Gukurahundi: The axe may forget but the tree remembers

I ALMOST threw up in my mouth recently when I read that Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) secretary general, Victor Matemadanda had said former President Robert Mugabe was solely responsible for the Gukurahundi massacres.

By NQABA MATSHAZI

Yes, Mugabe was a bad leader, a fiendish one for that matter, but to say he was solely responsible for the mass killings is the weirdest form of revisionism.

We have had cases of revisionism before, but this takes the cake and Matemadanda ought to be taken to task.

The Gukurahundi killings were the most diabolical episode in this country, but to blame one person for it borders on Rambo-esque fantasy.

Mugabe was the commander-in-chief and the buck ultimately stopped with him, but questions have to be asked on who helped him plan it, implement it and execute it.
Surely, it was not a one-man band and his enforcers also have to be blamed for it, as there is no record of them protesting the killings, but rather they seemed to praise them.

For a long time, my gripe with MDC was that they believed — or at least acted as if — Zimbabwe’s history began in 2000, when they were formed.

Their messaging was quite ahistorical and allowed Zanu PF to run away with the nationalist narrative.

On the other hand, for Zanu PF, the period between 1982 and 1987 is a blur and they have collective amnesia of what happened during that era.

In the aftermath of the military’s taking over last November, there seems to be a new wave of denialism and revisionism, where everything bad is blamed on Mugabe, while his former lieutenants behave as if they are some modern-day Rip Van Winkles.

There is pretence that those in the corridors of power had no clue what Mugabe was doing, as he was doing it alone.

It’s as if they were not there, or they were sleepwalking for the majority of the 37 years that Mugabe was in power.

Like Rip Van Winkle, those in power seem to want us to believe that they were sleeping for 37 years and they cannot be held accountable for the excesses that were wrought by the successive governments that, bizarrely, they were part of.

For those in power now, it’s as if history begins in November 2017 and everything before that must be forgotten or at worst, never happened.

There is a lot of rewriting of history by Zanu PF and it is sickening why a whole party and government would fail to take responsibility for their actions.

It’s as if they believe that if they ignore history long enough, it will finally go away, but as one philosopher once said, if you hide a people’s history, you teach them to hate.

Why Zanu PF always struggled in Matabeleland is because the people of that area resent that their history is being ignored and airbrushed, leading them to an existential crisis, as they begin to question their very existence.

This is all the work of loudmouths like Matemadanda, who instead of addressing the people’s problems and issues, choose to insult their audience’s intelligence.

Had I been in the audience that day, my first question was going to be why his party leader, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has refused to apologise for nor acknowledge the Gukurahundi if Mugabe was solely responsible.

When Mnangagwa began his diplomatic charm offensive, he was asked whether he would apologise and he deflected that question.

Instead, he chose to question the numbers of those allegedly killed by the government he served.

Mnangagwa was the State Security minister during Gukurahundi and he said many things that were captured in the media, which can easily be characterised as hate speech, yet Matemadanda wants us to believe that it was only Mugabe who was responsible.

Mnangagwa has a golden opportunity to produce the Chihambakwe and Dumbutshena commission of inquiry reports on the Gukurahundi killings, as President, but I am not holding my breath that these will be released anytime soon.

It was quite condescending for Matemadanda to go to an area that suffered the brunt of the Gukurahundi and try to rewrite their history.

What is worrying is that Matemadanda’s boss, ZNLWVA chairman, Christopher Mutsvangwa also has bizarre views about the Gukurahundi and maybe that is the strategy that the war veterans’ association has chosen on how to deal with that dark episode in the country’s history.

Mutsvangwa, who holds the lofty position of being Mnangagwa’s adviser, was quoted saying speaking about Gukurahundi is unhelpful and irresponsible and one can only wonder what type of similar toxic advice he is giving the President.

Probably, this is why Mnangagwa can describe the past as a bygone, but the reality is that the axe may forget, but the tree remembers, as African wisdom has told us.
Matemadanda and his ilk should rather keep quiet about Gukurahundi, rather than saying the most ludicrous things.

The victims of Gukurahundi know what was happening, they know who was responsible and ultimately know who is to blame for their suffering and will not be lectured by revisionists like Matemadanda.

Matemadanda might be forgiven if he was speaking from a position of ignorance, but there is so much literature on that episode now and that can help him disabuse himself of the notion that only one person was responsible.

Mugabe deserves everything that is coming his way, but so does everyone else that helped him on that path that turned so many lives upside down and ruined the country.

Feedback: nmatshazi@southerneye.co.zw Twitter @nqabamatshazi