President Emmerson Mnangagwa says Zimbabweans should freely discuss and chart the way forward on the Gukurahundi massacres that occurred a few years after independence from the British in 1980.
Thousands of civilians mostly in the Matebeleland and Midlands Provinces were killed by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) between 1982 and 1987.
The army had been deployed to the country’s southern region to hunt down a few hundred renegade former freedom fighters who had gone rogue after independence.
In his Independence speech to be aired this Saturday on ZBCtv, President Mnangagwa urged those who were affected by Gukurahundi to come forward and contribute to the “discussion”. He said:
In my view, it is not useful to avoid an issue that affects us as a nation. It is better we discuss the issue and find a lasting solution. In future what is not good for our country can be avoided.
Everybody affected has an opportunity to come forward so that we can discuss it together. We can chart the way forward.
The late former president, Robert Mugabe described the disturbances as “a moment of madness”.
The massacres ended when the country’s main opposition party at the time, ZAPU, was swallowed by the ruling ZANU PF in an agreement dubbed the Unity Accord signed on 22 December 1987.