored. So this time around we are doing it our way. No one will block us,” Dabengwa declared.
Hope for Gukurahundi victims
AN EVENT meant to remember victims of the Gukurahundi atrocities was allowed to go ahead on Friday without any hindrance, raising hopes that the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa might address this thorny issue after more than three decades of dithering.
Under the autocratic rule of former president Robert Mugabe such an event would have been crushed by police, which made the Gukurahundi issue a taboo during his reign.
However, under the new political dispensation, Mnangagwa seems to be doing things differently from his predecessor despite being accused of having played a blinder at the height of the atrocities.
The commemorations were organised by pressure group Ibhetshu Likazulu.
By 9am, nearly 100 people clad in black had gathered at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo statue in the Central Business District before they marched to the Stanley Hall where presentations and testimonies were made.
Those who spoke to the Southern News on the side-lines of the commemorations shared mixed feelings about Mnangagwa’s new approach towards this emotive subject.
Political activists Fortune Mlalazi gave credit to the determination of those pushing for national healing.
“The government had no choice; you cannot continue suppressing people, you stop at a certain point,” Mlalazi said.
“It’s not about the State but the determination of the people themselves, that regardless of what the State or police say or do people have always been determined to put forward their agenda,” he said adding that he was not expecting much of change of tact on Gukurahundi “as most people who were involved are still in government.”
Alliance for National Salvation president Moses Mzila Ndlovu said the development was a sign of the beginning of a new era.
“While it does not mean much in terms of our freedom to express ourselves, this could be the beginning of an end of repression,” Mzila Ndlovu said.
“I don’t want to be optimistic to say this means now we are free to express ourselves; it may not be, it’s just because of the transitional nature of our government, let’s just wait and see,” he said.
Mthwakazi Republic Party president Mqondisi Moyo said government was forced to give in due to pressure.
“What we have been pushing for is unstoppable because we believe that even if the government wants or not, we have to do it, it’s for us and not for the State,” Moyo said.
“Even if they had blocked us we were still going to do it. I don’t expect anything from this government in as far as addressing the Gukurahundi, because Mnangagwa recently said let bygones be bygones of which he is simply saying Gukurahundi is bygones.”
Zapu youth leader Ndodana Moyo expressed hope in the new government.
“At least it shows that this government is reforming. In the past we have had challenges whenever there were such commemorations.
“But what we want is for government to set up a truth, peace and reconciliation organ that can deal with this matter once and for all. It shouldn’t be a taboo to commemorate our fallen ones.”
Ncube’s party selecting candidates for polls
THE Welshman Ncube-led MDC has commenced its candidate selection process for the 2018 elections under the MDC Alliance banner despite reports of an emerging rift in the mainstream MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
According to the MDC Alliance agreement, all coalition partners have been allocated constituencies in which to contest for the National Assembly and council seats.
Parties to the alliance have already agreed on veteran opposition leader Tsvangirai as their presidential candidate.
Currently, the alliance is composed of Tsvangirai’s MDC, Ncube’s MDC, the People’s Democratic Party, Transform Zimbabwe, the Multiracial Christian Democrats and Zanu Ndonga.
In a memo sent out to provincial chairpersons by the party secretary-general, Miriam Mushayi at the weekend which Southern News got sight of, the candidates selection process will start on January 3 till month end.
“You are here notified that the process of candidate selection will commence on 3 January 2018 and is expected to be completed by 31st January 2018. Accordingly, you are hereby requested to receive applications from interested candidates and forward them to my office for vetting. The closing date for the receipt of applications shall be 14 January 2018,” reads part of the memo.
“The constituencies allocated to the MDC by the MDC Alliance agreement from which applications are set out below in respect of each province. No applications will be entertained from outside the constituencies allocated to the MDC,” Mushayi added.
According to the memo, MDC will contest in 32 constituencies which include Dzivarasekwa, Kuwadzana, Bulawayo East (which has already agreed on David Coltart as its candidate), Luveve, Tsholotsho North, Tsholotsho South, Lupane East, Lupane West, Gwanda Central, Insiza South, Gwanda North, and Bulilima West among others.
This comes as a rift over sharing of seats among MDC Alliance partners seems to have rocked the coalition with mainstream MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora claiming that his party would field candidates in all constituencies until such time the coalition has finalised its negotiations.
These claims were immediately dismissed by Tsvangirai in a statement on Saturday.
“The statement… purportedly under my authority, but issued by our secretary-general (Mwonzora) is unfortunate, misleading and grossly false.
“I would like to state categorically that the MDC-T entered into an electoral alliance agreement in good faith with its partners on August 5, 2017. That agreement includes seat allocation and is binding on all parties,” Tsvangirai said in the statement.