Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
FORMER Education Minister Senator David Coltart has lauded President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Government following the passing of the National Peace and Reconciliation Act, saying it was a step in the right direction.
In a statement he posted on his page on micro-blogging site, twitter on Friday, Sen Coltart also apologised for the atrocities by the Rhodesian Government during the time he was a police officer. His remarks follow President Mnangagwa’s revelation in Davos, Switzerland, last week that he had signed the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill into law to, among other issues, tackle the emotive Gukurahundi issue.
Vice-President Kembo Mohadi heads the Organ on National Peace and Reconciliation.
“I commend the passing of the National Peace and Reconciliation Act as a positive step in the right direction and call on Government to ensure that it has the independence, resources and cooperation it needs to be able to expose the truth and begin the long, hard but critically important process of reconciliation and healing,” he said.
“I also believe that part of the process of healing and reconciliation consists in all of us acknowledging and apologising for our own complicity and responsibility for the things we have done. So what is to be done going forward?”
Sen Coltart said Zimbabwe needs to break the cycle of political violence that dates back to Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965 through a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
He said his apology for the mass killings of blacks by the racist Rhodesian Government was prompted by what he described as a “sustained social media campaign” portraying him as an unrepentant Rhodesian.
“This week I have been the subject of a sustained social media campaign seeking to portray me as an unrepentant Rhodesian who has refused to condemn atrocities committed by the Rhodesian security services. I have also been accused of killing Black Zimbabweans during my time in the police force and of refusing to apologise for the role that I played,” said Sen Coltart.
He however argued that the portrayal of his views and the allegations made against him were “patently untrue.”
Sen Coltart said he has addressed the issue in his biography: The Struggle Continues: 50 years of tyranny in Zimbabwe and other platforms.
“I unreservedly condemn the atrocities committed by the Rhodesian regime, such as the Nyadzonia massacre in which an estimated 1 028 men, women and children were killed. I also unreservedly condemn the unjust system of governance in Rhodesia which was based on a white supremacist ideology and engaged in the brutal oppression and systemic discrimination against black, coloured and Asian people,” he said.
Sen Coltart said he regretted not doing enough to oppose the Rhodesian government system.
“I sincerely apologise for the role that I played in propping up a racist regime as a young man in the police force. If I knew then what I know now, I would have resisted conscription and actively sought to fight, using non-violent means, the injustices of the Rhodesian regime,” he said.
Sen Coltart was enlisted into the Rhodesian police force at the age of 17 and served for two years before he left to study law.
He said as a teenager he was caught up by the propaganda that it was a war to preserve Christianity and willingly joined.
He said he takes responsibility for his actions and inactions.
“I also acknowledge that, as a White person, I have benefited from Rhodesia’s discriminatory policies and laws. When I speak with my black, coloured and Asian friends and colleagues about their awful experiences under Rhodesian rule, I deeply regret my failure then to stand by you. I have repented before God and ask for forgiveness,” said the former Cabinet Minister.
Sen Coltart said he expressed revulsion at the death of anti-Apartheid icon Steve Biko in 1977 and had committed to try and make the racist administration in South Africa see things differently.
He also narrated a harrowing experience in which he was forced to dispose of a slain liberation fighter at the height of the insurrection.
“I disclosed this incident in my book precisely because I believe we all have an obligation to share the truth and not spare ourselves in doing so to the millions of people whose lives were terribly affected by that dark period in our history,” said Sen Coltart.—@mashnets