VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s utterances at the weekend that he was not responsible for the Gukurahundi massacres, seeming to pass the buck to President Robert Mugabe, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and army commanders, cannot go unchallenged.
Source: Mnangagwa Gukurahundi role denial cannot go unchallenged – NewsDay Zimbabwe December 20, 2016
Comment: NewsDay Editor
Mnangagwa gave an interview to a foreign publication, maybe in the hope that his utterances would not filter through to Zimbabwe, where he distanced himself from the 1980s killings.
We will not pass judgment on Mnangagwa, but surely he should expect that his words will not go without the scrutiny that they now invite.
A few months ago, MDC politician, David Coltart launched his biography, where he quoted Mnangagwa making some very derogatory remarks about people in Matabeleland, the kind of language that was at the epicentre of the Rwandan genocide.
Mnangagwa, the Chronicle of March 5, 1983, reported, likened “dissidents to cockroaches” and the Fifth Brigade, which carried out the killings, to “DDT”, a deadly pesticide to wipe out the insurgents.
When NewsDay first reported this, the Vice-President threatened to sue, but has not offered his side of the story.
Former Rhodesian Prime Minister Garfield Todd’s daughter, Judith, also wrote a telling book, revealing Mnangagwa’s alleged complicity and involvement in the killings.
The late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, in his once-banned autobiography, The Story of My Life, also writes about how Sekeramayi and Mnangagwa blindsided him ahead of the discovery of arms caches, a precursor to the killings.
While Mnagagwa was definitely not the President nor the Defence minister, he should explain what role he played as the intelligence minister.
It is common cause that a Security minister is responsible for assessing threats both internal and external and Zimbabwe would be best served by knowing what he reported during that period, instead of this meek denial.
Gukurahundi denialism has long taken hold in Zimbabwe, but the more the country’s history is hidden, the more resentment grows and ultimately, this does not serve well for nation-building.
Mnangagwa should also push vigorously for the release of the two commissions of inquiry reports that sought to find the root cause of the killings.
The Chihambakwe report, which has been kept secret for more than 30 years, will bring closure to the matter, as it will reveal what role was played by whom and the extent of their culpability.
For all we know, Mnangwaga might be as innocent as he claims to be, but he has carried the stigma of being culpable for so long and his utterances that he is innocent may not be enough.
As long as the Chihambakwe report remains a secret and as long as the government does not carry out a truth and reconciliation exercise, then most of those in Mugabe’s 1980s government will continue to shoulder the blame for the killings.