By Ndabeni Mlotshwa
Bulawayo — Authorities have warned civil society groups, non-governmental organisations and individuals against using the 1980s massacres of minority groups in Zimbabwe for financial gain.
An estimated 20, 000 civilians were slain during the disturbances in the southern parts of the country when a North Korean-trained army outfit was unleashed to quell dissidents.
The emotive issue has been revived following the recent elevation of Emmerson Mnangwagwa as president. He was allegedly involved in the operation as the security minister.
There have been protests in recent weeks as some organisations demand compensation for victims.
Callistus Ndlovu, the Provincial chairman of Bulawayo for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), castigated groups and individuals using the Gukurahundi atrocities for commercial purposes.
“In the country, we are now having what we call ‘Gukurahundi enterprise’ where monies are being released to individuals who are talking about the subject,” said Ndlovu while addressing the ruling party’s inter-district meeting at the country’s second largest city.
Ndlovu a liberation icon and a member of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) which merged with ZANU to form ZANU-PF in 1987. The unity accord ended the civil skirmishes.
The revived Zapu, a faction which broke away from Zanu-PF in 2008, also denounced some NGOs and individuals attempting to make money out of the atrocities.
Iphithule Maphosa, the ZAPU spokesperson, said, “A lot of people have since commercialised the subject and most of the noises being made are not genuine. We also have a similar grievance against the media, both local and international, who have always left ZAPU the real victims of this to engage outsiders, sometimes talking to perpetrators about the thorny subject.”
Shylett Shirihuru of Shurugwi in the Midlands province said some pressure groups were using the atrocities to agitate for a separate Matabeleland state.
She pointed out the atrocities were not only perpetrated by the 5th Brigade trained soldiers arguing it was reaction to dissidents that were killing and maiming innocent civilians provinces such as Midlands, Mashonaland West (Kadoma) and parts of Masvingo.
“I have lost my family in Shurungwi (Midlands) simply because we spoke a different language from the dissidents. These dissidents caused untold suffering in Midlands, Masvingo and parts of Mashonaland West provinces, but none of the media is reporting about how we feel. We are victims of dissidents and we want justice taken against the dissidents’ leaders.
“This is why when former leaders Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe eventually signed a unity accord, and immediately the massacres stopped,” she said.
Shirihuru urged citizens to emulate their leaders.