By Nkosana Dlamini
Harare, January 30, 2018 – PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has come under fire from political opponents and activists following his blunt refusal in front of a stunned world audience last week to apologise on behalf of the Zanu PF led government’s atrocities soon after independence.
Mnangagwa’s name features prominently among the architects of the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces disturbances in which 20,000 civilians died in the hands of the military, according to a 1997 report by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace.
The President was in Davos, Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum.
Put on the spot and asked to apologise during a widely televised interview with international media, the Mnangagwa adamantly refused to cast back to Gukurahundi, instead telling his interviewer he was more focused on the future than the past.
Mnangagwa also disputed the figure put forward as the number of those who died during the period but did not hazard his own guess about the size of the massacres.
Speaking in separate interviews with RadioVOP weekend, PDP politician Godern Moyo, MDC-T’s Nelson Chamisa and Simba Makoni, leader of Mavambo/Kusile, all said this was a lost chance by Mnangagwa to demonstrate infront of the world he was sincere in his vows to pull the nation out its broken past.
“Mnangagwa’s interview has opened a pandora’s box,” said Moyo, adding “Firstly, he knows how many people were killed in Matebeleland because when he was told there were 20,000, he said no, the figures are different.
“Secondly, he clearly refused at a world stage to take responsibility, to open up to Zimbabweans and the people of Matebeleland in particular.”
At a time when the world is giving him the benefit of doubt, Moyo said, Mnangagwa chose not to take responsibility in front of the same world he was at pains to convince.
“The people will punish him,” he said.
Chamisa, who is MDC-T deputy president, also said the President has squandered an opportunity to lead a polarised nation to begin on a path to lasting unity.
“That is part of the problem because there is never forgiveness without confession. So if he refuses to confess and apologise he is simply denying those victims an opportunity to forgive him and our nation will not be healed,” he said.
Makoni said Mnangagwa’s attempts to chat a new path would remain futile without accounting for his Gukurahundi sins.
“It’s a profound statement about his state of commitment to the past. If he genuinely believed the country needs to move forward he would acknowledge we can’t move forward without relieving ourselves of the burdens of the past, Gukurahundi especially.
“That signals we are continuing on the same bus, on the same journey, only with a different driver.”
Mbuso Fuzwayo, secretary general of the Bulawayo based pressure group, Ibhetshu Likazulu, scorned Mnangagwa for showing arrogance towards the survivors of a people he brutalised.
“He might try to put up a brave face, show arrogance but victims of the genocide still expect him to say something, not just as someone who is at the helm of government but also as a perpetrator,” he said.
Fuzwayo, whose organisation has filed a suit against former President Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa himself and former colonial master Britain over their handling of the emotive matter.
He vowed they will continue demanding for the truth on the dark period.
Gukurahundi is the name given to the bloody military operation waged in the ostensible attempt to track down armed army deserters who were viewed sympathetic to former Vice President and Mugabe nemesis Joshua Nkomo.
Innocent civilians were targeted for assaults, rape, kidnappings, robbery, murder among some of the heinous crimes that were allegedly meant to punish them for allegedly harbouring dissidents.
By Nkosana Dlamini