VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday sweated for answers after he was cornered by opposition parliamentarians to explain if government had any plans to provide decent burials for victims of the Gukurahundi massacres, some of whom are lying in unmarked mass graves.
Source: Mnangagwa cornered over Gukurahundi – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 19, 2016
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
After failing to wriggle out of the emotive issue during the question-and-answer session, Mnangagwa then urged concerned parties to approach the Home Affairs ministry for assistance in the exhumation and reburial of the thousands of villagers killed by the Five Brigade in the 1980s.
At least 20 000 villagers were reportedly killed in Matabeleland and Midlands regions as the crack army unit pursued suspected ex-Zipra dissidents.
“I want to thank the Honourable Member (Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, MDC) for her question that is in connection with those that are able to rebury those that were not properly buried,” he said.
“It could be that they know that here in Mashonaland, the war veterans are going around the country looking for their fellow veterans who were not properly buried and reburying them. We cannot order these war veterans to do that, but this can be done by the Home Affairs ministry. They have a department that could deal with that. If there are remains that need to be reburied, that can be done by that ministry.”
Unsatisfied by the response, Misihairabwi-Mushonga said: “I do not know whether you understood the question. I said those who died during the Gukurahundi period. There are a lot of people who were killed during Gukurahundi. I am saying the villagers want the bodies to be exhumed and reburied properly, how they can go about it.”
But Mnangagwa maintained that the Home Affairs ministry was best placed to handle the issue.
“If my niece was listening properly, I have said that all those whose remains have not been properly buried all over the country, all such matters should be referred to the Home Affairs ministry. They are the relevant authority that deals with such issues,” the VP said.
In 2011, parents, teachers and pupils at Silwane Primary School in Lupane, Matabeleland North province, discovered human bones protruding from the ground close to classroom blocks.
Lupane bore the brunt of the mass killings perpetrated by the North Korean-trained Five Brigade deployed in Matabeleland to quell dissenting voices against then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s rule. Mugabe has declined to publicly apologise over the massacres, but described the era as “a moment of madness”.