Gukurahundi: Apologise first, Zipra veterans tell ED

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

VETERANS of the liberation struggle who served under the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra), Zapu’s military wing, have urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to issue a public apology first before discussions on the Gukurahundi atrocities can begin.

Mnangagwa’s administration torched a storm this week after “decriminalising” discussions around the early independence atrocities, that former President Robert Mugabe had effectively banned. The move by government according to authorities will also allow the reburial of victims most of whom are still in mass graves nearly 40 years later.

Reacting to the announcement by government, Zipra veterans association spokesperson, Bester Magwizi said the perpetrators of the violence should also come forward before any healing processes start.

“There is nothing which is going to come out from what the President is saying. The first thing in addressing the Gukurahundi issue is to apologise and acknowledge the atrocities,” Magwizi told in an interview.

Early this week Justice Ministry permanent secretary, Virginia Mabhiza met civil society organisations under the auspices of the Matebeleland Collective and announced that President Mnangagwa had assigned Home Affairs Minister, Cain Mathema to assist families with the reburial of victims of the genocide.

Mabhiza said government has also come up with an implementation matrix that will address the region’s concerns.

But Magwizi said the perpetrators should also confess their participation in the heinous crimes.

“All those people who were involved should come forward. A law should be enacted on how to deal with these people. Most of these perpetrators are still in government and they are all known,” he said.

“There is no political will on the part of this government to address Gukurahundi.”

Magwizi’s sentiments were also echoed by the opposition MDC national chairperson Tabitha Khumalo.

“It is clear that the government is not sincere on the issue of Gukurahundi. The first thing which the government should do is to issue a public apology on the massacres.

“The government should also make wider consultations particularly on the affected communities on how the issue should be handled,” said Khumalo.

Conservative figures claim some 20 000 civilians were killed by a crack military unit known as Fifth Brigade deployed by Mugabe between 1980 and 1987 under the guise of putting down an insurrection in the western parts of the country. However critics argue the campaign was aimed at hunting down then opposition Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo’s supporters.