BULAWAYO – Zapu in conjunction with its former military wing Zipra has petitioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa over the return of properties that were confiscated by the State soon before the onset of Gukurahundi in the early 1980s.
In a letter gleaned by the Southern News dated November 29 and copied to Parliament of Zimbabwe, ministry of Justice, Provincial Affairs ministry, National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and Mnangagwa, the Zapu and Zipra executives said they were not giving up in their fight to get what belonged to them.
“Mr President, following your inaugural speech at the National Sports Stadium, in which you spoke so glowingly of a new dispensation and a new era, where rights of every citizen are respected and promoted, we write to remind you of a major violation of our rights as Zapu and Zipra by the government of Zimbabwe, which you now lead,” said the letter.
The letter pointed that the latest engagement was in connection with properties and party records that were confiscated in 1982 at the onset of the Gukurahundi genocide on Zapu by the government.
“Suffice to say that the circumstances around the confiscations remain controversial up to this day. We hereby raise your attention to the violations resulting from the government action.
“The rights of individual Zapu and Zipra members who contributed personal funds towards the properties were infringed on by a government that was on a mission to institute a one-party state in Zimbabwe.”
“As the above rights were taken away, the right to decent and dignified life of owners of these properties were infringed on.”
In 1982, government seized 25 farms and 31 companies belonging to PF-Zapu after accusing its late leader, Joshua Nkomo, of planning to topple then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s government following the alleged discovery of arms caches on some of the party’s properties.
One of the properties that Zapu and Zipra want back is the multi-storey Magnate House which houses the Matabeleland headquarters of the Central Intelligence Organisation.
Mugabe reportedly seized Zapu farms under the pretext that they were hide-outs for terrorist plotters against his government.
The seizure heightened tensions between the two major political parties Zapu and Zanu PF culminating in the unleashing of a crack Korea-trained elite Five Brigade, which has been accused of massacring an estimated
20 000 civilians in the then Zapu strongholds of Matabeleland and the Midlands.
Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa yesterday confirmed the existence of the letter.
“We are an aggrieved group of people, but we have refused to remain silent. As such, we have been making numerous attempts and calls to engaging the government regarding our properties,” Maphosa said.
“The attempts have taken many forms, with the government obviously showing its usual arrogant approach to matters of importance.
“We have tried the legal system and we have cases probably parked in the courts, we have tried direct engagement where we have been ignored.
“I therefore cannot deny the existence of a letter to the president for we definitely will do all it takes to recover our properties,” he told the Southern News.
The letter, however, further noted that at law, there was absolutely no justification of the government action concerning the Zapu and Zipra properties.
“The reason for the confiscations being the alleged ‘discovery of arms caches on two farms’, the government was only supposed to arrest those who cached arms and take away the cached arms as exhibiting evidence.
“There is no provision at law for summarily confiscating the properties involved, let alone together with others where arms caches were never found”.
“In that regard, Mr President, we demand unconditional return of all our properties noting beyond any doubt that they were illegally taken away by a retributive government whose only fear was genuine opposition from a fellow liberation and only authentic revolutionary movement on the land.”
“The actions by government on Zapu and Zipra, especially around the above matter infringes on equality and belonging to the country as bona fide and equal citizens.
“We have been making calls for this over due process, albeit on deaf ears. In anticipation and trust that you will walk the talk on your promise to respect and promote people’s rights, we hope to receive from your government what duly belongs to us,” the letter further reads.