Jeffrey Muvundusi 3 February 2017
BULAWAYO – MDC vice president, Thokozani Khupe, has joined the loudening
chorus by opposition and civil society groups who are calling for a
boycott of President Robert Mugabe’s 93rd birthday celebrations in Matobo.
The bash, organised by the 21st February Movement, will be hosted by
Matabeleland South Province at the Rhodes Estate Preparatory School (Reps)
in Matobo, where the Gukurahundi massacres took place between 1983 and
1987 when the national army’s Fifth Brigade unit crushed dissent by
so-called “dissidents” – disgruntled former guerrillas and supporters of
the late Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu – killing thousands.
Khupe’s sentiments are on the back of the Matobo Business Community this
week calling on opposition parties and civil society groups to institute
measures to block Zanu PF from holding the celebrations in the area.
“I have never seen such insensitivity because you can’t go and provoke
people who are still bearing wounds and scars. What kind of disrespect is
that?” Khupe queried.
“Instead of Mugabe apologising because of what happened during Gukurahundi
where over 20 000 civilians were massacred, you (Mugabe) have the audacity
of celebrating your birthday while other people are still buried in shafts
like Bhalagwe,” she said.
Speaking at Nkomo’s memorial service on July 2, 2000, Mugabe admitted that
“thousands” had been killed during the campaign, calling it an “moment of
Khupe called for a total boycott of the event.
“Those who are calling for a boycott are justified because honestly we
cannot try and sanitise something which cannot be sanitised. People must
not attend this unholy event. They must just stay away from this madness,”
The former deputy premier accused some Zanu PF hardliners of misleading
the nonagenarian leader, a development she said has contributed to many
challenges the country has been battling for decades now.
“Some of the people in Zanu PF must advise Mugabe properly because it is
not the right choice. Honestly, thousands of dead people have not been
given a proper burial, for me it is just unheard of. It’s a sign of
serious disrespect to that particular community. It’s a sign of being
insensitive to issues at hand.”
Zanu PF youth secretary, Kudzai Chipanga, has declared that the ruling
party would not be dictated to by the opposition.
“The issue around Gukurahundi was dealt with by our elders … Mugabe and
the late…Nkomo. Matabeleland South is a Zanu PF stronghold with the
party having won all seats in the province, Matobo included, where we have
two Zanu PF legislators. As a party, we will not be driven by the
opposition but our members,” Chipanga told State media.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe documented at
least 3 750 killings and speculated that the actual number could be double
that, or higher, since its coverage was limited to the Tsholotsho
districts of Matabeleland North and the Matobo districts of Matabeleland
Locals put the figure at between 20 000 and 30 000.
In a unanimously adopted resolution in 2005, the International Association
of Genocide Scholars estimated the death toll at 20 000.