EX Zanu PF politburo member and Midlands governor, Cephas Msipa (pictured), has dared anyone both within and outside the ruling party to come forward and challenge his account of the liberation struggle as captured in his book In Pursuit of Freedom and Justice – A Memoir.
Msipa, who is widely credited for brokering the 1987 Unity Accord, which forged an alliance between Zanu and PF Zapu to end the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands, said he was not afraid of anyone and stressed that he was prepared to defend his account of the liberation struggle.
Speaking during the second launch of his book in Gweru on Friday, Msipa said the publication was not an attack on anyone, as has been widely alleged by his critics, adding he did not owe an apology to “anyone caught in the crossfire”.
His remarks came in the wake of a spate of criticism from some Zanu PF loyalists, following the launch of his book which critiques government’s failure to deliver on most of the core values of the liberation struggle.
“This book (In pursuit of Freedom and Justice – A Memoir) is not an attack on anyone. If we all want freedom of worship, freedom of Press, all sorts of freedoms, then why are we fighting?” Msipa asked.
“Zimbabweans, we can do better when it comes to freedom and justice. If your name is caught in the crossfire, then that’s it. I’m not afraid of anyone. It’s not wise to have your biography after you are gone like what others do. Let them come and ask me anything about the book. I’m ready to defend everything in it.”
Msipa’s book gives an in-depth account of the Gukurahundi massacres, believed to have claimed more than 20 000 lives of mainly Ndebele-speaking people.
He said Ndebeles were mainly targeted for killing on the basis that they supported PF Zapu dissidents.
Part of the book reads: “Innocent men, women and children perished in their thousands. They were accused of either harbouring dissidents or supporting them. It turned out to be a massacre of people perceived to be PF Zapu supporters. The fact that people were Ndebele speakers was regarded as sufficient proof that they were PF Zapu supporters and, therefore, dissident supporters.”
He said most Zimbabweans massacred during the Gukurahundi era were buried in mass graves dug at school grounds.
Msipa accused government of remaining mum over the issue and refusing to exhume the bodies and give them decent burial.
“There are schools that have mass graves in their grounds into which all the people of the village, killed by the Fifth Brigade, were thrown in and covered up. Why should children be exposed to these mass graves? Could there not be a decent burial place for those who were killed?” he asked.
President Robert Mugabe is on record describing the massacres as “a moment of madness”, which the country needed to forget and move forward.
But Msipa argued that: “Gukurahundi was not a day’s event or a ‘moment of madness’. It began in 1981 and continued until 1987 when the Unity Accord was signed between PF Zapu and Zanu.”