Gukurahundi victims should not be weak by electing compromised leaders

As Zimbabweans brace themselves for the 30 July 2018 harmonised elections, various sections of the nation have only two months left in which to seriously consider who, amongst the candidates, will best suit their needs, hopes, and aspirations, and ,as such, very careful analysis and thought must be employed in order to make decisions that they will not regret later.

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

Furthermore, some Zimbabweans have been gripped by a curse I prefer calling the ‘soccer fan mentality syndrome’, in which someone fanatically supports a particular political party, even though not fully understanding if its objectives are truly aligned to his or her personal needs, ambitions and aspirations.

This is where we have witness the greatest weakness in Zimbabwean society, resulting in never-ending crying and hopelessness, as our elected representatives do not live up to our expectations, mainly because we ourselves never thoroughly and soberly analysed their policies and programmes – but, merely, followed the crowd, and voted for the ‘popular team’.

We chose demagoguery over wisdom, and oratory over reasoning.

One of the most aggrieved communities in this country since 1990, have been victims of the 1980s atrocities by the ZANU PF regime of mostly Ndebele speakers in the Midlands and Matebeleland provinces – whereby, tens of thousands of innocent unarmed men, women and children were brutally massacred.

Nonetheless, for over 30 years, the ZANU PF regime has sought to trivialize this massacre – which many analysts have characterized as a genocide – with callous and vile statements, such as that these were mere disturbances, or simply ‘a moment of madness’.

Understandably, as the main perpetrators of thses atrocities are within the ZANU PF regime, they would use every trick in the book to protect themselves and avoid accountability.

I am sure that is human nature, as how many criminals willingly admit their crimes – even when caught red-handed – and hand themselves over to the police?

As such, it would be foolhardy for anyone to seriously expect the perpetrators of such a heinous crime as Gukurahundi to willingly admit their deeds, and subject themselves to accountability.

Victims of Gukurahundi and all other activists can make as much noise as possible calling for justice, accountability and restitutions, but as long as the ‘policeman’ we are running to is also the criminal, then we are all a bunch of fools!

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 throwing himself in jail!

This is just plainly ridiculous!

Even if the rapist is the local ‘sherrif’, other avenues could be sought to secure justice.

Therefore, after over 30 years, if victims of Gukurahundi want to receive the justice they so much deserve, they need to make very wise decisions in the next two months on which of the candidates in the forthcoming harmonised elections sincerely and fearlessly stands up for their cause.

They need to scrutinize each and every candidate – beyond the simplistic domains of petty, narrow, and shallow political party fanaticism.

The days of ‘soccer fan mentality’ are over – whereby, we allow ourselves to be flooded away by the crowds – by blindly supporting political parties that love making ‘nice’ noises, but will never deliver.

For starters, the greatest fool amongst us will be the victim of Gukurahundi who still runs to the perpetrators of the massacre, yet expecting justice and accountability.

In fact, even today, the ZANU PF regime still fails to acknowledge their respective roles in these atrocities, as they unashamedly cast the blame on each other – or, promise some shadowy meeting, or slyly discard the matter into the dustbin of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).

The more victims expect the ZANU PF regime to be perpetrator, law enforcer, judge, jury, jailer, the more Gukurahundi will be trivialized and re-written into oblivion.

ZANU PF are masters at re-writing history – as we have witness over the past 38 years – and the longer this issue of Gukurahundi lingers, whilst victims die one by one, the better it is for the regime, as they will subsequently alter the narrative.

Soon, before anyone realises it, even offspring of Gukurahundi victims will be singing the ‘let’s move on and forget about the matter’.

That will be the greatest tragedy of the country’s history!

History can never, and should never, be forgotten!

Even ZANU PF will never allow anyone to forget what happened 128 years ago during the colonizing of this country.

They will always remind us of the pioneer column, Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi.

They will always tell us of the ruthlessness of the Rhodesians, and how ZANU PF – conveniently ‘forgetting’ the immense role played by ZAPU – gallantly fought for the country’s independence against settler rule.

Yet, they will make sure we all forget what happened only 30 years ago!

Secondly, those who will vote for the opposition have to be very careful and see which candidates boldly, openly, and bravely speak for accountability and justice for Gukurahundi victims.

It is more than sad to hear some powerful opposition figures talking about justice for Gukurahundi victims, but without any perpetrator being held to account.

We have recently been hearing about the need to look ahead, and not backwards, thus not holding anyone accountable.

In my whole 45 years of existence, I have never heard such callous and reckless words.

How can someone – especially, someone who is not even a victim – advocate for perpetrators to be let scot free and for victims to merely receive compensation?

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 the person saying these words is supposedly a lawyer!

Can I ask a few questions?

If someone is raped and seeks justice from the police, what exactly would they be hoping for – for the rapist to be held accountable, or merely for compensation?

What would our esteemed lawyer cum political leader advise such a rape victim?

Would he advise her not to press charges – as there is no time to look backwards – but, just seek compensation?

If that is the case, then I would never seek legal counsel from such a lawyer!

If his ideas were to be expanded then what this means is that we may as well disband all criminal courts – as well as, all police stations – and just be left with civil courts.

Justice means accountability and restitution – as without accountability, there is no justice.

As such, all Gukurahundi victims, their families and friends, and all those who seek justice need to elect leaders who  openly, boldly, and bravely declare and stand for true justice.

There has to be a firm promise and commitment that these atrocities will be fully and fairly investigated by a commission of enquiry specially set up for this purpose, and clear deadlines put in place.

The commission’s report should be made public, and all those responsible for the atrocities brought to book.

There should also be a promise that all those found guilty of Gukurahundi would not be eligible for any presidential pardon or amnesty.

However, if the victims themselves prefer a South African-style truth and reconciliation commission, this can only be put in place after a thorough investigation and revelation of the perpetrators of Gukurahundi has been carried out.

As the accountability issues are being conducted, matters dealing with compensation would also be put in place.

If victims of Gukurahundi seriously want closure to this issue that has haunted them for over 30 years, then the forthcoming harmonised elections are their best opportunity.

They can not afford to miss this by voting for people who are merely there to serve they own shallow interests.

Justice does not equate to division.

There is nothing divisive about seeking true justice for Gukurahundi victims.

Let us not be hoodwinked by ZANU PF, which has been the architect of division in this country – a fact even pointed out by other liberation movements in the region during the fight for independence.

Gukurahundi was never between Shonas against Ndebeles – as anyone who believes that nonsense is just a sad victim of ZANU PF propaganda.

This massacre was the ZANU PF regime against the Ndebele people – so how can bringing justice divide the country along tribal lines?

If this had been a tribal conflict between the Shona and the Ndebele, believe me, the deaths would have been in their hundreds of thousands, if not millions, on both sides – as happened during the Rwanda genocide.

…and it would not have been ended by a mere Unity Accord signed by Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo – as these were not tribal leaders, but political party leaders.

What Nkomo simply, but very wisely, did was to placate a wayward, bloodthirsty, hateful and evil ZANU PF to stop its genocidal path.

Gukurahundi was the rogue ZANU PF regime masacring an innocent unarmed tribe.

This is similar to how this same regime tried to portray all elections after the formation of the MDC in 1999, as Whites versus Blacks – which was far from the truth.

ZANU PF is the only fermenter of tribalism in this country and this needs to be stopped immediately – and only the electing of those who will boldly and fearlessly face the Gukurahundi issue head-on can the nation finally move forward.

When true justice – which includes accountability – has finally been instituted can Zimbabwe hope to move ahead.

° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is the Programmes Director with the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice). Please feel free to call/WhatsApp: +263782283975, or (calls ONLY): +263715667700, or email: [email protected]. Please also ‘Like’ the ‘ZimJustice’ page of Facebook.

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