Pressure group goes to court over Gukurahundi

BULAWAYO - Local pressure group, Ibhetshu Likazulu, has filed an urgent chamber application in the Bulawayo High Court contesting a recent police decision to bar them from commemorating the Gukurahundi massacres which saw thousands of innocent civilians losing their lives at the hands of the army in the early 1980s.

Last month, Bulawayo West district chief superintendent Mbele Kunene barred the pressure group from holding the annual commemorations that had been slated for Stanley Hall in the city.

This was the third time in a row that this had happened.

Police claimed that the Gukurahundi memorial prayer meeting could create public disorder.

But despite this warning, Ibhetshu Likazulu defiantly attempted to go ahead with the event, resulting in law enforcement forces subsequently thwarting their efforts.

Unhappy about the treatment, the pressure group approached the courts on Thursday last week.

“The respondent made an unfair administrative decision to prohibit the applicant from convening a public prayer meeting without giving the applicants any rational reasons (and) seeking consultations with the applicant as required by Section 26(3) of the public order and security Act (Chapter 11: 12).

“The respondent’s action is unlawful in that it contravenes the provisions of Section 3 of the Administrative Act Chapter 10:28),” reads part of the court application.

Ibhetshu Likazulu, through their lawyer Robert Ndlovu of Robert Ndlovu and Company, cited Kunene as the only respondent in the matter.

The group appealed for the court to allow the event to take place on a rescheduled date of February 21, a date that resonates with a movement that celebrates President Robert Mugabe’s birthday.

Mugabe, who has been the country’s sole leader since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, is also Africa’s oldest statesman. He turns 91 next week.

“The applicant intends to convene a scheduled commemorative public prayer on February 21, in the exercise of its constitutional rights and only an urgent intervention of this Honourable court can secure an administrative justice for the applicant by setting aside the prohibition order issued by the respondent and directing the respondent to go ahead and convene its public prayer meeting,” the application reads further.

In their founding affidavit, the group further said one of the main objectives of the civic organisation was to protect and promote the political, social and cultural education and awareness of topical issues in the western part of Zimbabwe.

“As part of its political, social and cultural education awareness project the applicant, ever since its formation convenes annual public prayer meetings to commemorate or remember all the people who died in the Western part of Zimbabwe during the military operation of the

Fifth Brigade army commonly referred to as Gukurahundi,” it said.

In the meantime, Zimbabweans have savaged Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko for his latest controversial comments regarding the Gukurahundi massacres that mostly took place in Matabeleland and the Midlands.

In an interview published by lickspittle State media at the weekend, Mphoko appeared to exonerate both President Robert Mugabe and his government from the massacres in which an estimated 20 000 civilians were killed by the feared and North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade.

But leading political figures who spoke to the Daily News at the weekend criticised Mphoko, saying that he was not just “singing for his supper” but also that he was insulting the victims and surviving relatives of the killings.

In his interview with State media, Mphoko re-stated his long-standing position that the Gukurahundi massacres were a conspiracy of the West — in the process re-igniting the debate around contested claims that he allegedly played a role in the killings as a member of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

An emotional Zapu spokesperson, Mjobise Noko, said the vice president was speaking like “a deranged man”.

“He is singing for his supper. Mugabe and (Emmerson) Mnangagwa presided over Gukurahundi and everyone knows that. Mphoko was also part of the system and we know it.

“Mphoko should be reminded that Gukurahundi is a serious genocide because we are talking about the loss of many thousands of lives. His statements therefore are a shame and in bad taste. If it was a joke, it’s a joke that is not funny,” Noko said.

The Zapu spokesperson said further that instead of trying to sweep Gukurahundi under the carpet, Zanu PF should set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, similar to the one the South Africans used to deal with apartheid atrocities.

“To us Mphoko has lost his marbles and no one will take him serious.

As Zapu, what we want is for the perpetrators to meet the victims and they engage each other.

“We want real reconciliation because this issue will never die or be swept under the carpet. We want a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to be set up to look into Gukurahundi. Anything other than that is an exercise in futility,” Noko said.

Deputy spokesperson of the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, Sibongile Mgijima, accused Mphoko of opening Gukurahundi wounds that, she said, were “slowly healing”.

“Mphoko is opening wounds that had started drying up. Mugabe was the commander in chief of the defence forces when this happened. These Zanu PF people must admit their crime and say sorry.

“Indirectly, Mugabe admitted having had a hand in this when he said it was a time of madness. To add a little more, where does the West come in on these massacres? Even before independence, Zanu PF terrorised people in parts of Masvingo, Midlands and the whole of Matabeleland into voting them into power,” the angry Mgijima said.

Mqondisi Moyo, president of a party that has been vocal on Gukurahundi, Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP), accused Mphoko of failing the people of Matabeleland.

“Mphoko is a liar, a hypocrite and a shame to the people of Matabeleland. As his name says, he is clearly accompanying others in Zanu PF and singing for his supper.

“He has betrayed people from Matabeleland. He might go on his tours of Matabeleland but he has shown us that he is not one of us,” Moyo said.

The MRP president added that Mphoko should, in a quest to understand the matter properly, question why the Unity Accord was signed and why he had recently been appointed a vice president.

“The truth of the matter is that Gukurahundi was genocide where a brother killed another brother. It’s a lie that it was meant to deal with Zanu leadership. It was a project to wipe out all Ndebele speaking people. But people like Mphoko want to lie and tell us otherwise. People should ask him how he got that post. What led to the Unity Accord to be signed? Mphoko has betrayed people from Matabeleland,” Moyo added.

Spokesperson for Ibhetshu Likazulu, Mbuso Fuzwayo, also did not have kind words for Mphoko.

“After following his assertion, it has become clear that he is saying half truths, which is black propaganda. He is shoving the blame for a genocide committed by Zanu PF government to the USA.

“The fact of the matter may be that the West was involved in planning and possibly funding it, but what Mphoko is not saying is that Zanu PF implemented the conspiracy,” he said.


Comments (1)

Ingombe chete inorova kwete mhunhu.

Icho - 17 February 2015

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