SPEAKER of Parliament Jacob Mudenda’s candid talk about the Gukurahundi genocide in Matabeleland and the Midlands could be a milestone in efforts to reconcile the country.
The period known as Gukurahundi started soon after independence and ended in 1987 when Zanu PF and PF Zapu signed the Unity Accord that saw the parties forming the united Zanu PF.
An estimated 20 000 people are suspected to have died during the armed conflict that saw the government deploying the North Korean trained 5 Brigade.
There is evidence that scars from that dark period are yet to heal judging from the general polarisation in the country.
Scores of families are still to know the whereabouts of some of their relatives decades after the conflict ended. A whole generation is still struggling to get proper national identification documents either because parents perished during the conflict or do not know who their fathers are.
Generally, talk about Gukurahundi has been in hushed tones with the main actors seemingly unwilling to reveal what transpired.
President Robert Mugabe has in the past described the massacres as a moment of madness and has on behalf of the government refused to take responsibility.
Yet, it is an accepted fact that there can be no justice and reconciliation without the truth being told.
Mudenda said as much when he addressed the Brethren-in-Christ Church at the weekend. He was the Matabeleland North governor at the time the atrocities happened and he told the conference that he was powerless to stop the killings.
Such frank talk could never be too late especially at a time when the new Constitution has ushered in a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission.
The commission is expected to address all unfortunate episodes in our history that left the country divided.
A candid discussion, devoid of emotions and politicking on what transpired would help Zimbabwe move forward.
Mudenda’s revelations should help remove the veil of secrecy around the Gukurahundi period for Zimbabwe to move forward. The victims also deserve peace of mind and paying reparations could be one way of achieving that.