Gukurahundi: VP must apologise – Coltart

FORMER MDC Bulawayo South MP, David Coltart, has challenged Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to publicly apologise for his role in the 1980s Gukurahundi atrocities or accept he has no hope in the succession race.

Emmerson Mnangagwa

Emmerson Mnangagwa

In his recently-published book ‘The Struggle Continues :50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe’, Coltart claims that Mnangagwa, then Security minister sometime in 1983, made inflammatory remarks which, it is claimed, encouraged violence and marked the beginning of Gukurahundi.

Mnangagwa immediately issued a statement rejecting the allegation and threatening legal action against the opposition politician.

Government deployed the North–Korean trained Five Brigade in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, supposedly to deal with a dissident menace but human rights groups say at least 20,000 innocent civilians were killed during the crackdown.

No action has been taken to help victims and survivors with President Robert Mugabe refusing to apologise for killings which he however, described as a “moment of madness”.

Regime apologists have tried to suggest that the emotive conflict is now a closed chapter, the last word on it being the 1987 unity deal between Mugabe and former rival Joshua Nkomo.

Current Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has even suggested that Western countries were responsible for the killings even though it was Mugabe who deployed the army unit.

Addressing journalists last Thursday at the Bulawayo Press Club, Coltart said Mnangagwa, who is widely believed to be harbouring presidential ambitions, is not a suitable candidate for country’s number job unless he asks for forgiveness for his alleged role during the disturbances.

“The experience I have had as a white Zimbabwean is that Zimbabweans show an incredible capacity for forgiveness and an incredible capacity to close the door and move on,” said Coltart.

“I think all our current actors, not only just Mnangagwa, will experience that if they do that and they ironically show up positioning of national office of that nature.

“But the really danger is not to pretend as if nothing happened and, even worse, if you employ language and engage in conduct which perpetuate these practices then those people are not fit for office.”

Coltart said although Mnangagwa seemed to have played a leading role during the atrocities, it was unfair to solely blame him for the violence.

“You cannot blame Gukurahundi solely on Mnangagwa. He was part of a government at that time. It’s not his sole responsibility.”.

The former education minister said several factors exacerbated the Gukurahundi atrocities.

“Even when I write about Gukurahundi in my book, I write about super Zapu and the destabilising influence of South Africa which exacerbated the situation in Matabeleland,” he said.

“This is part of our history; part of the objective fact of our history. None of us, including those who are mitigating Zanu PF’s approach to Gukurahundi can ignore this, if we are honest.”

Coltart also disputed claims that he served in notorious Selous Scouts, a Rhodesian Special Forces Unit accused of committing atrocities during the liberation war in the 70s.

“I did not join the army but I was compulsorily attested into the police force. There is a fundamental difference between joining the army and the police.”

He added: “But, having gone into the police, I was never a frontline soldier.

“Although I was in the police force for just over two years and six months, the vast majority of my time was spend in Kezi from 1976 through to mid-1977 and there are objective ways of finding out what happened in Kezi.

“You do not need to rely by my own account. You can ask Zipra combatants who operated in the area.”

Post published in: Featured

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *