Wednesday 21 March 2018


ZAPU president Dumiso Dabengwa has claimed that the number of people killed during the Gukurahundi atrocities is over 100 000 — dismissing the official figures of 20 000 which was compiled by a local rights group — which government has also doubted.

This comes as rights and civic groups have been left fuming by former president Robert Mugabe’s claims that Zapu and Zipra were also responsible for the atrocities.

“He (Mugabe) remains the same unrepentant blood-dripping monster who hid behind a thin finger of madness when he killed hundreds of thousands during Gukurahundi, blaming everyone except himself.

“His denial of the 20 000 deaths shows he really is mindful and aware of the magnitude of his madness. Mugabe is fully aware that these 20 000 are direct deaths at the hands of the Fifth Brigade.
“The number does not include curfew-induced deaths of children, the elderly and the sick from malnutrition, hunger and disease and (these) were never accounted for.

“He fully knows that Gukurahundi deaths run into hundreds of thousands, hence his refusal to acknowledge the mere 20 000 that was given by the CCJP, whose incomprehensive survey or investigations only covered Matobo and Tsholotsho districts,” Dabengwa told Southern News.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJP) compiled a report on Gukurahundi atrocities in Matabeleland and the Midlands during the period 1982-1988 titled 
“Breaking the Silence, Building True Peace”.

According to the CCJP, an estimated 20 000 people were slain by the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, during a government operation it said was aimed at fighting insurrection in those regions.

Last week, Mugabe refused to accept blame for the dark chapter in the history of Zimbabwe when he told the media that Zapu and Zipra were culpable.

“Zapu and Zipra are also to blame,” he said.  “I doubt the number (of those killed), but well it would be because you get some people with guns behaving recklessly.”
This, however, forced Zapu president Dabengwa to hit back.

Zapu has also suggested that the CCJP was trivialising the Gukurahundi genocide.
“There are so many conspiracies around this subject, with the CCJP joining the fray. After voluntarily embarking on their investigations, we expected them to make it as comprehensive as the extent of the genocide itself.

“The whole of Matabeleland provinces and north of  Midlands were affected by the barbarism, yet we find CCJP conducting investigations in only two districts of Tsholotsho and Matobo.
“To make matters worse, after compiling their findings, they hid the  disclaimer pertaining the extent of their investigations right at the  bottom of the report, making the atrocities as trivial as mere 20 000  deaths,” said Zapu spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa.

Maphosa said it was unfortunate that this has led the nation and world being fed incorrect information about Gukurahundi yet over a hundred thousand could have died.

“We then wonder as to the extent of sincerity of those who carried out the investigations. The way the investigations were carried out and how the report was released casts so much doubt as to whether it was meant to expose the truth or was meant to protect Mugabe, a Jesuit and Catholic believer from accounting and justice.

“As much as we appreciate their (CCJP) effort to expose the number of deaths, the way they handled the whole process of investigating the matter and releasing the matter raises a lot of questions.
“Therefore, we are suggesting that a fresh and comprehensive investigation should be instituted, comprising people not attached to the perpetrating government.

“Here we are talking of people who don’t have any interests in the matter, the aim being giving closure to the atrocities and delivering justice, healing and nation building through reconciliation,” Maphosa added.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who served as Mugabe’s right-hand man for nearly 54 years, in January signed into law the National Reconciliation Bill, which seeks to address outstanding issues from previous conflicts — Gukurahundi included.

Early this month, he appointed a former High Court judge Selo Nare to head the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), two years after the death it’s former chair, Cyril Ndebele.
Since the fall of Mugabe and Mnangagwa’s rise as the country’s new president, rights and civic society groups have stepped up pressure on the new government to deal with outstanding issues emanating from previous violent conflicts.

Topping the issues that civic groups want Mnangagwa and his government to dispense with is the emotive Gukurahundi issue.

During his maiden appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January, Mnangagwa said government was keen to address Gukurahundi atrocities.

“We are not saying the past must be thrown away from history, it has happened — it is there. Just a week ago, I signed a Bill — the National Healing and Reconciliation Bill — into an Act and have assigned one of my vice presidents to deal with that one so that the communities that were affected can air their grievances and challenges with recommendations from that commission we should be able to address those issues,” Mnangagwa said.

The Gukurahundi massacres have been a thorn in the flesh for Mnangagwa before and after he came to power.

In December, there were demonstrations by Matabeleland-based human rights groups over his role in the massacres which occurred between 1982 and 1987 when government unleashed the Fifth Brigade, to crush insurrection in Matabeleland and Midlands regions. Daily News


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