ZANU PF central committee member and parliamentary candidate for Bulawayo’s Makokoba constituency retired Colonel Tshinga Dube says his party’s failure to effectively resolve long-standing concerns in Matabeleland, including the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres, remains a sore point for people in the region.
Report by Herbert Moyo
In an exclusive interview with the Zimbabwe Independent in Bulawayo last Saturday, Dube bemoaned failure to address the Gukurahundi and marginalisation protests saying he had warned his colleagues this would cost the party support in the elections.
“I have said it over and over again that we have failed to address these issues (Gukurahundi and marginalisation),” said Dube. “A lot of unpleasant things happened here. Somebody who was not affected might just say it was a war while those who were affected will call it by a different name.”
Dube said he had proposed that the National Organ on Healing and Reconciliation should work with chiefs from the region in organising rituals of reconciliation and “pardoning each other”.
“We are not even touching the nerve centre of the problems. People may smile at you, but deep down they still retain a lot of hatred. Until we have that apology made, people will continue to harbour grievances.”
The Zanu PF arm of government has repeatedly refused to entertain any public discussions and calls for compensation for victims of the conflict and killings which President Robert Mugabe described as a “moment of madness”.
Mugabe recently blamed government forces for the murders, claiming they acted beyond their mandate.
Government set up a commission of inquiry to look into the atrocities in Matabeleland headed by Justice Simplisius Chihambakwe in 1983, but the findings were never made public.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) said that over 20 000 victims were killed during the conflict.
The CCJP report recommended a national reconciliation process; proper burial for the victims and compensation for those affected, as well as accelerated development for the affected regions.
However, Zanu PF is hesitating on these recommendations claiming the dark chapter ended at the stroke of the pens when Mugabe and the late Joshua Nkomo signed the Unity Accord in December 1987.
The Gukurahundi episode has, however, continued to haunt Zanu PF in elections with the party only winning all seats in the Matabeleland provinces in 1990 and 1995 in the absence of any formidable opposition.
However, since the MDC came onto the political scene, Zanu PF has had nightmares in Matabeleland, failing to win any seat in Bulawayo since 2000 and getting a handful elsewhere in the volatile region.
Dube also suggested that his party’s persistent liberation war rhetoric is not in sync with young people’s aspirations as they are more concerned about getting an education, jobs and a decent life.
“History is a good subject for people to know where they came from, but I am not one of those people who want to make people live in the past,” said Dube.
“Young people’s aspirations are shaped by their present circumstances; so, it would be a mistake to pre-occupy them with the history of the liberation struggle which happened more than 30 years ago.”
Dube, who lost the 2008 elections to MDC-T vice-president Thokozani Khupe, said he was confident of winning the Makokoba seat saying the MDC-T’s “poor record of delivery in the coalition government had exposed its incompetence”.
“In the past, Zanu PF would be blamed for all the problems as it was the sole governing party, but the MDC-T has had its own shortcomings which were exposed during the government of national unity where its ministries all fared badly,” Dube said.