FORMER Education minister David Coltart has claimed that the title of his recently-published book, The Struggle Continues . . . 50 Years of Tyranny, had offended remnants of the Rhodesian era and Zanu PF acolytes after he described both regimes as tyrannical.
Coltart told dozens of people who attended the official launch of the book on Wednesday that he had been excoriated by Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and some Rhodesians after he described both regimes as different faces of the same coin.
“I have been attacked by some Rhodesians and the likes of Jonathan Moyo because of the choice of the title of the book: The Struggle Continues . . . 50 Years of Tyranny. But for me, that is what is more satisfying. The fact that it has evoked emotions is truly gratifying for me personally,” he said.
Coltart’s book — which has evoked mixed reactions from anger to acceptance across the political divide — touches on the emotive Gukurahundi atrocities committed by President Robert Mugabe’s government on predominantly Ndebele-speaking people under the guise of hunting down a handful of armed dissidents and the former Education minister’s role as a young legal practitioner.
“We have not dealt with our past in the best manner possible. White people in Zimbabwe and beyond have not been able to acknowledge that the Rhodesian Front was tyrannical and black Zimbabweans have also found it difficult to accept the fact that the past 36 years have been equally tyrannical,” he said.
“My abiding hope is that this book will inspire other people to write because there is so little in terms of literature on this country. We can interrogate our past in a more constructive way and despite all that has been said, I retain a deep sense of passion for my nation and unquestionable optimism for the future.”
The launch was sponsored by the European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe and Ambassador Phillipe van Damme said he had decided on funding the exercise “despite the fact that it is hot”.
“Some people do not want to relate to the book because of the subjects it touches, but we were inspired. David (Coltart) is an honest man. This is a testimony of an honest person struggling with himself and changing along the course of his life,” Van Damme said.
After initially declaring a policy of reconciliation and racial harmony at independence, Mugabe turned on white people at the turn of the century, accusing them of joining hands with the opposition to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
Coltart said he had struggled with his own racial demons.
“It is difficult to deal with racism when it is ingrained in you. For me, it took real friendships with people like Cephas Msipa and (the late Chief Justice) Enoch Dumbutshena to get to where I am. I was taught white supremacy and it has been an ongoing struggle which has been hard to deal with. I battled with war experiences and my wife had to deal with my midnight swings,” he said.
Former Midlands governor Msipa, who has turned into an arch-critic of Mgabe’s administration, also attended the event, but declined to describe the government he was once part of as tyrannical.
“I would not say it was tyrannical, but we could have done things in a more civilised way. We still need to change and make sure our people are governed in a more civilised manner,” he said.