HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s appointment of vice presidents, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko has sent shivers down the spines of most people in Zimbabwe especially those from the Midlands and Matabeleland regions who witnessed their loved ones being brutally slaughtered by the ruthless 5th Brigade under the guise of hunting down so-called dissidents.
According to human rights organisations, the Zimbabwean government, in the 1980s used the blood thirsty crack brigade to decimate more than 20 000 civilians whose only crime was belonging to the Ndebele tribe.
Government claimed that some Zapu insurgents, numbering less than 200 wanted to effect regime change in Zimbabwe and they justified sending the 5th Brigade which ended up killing innocent civilians accusing them of supporting the so-called dissidents.
The Zimbabwean government used the same tactics used by the Smith regime before independence where they harassed people who supported the liberation struggle. The Gukurahundi massacres, were largely ignored by the double-faced West because the United Kingdom and the United States enjoyed good relations with Zimbabwe.
But this has not erased anger among the majority of Zimbabweans who have demanded answers on why these senseless killings of innocent human beings took place. This is why most Zimbabweans were infuriated when Mugabe appointed Mnangagwa and Mphoko as vice presidents.
Mnangagwa was the minister of State Security during the time of the mass murders while Mphoko had deserted Zapu and was a Central Intelligence Officer (CIO) during the carnage. Mugabe was the head of state.
We tend to agree with Moses Mzila Ndlovu, a former a co-minister of National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration during the inclusive government and a freedom fighter, who elsewhere in this publication is quoted saying that the appointments could mean that the government is saying “to hell with the Gukurahundi massacres.”
Says Mzila: “…Secondly, I see this deployment as a slap in the face of Matabeleland people who suffered during Gukurahundi. What Zanu PF is saying is that you can go hang with your Gukurahundi complaints because the same people are walking on dead bodies to get to the presidium.”
It is against this background that Mugabe must address the issue as a matter of urgency to at least pacify the thousands of families who lost their loved ones during the period the 90-year-old president described as a moment of madness. Mugabe must address this “moment of madness” especially after opening old wounds with the appointment of Mnangagwa and Mphoko to the presidium.
Zimbabweans want answers on why a whole brigade was unleashed on people to kill civilians. Mugabe also has a responsibility to explain to a bewildered nation why he chose these tainted people to top positions especially given that the president himself has failed to give answers on the atrocities.