There can never be any genuine unity in Zimbabwe without justice for Gukurahundi genocide victims

Yesterday I was watching a very touching true crime television program on a cold-blooded murder that remained unsolved for over twenty years - eventually leading to the investigation becoming cold.

 

However, when new crucial evidence began flowing in, the case was reopened – leading to a shocking discovery.

The man who had brutally and savagely killed an innocent young lady, had been nineteen years old at the time of the heinous act – but, now nearly at the age of forty, had spruced up his life, stopped drinking and abusing drugs, and joined the Christian ministry as a lay pastor.

As I watched this documentary, my heart was torn into two – since this man had clearly seen the error of his ways, and drastically changed his life for the better (without so much as the need for incarceration), should he still be held accountable for his gruesome crime of twenty years ago?

To be honest, I felt sorry for the guy – who had now married, and had two wonderful kids – a family that only knew their father as a devout, loving, and upright Christian.

I truly wanted him to be exonerated for his crime, forgiven, and set free.

Unfortunately, that is not how life works – as there was also another family that had been grieving for over two decades, gnawed by unanswered questions as to exactly what had led to their beloved daughter/sister/wife/mother’s cold-hearted murder, who had done it, and why.

They needed answers – and they, quite honestly, deserved them.

After twenty years of pain and sorrow, they finally had their chance to meet face-to-face with the man responsible for cruelly taking away the life of their loved one, and ask him those tough questions.

All they needed was closure. They had to know.

Fortunately, the murderer cum lay pastor was more than contrite – and, through his genuine remorseful tears, he explained everything that transpired that fateful day, and why it all happened that way.

In a nutshell, the man had his romantic advances rejected by the young married lady – and, in a drug-fueled fit of rage, took out his gun, and shot her in cold-blood.

Although the family finally found the closure they had been desperately searching for for over two decades, the anguish in hearing this truthful testimony was unbearable.

Nonetheless, they eventually forgave the killer after he had sorrowfully pleaded for their forgiveness – and agreed to a far lesser charge of second degree murder, which resulted in a reduced sentence of twenty years in jail.

Today 22 December, is National Unity Day – supposedly, meant to commemorate the signing of the so-called “Unity Accord” between ZANU and ZAPU in 1987 – which ended a five year barbaric and ruthless genocidal reign of terror against the mostly Ndebele-speaking people of the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces, at the hands of the Zimbabwe regime.

This murderous campaign – aimed at annihilating the Joshua Nkomo-led ZAPU political party, which was believed to receive most of its support from that ethnic grouping – led to the callous butchering of over 20,000 innocent men, women, and children (including, unborn babies who were gouged out of their mothers wombs with gun bayonets).

Of course, hundreds of thousands more were left homeless, maimed, gang raped, and fatherless – leading to most fleeing the country into neighboring South Africa, and a generation of undocumented Zimbabweans who could not obtain national identification papers due to forced disappearances of their fathers.

Yet, as the nation apparently remembers this day (22 December) as a landmark achievement for peace and tranquility in the country – can we truthfully say there is any genuine “peace and tranquility” to talk about, when we still have families hurting from unanswered questions surrounding their murdered loved ones, or their own fate (as they were gang raped, mutilated, orphaned, and abandoned to a life of misery and uncertainty)?

As with the true crime investigation story I highlighted earlier – can there be any genuine closure (which is the beginning of healing) if those responsible have not been made accountable for their sadistic and wicked crimes, and answer all those tough questions from their victims (and their families)?

Any genuine national healing and reconciliation will only be realized when the whole truth comes out in the open, during face-to-face encounters with perpetrators of this merciless vile genocide – who also need to express real remorse and acknowledgment of their crimes against humanity.

At the end of this process, the victims and perpetrators need to then agree to restitution and reparations.

Without such a process, there can never be any “peace and tranquility” or “healing and reconciliation” to talk about.

Unlike the murderer I mentioned in my illustration – who had turned around his life, and was more than willing to face up to his cruel deeds, by admitting his horrendous crime, and accepting any subsequent consequences – the authors and enforcers of Zimbabwe’s ghastly genocide appear not to have transformed (proven by their continued violent and cruel acts against perceive foes), and an arrogant unwillingness to acknowledge their culpability.

Already this arrogance has been shown by the manner in which this emotive issue has been handled – with the perpetrators dictating the agenda, processes, and what they consider “worthy” resolution… with scant involvement of the victims themselves.

This goes without saying that, the government of Zimbabwe is not serious about bringing finality to this matter, nor do they intend doing so in the near future.

It is quite clear that this whole half-hearted and haughty approach is merely a time-wasting strategy, meant to shield those who unleashed this ruthless reign of terror – who are still in power in the country.

The onus now lies with the victims themselves.

Are they willing to demand justice – and, what are they prepared to do to get they justice?

If there are any amongst the victims who actually believe that perpetrators of a crime can be genuine investigators and brokers in their own nefarious activities – then, I honestly do not know what else to say.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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