By Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says he has nothing to fear about debate on the early 1980s Gukurahundi massacres which saw the slaughter of 20 000 civilians in Matebeleland and Midlands provinces.
Mnangagwa, a hated figure in Matebeleland because of his direct role in the holocaust, was speaking to State media in a wide ranging interview, set to be broadcast on the eve of the country’s independence day celebrations April 18.
“The question of Gukurahundi, personally I don’t see anything wrong in debating it on television and in newspapers,” he said.
“Let us debate it. It was so open a debate and at the end of the day, we feared nothing. There was nothing to fear about that debate. Actually, it’s critical that we have that debate and as a result of that conversation we have created a matrix of implementation of ideas to deal with issues that were raised. Some of the issues could have been resolved a long time back. In my view, there is not a single issue that cannot be discussed and a way forward crafted.”
Until now, Gukurahundi has been taboo subject in the country.
Artists and journalists who have sought to highlight the atrocities have invited the wrath of the State.
Among them was visual artist Owen Maseko, who was arrested 2010 for allegedly offending then President Robert Mugabe’s administration through paintings depicting the atrocities.
Bulawayo based journalist Zenzele Ndebele has, lately, also been questioned over his documentary film on the atrocities.
Government on 31 December 2017 unleashed soldiers to attack and arrest Mthwakazi activists in Bulawayo during a demonstration to demand that the Zimbabwean leader come clean on his government’s role on the killings.
Mnangagwa, who was the country’s security minister during the massacres, recently met activists in Matebeleland under the banner of the Matebeleland Collective to discuss a number of issues affecting the region.
Top among these was the “decriminalisation” of the Gukurahundi debate.
Said Mnangagwa in his recent interview: “What I am happy about is that the Matabeleland Collective approached me and said they want to discuss with me the issue of Gukurahundi, the issues of lack of development and I agreed.”