We are experiencing a sudden wave of palpable hostility towards Gukurahundi victims and anyone who dares stand up to injustice. Truth be told, disregard and insensitivity towards the Gukurahundi atrocities by some ethnic Shona people, I stress they are a minority, cannot sustain peace in Zimbabwe.
An objective appraisal of the political space indicates some sinister happenings within the Zimbabwean political space. Social media political activity highlights a cynical and rapidly increasing phenomenon of individuals bearing ethnic Ndebele identities joining Gukurahundi genocide debates solely to rebuke Matabeleland nationals, anyone raising uniquely Mthwakazi concerns and interests and everyone challenging the integrity of the new regime.
The question however, is how genuine these people’s support and intentions are? We are staring at the continuation of ZANU PF factional war, and there is good reason to suspect some contributors maybe sympathisers of the so-called G40 dangling a rope for Mnangagwa to hang himself. These people are subtly inciting state violence against Mthwakazi activists; it is revealing too that they are also ridiculing Mnangagwa’s leadership as weak towards Ndebele people and regime opponents in general.
They are clearly calling for an uncompromising government response to opposition, and falsely argue that there were never demonstrations against Gukurahundi during Mugabe’s regime because he was a tough leader.
We acknowledge constitutional provisions for freedom of speech, but condoning the Gukurahundi genocide is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation. Calling recent demonstrations against Gukurahundi by Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) youths treasonous is laughable, but equally disturbing.
Listening and reading some social media comments, one relives the putrid early 1980s political atmosphere where our cousins in Mashonaland were calling for Joshua Nkomo’s hanging for ‘treason’ and seeing the whole Matabeleland nation through the ZANU PF prism of hate. Our needs are deliberately turned to wants while history is ZANU PF’s interpretation of the past. We are systematically belittled, dehumanised, and excluded from decisions impacting our lives.
The situation is an illustration of underlying political schisms in Zimbabwe, and proves right the argument of a lack of desire to resolve the Gukurahundi issue; ignorance and arrogance are reason for lack of progress.
Arguably, the ideological divide within the ruling party is the stumbling block to a sustainable political solution. The conservative and/ or extremist element within the ZANU PF political hierarchy is at the forefront of this resurgence in tribal hatred and the disinterest in addressing Gukurahundi.
A major weakness is the lack of boundaries between ZANU PF and government; in practice, ZANU PF the party is not separated from the organ-of-state (the executive, the legislature and the judiciary). Subsequently, security operatives act like ZANU PF authorised bullies, and not state organs with a national mandate.
ZANU PF has failed to extricate itself from its founding inclination to tribal politics that is contraindicated with difference and change. What we are witnessing is the re-establishment of that legacy of appropriation of power by the State; we say this with caution as we are not sure how much power the executive holds. Is President Emmerson Mnangagwa just as powerful as Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar (former Burma)?
What can be said with confidence is that our politics remains driven by extreme emotions and less rationality, and extreme emotions tend to block out the ability to retain new information. Emotional response to situations also blocks the ability to share an alternative perspective in a way that it would be taken seriously by others. ZANU PF is failing to engage with Mthwakazi to draw shared goals for the future.
There is no capacity to step out the delusion into the modern political reality. Without the ability to give and retain new information, ZANU PF is stuck in archaic political views with no potential for change.
We can ill-afford to allow Gukurahundi to be conflated with the Ndebele-Shona rivalry; that political absurdity only protects the criminals who planned and executed Gukurahundi atrocities. Let us critique Gukurahundi for what it was – a crime against humanity, planned and executed by the ZANU PF elite; what it was not was a Ndebele versus Shona conflict.
Gukurahundi was a disingenuous ZANU PF political project aimed at eradicating ideological difference, crushing PF ZAPU and establishing a one-party state in Zimbabwe. When we start looking at Gukurahundi as a human rights breach, we will start looking at the MRP youths’ demonstrations against it as a fundamental human rights issue. Any condonement of state obstructive behaviour towards MRP Gukurahundi demonstrators risks setting a precedent for further arbitrary action against civilians exercising their constitutional rights.
People cannot be denied the freedom of expression because someone detests its content; the legality of the MRP youths’ right to demonstrate is undeniable.
ZANU PF is not only a criminal and murderous party, it is a tribalist organisation that has sort to build a Shona hegemony while depriving other ethnic groups and races genuine space to thrive; this explains why Enos Nkala felt the need to publicly regret being Ndebele; he was only accommodated, but never included in ZANU PF.
We respect and will protect the right of our opponents to express their views, but we are duty bound to remind them that distortion of facts and insensitivity to serious cases of human rights abuses is a betrayal that benefits only the ZANU PF elite.