VICE-President Phelekezela Mphoko was at again last week indulging off his own bat as usual in his favourite pastime — denying Gukurahundi’s designs and architects in an assiduous — careful, methodical and very persistent — manner.
Addressing a public lecture on national healing at Great Zimbabwe University in Masvingo last week, Mphoko repeated his claim Gukurahundi was a “western project” and President Robert Mugabe was not responsible for the killings.
“The disturbances that happened after Independence were not because of President Mugabe’s problem; it was a Western conspiracy to destabilise the newly-independent state of Zimbabwe. I have been taken to task about my stance on this issue before, but I must say the truth,” he said.
“There is no malice as far as we are concerned and like what we have said before, the post-Independent Gukurahundi was a Western project.”
This follows an unsolicited interview with the state-controlled Sunday Mail in February in which he claimed the massacres were a Western conspiracy.
There was also the assertion therein Mugabe was not culpable. Yet there was another claim Zipa was formed in 1976 “mainly to rescue Zanu from collapse” in Mozambique.
It is clear these increasingly desperate attacks on the history and memory of Gukurahundi — from holocaust-like denials, distortion, to revisionism — are erupting in our midst as perpetrators, collaborators and their supporters scramble out of panic and fear to clumsily obfuscate issues and cover their tracks.
But Mphoko must know that his continued Gukurahundi misrepresentation or falsification is actually a form of complicity. If he is not careful he will end up being an accessory or collaborator in the atrocities.
Just like holocaust deniers, Mphoko often mimics forms and practices of pseudo-researchers and denialists to deceive the public and mask the truth. Yet so far he has dismally failed to explain his conspiracy theory. His evidence to back up his threadbare assertions has only been that “I was there and I know” as if he was the only one around at the time.
The good thing though is those accused of being perpetrators of Gukurahundi — from Sydney Sekeramayi to Emmerson Mnangagwa, Perence Shiri, Constantine Chiwenga and Mugabe himself, among others who are still hiding under the cover of anonymity — are still around, and can speak for themselves. They don’t need Mphoko to be their spokesman or advocate for their exoneration.
In fact, none of them have ever denied Gukurahundi was perpetrated by Mugabe’s regime. Some have only denied personal culpability, while others have sought to downplay, explain away or duck the issue. Mugabe has described it as a “moment of madness”, certainly not by the British but his regime.
Scholar Stuart Doran, using declassified Australian diplomatic cables dispatched from Harare as further evidence, concluded: “The killings were a thoroughly internal affair. They were neither provoked nor sustained by outsiders. From start to finish, the atrocities were driven from the top by Zanu PF in pursuit of specific political objectives.”
Professor Timothy Scarnecchia has also done a great job on this issue using declassified files.
So what is Mphoko’s story? His agenda is undoubtedly political and self-serving.
He wants to clean blood on Mugabe’s hands, revamp his battered image and exculpate him as a wimpish attempt to curry favour with him.
That would then allow him to get undeserved access to power, trappings of office and money (never mind his Choppies pickings), while also using the Gukurahundi issue as a deadly double-edged sword to stab his rivals, particularly Mnangagwa to clear his blood-stained path to power.
That’s why he is currently running around posturing as a national leader and serious contender to succeed Mugabe.
Although he has a right to seek public office, he should not walk on the graves and interred corpses and bones of innocent fellow citizens to power like the political vampires and parasitic looters that he now works with.