‘VP not fit to lead national healing’

HEAL Zimbabwe, an organisation agitating and lobbying for the recognition of victims of political violence, has described Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko as unfit to lead the National Healing and Reconciliation ministry following his recent remarks claiming Gukurahundi genocide was a Western conspiracy aimed at distabilising Southern Africa.

STAFF REPORTER

Mphoko last month claimed that the West conspired to distabilise Southern Africa through Gukurahundi soon after the country attained independence from Britain in 1980 and distanced President Robert Mugabe from the genocide.

His pronouncements were widely dismissed as desperate bootlicking following his unexpected appointment as VP last December after people perceived as posing a threat to Mugabe’s leadership were blocked on spurious allegations of plotting to assassinate the president.

Heal Zimbabwe executive director Rashid Mahiya said they were greatly concerned with the insensitive and unnecessary public remarks Mphoko made about Gukurahundi.

“The organisation believes that the victims and survivors of Gukurahundi deserve a remorseful apology than insults from the VP,” he
said.

“Truth telling is one of the key pillars of transitional justice, but the VP, who is also National Healing and Reconciliation minister, has decided to ignore the truth and manipulate facts towards his unpardonable selfish interests.

“As the voice of survivors and victims of violence, Heal Zimbabwe implores political leaders and the government to encourage truth telling — objective truth, narrative truth and forensic truth.”

Mahiya said in the hearts and souls of victims and survivors of Gukurahundi, Mphoko’s insensitive remarks affirm his unsuitability to lead the National Healing and Reconciliation portfolio.

“Instead of making a public apology for and on behalf of the current government and the ruling party, the State has decided to call the genocide a ‘conspiracy’.''

“Instead of making a public apology for and on behalf of the current government and the ruling party, the State has decided to call the genocide a ‘conspiracy’.”

“In fact, the challenge that stands in the way for true national healing and reconciliation is that the institutions and systems that perpetrated violence, torture and gross human rights violence have become the attempted spokespersons of the survivors,” he said.

“Instead of making a public apology for and on behalf of the current government and the ruling party, the State has decided to call the genocide a ‘conspiracy’. The Gukurahundi massacre is a test case (and) by refusing to acknowledge and offer a public apology, the government in a way is forcing people to forget the atrocities without healing their wounds.”

Mahiya said only healed living memories of individuals and the public were vital in facilitating transitional justice.

“Mphoko, justifying the death of over 20 000 people under the guise of conspiracy — that never was — is intolerable, particularly in a country that purports to be democratic,” he said.

“To worsen matters, the shocking remarks come at a time when the 2008 survivors of political violence and torture are eagerly waiting for justice from the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).

“In the strict sense, Heal Zimbabwe strongly opposes any attempts to force the masses to forget the past without thorough truth telling, justice, healing and reconciliation.”

He implored public office bearers and government leaders to desist from manipulating the truth at the expense of the masses saying the trauma that Gukurahundi victims suffered directly or otherwise continues to haunt their lives. Mahiya urged the expeditious establishment of the NPRC and for the government to fully commit itself to full transitional justice without distortions to history.

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