Human rights groups demand retraction of minister Ziyambi’s genocide utterances   

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By Leopold Munhende | Chief Correspondent  

The National Transitional Justice Working Group Zimbabwe (NTJWG) has demanded an apology and retraction from government after justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said nothing will be done to perpetrators of Gukurahundi massacres.

Addressing the United Nations committee on elimination of racial discrimination (CERD) last week, Ziyambi said government was not planning on arresting anyone as late President Robert Mugabe had pardoned them in 1987.

Ziyambi further argued against the continued use of the word ‘massacre’ to describe the genocide, choosing to label the killings as ‘disturbances’ instead.

Some 20,000 mainly Ndebele speaking people were killed by Mugabe’s North Korean trained Fifth Brigade.

“The minister’s statement reflects that the government has no intention of redressing the Gukurahundi massacres, which he loosely referred to as mere ‘disturbances’,” NTJWG deputy chairperson Dzikamai Bere told journalists Thursday.

“He stated that the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), whose constitutional mandate is to deal with post-conflict justice, has no mandate to deal with the mass atrocities which occurred during the Gukurahundi.

“Ziyambi further stated that the government has no mandate to prosecute perpetrators of human rights violations due to the broad amnesty declared by former President Robert Mugabe under Clemency Order No. 1 of 1990.

“Our position is that the amnesty granted did not resolve justice and accountability issues relating to the Gukurahundi massacres. This position has also been affirmed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has openly declared the need to address this issue, albeit through the engagement of chiefs.

“The NTJWG calls on government to immediately censure Ziyambi’s pronouncement, make a public apology to the victims and survivors of Gukurahundi, stop undermining the role of the NPRC and capacitate the NPRC to enable justice and closure to victims and survivors of the Gukurahundi massacres.”

Bere said the clemency order noted by Ziyambi does not apply to genocide and crimes against humanity, which the Gukurahundi massacre falls under.

The United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) said the atrocities were still a source of ethnic tension and needed to be addressed.

The Gukurahundi has, for over a decade, been one of the country’s most topical issues with communities in mainly the Matebeleland regions demanding answers from the government on the period described by Mugabe as “a moment of madness”.