By Dumisani Nyoni
Bulawayo, May 14, 2016—FORMER Education minister, David Coltart has challenged Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo and Presidential spokesman George Charamba to write their own accounts of national issues and stop attacking him for doing the same.
Coltart recently published his book entitled, “Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe”.
The book has sparked heated debate on mainstream and social media platforms.
It has also unsettled top Zanu PF politicians, among them Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa whom he says in the book was one of those who incited the 1980s Gukurahundi atrocities that claimed nearly 20 000 civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
Moyo and Charamba, who, writing under his pseudonym Nathaniel Manheru in state media, have criticised the book saying it was a watered version.
They also dismissed the memoirs as biased against black Zimbabweans and not carrying any new information on the country’s past.
However, Coltart on Thursday told journalists at a press club in Bulawayo that his aim was to stir debate and propel other people like Moyo and Manheru to write their own stories.
“It’s my perspective. What I hope it will generate it’s a debate. The challenge is to the Jonathan Moyos, to the Nathaniel Manherus and all other politicians to write their own stories,” Coltart said.
“It encourages all the Zimbabweans right across the political spectrum to write their own stories. There are far too few stories written about Zimbabwe. There are very few political autobiographies or even biographies written in Zimbabwe.
“There is not a single biography about President Robert Mugabe written by a Zimbabwean. I think that is a challenge. If you think of other icons of our country there are no biographies about Garfield Todd (former Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia), Edson Zvobgo (Zanu-PF co-founder) and many other iconic figures.”
The MDC politician said Zimbabwe has a rich history but the problem was that people do not want to document it.
Coltart said Zimbabweans have been under oppression for a long time and this was one of the reasons which prompted him to pen his book.
He added that people were still suffering from post-traumatic-stress syndrome since pre and post-independence.
Some of those events include Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, the 2008 violent elections among others.
Coltart bemoaned that Zimbabweans were bent of harming each other as opposed to peace.
“My hope in this book is that we recognize that violence is far from providing solution to our nation. Actually, it plunges us into great crisis. We need to renounce violence. My concern in this nation is that we load violence and war so much that we have not learnt the lesson of what the war has done to our nation,” he added.
He denied the allegations that he joined the Rhodesian army to suppress black people.
“I didn’t join the army. I joined the Rhodesian police force and was deployed in Khezi from 1976 to 1977 where there was not much violence. As such, I did not fire even a single bullet in anger. I think any reading of the first seven chapters of the book will dispel any accusation that I have not been open about my role in the Rhodesian BSAP (British South Africa Police),” he said.
Coltart has become embroiled in a row with Mnangagwa after it emerged that his recently-published book contains claims that sometime in 1983, Mnangagwa, then Security minister, made statements which encouraged violence against civilians, marking the beginning of what came to be known as Gukurahundi.
Mnangagwa swiftly issued a statement dismissing as “false and malicious”, a report by Coltart that he had made the inflammatory remarks 33 years ago.
However, Coltart said he had relied on some reports in the state-controlled Chronicle newspaper, which he had believed to be true as Mnangagwa never sued the paper for those remarks.