Charamba on Gukurahundi: Guns were firing from both sides, lives were lost on both sides
PRESIDENTIAL Spokesperson George Charamba has said Gukurahundi was not a one-sided issue, but a conflict between two sides, and that deaths occurred on both sides.
“Guns were shooting from both sides, which is why it was a conflict, you don’t have a one-sided conflict, which means culpability doesn’t just rest on one side.
“The only difference is that others were in government while others were an insurgency,” Charamba said in an interview with the Standard.
Charamba added that even people from Zvimba were affected.
“That we are not talking about the persons who got killed by dissidents doesn’t mean there were no people who were killed.
“I can give you an example from our own office, a relative of the chief secretary died near the Zvimba area.
“I know of a family in Mberengwa where the victim, who is still living and getting medication, was amputated as we speak,” he said.
Charamba dismissed the notion that President Mnangagwa was an architect of Gukurahundi. He said the President and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga were only part of a Government that had some higher authority.
“They (Mnangagwa and Chiwenga) were part of the government of the day which reported to a commander-in-chief, which reported to a president.
“You cannot suddenly make the junior much more accountable than the person who was in overall charge,” said Charamba, who was the press secretary of the then president Canaan Banana at the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987.
He reiterated that it was not an issue that affected the southern parts of the country alone; insisting it affected all of Zimbabwe although the scale of effect was different.
Said Charamba: “I see people talking about Matabeleland North and South and Midlands, here in Mashonaland West people died except no one talks about it, but that is not where we are going.
“If we had drawn a line to say this was a bad conflict, which must never recur from which we must draw lessons but that there are victims of that conflict who still need help, then the spirit must be one to make interventions, which allows this country to move forward.
“If you go for retribution, then there is a real risk that the truth begins to wreck the national project, there is also a real risk that we go into a phase of recrimination and I don’t know if that is the intention.
“I sit very close to leadership and across the divide, what I am getting is that let’s atone for this bad patch and allow this country to move forward with new lessons drawn from an old conflict.”
The government has said it will issue birth certificates to children who did not have them because of Gukurahundi, as well as conduct proper burials of the victims.
“The issue regarding birth certificates is a long-established position and you will realise that it wasn’t even affecting Matabeleland only, but practically every province and this is why teams were despatched to make sure the registration would happen and this time around not only on the vouching of relatives, but on the basis of community leaders, church leaders or any other persons who are recognised as community leaders. This is an old position.
“Secondly, on the issue of exhumation and reburials, there is a law which outlines procedures, which are followed for that to happen and this is an old law.
“It is not a law that has been created because of the new dispensation, it is a law that remained in abeyance simply because it had not been utilised.”