Government urged to rebury victims of Gukurahundi massacres

via Government urged to rebury victims of Gukurahundi massacres | The Zimbabwean 15.10.13

If a closure to Gukurahundi is to be found, the government should include the victims of the 1980s massacres in its liberation war victims reburial programme. They should also roll out a parallel exercise to compensate the affected families, activists have said.

The activists were responding to deputy home affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi’s comments in the Senate last week, suggesting that Gukurahundi victims lay outside the reburial programme criteria.

Zimbabwe Focus quoted Ziyambi on Sunday saying the issue of Gukurahundi victims was a ‘difficult one’ as the programme was limited to ‘people with a specific history’.

Ziyambi said if the government was to extend the criteria to beyond the current one they would ‘run into the problem’ of burying ‘people who are not supposed to be buried by the State’.

Ziyambi was responding to Bulawayo Metropolitan senator Dorothy Khumalo’s question, if the government would include Gukurahundi victims in its reburial programme.

But the activists told SW Radio Africa that Ziyambi’s excuses were invalid as some graves were already known, with the witnesses still alive and willing to identify both the remains and the perpetrators.

Bulawayo Agenda Executive Director Thabani Nyoni, said his organisation, which is a grouping of human rights activists and experts, ‘is in touch with scores of people who are still willing to testify and identify the mass graves’. He said the people wanted both ‘official acknowledgement and apology; and compensation so that they can move on.’

Journalist Thabo Kunene said he was himself a victim and was willing to testify and indentify some graves.

The government has since independence been running an on and off programme of reburying victims of the 1970s war of liberation. In 2011 the government exhumed hundreds of bodies from a site in Monkey William Mine/Chibondo Mine in Mt. Darwin district.

The official press claimed the bodies were those of people killed by the Rhodesian forces in the 1970s during the country’s war of independence.

At the time, human rights groups expressed fears that some of the remains were those of the victims of Mugabe’s crackdown on the civilian population including, the 1980s massacres.

The last three years have seen an increase in official sensitivity towards the Gukurahundi, characterised by growing restrictions on reportage and commemoration. In 2010, a Bulawayo artist Owen Masuku spent four nights in police cells after being arrested for exhibiting three installations and 12 paintings, many featuring violent recollections of the murder of up to 20,000 Ndebele people in both the Midlands and the Matebeleland regions. In 2012 a family in the Silozwe area of Matobo District was blocked by the police from reburying their relative, Mvulo Nyathi, who was killed by the Fifth Brigade in 1984.

A source told SW Radio Africa Monday that the Bulawayo City Council reference library was in 2010 ordered by the government to transfer newspaper cuttings on the Gukurahundi to the National Archives. To use National Archives material written permission has to be obtained from the department of National Museums, the source said.

The Gukurahundi, for which Mugabe has refused to apologise, is a thorny issue in Zimbabwe. In 2011 Genocide Watch, alongside the International Association of Genocide Scholars, classified the Gukurahundi as genocide and named President Mugabe, alongside Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, and defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, as the prime culprits. – SW Radio Africa



  • comment-avatar

    How can 1 man hold a whole country to ransom and do what ever he likes to the population.If you do not stand up for yourselves and try change things then nothing will change.!!!.The sooner africans realize this the sooner africa will prosper.

  • comment-avatar
    Bambanani Sizwesakithi 11 years ago

    People like Ziyambi Ziyambi do not deserve to be in those leadership positions.what does he or she means by saying the govt might ‘run into the problem’ of burying ‘people who are not supposed to be buried by the State’
    This thinking is the very thinking of Gukurahundi. The thinking that everyone in Matabeleland and Midlands is a dissident and his head should be crushed and his house torched.

  • comment-avatar
    msizeni silwelani 11 years ago

    The magnitude of the genocide could be scaled down if we are to involve the perpatrator. Few victims would be reburied and a couple of villagers compensated for propaganda’s sake. Seems to me they have not recovered from “the moment of madness”. They may want to conceal yet the mass murders carried out after the birth of the MDC in the process. We cannot team with them in this painful history, they ” are not human”. Rid them, set the ICC on them, the spirit of those tortured.miamed and massacred would rest. As for us the living, we continue to fight for a politically, socially and economically just Zimbabwe.

  • comment-avatar
    Mncedisi 11 years ago

    What is the role of the ICC if i were to ask.We want this regime to die and rot in jail.