HARARE – Former State Security minister Didymus Mutasa says President Emmerson Mnangagwa is unfortunate to be singled out and blamed for the Gukurahundi atrocities in the Midlands and Matabeleland regions as it was a collective decision taken by Cabinet as well as the Joint Operations Command (Joc) of that era.
In an interview with the Daily News at his home, the former secretary for administration for Zanu PF before his expulsion in 2014 said he has no problem working with Mnangagwa, a feared politician whose name has often been dragged into the Gukurahundi atrocities of the 1980s where an estimated 20 000 people were killed.
“Actually, I don’t see why he is the only one blamed for Gukurahundi, the whole Cabinet during that time must be blamed, for some time Enos Nkala was Defence minister.
“Nkala hated Zapu so much, I know him very well and I know all the former big guns, we used to argue about that, but nobody has ever mentioned Nkala, so why blame him alone, there was Joc which had people, why are they not blamed, you keep blaming Mnangagwa anenge ane jambwa, ngaabike doro (he is unfortunate and has evil spirits which he must get exorcised),” said Mutasa.
During the Gukurahundi era Mnangagwa was the minister of State Security while Mutasa was the speaker of Parliament.
Activists and some politicians say Mnangagwa played a key role during Gukurahundi, charges which he vehemently denies.
Asked whether Mnangagwa is a ruthless politician, Mutasa said as far as he was concerned he can work with him albeit with caution.
“We went to the front almost the same time in 1977, I shared prison with him but he was not as close to me as was (former President Robert) Mugabe and the late Edgar Tekere, but I know him sufficiently, if I am asked to walk with him as was the case around independence, there is nothing to fear,” said Mutasa.
The former spy chief said Mnangagwa is an efficient person who is often good at delivering what he would have been assigned to do.
“If you discuss things and ask him to do something, he will do it properly, but because there is a lot of mistrust unotofamba wakabata bakatwa rako (you need to be on the lookout and armed). There is a lot of fear around Mnangagwa that people talk about, but myself I have never seen it, I was with him during the war and we came together, we lived together and worked together but of course I had my own dagger just in case,” said Mutasa.
Asked whether he would be willing to re-join Zanu PF now that Mugabe is out of the way, Mutasa said the president has to prove himself first.
“There is need for honesty from the leadership, people are listening to what he is saying very closely, people are still afraid of him, maybe because of the presence of the army which helped Mnangagwa ascend to the top, but they have to guarantee free and fair elections, let us be totally democratic, whoever wins will have the people’s mandate, but as long as people are sceptical that would be wrong, we are saying remove all that.
“I have no doubt at all that if he does that he will win, because so far people are indicating that they like him, why would he rig? Let’s have a proper election where he is elected president, when that happens I will submit myself to him and say let us sort out the Gukurahundi issue,” said Mutasa.
On re-joining Zanu PF, Mutasa said he will have to wait and see.
“I will have to wait and see where we are going. I want to comment from the side-lines. I am grateful for what they have done so far, but you cannot divorce yourself completely from what is happening.”