Gukurahundi was a political plan to destroy ZAPU and not an ethnic cleansing operation, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) director Sipho Malunga has claimed.
Sipho is son to the late Sidney Malunga, a ZAPU stalwart and liberation war hero.
Addressing delegates at the 2018 Transitional Justice Policy Symposium in Matobo, Friday, Malunga said Gukurahundi was targeted at ZAPU, which is a political party but unfortunately the Ndebele people were then caught up in the genocide.
“I do not believe that the intention of the few people at the top in Zanu was to eliminate the Ndebele people. Gukurahundi was a political agenda designed to destroy ZAPU. It so happened that ZAPU had its strong political base in Matabeleland so in wiping out the opposition, ZAPU supporters became the target. The outcome of that political contestation was genocidal,” Malunga claimed.
The OSISA director said to prove his claims, some of the masterminds behind Gukurahundi were Ndebele people who were part of Zanu such as Enos Nkala.
He added that Zanu wanted a one-party state in Zimbabwe, which is why it sought to eliminate ZAPU.
“A few people in Zanu in the early 1980s under the leadership of the former president Robert Mugabe made a decision to finish ZAPU. They wanted a one-party state and they knew ZAPU would attain 20 seats in Parliament” said Malunga.
The director also pointed out that some Shona people were also victimised during Gukurahundi.
“(Caiphas) Ndziramasanga was one of the first people to be detained in the 1980s together with my father,” Malunga said.
Malunga highlighted there should be no reason for ethnic groups in Zimbabwe to fight each other because perpetrators of Gukurahundi were individuals, not an entire tribe.
“I do not begrudge any Shona person in Zimbabwe because we know the people who came and did these atrocities. We cannot say each and every Shona was involved in Gukurahundi. I have no reason to hate any Shona person. They have done nothing wrong to me except if they start to deny Gukurahundi. The question then would be why are you denying something that you had nothing to do with,” said Malunga.
Historian Pathisa Nyathi, concurred with Malunga and said Gukurahundi was not ever about ethnicity.
“The most critical thing was the ethnicisation of the liberation movement happening for the first time in 1963. That split was ethnic. Then came 1971 on March 11 where the likes of James Chikerema went out of ZAPU. The Zezuru had remained in ZAPU following the 1963 split. That was the ethnicisation or “Ndebelisation” of ZAPU,” he narrated.
“The thing that was to be crushed by Gukurahundi was ZAPU, not Ndebele but how would one differentiate between ZAPU and Ndebele. Mugabe was pre-occupied with being an undisputed leader with a one-party state. That is why they wanted to totally dismantle the ZAPU political infrastructure,” concluded Nyathi.