We won’t bury Gukurahundi victims: Govt

THE GOVERNMENT has no plans to give victims of Gukurahundi decent burials because it runs the risk of including people who do not deserve the privilege, Home Affairs deputy minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has said.

STAFF REPORTER

The Zanu PF minister made the remarks during a question and answer session in the Senate on Thursday after MDC-T senator Dorothy Khumalo asked if the government would extend its programme to rebury remains of people who died during the liberation war to victims of the Gukurahundi genocide.

“There are remains of people who fought in the war and they have not been buried properly,” Khumalo said.

“I would think if that is done, similarly there are remains of people who died during the Gukurahundi which have not been buried properly. I hope we are also going to think about them and bury them properly.”

However, Ziyambi said burying victims of the massacres, some who were thrown into mine shafts in Matabeleland and the Midlands would be problematic.

“The problem we have is that we have a case whereby we are going to bury people whose cause of death we are not aware of,” he said.

“We will run into the problem whereby we even bury people who are not supposed to be buried by the State.

“This is quite a difficult question because when we are following this reburial programme, we have to follow the channels set up by the government. We have to follow the criteria required for the people to be reburied, people with a specific history.”

Human rights groups say up to 20 000 people were killed by the North Korea-trained 5th Brigade in Matabeleland and the Midlands soon after independence.

President Robert Mugabe refused to apologise for the mass killings saying dissidents should also be held accountable.

Mugabe once described the genocide as a moment of madness.

Meanwhile, Ziyambi blamed the poor state of provincial and district heroes’ acres across the country on sanctions imposed by the West.

He was responding to a question by former Matabeleland North governor Sithokozile Mathuthu who asked what the government was doing about the poor state of the shrines.

“I have realised that the Lupane heroes’ acres and other heroes’ acres in that area have not been constructed, and accorded the proper dignity that they deserve to have,” she said. “You find that livestock move around even on the graves.”

The deputy minister said the sanctions were to blame for the poor state of the shrines.

“We have been in problems and we seem to be sneaking out of these problems, but the problem we face is that we were living in the period of sanctions,” Ziyambi said.

“We know that if the sanctions are removed we will be able to get enough money so that we could work on all the projects which we were set out to do including care which should be given to the heroes acres nationwide.”

Former Education minister David Coltart last month warned that Zanu PF would start blaming everything that goes wrong in the country on the embargo imposed on Mugabe and his inner circle.

Coltart urged the Western countries to lift the sanctions and deprive Zanu PF a scapegoat for failed policies.

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