Social movements in Gukurahundi prayers

HARARE - Ahead of the 30th anniversary of Zimbabwe’s notorious Gukurahundi massacre, social movements are coming together for prayer vigils and grief counselling to release an unprecedented statement calling for forgiveness, repentance, truth, justice and reconciliation.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, one of the organisers of the prayer meetings, political activist Stendrick Zvorwadza, said  they would recall the tragedy that happened between 1983 and 1987, when  the national army’s Fifth Brigade soldiers crushed dissent by so-called “dissidents”, disgruntled former guerrillas and supporters of  Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu, killing hundreds and possibly thousands.

President Robert Mugabe and Zapu’s Nkomo later signed a unity accord in 1987, leading to the integration of PF Zapu and Zanu PF.

They will pray, sing inspirational songs and listen to testimonies.

“As citizens of Zimbabwe we need answers on what happened to the people of Matabeleland,” Zvorwadza said. “This issue is not about Matabeleland only it affect the whole of Zimbabwe if remain unresolved. The people of Matabeleland are our brothers and sisters, so we cannot remain silent while our relatives are still mourning.

“We have many social movements groups who are going to participate but for now I cannot mention their names, we are still planning. After those evil killings, the government did nothing to heal the wounds of those who were affected directly or indirectly. On their budget, the government must allocate something to the Gukurahundi victims.”

He said this was an open display to both God and man the viciousness and hypocrisy of a tyrannical political system, and the deepest sin and darkness of man, the civil society leader stated.

Zvorwadza lamented over how the government has been covering up or distorting evidence from the tragedy over the past 30 years and how the incident is being lost among today’s young Zimbabweans as a result.

He said it was worrying that no action has been taken to either punish the perpetrators or compensate the victims.

He also urged authorities to investigate the massacre, fully disclose the truth, punish the perpetrators, commemorate the massacre, and compensate and care for the victims’ families.

“We are going to make sure that the government will do something to address this issue,” Zvorwadza said.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe documented at least 3 750 killings and speculated that the actual number could be double that, or higher, since its coverage was limited to the Tsholotsho districts of Matabeleland North and the Matobo districts of Matabeleland South.

Local Ndebeles put the figure between 20 000 and 30 000.

In a unanimously adopted resolution in 2005, the International Association of Genocide Scholars estimated the death toll at 20 000.

Then National Security minister Sydney Sekeramayi countered that allegations of atrocities were part of a Zapu disinformation programme to discredit the army.

In 1992, serving Defence minister Moven Mahachi became the first Zanu PF official who publicly apologised for the execution and torture of civilians by the Fifth Brigade.

Five years later, Enos Nkala, former Defence minister, described his involvement with Gukurahundi as “eternal hell” and blamed Mugabe for having orchestrated it.

Speaking at Nkomo’s memorial service on July 2, 2000, Mugabe admitted that “thousands” had been killed during the campaign, calling it an “act of madness”.

“Mugabe said it was a moment of madness that is not enough to solve this issue, time has come for us Zimbabweans to force the government to account for everything they did in the past,” Zvorwadza said.

“Mugabe’s government must stop acting like everything is well, forgetting that they brutalised and killed many people during the Gukurahundi and in 2008 (post-election violence).”

Zvorwadza said silence will cause government to continue violating human rights.

“It is surprising that the government has learnt nothing to what they did in the past, they continue to brutalise and violate human rights.

“We want to stop the current madness where the security agents abduct people willy-nilly.

“They can do whatever they want but now, they cannot stop the crying voices of Zimbabweans.”

Comments (2)

One of Zimbabwe's darkest moments. Just reading about Gukurahundi from witnesses makes you sick to your stomach. There are people in Zanu pf who have committed atrocious crimes against humanity. God is all knowing and these people will have to answer to him one day.

Young Zimbo - 13 December 2016

surely any sensible person should lend an ear to this.

nlson ndlovu - 14 December 2016

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