Claim that Mugabe not behind 80s killings 'totally appalling': MDC

2015-05-15 18:05
President Robert Mugabe. (AFP)

President Robert Mugabe. (AFP)

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Harare - A claim from Zimbabwe's vice president ahead of crucial by-elections next month that President Robert Mugabe had nothing to do with the Gukurahundi killings in the 1980s is "totally appalling", the opposition Movement for Democratic Change said on Friday.

"It is an unmitigated insult to the victims and the survivors of the Gukurahundi genocide for [Vice President Phelekezela] Mphoko to falsely and heartlessly claim that Gukurahundi was a conspiracy by the West," spokesperson Obert Gutu said in a statement.

Former education minister David Coltart said on Facebook that the comments from Mphoko on Thursday were "historical revisionism at its worst".

Rights groups say that up to 20 000 people were killed in the Gukurahundi campaign in the southern Matabeleland provinces in Zimbabwe's worst post-independence atrocity.

Gukurahundi means "the rains that sweep away the chaff".

Mugabe has previously called the killings - carried out mostly by members of the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade - a "moment of madness" in what is widely seen as a token attempt at an apology.

The memory of the killings and of those brutally murdered is a deep scar on the nation's psyche.

In comments carried by the official Herald and Chronicle newspapers on Friday, Mphoko insisted the killings were "a Western conspiracy bent on destabilising the newly independent Zimbabwean state".

Mugabe could not be to blamed for the killings "because he always preached peace and reconciliation", the Chronicle reported Mphoko as saying.

Voter intimidation

His words sparked immediate outrage.

"It is obvious that you are being used by your party to get support in Matabeleland and Midlands as a whole and I don't think Zanu [PF - the ruling party] will get majority votes in these provinces," political activist Sikhumbuzo Moyo wrote in an open letter published on

Rights groups warn that tensions and voter intimidation are rising ahead of 17 parliamentary by-elections due on June 10, which Mugabe's party is determined to win.

A boycott announced by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC at first made it seem Zanu-PF's victory was guaranteed in almost all of the seats. But more than 100 independent candidates - some of them previously linked to the MDC - have successfully filed papers to contest these polls.

Voting was already under way on Friday in a separate by-election in Wedza North constituency, in eastern Zimbabwe, the state ZBC broadcaster reported. 

Gutu said: "The MDC-T understands that Mphoko is singing for his supper."

Read more on:    mdc  |  zanu-pf  |  robert ­mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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