Gukurahundi: Lay off Coltart, says MDC

Gukurahundi: Lay off Coltart, says MDC – NewZimbabwe 29/03/2016

THE opposition MDC party has condemned attacks on party Senator David Coltart by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the justice ministry secretary, accusing both of trying to intimidate and harass citizens exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Self-assured and usually unflappable, Mnangagwa hardly reacts to adverse media reports about him but he recently made a rare exception and used the full weight of his office to threaten legal action against Coltart’s archival extraction of material relating to the Gukurahundi atrocities.

In his book “The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe”, Coltart accused the vice president of inciting the 1980s violence which reportedly left 20,000 civilians dead, quoting Mnangagwa making inflammatory remarks describing dissidents as “cockroaches”.

In the 1983 Chronicle report, he reportedly added that “The campaign against dissidents can only succeed if the infrastructure which nurtures them is destroyed.

“… woe unto those who will choose the path of collaboration with dissidents, for we will certainly shorten their stay on earth.”

The VP, who is also justice minister, denied ever uttering the remarks while the ministry’s permanent secretary Virginia Mabhiza also appeared to threaten Coltart.

However, in a statement Tuesday, the MDC party defended the former education minister.

“Recent threats on Senator Coltart by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Virginia Mabhiza show a brazen determination to intimidate and harass citizens for their right to express themselves freely, which is against the constitution the country’s leaders swore to protect and defend.

“This continued abrogation of the rights enshrined in the constitution is something that should worry all Zimbabweans,” the MDC said in a statement.

The party blamed the government for the controversy surrounding the emotive Gukurahundi issues.

“The longstanding debate on the causes of the massacre of over twenty thousand citizens at the cruel sword of the Zanu PF controlled Fifth Brigade draws controversy because the State has deliberately downplayed its gravity,” the party said.

“Senator Coltart participated in the CCJP Report on the Gukurahundi atrocities, incidentally that the Zanu PF leader is known to have referred to as a ‘moment of madness’.

“Thus in pursuit of truth and justice, Senator Coltart has attempted to review some aspects of this unfortunate episode in our lives, and those that were involved directly or indirectly are the first to cry ‘Foul!’.”

The Zanu PF government could help the push for truth about Gukurahundi by publishing the findings of the inquiries it carried out on the conflict, the MDC added.

“Those that have facts to argue about the Gukurahundi atrocities are free to publish numerous results of several commissions of enquiries but whose reports remain embargoed by the Zanu PF government.

“All efforts to empower institutions that promote reconciliation, truth and forgiveness have been fruitless, this is why citizens like Senator Coltart should be commended for taking the yoke to recite history through the prism of their personal experience. So why vilify them and denigrate such great efforts?”