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Zapu speaks on arms caches


Arms caches discovered at Zapu properties in the early 1980s were hidden by the former liberation party on behalf of Umkonto Wesizwe (MK), an armed military wing of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa.

A former member of Zapu military wing, the Zimbabwe Peoples Revolutionary Army (Zipra), Cetshwayo Sithole at the weekend broke the silence surrounding the arms stashes, saying when they surrendered arms at Brady Barracks, Bulawayo, they could not surrender MKs arms as well.

Soon after the discovery of the arms caches then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe deployed the 5th Brigade in Matabeleland and Midlands in 1983, accusing the ex-Zipra combatants of plotting an insurgency.

This sparked the Gukurahundi crackdown in which an estimated 20 000 civilians, mainly Ndebeles, were massacred in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the early 1980s.

Addressing about 50 Zapu youths at the partys regional offices in Bulawayo, Sithole, the Zipra Veterans Trust committee member, said when the arms caches were unearthed, his party deliberately kept mum over their true ownership for fear of exposing the ANC.

Its true we were keeping arms. We were keeping Umkhonto Wesizwes arms, said Sithole, whose liberation war name was Tonderai Nyika.

Sithole made the disclosures in the presence of Zapu national chairperson Isaac Mabuka and former Zipra Veterans Trust chairperson Ray Ncube.

When we surrendered our (liberation war) arms at Brady Barracks, we couldnt surrender MKs arms as well.

The truth must be known. We had kept the arms. Dumiso Dabengwa and (the late) Lookout Masuku just kept quiet about it in court, he said.

But Dabengwa yesterday appeared reluctant to discuss the matter. Who said that? Did he say he kept those arms himself? Dabengwa queried before switching off his mobile phone.

Zipra intelligence chiefs Dabengwa and Masuku were charged with treason after they were linked to the arms caches on allegations they were planning an insurrection.

They were, however, acquitted, but detained again without trial for four years under emergency powers as the State battled to link them to the arms.


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