from MERCY MURURU in Masvingo
MASVINGO, (CAJ News) – DIVISIONS over atrocities the major Zimbabwean tribes committed against each other in the past have returned to haunt the country as it prepares for general elections at the end of July.
Massacres carried out by government forces in southern parts in the 1980s, are at the centre of the tensions.
Government has blamed some civil society organisations for cashing in on the disturbances that led to the alleged killing of some 20 000 civilians during military operations to rid the area of dissidents.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is wary of the issue hampering efforts to promote cohesion after decades of iron-fisted rule and human rights violations by the deposed Robert Mugabe.
Activists and some opposition parties are demanding compensation for the violations infamously known as the Gukurahundi, which were prevalent in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions.
Themba Munkombwe, the spokesperson of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) urged the government to apologise.
“An apology should be made to Ndebele people,” Munkombwe was quoted in local media.
While he never apologised, Mugabe denounced the atrocities as “a moment of madness.”
Mnangagwa earlier this year signed into law the National Peace and
Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) aimed at addressing violations.
However, traditional leaders believe the Ndebele are not the only tribe affected by the Gukuranhundi hence must not be the sole beneficiaries of compensation.
A chief in the ancient town of Masvingo, pointed out the majority Shona tribe had suffered human rights abuses by the Ndebele in the 19th century.
This was during the reign of King Mzilikazi in the pre-colonial era.
“A genuine reconciliation must not favour one side, what the other tribe (Ndebeles) did in the past must be accounted for. They caused untold sufferings in Masvingo and parts of Manicaland Provinces,” said the chief.
A military officer urged Zimbabweans to emulate the security forces and embrace unity.
“Many of us in both the military and police have forgiven each other,” he said.
Kembo Mohadi, Zimbabwe’s deputy president, who hails from Matabeleland, noted the major tribes had a history of abuses against each hence should embrace unity.
“We have to forgive each other and unite as a nation,” Mohadi, who is also National Peace and Reconciliation Minister, said.
He was speaking in Chiredzi in Masvingo.
“We need national reconciliation and healing as Zimbabweans,” Mohadi said.
– CAJ News