BY NIZBERT MOYO
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa is increasingly coming under pressure to bring closure to the 1980s Gukurahundi atrocities with Kezi traditional leader, Chief Bhidi yesterday saying piece-meal efforts cannot appease the restive victims.
The chief called on Mnangagwa to ensure affected citizens are compensated, have their relatives lying in mass graves properly reburied and expedite access to national identity documents for those who do not have them.
Mnangagwa recently tasked the traditional leaders to consult over the emotive issue with the view to find a redress.
But Mnangagwa’s efforts have been met with scepticism after suspected State security allegedly stole plaques of the Gukurahundi victims at Bhalagwe and Gokwe mass graves, a development which critics say shows that the Zanu PF government remains unrepentant and was insincere.
Chief Bhidi, who hails from Matobo district where Bhalagwe mass graves are located, told Southern Eye yesterday that traditional leaders in the area have completed their consultations as Mnangagwa requested.
“The people have spoken. They want documents, compensation and reburials of their loved ones,” the chief said.
“We have done what we have been assigned to do and we now have the feedback from the people. It is now up to President Mnangagwa to get that feedback and see what he can do about it,” he said.
However, civil rights and pressure groups like Ibhetshu Likazulu questioned Mnangagwa’s sincerity after several Gukurahundi memorial plaques were stolen recently.
After the theft of a Gukurahundi memorial plaque in Bhalagwe last month, which was meant to replace one that was stolen in 2019, another one was reportedly stolen in Silobela, Midlands province this week.
Ibhetshu Likazulu secretory-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said: “We hold the State responsible for the theft. We condemn in the strongest terms the theft of the memorial plaques.”
Fuzwayo said the Gukurahundi memorial plaque in Bhalagwe was unveiled by Chief Fuyane and other chiefs.
Former President Robert Mugabe’s administration unleashed the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to Matabeleland and Midlands provinces between 1982 and 1987 purportedly to deal with the ex-Zipra renegades.
But the military crack unit ended up killing innocent civilians with the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace estimating the casualties at over 20 000.