On Wednesday, Mzembi announced that only the North Korean soccer team had accepted to train in Zimbabwe during their preparations for the World Cup. The government approached five World Cup participating countries – England, the United States of America, Australia, Brazil and North Korea – to train in the country. According to Mzembi, only North Korea took the offer.
But that deal is now in trouble as some activists feel the presence of North Koreans was “a symbolic insult” that would reopen old wounds, which would also remind many that the “relationship between Zimbabwe and North Korean was cemented by the blood of our kin”.
In a forum of mostly activists fighting the marginalisation of Matabeleland, angry email exchanges have been the order of the day since the announcment, to share ideas on how “we can protest, embark on massive advocacy to register our discontent, and if we can possibly attempt to have them barred from coming to train at Barbourfields Stadium”.
South Africa based Zimbabwean actor Bhekilizwe Ndlovu said the North Koreans “should be pushed out of town”.
“This could begin serious dialogue, action and closure to this problem (of the effects of Gukurahundi atrocities) that continues to haunt us,” said Ndlovu, who is famous for his role as AK in the once popular local ZTV soap Amakorokoza.
In one of the emails, UK based Zimbabwean academic and civic activist, Brilliant Mhlanga, said the North Korea had been “an accomplice in many ways” to President Robert Mugabe’s regime. Mhlanga said “it is possible to have this thing (stopping the North Koreans from camping in Zimbabwe) done”.
Among those who support the proposal is former Radio Zimbabwe presenter, Ezra Tshisa Sibanda, who said he has two documentaries that show people being raped, maimed and killed.
The Gukurahundi atrocities claimed more that 20,000 lives during the 1980s when Mugabe unleashed the North Korean trained fifth brigade in the Midlands and Matabeleland Provinces to smoke out dissidents whom he said were being haboured in the area. He now claims the actions were “a moment of madness”.