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I stand by my book: Coltart

Politician David Coltart, who is also a veteran lawyer, maintains that he stands by remarks contained in his book regarding what Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa is reported to have said in 1983, when government deployed the North Korean-trained Five Brigade in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.

According to human rights activists, the Zimbabwe army allegedly killed at least 20 000 innocent civilians.

The massacres — commonly referred to as Gukurahundi or “washing away dirt” — have reportedly unsettled the vice-president, who is believed to be harbouring presidential ambitions.

Coltart told Studio 7 that he had carried out thorough research for his autobiography titled The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyrany in Zimbabwe saying he stands by what he wrote.

Coltart has become embroiled in a row with Mnangagwa after it emerged that his recently-published book contains claims that sometime in 1983, Mnangagwa — then Security minister —made statements which encouraged violence against civilians, marking the beginning of what came to be known as Gukurahundi.

Coltart said he had relied on some reports in the state-controlled Chronicle newspaper, which he had believed to be true as Mnangagwa never sued the paper for those remarks.

He said, “The specific comments in the book regarding Vice- President Mnangagwa actually came from The Chronicle reports in 1983, which we had access to. And the assumption has always been that The Chronicle then reported accurately.

“Vice-President Mnangagwa never complained about the Chronicle reports of what he said then, and he never sued them in the past 33 years, so one has to assume that he was correctly reported on. And to that extent, yes, I stand by what is written in the book.”

In a statement, Mnangagwa said he was concerned by remarks in Coltart’s book and that the statements attributed to him were false. He has threatened to sue the senator.

But Coltart has remained steadfast. Asked if he believed that the ordinary majority could still forgive the perpetrators of Gukurahundi given the apparent state intransigence, Coltart — who has in the past urged offenders to apologise for the atrocities — said he believed that the massacres could not be taken in isolation as Zimbabwe has gone through a number of traumatic experiences in the past.

Coltart said he would not be the right person to demand any apology from Gukurahundi perpetrators, but said he believed there was need for truth-telling.

“This is not something that I can say. I was not a victim of Gukurahundi and to that extent, I have no right to demand any apology from Vice-President Mnangagwa. All I have done is represent people; victims of that era. And from my representation of those people, I know that they do want an acknowledgment that what happened in fact happened, and yes, they would like an apology and they would like some form of communal reparation.”

Human rights activist, Mbuso Fuzwayo, said Mnangagwa could have used this opportunity to take responsibility and come clean on his involvement in Gukurahundi atrocities.

Programmes director Tineyi Mukwewa of the Abammeli Human Rights Lawyers said as the issue of Gukurahundi had rarely been discussed openly, Zimbabweans could salvage something positive from the row between Coltart and Mnangagwa to help bring closure to the issue.

“Clearly, Zimbabwe has had no conversation around Gukurahundi, so this is an opportune time where Zimbabwe can, in a structured manner, have a truth telling mechanism where the victims themselves can tell their story and where the accused can also say their side of the story. Zimbabwe needs the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill to come into effect, but the Bill has to speak about truth-telling, so that we find closure in Zimbabwe.”

Participants at a recent meeting on transitional justice said there could only be closure on the thorny Gukurahundi issue if there was telling of the truth and acknowledgment of the atrocities.

The Five Brigade was deployed in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces to quell what the government called a dissident menace caused by some disgruntled former Zipra members, who were unhappy over the way they were left out of the Zimbabwe National Army and other political issues.

A local newspaper posted photographs of articles published in the newspaper in 1983, in which Mnangagwa reportedly compared dissidents to “cockroaches and bugs”.

8 Responses to I stand by my book: Coltart

  1. Icho March 27, 2016 at 10:21 am #

    coltart has also said in this book tsvangirai trained bandits in south africa to destabilise the country.i m sure this book must not have come at a better time for bob.he will use it to crash both ngwena and tsvsngirai at the sametime.well done coltart.

  2. Umzukulu March 27, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

    Once things have happened you cannot change history by saying it never occurred. I recently commented on the online platform that when Gukurahundi was happening it had the support of the majority in Mashonaland. Whether their support was based on the propaganda or rooted in tribalism is another matter. My late mother was Ndebele and I remember feeling hurt when people in Mashonaland said Gukurahundi was justified since Shonas had been killed by Ndebele. However I had heard of the atrocities that my mother and stepfather narrated. They recounted what they witnessed and what they heard from the 5th Brigade. Not being Shona they said the soldiers said “Tatunywa nehurumende” instead of Tatumwa nehurumemnde.
    The only way forward would be for whoever comes into power after Mugabe to officially acknowledge those atrocities and apologise. That president whoever may be would need to that because those atrocities where committed in the name of the Zimbabwean government by 5th Brigade of the Zimbabwe National Army.

  3. Chamareza March 27, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    The truth always comes out doesn’t it? i am not sure what David Coltart wants to achieve here, but it appears his angle is to further tear black people apart. Time will tell, it always DOES.

    • benito March 27, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

      @ chamareza,do you think blacks are so dull to an extent of being torn apart by telling the truth?

  4. gari March 27, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    If the truth tears apart so let it will bring us together.

  5. edmore sibanda March 29, 2016 at 6:45 pm #

    50 years of struggle? as a white BSAP killer shooting down africans? Please dont forget we are going to start with iwe Coltart! You want to appear like you are neutral and be judge and jury when your crimes are still there and we wisely forgave you and your ilk! Dont push your luck too far! Please!

    • Barney March 31, 2016 at 7:56 pm #

      I second you sibanda, like seriously who on earth would believe coltart yet he himself never gave even a pinch of apology to what he and his friends did to zimbabweans during the colonial era, t seems forgiving him and his friends in the first place was a mistake

  6. Timothy April 9, 2016 at 10:37 am #

    we cld need to know. if he puts things out let him do it. another one would come after him to expose him also. If you know something that you think its good for us to know let us know.

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