BY SILAS NKALA
MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to apologise for his role in the Gukurahundi massacres.
He also called for an end to the vandalism of memorial plagues erected at Gukurahundi mass graves.
The vandalism is widely believed to be done by State security agents.
Chamisa said this during a visit to Bhalagwe Gukurahundi mass graves where a Bulawayo-based pressure group, Ibhetshu likaZulu, has had two plaques vandalised.
He was accompanied by his deputies Welshman Ncube and Lynette Karenyi-kore.
Posting on his Facebook page, Chamisa said: “I visited Bhalagwe in Matobo. Don’t vandalise erected plaques.”
“Memory and history can’t be vandalised. To deal with past atrocities, the State must take responsibility and genuinely apologise, allow a process of truth telling and accountability, allow for restitutive justice, restorative justice and rehabilitative justice, but not retributive justice,” he said, adding: “Allow and respect families to mourn and remember their relatives in reburials, memorial and plaques, allow for closure, healing and reconciliation.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, Chamisa said he was moved by the fact that twice the plaques had been installed at Bhalagwe and got vandalised.
“I know that there have been efforts to erect the plaque and twice it was vandalised. I wanted to touch around the issue and the region. I saw that it was vandalised and heard that there are attempts to find closure by those affected, that is why I posted on the issue,” Chamisa said.
“The best way is to be truthful about it, apologise, have the perpetrators apologise, have justice and rehabilitation of the families. We must take this issue as part of our history we can’t erase but we must build a memorial about it.”
“Under our government, that is a day one assignment. You cannot prosper without healing. We have to deal with internal acrimony. Zimbabweans are not happy and want healing. The best way to make our people happy is to deal with these outstanding issues,” he said.
“We cannot afford to play politics around this issue, we have to let the communities talk and get healed for us to move forward,” he said.
The Bhalagwe mass grave is a burial site for 12 villagers killed during the Gukurahundi massacres in 1985.
At least 20 000 people were killed by the Fifth Brigade during Gukurahundi, according to the Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice.
The late former President Robert Mugabe described the atrocities he engineered as “a moment of madness”, but refused to publicly apologise.
His successor Mnangagwa, perceived to be a key player, has tried to address the issue, with critics describing his efforts as piece-meal.