ZAPU has spoken strongly against the proposed exhumation and reburial of Gukurahundi victims, saying the programme should not be allowed to take place before government undertakes a truth, justice and reconciliation exercise.
Source: Zapu opposes tampering with Gukurahundi graves – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 22, 2016
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The opposition party said any tampering with the mass graves could ignite bitter memories of the massacres at a time the victims’ relatives were expecting the Zanu PF regime to publicly apologise and pay compensation for the atrocities.
The emotive Gukurahundi issue stirred a heated debate in Parliament last Wednesday where Vice- President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the Home Affairs ministry had the prerogative to conduct the reburials.
He was responding to MDC legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga who questioned government policy regarding the re-burial of Gukurahundi victims.
But, Zapu spokesperson Iphuthile Maphosa said his party would insist on a truth, justice and reconciliation commission to close the matter before reburials are done.
“Who will identify the mass graves, the shallow graves all unmarked? What method will be used to identify the dead victims, especially considering the levels of fear the killers induced in the affected communities?
“Will anybody come forward to identify their loved ones when the killer is the one carrying out the identifications, since the same killer is coming carrying a shovel in one hand and the same weapon they used during the genocide in the other?,” Maphosa said in a statement.
Remains of the Gukurahundi victims continue to be uncovered in some parts of Matabeleland, particularly in Lupane an area that bore the brunt of the mass killings.
In 2011, teachers and pupils at Silwane Primary School in Lupane, Matabeleland North province, discovered human bones protruding from the ground close to classroom blocks.
“We, therefore, take this opportunity to advise the Hon Vice-President that the time for reburials has not come yet. Not until closure to the genocide is given. Not until a full investigation to the murders is carried out and justice is served, restorative or otherwise. Not until a comprehensive healing process has been instituted can talk of reburying the victims begin,” Maphosa added.
President Robert Mugabe, then Prime Minister, unleashed a North Korean-trained militia to crack on alleged dissent to his rule in Midlands and Matabeleland, resulting in the death of about 20 000 defenceless civilians, according to the Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice (CCJP).
The Gukurahundi, for which Mugabe has refused to apologise, is a thorny issue. In 2011 Genocide Watch, alongside the International Association of Genocide Scholars, classified the Gukurahundi as genocide.
Meanwhile, a South African family has written to the Zimbabwean Consul-General seeking permission to exhume the remains of their grandfather who was buried in Beitbridge at the height of the liberation war in 1972.
The family, which is based in Pretoria wants the deceased Vuyani Joel Moyana’s remains to be repatriated to that country and get re-interred in Musina.
Part of the letter read: “The name of the deceased is Vuyani Joel Moyana who died early 1972 due to old age and the death was reported to the authority since he was residing in informal settlement. He was buried in his yard at his place of residence and the grave is still identifiable since it is the only grave in that deserted area where the deceased used to live in Tshimwanyane Village, Beitbridge area.
“The deceased was married to the late Tsatsawami Meresina Moyana who was buried in Musina. The identify documents cannot be traced, but affidavits were obtained to trace the deceased’s history from the family members, Headman Tshinoni, Chief Mathibe and people who used to live with the deceased.”
Zimbabwe’s Consul-General to South Africa, Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro is yet to respond to the request.