By Sij Ncube
Harare, March 24, 2016 – VICE President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been dared to sue human rights lawyer-cum author David Coltart over allegations that the Zanu PF strongman was complicit in the murder of over 20 000 defenceless residents of Matabeleland and some parts of the Midlands in the early 1980s.
Analysts canvassed by RadioVOP in the wake of brick-spats between Mnangagwa and Coltart following the publication of the human rights activist fast-selling book, say the VP would be literally left with an egg on his face if he pushes ahead with litigation.
The analysts are adamant “skeletons will fall out of the closet” if the Gukurahundi issue, described by President Robert Mugabe as “a moment of madness”, ever went to court.
Mnangagwa has dismissed as false and malicious, claims by Coltart that he had made inflammatory statements that could have fomented Gukurahundi killings in the late 1980s in Alpha Media Holdings’ Southern Eye edition last week after the paper reviewed his book.
The VP is understood to be mulling litigation against the former minister of education, claiming he never uttered such statements. But on Tuesday Coltart posted on his Facebook page evidence showing that indeed the VP uttered those words.
Ironically, the evidence appeared in the Zanu PF-controlled Chronicle in 1983 in which the VP was quoted at length making those sentiments. The debate on the issue has gone viral on social media platforms.
Gladys Hlatywayo, a Harare-based political analyst, says Mnangagwa’s threat to sue Coltart does not make any sense, pointing out that the VP’s involvement in Gukurahundi has been in the public domain for more than 32 years.
“This information was not contested at the time it was published. So why Coltart should be sued? Chronicle published it in 1983. But let him sue as the case will obviously fall apart but perhaps we will have more information on his fuller role in this bloodbath,” added Hlatywayo.
Bulawayo-based political and media activist, Zenzele Ndebele concurs.
“I wish Mnangangwa goes ahead with his threats to sue David Coltart. Gukurahundi will be openly discussed in a court of law and Mnangangwa’s role and many of his comrades will be exposed,” said Ndebele.
Methuseli Moyo, a political analyst based in Nkayi in Matabeleland North, says the more the VP denies his role during Gukurahundi, the more exposures he would face.
“I am sure soon G40, and indeed all his other political and personal opponents, will dig up the facts and line-up witnesses to say ‘yes we saw him and heard him say and do this and that during Gukurahundi’.I am afraid we may soon have Gukuraundi agents, coming forward to tell, especially those that have changed sides. The end of a regime is always ugly,” said Moyo, who now part of the Zimbabwe People First communications and publicity department.
Social commentator Rejoice Ngwenya, in a posting on his Facebook, said Mngangwa is probably quaking in his boosts in fear of being hauled before the International Crime Court at the Hague after being exposed as an urgent of provocation the political disturbances in the early 1980s.
“Of course he is expected to deny and accuse lawyer/author/human rights activist David Coltart of ‘fabricating’ the story. I wish God can ‘inspire’ Mr. Mnangagwa to take David to court, and then it will be an opportunity to bring 100 survivors as witnesses,” said Ngwenya.
But chances of Mnangagwa facing the ICC are very slim, according to Petinah Gappa, pointing out the Hague-based international court only hears cases that occurred after its treaty was signed in 2002.
Critics of Coltart accused the former MDC legislator of being driven by racism in exposing Mnangagwa who all along has been perceived as Mugabe’s heir apparent.
But the latest spat and exposure of the VP is seen as providing fodder to his political enemies in Zanu PF pushing for his ouster as the second most powerful person in Zanu PF and Zimbabwe.
He is thought to be leading a faction – Lacoste – which is fighting another – G40 – to succeed Mugabe.