By Costa Nkomo
FORMER War Veterans Minister Tshinga Dube says the grudge between government and survivors of the early 1980s military massacres on 20 000 civilians in Matabeleleand and Midlands provinces, will not go away anytime soon until President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government apologise for the killings.
During the early years of independence, then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe deployed soldiers in the two provinces, ostensibly to track down a handful army dissidents who were sympathetic to Mugabe’s once bitter rival, the late former Vice President Joshua Nkomo.
Harrowing tales of soldiers bayoneting pregnant women, massive rape, arson and mass killings have been reported of the genocide commonly referred to as Gukurahundi.
Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of his book, “Quiet Flows the Zambezi” in Harare on Wednesday, Dube told NewZimbabwe.com government must come out and take responsibility for the atrocities while also finding people to perform rituals to appease the wronged.
“What is needed is just an apology,” said the retired army Colonel.
“When something like this has happened, you cannot resurrect those people who were thrown into disused mines or shallow graves. The President has said they can be reburied.
“When you are doing this, it means Gukurahundi is not over yet because some people are still seeing the bones of their relatives scattered, so they want to rebury them.
“The government can choose people to perform these rituals of apology. In Africa, when someone kills your son, daughter or mother, there is always that practice of ‘kuripa’ (compensation).
“That has not been done for the 20 000 people who died. Nobody has done anything about it. Unfortunately, even for those who have been assigned for national reconciliation, we have not seen much of what they are doing.”
Mugabe, the central figure in the massacre story, died without issuing any apology although he once called the massacres “a moment of madness” some 20 years ago.
Mnangagwa, who was the country’s security minister at the time, and seen as the chief enforcer of Mugabe’s brutal politics, has also refused to apologise for the role he played in the atrocities.
The closest he has done to atone for the transgressions has been to open public debate on Gukurahundi, something that was taboo during Mugabe’s iron-fisted rule.
Dube, once Zanu PF MP for Makokoba, felt there was still time for Mnangagwa to apologise for Gukurahundi.
“All I am saying is that let’s apologise and be remorseful and show that what happened will never happen again,” he said.