‘While he is not Jesus Christ, Mphoko should also not act like the devil’

By Guthrie Munyuki

In 2011 veteran nationalist and former Midlands Governor Cephas Msipa, told a packed auditorium at the Rainbow Towers Hotel the harrowing stories of former Zapu cadres who bore the brunt of a crackdown by the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade.

VP Phelekezela Mphoko
VP Phelekezela Mphoko

The crackdown to stem ‘‘insurrection’’ by ‘‘dissidents’’in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces resulted in the deaths of more than 20 000 civilians in an operation referred to as Gukurahundi.

As Msipa told colleagues drawn from both Zanu PF and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of the former Zapu cadres’ ordeals, he wept.

The meeting had been called by the three principals in the then inclusive government President Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, to try and find ways of making the Organ of National Healing and Reconciliation work.

There had been heel-dragging and unnecessary quarrelling which had derailed the organ from becoming a reality.

The Global Political Agreement (GPA), which led to the consummation of the inclusive government, had listed the creation of such an organ as one of the key conditions to move Zimbabwe forward.

This was inspired by the incidents of violence in the run up to the sham June 2008 run-off in which Tsvangirai withdrew six days before polling.

And of course the toothless Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) was born off the National Healing and Reconciliation organ.

Rights groups, patriotic Zimbabweans, relatives of victims and survivors of Gukurahundi had hoped that the inclusive government would help provide healing and give direction to a possible befitting closure to this sad genocide issue.

While the late vice president John Landa Nkomo, Moses Mzila-Ndlovu and Sekai Holland — tried with little success owing to a number of reasons among them competing party interests driven by the ‘‘incremental’’ attitude, there was a modicum of support from civic groups.

It is sad that Vice President Phelekhezela Mphoko is failing to grasp the importance of keeping the issues of national healing and reconciliation alive.

Mphoko was appointed to replace Nkomo as well as continuing with the national healing and reconciliation programme.

But instead, the former diplomat is pooh-poohing on the people he is supposed to bring relief by making reckless and insulting statements.

His latest remarks that Gukurahundi was a conspiracy by the West are a kick in the teeth to both the victims of Gukurahundi and key stakeholders.

By continuing to deflect blame on Gukurahundi atrocities, Mphoko is widening the chasm between Mugabe’s government and the majority of Zimbabweans who feel that little has been done to bring an acceptable solution to this issue.

Mphoko as someone who comes from the regions that bore the brunt of these atrocities, should be well-placed to know how sensitive this issue is.

While he is not Jesus Christ, Mphoko should also not act like the devil.

Right now he is acting as if he comes from another planet.

It would be wrong to think that Mphoko is trying to ingratiate himself with Mugabe by deflecting blame on Gukurahundi because his appointment ahead of Kembo Mohadi and Simon Khaya Moyo suggests he found favour with the boss a long time ago.

As a former diplomat, one would have thought Mphoko would use quiet diplomacy in his engagements with important groups to try and resuscitate the organ of national healing and reconciliation.

His self-serving but inflammatory statements do not only expose him but also Mugabe who settled for him for the important portfolio.

There are many people who believe that Mphoko was not fit for the vice presidency job and judging by his increasing gaffes, that might not be harsh after all. Daily News