BY NIZBERT MOYO
President Emmerson Mnangagwa must set up a truth commission to address the 1980s army atrocities in Midlands and Matabeleland to bring finality to the issue, former Zimbabwe People’s Liberation Army (ZPRA) veterans have said.
Mnangagwa met Matabeleland chiefs in Bulawayo on August 21 where they agreed that the traditional leaders must lead the process to address issues that arose from the massacres.
The government of the late Robert Mugabe deployed the North Korea trained 5th Brigade to the south–western region in a military campaign that is now infamously known as Gukuruhundi.
Over 20 000 civilians are estimated to have been killed in cold blood while thousands others were tortured and displaced while women were sexually abused.
Mnangagwa was the State Security minister at the time.
Buster Magwizi, the Zpra War Veterans Association spokesperson told Sunday Southern Eye that Zapu’s military wing during the liberation war were the main targets of the military campaign.
“It is our issue, it has nothing to do with everyone, all Zipra members were called dissidents after the war and they went to hide at their parents homes in rural areas where they were followed and attacked together with their parents,” Magwizi said.
“Zapu properties were taken on trumped up charges so that we die as paupers.
Zpra war veterans have been marginalised from physical to structural violence just like what is happening today.
“We want Mnangagwa to acknowledge and apologise because they are the perpetrators.”
Zapu acting president Isaac Mabuka said most of the dissidents were deployed by the government to justify Gukurahundi.
“It happens in a counter insurgency operation,” Mabuka said.
“You create pseudo dissidents that will go around asking for food from the people and people will give them food for fear of being killed and these will be innocent people.
“After the signing of the Unity Accord a few dissidents came out from Zapu.
“It would not make sense to deploy a brigade of 5000 men against 100 dissidents.
“So it shows that most of the dissidents who were said to be all over the country may have been created by the ruling party.”
Mugabe never apologised for the atrocities, which he described as a moment of madness.
After he was toppled by the army in 2017, he blamed Mnangagwa for the killings.