Matabeleland chiefs ramp up govt battle

BULAWAYO  - Defiant Matabeleland chiefs Vezi Maduna and Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni have escalated their row with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government — this time demanding the appointment of an independent probe into the Gukurahundi atrocities of the early 1980s, the Daily News can report.

This is despite the fact that Mnangagwa has since operationalised the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), to lead consultations with chiefs from the Matabeleland region about the emotive matter.

This comes after the outspoken traditional leaders paid a courtesy call on opposition leader Nelson Chamisa in Harare last week, days after Maduna had raised fears over his safety following his claims of being trailed by suspected State security agents.

In a letter addressed to Zanu PF national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Maduna and Ndiweni have now, not only taken aim at Mnangagwa again, but also demand the appointment of an independent commission to probe all Gukurahundi deaths.

“The letter serves to inform you as the national chairperson of the ruling party Zanu PF that on behalf of the … genocide victims of 1981-87, we the Ndebele chiefs have written to the United Nations (UN) secretary- general to set up an independent commission of inquiry to investigate this genocide and to bring perpetrators of it to book.

“As you are aware, the genocide was well planned and implemented by government, so we cannot expect the same government to investigate itself,” Maduna and Ndiweni said in their letter.

“There is still a window of opportunity to this issue. However, silence and inaction by the government and your Zanu PF will not stop the actions that have been initiated in the international arena,” the chiefs added.

Maduna recently threw the cat among the pigeons when he wrote an earlier letter to the UN, appealing for the powerful global body to get involved in the emotive Gukurahundi issue.

The outspoken chief later got support from his counterpart Ndiweni, who has also consistently attacked the government over the unresolved Gukurahundi issue.

“We write requesting an independent commission of inquiry be set up to investigate atrocities which occurred in Matabeleland and Midlands in Zimbabwe … between 1981 and 1987 … after the country gained independence from Britain.

“The atrocities escalated into genocide occasioned by an ethnic cleansing agenda targeting the Ndebele people in the western and central parts of the country,” Maduna said in his earlier letter to UN secretary- general Antonio Guterres.

The letter was also copied to Amnesty International, the African Union, Sadc and the European Union (EU) Parliament, among others.

An estimated 20 000 people are said to have been killed in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces when the government deployed the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade to the two regions, to fight an insurrection.

Unity Day was subsequently set up to commemorate the Unity Accord which was later signed between Zapu and Zanu on December 22, 1987, and which ended hostilities between the two parties.

Mnangagwa, who served as ousted former president Robert Mugabe’s right-hand man for nearly 54 years, last year operationalised the NPRC as part of his efforts to address unresolved national issues such as the Gukurahundi atrocities.

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

“What can we do about the past? We have put up a commission (NPRC) to deal with that issue (Gukurahundi), that should not stop us from having a better future where all the communities should be united, should co-operate, should love each other, should work together.

“This is the message which we have. We are more worried now about how in the future we should have a united Zimbabwe.

“Let me assure you that just recently I had a meeting with chiefs from Matabeleland, discussing with them, because I feel there is that bad patch in our history and we would want to correct it.

“We would want to say whatever wrong was committed we must say, the government of the day must apologise,” Mnangagwa said.

    Comments (7)

    How come the local chiefs never wrote a letter to the AU, UN etc to complain about atrocities committed against the local people by the late Rhodesian leader, Ian Smith and the colonialists? How come they did not complain about Gukurahundi during Mugabe's reign? Why can't we Africans forgive each other for past wrongs yet we can easily forgive foreigners who make similar mistakes? Shona chiefs chiefs should consider writing a letter to the SADC, AU, UN etc complaining about the loss of life by hundreds of thousands of Shona people at the hands of Mzilikazi and his son, Lobengula. Like the Gukurahundi, the atrocities committed by the Nguni army were a form of ethnic cleansing.

    Ben Maricho - 19 February 2019

    @maricho you are sick upstairs. so you support the butchering of people by zanu? you should be a green bomber chete

    josphat mugadzaweta - 19 February 2019

    The greatest misfortune to befell beloved Zimbabwe was that in 1980 terrorists forced everyone to believe that they were liberation heroes. The regime has never moved an inch from its terroristic sabotagic approach to all facets of governance. For the regime to be relevant in scheming a progressive future for Zimbabwe they must first come clean on a number of historic issues from the killings of Chitepo, Tongogara Morven Mahachi (to mention a few). That human internal displacement disguised as Murambatsvina must also be revisited. Most actors of the Gukurahundi actrocities are still around the intelligence gatherer, the guns controller as well as the one who signed the Executive order the zanupf establishment as well as victims reps it should take a competent board one morning seating with a verdict reached by noon. Commissions always take forever some are still compiling data on human rights violations of the 1st World War,no wonder ED's NPRC has no timeline only commissioners will reshuffled after 5yrs.

    Widzo - 19 February 2019

    Ed was state security minister who some of us very well remember him single handedly inflicted untold suffering and killings in Mat and Midlands .He and former CIO chief of Smith regime Stander bombed Dabangwa " car this guy ED had so much hate of pple Mat such that he wished them wiped off from the face of the earth .He worked so tireless killing pple bcoz they had voted for zapu and according to him ED the late Enos Nkala and the just dead Calistus Ndlovu all zapu supporters were to be short dead .But bigger up to the true and brave chiefs for telling it like it is .

    Diibulaanyika - 19 February 2019

    Yindaba ebuhlungu , imuli zabantu abafayo zimele zincediswe ngukulumende kanye lokubhadala I compensation. Mina lami ngayibona I gukhurahundi , ngileminyaka embili , bangibulala ngempama baqamula umbhobho wethoyi , ngavuka selitshone kabili. Abazali basuka kona le ematshonintombi mara isotsha kalizange laba lendaba lakho. Kumele sizwanane....sibone ukuthi yikuyini okungathulisa isizwe sika Matopo.

    Earl of Matopos - 19 February 2019

    Ben Maricho you are a star and not tribalist. Ndebeles should answer atrocities committed by Mzilikazi to Shonas. Ndebeles think we have forggotten. Its high time we Shonas push for Mzilikazi atrocities be investigated as well.

    CC - 20 February 2019

    I am sorry to say that Maricho and CC are two sick people. Are you saying the Gukurahundi massacres were revenge for the 1800s invasions/wars by Mzilikazi? Who is alive now from that era? I am from Mashonaland West, and I honestly hate to refer to another Zimbabwean as Ndbele, Tonga, Zezuru, etc when discussing national issues. Noone has the right to claim ownership of this country, except all of us. Please grow up and leave these stupid ZANU-PF ways of dealing with issues. You must be ashamed of yourselves. Please chiefs, go ahead, you have the support of many Zimbos, especially considering that the perpetrators are still there and still killing innocent people.

    Ben Flicka - 20 February 2019

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