FORMER PF Zapu secretary-general Cephas Msipa yesterday leapt to axed Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa’s defence saying he was not involved in the Gukurahundi massacres.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA /NQOBILE BHEBHE
Mutasa at the weekend claimed that although he was the Speaker of Parliament when the atrocities were committed in Matabeleland and the Midlands, he was not aware how the military operation was executed.
The former Security minister was Speaker of Parliament at the time when then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe unleashed the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade into the region under the pretext of hunting down a hand-full of “bandits” then linked to former PF Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo.
Msipa said the military operation was planned at Cabinet level and Mutasa could not have been involved.
“What I know and what is true is that Mutasa was not a member of Cabinet,” he told Southern Eye yesterday.
“The Gukurahundi issue, according to my knowledge, was discussed at Cabinet level and I do not remember the issue being discussed in the National Assembly.
“I might have forgotten and I am sorry, but I cannot remember whether the issue was also discussed in Parliament. I am certain we discussed it in Cabinet.”
Msipa was the second most powerful person within Nkomo’s PF Zapu during the massacres believed to have claimed 20 000 lives.
Mutasa has since challenged anyone to check with parliamentary records on whether the matter was ever discussed by the legislature.
He said even current Speaker Jacob Mudenda was not aware of the goings on in government.
But his comments triggered a backlash from Information minister Jonathan Moyo who accused Mutasa of lying.
“Mutasa says he didn’t know of Gukurahundi as he was Parliament Speaker in Harare yet PF Zapu told all in Parliament!” Moyo said.
The atrocities only ended when Nkomo signed a Unity Accord with Mugabe in 1987. The Gukurahundi issue has remained an emotive issue in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces with victims’ relatives and civic society groups demanding government compensation and a public apology from Mugabe.
The 91-year-old leader has only described the era as “a moment of madness that must never be repeated”.
Meanwhile, a former MDC-T Cabinet minister has accused Mugabe of attempting to hide glaring evidence of his human rights crimes by using his deputy Phelekezela Mphoko to deny the Gukurahundi genocide.
MDC-Renewal Team head of international relations, Gorden Moyo, said Mugabe was now branding the International Criminal Court (ICC) as an international colonial court simply because all cases currently under ICC were from Africa. Moyo made the remarks while addressing a public meeting on “Justice or Impediment Agenda? An appraisal of International Criminal Court: Role and Implications of African Union Pull-out” in Bulawayo yesterday.
“Why is Mugabe and others pushing for the pull-out? Mugabe, his lieutenants and his cabal are ideal candidates of international criminal prosecution,” he said.
“That’s why he has sent Phelekezela Mphoko to go around the country preaching that there was no Gukurahundi.
“Mphoko is not doing this on his own. He is only a proxy. He is just a messenger. It’s in the subconscious of Mugabe. He is afraid of what will happen to his family and to the fourth generation. So by denying prosecution in the ICC, he is protecting himself.”
Mphoko, who was elevated to Vice-Presidency last December to represent the Zapu component in Zanu PF has repeatedly said Gukurahundi was a Western conspiracy.