AMHVoices: Gukurahundi victims must demand justice

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AS Zimbabweans brace themselves for the July 30 general elections, various sections of the nation have only two months left to seriously consider who will best lead them to meet their needs, hopes and aspirations.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana,Our Reader

Zimbabweans have had a very checkered history with decision-making when it comes to crucial elections, and have always been known for choosing unwisely, thereby, spending the following five years of the electoral cycle moaning and groaning over unfulfilled or broken promises by candidates.

Furthermore, some Zimbabweans have been gripped by a curse I prefer calling the “soccer fan mentality syndrome”, where voters fanatically support a particular political party even if it does not deliver. This is where we have a serious weakness as a society in Zimbabwe, electing leaders and parties on emotional and not rational grounds. We chose demagoguery over wisdom; rhetoric over substance.

One of the most aggrieved communities in this country is to be found in Midlands and Matabeleland regions were horrible human rights atrocities were committed by the Zanu PF regime against mostly Ndebele-speaking citizens of this country. Tens of thousands of innocent and unarmed men, women and children were brutally massacred for political and other reasons.

However, for over 30 years now Zanu PF leaders have sought to cowardly avoid dealing with this issue. They have not even apologised for the massacres which bordered on genocide and inflammatory statements or hate speeches they delivered. We have only been told that the killings were “a moment of madness”.

Understandably, as the perpetrators of the atrocities, Zanu PF leaders are afraid of coming out in the open to deal with this emotive issue.

I am sure it is also human nature; how many criminals willingly admit their crimes even when are caught red-handed, or willingly hand themselves over to the police?

As such, it would be foolhardy for anyone to seriously expect the perpetrators of such heinous crimes as Gukurahundi to willingly accept wrongdoing and responsibility.

Victims of Gukurahundi and activists can make as much noise as possible in calling for justice, accountability and restitutions, but as long as the “policeman” or “redeemer” we are running to is also the perpetrator then nothing positive will happen.

How can someone who has just been raped run to the rapist and call for him to acknowledge his crime and hold himself accountable — even by throwing himself into jail? This is just plainly ridiculous!

The victim must realise that even if the rapist is the sheriff in town, there are many other avenues of seeking and pursuing justice. So victims of Gukurahundi must use other methods to get justice and voting is one of those ways. They must vote for a candidate who will genuinely and decisively address the issue, not one who thinks the issue is a bygone. Gukurahundi victims cannot run to the perpetrator and then expect justice after voting him or her into power.

The Zanu PF regime still fails to or refuses to acknowledge its role in the atrocities; they want to shift blame or cover up the issue through shadowy inquiries like the one currently unfolding under the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission auspices.

Gukurahundi victims should not expect the Zanu PF regime to be perpetrator, law enforcer, judge or jury, prison officer and prison guard on the killings. Zanu PF leaders are masters of cruelty, propaganda and re-writing of history.

As they die one by one we will end up with no one to hold accountable and that will subsequently change the course of history. If that were to happen, it would be another tragedy on top of a tragedy. History can never, and should never, be forgotten!

That is why Zanu PF will never allow anyone to forget what happened during the colonial period. They will always remind us of the pioneer column, Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi, among others. They will always tell us of the ruthlessness of the Rhodesians, conveniently forgetting their own. In fact, they want us to forget what happened during the past 38 years ago.

The opposition must speak boldly, openly, and bravely about Gukurahundi and demand accountability and justice for the victims. It is sad to hear some powerful opposition figures using Gukurahundi during campaigns without demanding justice for victims and demanding that perpetrators be held accountable. Yet we have been hearing perpetrators insisting that we need to look ahead, and not backwards, meaning that no one should be held accountable for the killings.

The opposition must speak out about these issues. How can someone — especially who is not even a victim — advocate for perpetrators to be let scot-free without justice or even compensation for the sufferers? How can someone who never felt the pain of Gukurahundi dare say that holding perpetrators to account is counter-productive as we all need to move on? What shocks me the most is that some of the people saying these sorts of things are supposedly lawyers.

If someone is raped and seeks justice from the police, what exactly would they be hoping for? To be told: let us move on? Justice means accountability and restitution. And indeed without accountability, there is no justice. As such, Gukurahundi victims, their families and friends, and all those who seek justice, need to elect leaders who will openly, boldly, and bravely declare and stand for justice on such issues and others. It is important Zimbabwe deals with this issue honestly and decisively to allow the country to move on.

Leaders in these elections must make firm promises and commitment that these atrocities will be fully and fairly investigated by an independent commission of inquiry set up for this purpose, with clear terms of reference, competent and independent people, expertise, resources and deadlines.