Traditional leaders in Matabeleland South province have called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to publicly apologise for the Gukurahundi massacres that claimed an estimated 20 000 lives in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the early 1980s.
Mnangagwa has opened dialogue on the emotive subject, but like his predecessor, the late Robert Mugabe, he has not offered any apology for the mass killings.
His redress efforts have been dismissed as piece-meal, half-hearted and insufficient.
Matabeleland South provincial chiefs’ assembly chairperson Chief Masendu, speaking on behalf of traditional leaders in the province, said Gukurahundi could not be wished away. He said:
Chiefs are the rightful people to handle the Gukurahundi issue because they belong to the people. We stay with them; they talk to us. What they want is an apology and compensation.
Government must agree and openly apologise to the people. No other person can come from outside whom people can understand and relate to their issues confidently beside the chiefs.
Masendu condemned the recent destruction of the Gukurahundi memorial plaque at Bhalagwe in Maphisa, Matebeleland South province, and called on the government to bring the culprits to book.
The plaque was erected by villagers in memory of victims of the Gukurahundi massacres buried inside the Bhalagwe mass graves.
The massacres were carried out by the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade that was deployed after the government claimed arms cache had been uncovered on farms owned by ZAPU and the ZPRA amid allegations that then ZAPU leaders including Joshua Nkomo were plotting to overthrow the government.