From George Maponga in Masvingo
Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko yesterday maintained that post-independence disturbances that rocked parts of Matabeleland and Midlands regions in the 1980s commonly referred to as Gukurahundi, were a Western conspiracy bent on destabilising the newly-independent Zimbabwean state.The Vice President, who is also the Minister of State responsible for National Healing and Reconciliation, said he had no regrets over his comments on the violent disturbances because he knew the truth about what exactly transpired by virtue of being one of the senior Zapu officials during the transition from colonial rule to Independence on April 18 1980.
VP Mphoko was Zapu Chief of Logistics during the liberation struggle and acted as the direct link between the then Zanu leader President Mugabe and his late Zapu counterpart Dr Joshua Nkomo.
Speaking during a public lecture on National Healing at the Great Zimbabwe University, VP Mphoko said the violence that rocked the Matabeleland region and parts of Midlands in the 1980s was not President Mugabe’s problem contrary to what was often reported in some sections of the media.
He said the only “real’’ Gukurahundi was proclaimed by President Mugabe in 1979 when he was Commander-in-Chief of Zanla forces who were on the last lap to dislodge the racist Rhodesian regime.
“Let me make it very clear about the issue of Gukurahundi that is often talked about to refer to problems that were experienced in this country after Independence. There is only one Gukurahundi that took place before Independence when President Mugabe as Zanla Commander-In-Chief, made a proclamation marking the year 1979 as the year of Gukurahundi (The year of the People’s Storm),’’ he said.
“President Mugabe was giving a final order to the advancing Zanla forces to sweep the Rhodesians once and for all and that Gukurahundi ended with the attainment of our Independence in 1980. Anything that is called Gukurahundi that happened after that is something different.
“’Similarly, Zapu leader Dr (Joshua) Nkomo also proclaimed the Turning Point at the same time, which also ended on 18 April 1980 when we won our Independence,’’ he added.
VP Mphoko accused some sections of the media of writing lies about disturbances that occurred in Matabeleland.
“The disturbances that happened after Independence were not because of President Mugabe’s problem, it was a Western conspiracy to destabilise the newly-independent state of Zimbabwe,’’ he said.
“I have been taken to task about my stance on this issue before, but I must say the truth.
“ There is no malice as far as we are concerned and like what we have said before, the post-Independent Gukurahundi was a Western project.
“’What is sometimes written in the papers is all lies. Papers (media) should not lie because I know what happened. I was part of those people who made history (leading Zimbabwe into majority rule).’’
VP Mphoko also dismissed reports that disturbances in Matabeleland started after PF-Zapu rejected results of the historic 1980 elections that were resoundingly won by President Mugabe and Zanu (PF).
The Vice President said after the announcement of the 1980 election results, PF-Zapu leader Dr Nkomo sent him to front-line leaders such as the late Mozambican president Cde Samora Moises Machel to thank them for supporting Zimbabwe’s struggle for Independence.
This, VP Mphoko said, was confirmation that PF-Zapu had no hard feelings over the outcome of the 1980 election results that ushered in majority rule.
He challenged Zimbabweans to unite and co-exist peacefully saying the successful execution of the war of liberation that removed minority rule was an example of what a united people could achieve if they worked in unison.
The public lecture was attended by senior Government officials among them Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Senator Shuvai Mahofa, Minister of State for Liaising on Psychomotor Activities in Education Josaya Hungwe and Great Zimbabwe University Vice Chancellor Professor Rungano Zvobgo among others.