BY SILAS NKALA
NEW political outfit, Freedom Alliance (FA) is rallying Gukurahundi survivors to aggressively engage the government to address concerns arising from the unresolved atrocity.
The call came after allegations of repeated vandalism of memorial plaques erected by Matabeleland-based pressure group Ibhetshu Likazulu at Bhalagwe and Silobela mass graves.
A Gukurahundi memorial plaque at Bhalagwe in Kezi, Matabeleland South was destroyed last week for the third time following its reinstallation in October last year.
“There is no doubt that the same perpetrators are the same that engineered the killing of thousands of people, raped, tortured and disappeared thousands, and destroyed property worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the 1980s genocide.
“This gross act is a reminder that the perpetrators are prepared to do everything they can to prevent truth and justice,” FA said in a statement.
FA added that the bombing of the plaques is an attempt to intimidate survivors into silence.
“This goal must be thwarted. By destroying the memorial plaques, the regime is denying the people of Matabeleland and Midlands the right to mourn and memorialise victims.
“The destruction of memorial plaques tells us that we must change the way we have been doing things and become more forceful. Continuing in the same path would be the highest form of cowardice, weakness and a gross betrayal of the dead and other victims,” FA said.
“A process based on truth and justice is not going to be delivered to victims and survivors on a silver platter. It has to be fought for. We must impose a price, a heavy one. Only then will we be taken seriously and respected.”
FA leader Samukele Hadebe who is also a public policy and development expert condemned the recent vandalism of the plaques.
According to reports, at the Silobela grave of 12 Gukurahundi victims in the Midlands, suspected state security agents vandalised plaques three times following their installation by the same pressure group.
Evidence on site of the recent Bhalagwe vandalism according to reports showed that explosives were used.
Ibhetshu Likazulu secretary general Mbuso Fuzwayo last week noted that suspected state security agents destroyed the third plaque at the site.
As part of efforts to address this long-standing issue, President Emmerson Mnangagwa tasked chiefs to consult their subjects over the emotive matter.
The Gukurahundi was genocide in Zimbabwe which arose in 1982 until the Unity Accord of 1987.
In early 1983, the North Korean-trained 5 Brigade, an infantry brigade of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), began a crackdown on alleged dissidents in Matabeleland North province.
Over the following two years, thousands of Ndebele speaking people were detained by government forces. They were either marched to re-education camps or summarily executed.
Although there are different estimates, the consensus of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) is that more than 20 000 people were killed. The IAGS classified the massacres as genocide.
A Unity Accord was eventually signed in 1987 between Zanu PF and PF-Zapu to end the violence.
FA was formed by Matabeleland stakeholders who include Zimbabwean citizens, civic society members, political parties, diaspora community and church organisations to address governance and development imbalances affecting the southern region.