By Leopold Munhende – Chief Reporter
GUKURAHUNDI was never a result of tribal differences but the quest to consolidate power through annihilating opponents by the then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s administration, a top civil society activist has said.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu secretary general Mbuso Fuzwayo also urged Zimbabweans to resist falling for government’s narratives about the genocide, saying blame lies squarely at the government’s doorstep.
Fuzwayo said the current Ndebele versus Shona narrative was beneficial to the perpetrators, the state, which employed those that killed people on its orders.
“Justice will only be served when citizens come together to point fingers at the state and demand answers for the genocide, making it clear that they know it killed innocent civilians and should be held to account,” Fuzwayo said.
“The state is comfortable with citizens from different tribes blaming each for the genocide, it exonerates it and gives it time to breath. If we agree with the narrative that the Gukurahundi genocide is an issue between the Ndebele and the Shona we are falling into the agenda of the criminal, which is the state,” he said.
“We must be clear on who the perpetrators is, it is the not the Shona it is the government, which was supposed to protect citizens but chose to kill citizens for power retention. Zimbabweans who speak Ndebele were not killed by people from Mashonaland, they were killed by the government of Zimbabwe which recruited security personnel on tribal lines, trained them and gave them orders to kill.”
Fuzwayo’s organisation has been at the forefront demanding justice for of thousands who were disappeared and the estimated 20 000 who were killed.
Three plaques built at the Bhalagwe mass grave site have been destroyed by alleged state agents.
Added Fuzwayo: “The difference between the Gukurahundi genocide and what happened in Rwanda is that Rwandans killed each other, it was not their state, but here these were people who were paid, on government payroll, civil servants who were taking instructions from the executive. That is why you see the minister of State, minister of Defence and Head of State, who happened to be Robert Mugabe then, issuing statements that were inciting. It is not a Shona versus Ndebele, it is the government of Zimbabwe versus the people it was supposed to protect.”
The Gukurahundi occurred between 1983 and 1987 in the Midlands and Matabeleland Provinces targeting perceived dissidents who were eventually never caught.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa then minister of State Security led a massive illegal clampdown on ordinary citizens by the military and police during the era.
Harrowing tales of evils committed have been shared. These include children being stoned, entire families being burnt to death while countless others were forced to bury their relatives alive.
Besides Mugabe who described the massacre as a moment of madness, other Zanu PF leaders implicated in the genocide include Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who headed 1 Brigade in Bulawayo, a point that is rarely highlighted and the late Perrence Shiri, known during that time as Black Jesus.
The name stemmed from what he is said to have claimed were powers to decide whether one lived or was killed.