Source: ‘Mnangagwa not to blame for Gukurahundi’ – DailyNews Live January 24, 2017
Mugove Tafirenyika and Jeffrey Muvundusi
HARARE – Civil rights activists yesterday accused Norton independent MP
Temba Mliswa of denying the scope of the Gukurahundi genocide after the
voluble legislator said Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was not to blame
for the killing of 20 000 civilians in the Midlands and Matabeleland
They said Mliswa must acknowledge that slayings took place, and minimise
the ethnic dimension of the tragedy and the fact that leaders such as
Mnangagwa systematically planned the mass killing of the civilians when
the national army’s Fifth Brigade unit crushed dissent by so-called
“dissidents”, disgruntled former guerrillas and supporters of the late
Vice President Joshua Nkomo’s then opposition Zapu, killing thousands.
Mnangagwa, who at the time of the atrocities was State Security minister,
has often been linked to the massacres which President Robert Mugabe has
described as “a moment of madness.”
Citizens including war veterans have also raised concerns over the manner
in which the whole saga was handled, which has failed to bring closure to
the dark moments.
But speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Mliswa who claims the Midlands
godfather is his cousin, claimed the nonagenarian and the then Defence
minister Sydney Sekeramayi were largely responsible.
“It is all because of Mugabe’s fault because he was the
“In military circles they operate on the basis of orders so whatever they
do, they will be carrying out their boss’ orders and in this case, Mugabe
is their boss, so he is the one who is answerable,” Mliswa said.
He argued that Mnangagwa was neither the commander-in-chief of the armed
forces nor was he the Defence minister.
“Where does Mnangagwa come in on Gukurahundi when he was State Security
minister? Is it the CIOs who committed the atrocities in Matabeleland and
Midlands? Is it not the army when Sekeramayi was minister?
“We need to bring this issue to closure before the key people who were
involved are all gone. Already we have lost Solomon Mujuru who was the
defence forces commander, so who is going to be accountable if we let this
until Mugabe is also gone?
“We will end up pointing fingers at innocent people but if Zimbabweans are
really keen on taking Mnangagwa to task, they should rather ask him to
explain the looting of diamonds from Chiadzwa by the army when he was
Defence minister, not this Gukurahundi issue. Leave him out.”
He also blamed senior Zapu officials, including the late Vice President
John Nkomo and his successor Phelekezela Mphoko for not being proactive in
demanding that Gukurahundi perpetrators be brought to book.
“VPs from Zapu including Mphoko and Landa Nkomo are equally to blame
because they are not keen on ensuring that justice prevails yet they are
the ones who lead the organ of National Healing and Reconciliation,” he
On his part, Mnangagwa has denied playing a leading role in one of the
country’s saddest moments in history, accusing rivals keen on blocking his
presidential ambitions of waging a campaign to assassinate his character.
Like Mliswa, while speaking in an interview with United Kingdom-based
magazine New Statesman late last year, Mnangagwa seemed to pass the buck
on Mugabe, Sekeramayi and army commanders for the massacres.
“How do I become the enforcer during Gukurahundi? We had the president,
the minister of Defence, commander of the army and I was none of that. My
own enemies attack me left and right and that is what you are buying,” he
told the UK magazine.
Mliswa’s sentiments did not go down well with Bulawayo-based politicians
and human rights activists who said that the perception of the Norton MP
helps exonerate perpetrators of the civil conflict who clearly committed
They maintained the disturbances were a well-choreographed project by Zanu
officials to annihilate the Ndebele tribe, with Mnangagwa as one of the
Newly-formed opposition Alliance for National Salvation (Ansa) interim
leader Moses Mzila-Ndlovu dismissed Mliswa’s sentiments as “childish”,
insisting that Mnangagwa’s fingerprints were all over Gukurahundi.
“What Mliswa is saying is just but puerile, hollow, divisive and
“If Mnangagwa was not involved in Gukurahundi, then he can as well say
there was never any Gukurahundi, but we know that he is the fountain of
knowledge in terms of the ideology behind the whole act and why that idea
was eventually transformed into action,” Ndlovu said.
The former National Healing minister said the ongoing blame-game in Zanu
PF provided an opportunity for all forces demanding Gukurahundi justice to
push for the punishment of perpetrators.
Ibetsu Likazulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said Mliswa’s assertions
were unfortunate, arguing that being Mnangagwa’s relative, the
controversial legislator has no moral standing to determine who was
responsible for the atrocities.
“The facts on the ground are clear and Temba cannot single-handedly change
Zimbabwe’s tainted history using his shallow eloquence.
“We the people of Matabeleland cannot be told what happened in our land by
a political prostitute like Temba when we know Mnangagwa is the face of
Gukurahundi, although he is second to Mugabe in terms of the roles they
played followed by Perrance Shiri in that order,” Fuzwayo fumed.
He insisted that Gukurahundi was a Zanu project and “all who were there
are guilty by association” until “they are one-by-one proven innocent by a
Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
A recent book by former Education minister David Coltart also reveals the
extent of Mnangagwa’s involvement and alleged hate speech that allegedly
fanned the atrocities.
War veterans secretary-general Victor Matemadanda recently said the
Gukurahundi issue is far from over, contrary to many Zanu PF members that
it is a closed chapter.