By Anna Chibamu
CONTROVERSIAL Norton independent MP Temba Mliswa Tuesday urged other legislators to speak good about the late former Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri as it was inhuman to talk evil of someone who cannot defend themselves.
Shiri, who once served as an army commander during the Gukurahundi atrocities, died on 29 July due to Covid-19 complications.
His name features prominently when ever there is talk on the subject of killings on over 20 000 people during the Matabeleland and Midlands massacres by the Zimbabwe military in the early 1980s.
However, Mliswa described Shiri as a liberation struggle icon and urged other MPs to speak glowingly about the late politician.
“Mr. Speaker Sir, may this be an opportunity for my colleagues Honourable Members of Parliament to talk about the good that this man did. It will be totally inhuman to talk about what a man did when he cannot defend himself when he is no more,” said Mliswa Tuesday.
“I hasten to say do not associate him with Gukurahundi. He was just a commander when there were other commanders. If we decide to talk about people being killed let us bring every soldier who has been to war before the courts and ask them why they killed. He was never the commander of the army and he was never part of the commander of the Air Force (of Zimbabwe),” Mliswa said.
“There is a commander-in-chief who they take instructions from. So, he must never be tainted with something which other people gave orders to. Unfortunately, the true story of Gukurahundi will never come out because the commander-in-chief at the time was the former late President R. G. Mugabe. He was there and nobody had the chance to ask him and when you are in that position, no one else can speak for you but yourself.”
Mliswa said parliament failed to exercise its oversight role and invite Mugabe to give his side of the story.
“We invited him (Mugabe) to come because we wanted to understand. The various committees had an opportunity to invite him to also find out about Gukurahundi since he was the commander-in-chief and he was the President at the time.
“For us to talk about who was in charge of Gukurahundi when the principal is no more, I think you are opening old wounds; may the souls of those people who passed away rest in peace. May we never again have such an experience as a people. May we have a leadership which forgives and asks for forgiveness,” said Mliswa.
He continued, “In that spirit, we are able to move as one nation and we are able to safeguard the pain, joy, and interest of the people who sacrificed for this country, the late Joshua Nkomo, the late Josiah Tongogara, the late Nikita Mangena, the late Herbert Chitepo, the late Ziyapapa (Moyo) all those that we know about can only be happy when we are in unity and we are tolerant of each other.
“They could tolerate the white men at the time when the white men had an agenda to totally kill people, but today why can we not be tolerant of each other? May we learn the tolerance of Gudoguru the late retired Air Chief Marshall Shiri in that he could talk to anyone because he was Zimbabwean and he put Zimbabwe first?”