By Mbekezeli Ncube
EXILED former Higher and Tertiary Education deputy minister, Godfrey Gandawa has called for truth telling and prosecution among perpetrators of the Gukurahundi atrocities before steps could be put in place to rebury the victims.
His comments follow reports traditional chiefs in Gukurahundi affected Matabeleland provinces have pledged to lead the controversial process initiated by government.
In a Twitter post Monday, Gandawa said exhumations must be preceded by justice through bringing all perpetrators to book.
An estimated 20 000 civilians died in the hands of the military in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces during the dark five-year period between 1982 and 1987.
The then Robert Mugabe led administration accused civilians of harbouring army officers who deserted with their arms in sympathy with then main opposition Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo.
Incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s name features prominently in the atrocities, having been the country’s security minister during the bloodbath.
Most victims of the holocaust lie buried in shallow mass graves with some thrown into caves.
Gandawa, a Mugabe ally forced into exile when the military staged a coup against the now late former leader 2017, felt the current government was putting the cart before the horse.
“Gukurahundi cannot be swept under the carpet by striking deals with the chiefs. What is required is the truth, justice and then reconciliation, not so much who leads exhumations and reburials.
“Those who killed must be subject to a process while victims should be compensated,” said Gandawa on his Twitter.
To ‘resolve’ this matter that has raised debate for over 30 years, Mnangagwa in August this year met civil society organisations under the Jenni Williams-led Matabeleland Collective where he pledged his government’s commitment towards the reburials.
Last week, he also held a consultative meeting with traditional leaders from Matabeleland provinces at State House in Bulawayo, where chiefs submitted reports compiled after consultations in their jurisdictions.
Said Gandawa, “The present process, which does not include any truth-telling on the part of the perpetrators, many of whom are alive is a charade that only serves to tamper with crime scenes. Further, the victims and their families are not being given an opportunity.”
The former deputy minister also blasted the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission for sleeping on duty on the matter.
“The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission is wholly incapable of delivering for the simple reason that it has no commitment truth telling or delivering justice for the affected. The authorities are conducting a synthetic process in the hope of an organic outcome,” he said.
The former Magunje MP also condemned the fact that Mnangagwa will preside over the atrocities.
“What is particularly offensive to the victims is that Mnangagwa, who is accessed of playing a key role in the killings as State Security minister, is purporting to preside over atrocities in which he is an alleged perpetrator. His involvement strips the process of credibility,” he said.