SOUTHERN NEWS | Please zip it, Dube tells Mugabe

BULAWAYO - Former Cabinet minister Tshinga Dube has told deposed former president Robert Mugabe to just zip it as Zimbabweans have moved on since his inglorious fall from power last year.

Mugabe, now 94, resigned from office on November 21 moments before a parliamentary impeachment process.

This happened after he had refused to leave office during eight tense days that began with the military intervening in the governance of the country.

Dube — who  lost his job together with three other ministers in October last year when Mugabe demoted and fired those he perceived to be then vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s allies — told Southern News this week that the 94-year-old’s surprise re-emergence in politics is a waste of time.

“You know, once you have tested power, as George Bernard Shaw says, power intoxicates, absolute power intoxicates absolutely! So Mugabe is really intoxicated, absolutely intoxicated by the power that he had.

“He is trying to find relevance which he has lost completely. He does not accept that it’s over and gone.

“We are moving forward as you can see we are moving into a new era. We have been stagnant for more than 30 years. We want to build the country and you can see things are beginning to move. So, what he is saying we don’t worry about,” Dube told the Southern News.

The amiable former freedom fighter, who is regarded by many people as one of the few decent local politicians, spoke in the wake of Mugabe’s recent political activities which have drawn sharp criticism from both Zanu PF and ordinary citizens.

Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist during his uninterrupted 37-year tenure, has stunned both the authorities and ordinary Zimbabweans alike in recent weeks by re-entering the political arena and holding several meetings with opposition leaders and some former Zanu PF bigwigs — including openly lending his support to the newly-formed National Patriotic Front (NPF) that is led by Rtd Brigadier General Ambrose Mutinhiri, who quit the ruling party recently.

The NPF has since revealed that Mugabe had endorsed the party after he met Mutinhiri at his “Blue Roof” mansion in Harare.

Apart from hosting former Cabinet ministers, Mugabe has also held meetings with former vice president Joice Mujuru, whom he sacked in 2014 over untested allegations that she and a host of other senior Zanu PF figures wanted to topple him from power.

Last week, he held a press conference in which he questioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s legitimacy.

While most senior Zanu PF officials, including war veterans and the youths, have had no kind words for the former president, Dube says Mugabe was too old that no one should worry about him.

“We don’t want to waste time on him. When a very old man talks we don’t worry, you forgive him that’s why we say an old man has a right to say anything and we just say this is an elderly person. We don’t even have to answer. We don’t take him seriously,” Dube said sarcastically.

Turning to Mugabe’s claims last week that Zapu and Zipra were also to blame for the Gukurahundi atrocities where an estimated 20 000 innocent civilians died at the hands of the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade, Dube appeared to suggest the 94-year-old was at times not in full control of his faculties.

“I don’t think Mugabe is correct. Zapu and Zipra couldn’t have been part of killing its own people, innocent people for that matter. So, Mugabe is just too old that he just says some of those things. A reasonable person wouldn’t say that,” Dube said.

Dube, a liberation war icon who fought on the Zapu side during the struggle for Zimbabwe’s independence, set the cat among the pigeons in June last year when he publicly backed calls for Mugabe to name a successor.

Dube was subsequently forced to convene a hastily-arranged news conference where he told journalists that Mugabe had “schooled” him on the process of choosing his successor.

“He came to me after Cabinet. His Excellency talked to me. He just reminded me that, look, I am only mandated by the Constitution to choose my deputies.

“He said the issue of choosing a successor lies with the congress. He has given me the directive and, as my commander-in-chief, I listened. He came in a fatherly manner, as a leader and as a teacher,” said then Dube in his damage-control exercise.


Zapu fumes at former president’s Gukurahundi claims

BULAWAYO - ZAPU president Dumiso Dabengwa has claimed that the number of people killed during the Gukurahundi atrocities is over 100 000 — dismissing the official figures of 20 000 which was compiled by a local rights group — which government has also doubted.

This comes as rights and civic groups have been left fuming by former president Robert Mugabe’s claims that Zapu and Zipra were also responsible for the atrocities.

“He (Mugabe) remains the same unrepentant blood-dripping monster who hid behind a thin finger of madness when he killed hundreds of thousands during Gukurahundi, blaming everyone except himself.

“His denial of the 20 000 deaths shows he really is mindful and aware of the magnitude of his madness. Mugabe is fully aware that these 20 000 are direct deaths at the hands of the Fifth Brigade.

“The number does not include curfew-induced deaths of children, the elderly and the sick from malnutrition, hunger and disease and (these) were never accounted for.

“He fully knows that Gukurahundi deaths run into hundreds of thousands, hence his refusal to acknowledge the mere 20 000 that was given by the CCJP, whose incomprehensive survey or investigations only covered Matobo and Tsholotsho districts,” Dabengwa told Southern News.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJP) compiled a report on Gukurahundi atrocities in Matabeleland and the Midlands during the period 1982-1988 titled “Breaking the Silence, Building True Peace”.

According to the CCJP, an estimated 20 000 people were slain by the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, during a government operation it said was aimed at fighting insurrection in those regions.

Last week, Mugabe refused to accept blame for the dark chapter in the history of Zimbabwe when he told the media that Zapu and Zipra were culpable.

“Zapu and Zipra are also to blame,” he said.  “I doubt the number (of those killed), but well it would be because you get some people with guns behaving recklessly.”

This, however, forced Zapu president Dabengwa to hit back.

Zapu has also suggested that the CCJP was trivialising the Gukurahundi genocide.

“There are so many conspiracies around this subject, with the CCJP joining the fray. After voluntarily embarking on their investigations, we expected them to make it as comprehensive as the extent of the genocide itself.

“The whole of Matabeleland provinces and north of  Midlands were affected by the barbarism, yet we find CCJP conducting investigations in only two districts of Tsholotsho and Matobo.

“To make matters worse, after compiling their findings, they hid the  disclaimer pertaining the extent of their investigations right at the  bottom of the report, making the atrocities as trivial as mere 20 000  deaths,” said Zapu spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa.

Maphosa said it was unfortunate that this has led the nation and world being fed incorrect information about Gukurahundi yet over a hundred thousand could have died.

“We then wonder as to the extent of sincerity of those who carried out the investigations. The way the investigations were carried out and how the report was released casts so much doubt as to whether it was meant to expose the truth or was meant to protect Mugabe, a Jesuit and Catholic believer from accounting and justice.

“As much as we appreciate their (CCJP) effort to expose the number of deaths, the way they handled the whole process of investigating the matter and releasing the matter raises a lot of questions.

“Therefore, we are suggesting that a fresh and comprehensive investigation should be instituted, comprising people not attached to the perpetrating government.

“Here we are talking of people who don’t have any interests in the matter, the aim being giving closure to the atrocities and delivering justice, healing and nation building through reconciliation,” Maphosa added.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who served as Mugabe’s right-hand man for nearly 54 years, in January signed into law the National Reconciliation Bill, which seeks to address outstanding issues from previous conflicts — Gukurahundi included.

Early this month, he appointed a former High Court judge Selo Nare to head the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), two years after the death it’s former chair, Cyril Ndebele.

Since the fall of Mugabe and Mnangagwa’s rise as the country’s new president, rights and civic society groups have stepped up pressure on the new government to deal with outstanding issues emanating from previous violent conflicts.

Topping the issues that civic groups want Mnangagwa and his government to dispense with is the emotive Gukurahundi issue.

During his maiden appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January, Mnangagwa said government was keen to address Gukurahundi atrocities.

“We are not saying the past must be thrown away from history, it has happened — it is there. Just a week ago, I signed a Bill — the National Healing and Reconciliation Bill — into an Act and have assigned one of my vice presidents to deal with that one so that the communities that were affected can air their grievances and challenges with recommendations from that commission we should be able to address those issues,” Mnangagwa said.

The Gukurahundi massacres have been a thorn in the flesh for Mnangagwa before and after he came to power.

In December, there were demonstrations by Matabeleland-based human rights groups over his role in the massacres which occurred between 1982 and 1987 when government unleashed the Fifth Brigade, to crush insurrection in Matabeleland and Midlands regions.


Egodini Mall project finally commences

BULAWAYO - After an agonising wait and several false-starts the City of Kings waits with bated breath as deadline for commuter omnibuses and vendors to vacate the site of new mall nears.

Council has given the commuter omnibus operators and vendors up to the end of the month to relocate to new designated points – paving way for the beginning of construction of the much-vaunted $60 million Egodini mall — six years after the tender was flighted.

South African contractor, Terracotta Trading (Pvt) Ltd won the tender to upgrade the former Basch Street Terminus into a regional public transport hub in 2012 ahead of two other companies.

Bulawayo City Council (BCC) will issue a demolition licence at the lapse of the deadline it has given to those operating at Egodini rank.

According to the latest council minutes, the relocation of vendors and public transport operators should have been completed by end of this month.

“A demolition licence would be issued to the contractor to enable construction of a retaining wall and the works to commence in earnest.

“All the stake holders have been informed and a ground-breaking ceremony is expected to take place by the third week of Trade Fair in April,” BCC said in its latest minutes.

The minutes also revealed that Terracotta would sub-contract local contractors and labour for the various works involved.

The project is expected to employ over 1 200 when construction finally kicks off.

According to Terracotta officials they anticipate that the project will be complete in two-and-a-half years.

The upgrading of the terminus, which was initially meant to start in January 2014, has experienced a number of false starts as both the local authority and the contracted company engaged in behind the scenes talks and activities.

At one point, the council had set a date for the ground-breaking ceremony but it was postponed for a lengthy period after squabbles merged over its implementation soon after the signing of the agreement in 2016.

Terracotta director Thulani Moyo has told the Daily News that work is about to start on the multimillion dollar mall.

“The project team has been having on-going meetings with various stakeholders to prepare them for the relocation from Egodini Site and the intention to cordon off the site in preparation for construction.

“Notwithstanding, during on-going project stakeholder engagements particularly with informal trader organisations, it became apparent that they needed a little more time to relocate from the site so as to enable Bulawayo City Council to provide vacant possession of the site to the developer.

“We continue to do our work and we are happy that we have made significant progress in the right direction.

“Due to the nature and size of the project, together with the different number of affected stakeholders, we anticipate a number of hurdles that we will have to jointly overcome to ensure that all concerned stakeholder concerns are addressed,” said Moyo.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (Bupra) coordinator Roderick Fayayo said the city fathers had a duty to do public awareness on the project.

“Our biggest problem is that no one seems to know where we are going and because of that there is a lot of speculation.

“It is that speculation that is causing problems.

“BCC needs to sit down with residents and take them through the process.

“Otherwise people will be fleeced of their hard-earned money as they are promised jobs that are not even there.

‘A lot of things still remain unclear for the project to earnestly commence,” said Fayayo.

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders’ Association (BVTA) coordinator Michael Ndiweni hailed the project saying it was going to change the face of the city.

“As far we are concerned we think that this is a good project that will change the face of Bulawayo vendors by modernising the infrastructure.

“It is in line with our efforts to input in inclusive city planning and designing since BCC was able to include us in the planning process,” he said.

Ndiweni said while it was clear that most vendors are going to be affected by the relocations, it was prudent for the city fathers to consider the affected informal traders for possible employment during construction.

National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) provincial coordinator Obert Manduna said he was hopeful that this time around construction will kick off.

“We are not happy with the areas that we have been allocated as they are away from the pedestrian traffic which constitutes the bulk of our clients.

However, we will comply with the council directive as we await the commencement and completion of the state of the art complex which will however give opportunities to the informal sector,” Manduna said.

Vendors and commuter operators have already been shown their new sites amid anxiety and uncertainty of business particularly on the vendors.

The new sites include Lobengula Street between 11th and 13th Avenue, Lobengula Street and 3rd Avenue and Lobengula Street and 2nd Avenue for commuter omnibuses, informal traders and food caravans.

Lobengula Street and 6th Avenue have been set aside for a selected public transport company and informal traders.

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