Dabengwa laments global disinterest in Gukurahundi; says atrocities a “strange exception”

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

ZAPU president Dumiso Dabengwa has expressed disappointment over the lack of international pressure on the Zimbabwe government to address the Gukurahundi atrocities which claimed the lives of some 20,000 civilians.

In a speech marking the opposition party’s 57th anniversary, Dabengwa said the 1980s killings had not received the same international attention as other “genocides” elsewhere in the world.

“Indeed, the killing of over 20,000 unarmed people in the 1980s has not received as much attention in spite of global concerns in cases of genocide and mass repression in the last half of the 20th century,” he said.

“Our case is a strange exception, maybe because of the complex geopolitical considerations in what was a bipolar world.

“That notwithstanding, Zapu and the numerous families and communalities that were affected do not have a limitation on expectation of justice in this case of gross human rights violations and unprovoked political aggression.”

The atrocities occurred when the government, led by then prime minister Robert Mugabe, deployed a North Korea-trained military brigade against dissidents said to have been wreaking havoc in the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces.

Mugabe, who was toppled by a military coup last year, has never apologised for the killings, only describing them as a “moment of madness”.  

Not much, if anything, was done under Mugabe to either bring those responsible to justice or address the many concerns of victims and survivors.

Dabengwa challenged the successor Mnangagwa government “to move with speed in resolving the … issue”.

He said his party backs the campaign by a chief from Filabusi who has since raised the atrocities with the United Nations.

“In the past few weeks Chief Maduna of Filabusi not only raised the issue of Gukurahundi but went further to write to the United Nations to get involved.

“This strong deposition from the Chief, which is shared by others in Matebeleland, has our unequivocal support.”

The ZAPU leader also backed calls by the main MDC party for National Transitional Authority (NTA) to replace the Mnangagwa government whose legitimacy has been questioned after the disputed July 30 elections.

“When President Robert Mugabe was forced out of power in November 2017, there was general euphoria that we had reached the end of an era,” said Dabengwa.

“The follow –up to that soft coup has not met expectations. On the contrary, the 2018 elections were not followed by significant increase legitimacy.

“Instead, there is a clear need for collective effort that can focus the country’s mind on economic reform premised on political reform that has stalled.

“Consequently, Zapu once again calls for the establishment of a National Transitional Authority (NTA) that can stabilise the country and the economy before the next elections.

“One-party oriented efforts to solve the country’s growing crisis are bound to fail.”