Gukurahundi denier Mphoko must quit reconciliation body, activists

Staff Reporter

Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo

PEOPLE affected by political violence in 2008 have accused Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko of supporting Gukurahundi perpetrators and said he is not fit to oversee the operations of National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) he currently chairing.

Speaking at an event organised by Heal Zimbabwe Trust in the capital on Tuesday, the victims said if Mphoko remained at the helm of the commission he would block investigations of Gukurahundi perpetrators.

The event was organised to review the NPRC Bill.

Gukurahundi refers to the 1980s atrocities in the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces when then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe unleashed a specially trained army unit to hunt down dissidents resulting in the death of an estimated 20,000 civilians.

Heal Zimbabwe director Rashid Mahiya said when “people talk about mistrust in the executive it is not born out of nothing, it is from lived experiences.”

“We also understand the position that was given by VP Mphoko on Gukurahundi; he does not necessarily say that Gukurahundi did not take place.

“He tries to absolve the executive and the politicians from the responsibility so the problem is that did it not take place or were the people not killed, and are there no consequences and should we not do something?”

Lawrence Mike Mzanga of Zaka it was disappointing to note that Mphoko was against such investigations despite outcries of people from his own tribe.

“People in the western and southern regions of the country, to be precise, people of Matebeleland are crying over all those atrocities that were perpetrated by the state,” he said.

“He has already shown that he is against any investigation into the issues like Gukurahundi and how can we then have peace,” he added.

The commission is mandated to bring closure to an era of human rights abuses and violations. The NPRC Bill was drafted and made accountable to the executive.

Mphoko was then appointed the Minister for National Healing Peace and Reconciliation.

This followed concerns that the country is currently witnessing abductions and increased cases of politically motivated intra-party and inter-party violence.

Political actors have also already started preparing for 2018 elections and cases of harassment, intimidation and organised violence and torture continue to be recorded.

Zimbabwe has endured a legacy of violence resulting in loss of life, displacements, enforced disappearances and torture just to mention a few.

These have resulted in bitterness, hatred, revengefulness and lack of cohesion in Zimbabwe’s communities.

A victim from Mount Darwin said it is imperative to break the cycle of violence and establish a strong foundation for peace and justice thereby inculcating a culture of respect for human rights in Zimbabwe.

“We want the Gukurahundi issue to reach its final closure not the cover up which the state and now VP Mphoko are doing and we do not foresee such happening if he is the minister responsible for the organ,” he said.

Other participants said the only way Zimbabwe can move forward in terms of dealing with perpetrators of political violence was to remove powerful politicians like the Vice President.

Mphoko's recent attempt to absolve President Robert Mugabe of any culpability for Gukurahundi angered activists from the affected regions who feel the country's second ­in ­charge was insensitive to the plight of the victims.

The vice president, who surprisingly leapfrogged favourites to land his current job, said Mugabe's hands were clean over the massacre.

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