BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE opposition MDC has been urged to properly document all human rights violations, torture, forced disappearances, abductions and killings of its members since the party’s formation in 1999 for the future prosecution of perpetrators.
Unless there are investigations, documentations for the purposes of accountability and prosecution, a culture of impunity will always prevail, former speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo, former legislator Abednico Bhebhe and rights’ activists said.
They made the statements following the discovery of human remains in Bubi, Matabeleland North province believed to be those of an opposition MDC supporter who was detained and tortured at a Zanu PF militia camp ahead of the 2002 presidential elections.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) documents name a number of perpetrators, who led the torture and killings of nearly 20 000 civilians during the 1980’s massacres, Gukurahundi, some of them who are in the top echelons of power.
In the case of Gukurahundi, the named perpetrators have refused to acknowledge any responsibility or offer an apology.
Critics argue Gukurahundi perpetrators are frustrating processes to redress the 1980’s massacres to avoid prosecution at all costs.
“Because, they have not been punished whatsoever, they will always continue to act with impunity,” said human rights activist Effie Ncube.
“We need to seriously and systematically document human rights violations, particularly those targeting the opposition with a view of prosecuting perpetrators of such when they leave power.
“There must be consequences and examples set about human rights violations for future generations.
“The right to know, the circumstances under which someone died, was tortured or disappeared should be always a top priority for the opposition.”
“The opposition must protect its supporters, and always work with families to ensure that the story around those that are tortured, killed, or forcibly disappeared, is known, well documented and evidence is made available for future prosecutions.”
A fortnight ago, human remains were discovered by builders as they were digging a foundation for a house a few metres from Lukona Primary School and Lukona Clinic in Bubi’s Kenilworth area that is being turned into a township.
Ahead of the 2002 elections, Lukona primary and clinic were turned into Zanu PF torture camps, where opposition supporters were brought for torture for days on end for daring to support the MDC then led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai.
“It is important that the state and the communities properly document such incidences of torture and killings of innocent civilians, or even political activists.
“The issue of documentation is key in order for us as a country to have a correct record of such incidents,” the former speaker of Parliament, who now fronts the United Movement for Devolution Lovemore Moyo said.
“It is also important, because once such processes are undertaken; it allows the families of those that disappeared to put some closure on their beloved ones because there is no rest as long as you do not know what happened to your loved ones.”
Moyo said the MDC “could have done more in order to support the torture victims, but “the reality is that there is very little that a political partly could have done to mitigate the violent culture of the ruling Zanu PF party.”
Bhebhe said it will be foolhardy for the opposition to publicise any documentation processes, arguing lessons from the past showed that state agents can always steal such documents.
In the early 1980s, government seized war records belonging to Zipra, a former military wing of Zapu during the armed struggle.
Exiled former cabinet minister and ex-Zanu-PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo once claimed in a Twitter post that Zapu archives stolen during Gukurahundi were kept at the ruling party’s headquarters in Harare.
“History will tell you that when documentation is taking place, it should be guarded jealously.
“And the second thing, we have a situation where the judiciary is captured, where the police are scared to act in a fair and impartial manner,” Bhebhe argued.
“Time will come, especially when Zanu PF has been retired, to make sure that all those documents, that we have, come to open. Such kinds of atrocities are there, and on record,but the sitting government is making sure that such are not publicised.
A number of opposition supporters have been beaten, tortured and forcibly disappeared or killed since the party’s formation in 1999.