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The Gukurahundi deception cannot go unchallenged

Anyone still entertaining the idea of a link between Gukurahundi atrocities and the alleged presence of dissidents in Matabeleland while at the same time buying into the explanation that the 5th Brigade executions of unarmed Ndebele people were a ‘moment of madness’ will have to express that conviction at the nearest available psychiatric institution.

ZANU PF-led Zimbabwe government saves as a mockery of African independence and leadership. It turned tribalism into an institution and Shona creed into law. Within that framework Ndebeles were designated the unofficial title of ‘dissidents’ whose presence was an inconvenience to Shonas. The state sanctioned murderous acts of 1983/ 84 were hardly a ‘moment of madness’ but an accomplishment of goals long set by Mugabe and his colleagues in ZANU PF.

Image copyright: Unknown. Exhumed decomposed bodies of Gukurahundi victims in Matabeleland

The structured deception that is the Zimbabwean political system makes it impossible to tell where the truth ends and where deception begins. While there were considerable defections from the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) by ex-ZIPRA combatants with a relatively small number allegedly engaging in criminal activities including the murder of white farmers in Matabeleland, Mugabe’s response was disproportionate and disingenuous.

This systemic incompetence is founded on the manipulation of the majority ethnic Shona people against ethnic minorities, particularly the ethnic Ndebele people. Scaremongering has built sufficient paranoia among the ethnic Shona population most of whom continue to feel safe only in the hands of an ethnic Shona dominated government in the process inadvertently condoning the government abuse of minority ethnic groups perceived to be a threat to peace and stability.

The Zimbabwean public needs to appreciate that with regards to Gukurahundi, there is virtually nothing to be trusted from ZANU PF and its associated academic elite. Our history has been politicised; it is a subjective interpretation of past events as selected by ZANU PF authorities than an objective narrative of the past.

The education system has been turned into a breeding ground of deception; limiting our historical appreciation to ZANU PF sculptured syllabi has left a huge section of the population entrapped in ignorance. Without a doubt, the only bulwark against manipulation of history, deliberate misinformation and outright deception is knowledge obtained from the victims of the atrocities.

It is time Matabeleland (the victim of Gukurahundi) was the central figure in telling the story about the Gukurahundi; the unchallenged manipulation of history by our tormentors cannot be left as is. The truth has to be told, we have experienced the physical abuse in the form of Gukurahundi; that has continued in the writing of history, the exercise of the legal system in investigating and reporting the incident, and stringent control of information outflow. The government has continued to be selective in the reality and truth it is prepared to accept. The Chihambakwe and Dumbutshena reports have yet to be published.

Our lack of enthusiasm in celebrating the ‘Unity Accord should not come as a surprise when we cannot commemorate the events that preclude the 1987 signatures. If we are expected to give prominence to that 1987 agreement, we have to accord equal degree of prominence to the 1983/4 atrocities. Peace based on the denial and avoidance of real issues is temporary, at best.

Instead of calling for the kicking of tables I will prefer their resetting. As Matabeleland addresses systemic inequalities, we have to remain aware of the fact that it is the system and not the ethnic Shona society that we are fighting. We will not be better for hating ethnic Shona people but for placing greater emphasis on the idea that it is all right to be different. Tribalism is not instinctive but taught and learned, it can be unlearned.

What Zimbabwe requires right now is acceptance of wrongs committed in the early 1980s and a crusade to reform institutions and political systems. Matabeleland is unwilling to partake in the Unity Accord celebrations for the foreseeable future if the reasons for the day are never highlighted. It is not only the 22nd of December 1987 that is significant but the truth and sanctions against the perpetrators. As things stand right now, the Unity Accord is a celebration of conquest of ZANU PF over ethnic Ndebele people.


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