By Staff Reporter
Harare, March 30, 2016 – PROFESSOR Welshman Ncube’s MDC has stood by party top official David Coltart who is under fire for allegedly publishing falsehoods concerning political rivals.
The former education minister, who is also MDC Secretary for Legal and Constitutional Affairs, recently launched his book entitled “The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe”.
The controversial book attempts to lift the lid around the country’s darkest post liberation conflict widely known as the Gukurahundi massacres in the early 80s and other key political events in the country.
An estimated 20 000 civilians the majority being Ndebele followers of the Joshua Nkomo, the late Vice President and one time rival President Robert Mugabe were killed under the then Prime Minister’s government.
In his book, Coltart fingers Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as having incited killings in the region by urging the destruction of the “infrastructure” that was allegedly being used by dissidents loyal to Nkomo to terrorise innocent people.
His reference to infrastructure was interpreted to mean innocent civilians who were accused of harbouring dissidents.
Similarly, Coltart, a founding member of a united MDC in 1999, also accused the party’s founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai of training militia in South Africa 2006 in preparation of a violent takeover of the country.
Both politicians have denied the claims with Mnangagwa going further to threaten a civil suit against Coltart, who is also a lawyer
But Coltart has remained adamant, insisting every detail covered by his book was factual.
However, as rivals continue to take aim at the Bulawayo based politician, the MDC breakaway faction has stood by its member, insisting he was merely exercising his freedom of expression.
In a statement, party spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said his party has, likewise, tolerated several other publications published before which it never agreed to.
“Since 1980, the ruling party, ZANU PF, has portrayed the liberation struggle as a one-man one party band, totally disregarding and denigrating the role of other nationalists like the late Dr. Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo,” Chihwayi said.
“Senator David Coltart has stepped forward to package his experiences, narratives and opinions into this very important book.
“The longstanding debate on the causes of the massacre of over twenty thousand citizens at the cruel sword of the Zanu PF controlled Fifth Brigade draws controversy because the State has deliberately downplayed its gravity.”
The MDC said Coltart participated in the CCJP Report on the Gukurahundi atrocities, whose publication was blocked by President Mugabe’s regime.
Said the MDC: “Thus in pursuit of truth and justice, Senator Coltart has attempted to review some aspects of this unfortunate episode in our lives, and those that were involved directly or indirectly are the first to cry ‘Foul!’.”
Chihwayi accused Mnangagwa, who is also the country’s justice minister, and his Permanent Secretary Virginia Mabhiza of a “brazen determination to intimidate and harass citizens for their right to express themselves freely”.
“This continued abrogation of the rights enshrined in the constitution is something that should worry all Zimbabweans,” he said.
“Those that have facts to argue about the Gukurahundi atrocities are free to publish numerous results of several commissions of enquiries but whose reports remain embargoed by the Zanu PF government.
“Our fear is that the ruling party is dragging its feet in creating conditions suitable for free political completion.
“All efforts to empower institutions that promote reconciliation, truth and forgiveness have been fruitless, this is why citizens like Senator Coltart should be commended for taking the yoke to recite history through the prism of their personal experience. So why vilify them and denigrate such great efforts?”
Chihwayi also said Coltart was qualified to write about violence by Tsvangirai in a then united MDC after the former Prime Minister was often accused of using against party rivals.