Serious issues, such as the reported killing of 20 000 innocent civilians in Midlands and Matabeleland by the 5 Brigade were never discussed openly in President Robert Mugabe’s party in the past.
Mnangagwa, who is one of the top Zanu PF officials and security chiefs being blamed for the killings, told state media that the 1987 Unity Accord had closed the Gukurahundi chapter.
Late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s PF Zapu was forced into the 1987 deal to end the politically-motivated killings. Vice-President John Nkomo early this year also described the atrocities as “irreversible history”.
But two Zanu PF politburo members, Jonathan Moyo and the outspoken Joshua Malinga have broken with tradition by joining the growing chorus for an investigation into the atrocities and compensation for the victims.
Moyo has claimed that his father was killed by the dreaded 5 Brigade. He argued recently that Zanu PF must stop pretending that the Gukurahundi atrocities never happened.
Moyo said: “It cannot be true that the wounds were closed.
“The Gukurandi issue is not a closed chapter.”
Malinga, a former Bulawayo mayor, last week said the issue could not be swept under the carpet before victims get compensation or know the truth about the killings.
He went on to call for a fresh inquiry after findings of previous commissions set by Mugabe were never made public. Bekithemba Mpofu, a United Kingdom-based political analyst said Zanu PF’s failure to come up with a clear position on Gukurahundi and the perceived marginalistion of Matabeleland was beginning to haunt the party.
“Zanu PF has always been on a back foot on both issues, particularly having failed to demonstrate their willingness to address them,” he said.
“The lack of a clear party position on these issues has cost them political mileage at a time when some of their opponents claim to be champions of these regional concerns.
“For a party that has been in power for decades, it is a tough sell for Zanu PF politicians to use the Gukurahundi issues for political capital and one can therefore assume that individual calls by its regional leaders are driven by pressure from their constituencies.”
Moyo also appeared to acknowledge the political mileage Zanu PF opponents were getting by using Gukurahundi. He said: “Calls from some destructive quarters for a fresh probe on this matter are as irresponsible and unacceptable as the claims from our own ranks that the matter is a closed chapter whose discussion will open old wounds.”
Sympathy for radical MLF
A new radical movement formed in South Africa last year — the Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) is reportedly drawing huge sympathisers in the region using the Gukurahundi atrocities.
MLF says it wants a separate Matabeleland state because people in the region have never been regarded as part of a unified Zimbabwe.
It cites the killings as one of the things that demonstrate that the people of Matabeleland are unwanted in Zimbabwe.