President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s call to “let bygones be bygones” should not extend to serious human rights violations like the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s, the violence that engulfed the country in the run-up to the presidential elections run-off of 2008, and the massacres of illegal diamond miners in Marange also in 2008.
This was said by human rights activist Dewa Mavhinga when he testified before the United States senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
Mavhinga was part of the team that included People’s Democratic Party president Tendai Biti and author Peter Godwin.
Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo has blasted the team for tarnishing the country’s image when the new government is less than two weeks old.
Mavhinga said Mnangagwa’s government should be encouraged through public statements to demonstrate commitment to accountability, justice for human rights abuses, and respect for the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
“We believe that Mnangagwa’s recent calls to ‘let bygones be bygones’ should not extend to serious human rights violations since 1980, many of which implicate the military,” he said.
“The first post-independence overt military involvement in Zimbabwe’s political affairs was during the period from 1982 to 1987 when the government deployed a section of the army, the Fifth Brigade, ostensibly to quell a military mutiny in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces.
“The Fifth Brigade carried out widespread abuses including torture and unlawful killing of an estimated 20 000 people. ……
“The military has also interfered in the nation’s political and electoral affairs in ways that adversely affected the ability of Zimbabwean citizens to vote freely, particularly during the 2008 elections when the army engaged in numerous systematic abuses including political violence, torture, and arson targeting political opponents.
“That violence resulted in the killing of more than 200 people, the beating and torture of 5 000 more, and the displacement of about 36 000 people……
“In October 2008, soldiers killed more than 200 people and committed other serious human rights abuses in Chiadzwa, a village in Marange district, eastern Zimbabwe, and violently seized control of the district’s diamond fields.”
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