Mugabe’s Gukurahundi role exposed

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, some of his ministers and senior army officials were closely involved in the planning and execution of the Gukurahundi massacres, new research and recently declassified Australian government documents have revealed.

By Staff Reporters

The revelations are likely to embarrass the ruling Zanu PF government at a time the emotive issue has creeped back into the spotlight.

Australian embassy dispatches to Canberra from 1983 reveal how Zanu PF ministers, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangwagwa, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and the late Eddison Zvobgo were aware of the 1980s massacres, with the aim to finish off Zapu and create a one-party state.

The Australian cables reveal that embassy officials had met with former Midlands governor Cephas Msipa, who revealed that Zanu PF ministers had told him that Gukurahundi massacres had been planned by the party’s central committee.

“He (Msipa) had talked earlier with Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister and later lunched with him,” the embassy dispatch reads.
“Zvobgo told him of the decision of the central committee that there had to be a massacre of the Ndebeles.”

Msipa is said to have reiterated the word “massacre”, revealing that the killings — which Mugabe has only referred to as a “moment of madness” — were carefully planned and executed.

Once the killings started, Zvobgo is said to have told Msipa that Perrence Shiri, then commander of the Fifth Brigade and now boss of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, said “politicians should leave it to us”.

Sekeramayi, who was Defence minister, on the other hand, is said to have told Msipa that he had preferred a political solution to the Matabeleland situation.

The latest revelations sharply contradict what Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko has said recently that Gukurahundi was a Western conspiracy, but rather point to the fact that the President knew what was happening and approved of it.

“Another member of the High Commission was told by Msipa at the residence (presumably the residence of the High Commission) on 5 March that Sekeramayi had also said that not only was Mugabe fully aware of what was going on — what the Fifth Brigade was doing was under Mugabe’s explicit orders,” the cables read.

The former Midlands governor then said he was having a crisis of conscience, as he remained in government, yet the authorities were responsible for the killings in Matabeleland South, which then were in their nascent stages.

A historian and author, Stuart Doran, points out that Msipa was close to Mugabe because of their shared history and his account to the Australians could be credible.

“Msipa was a credible witness in view of his amicable relationship with Mugabe,” Doran writes.

“He had, for instance, shared a room with Mugabe for two years during their earlier career as teachers.

“Msipa had also welcomed Mugabe into his home when the latter returned from Ghana in 1960 and joined the struggle against white rule.

“Between 1980 and 1982, when tensions were rising between Zapu and Zanu, Msipa had served as a regular go-between and had spoken to Mugabe often.”

In discussions with Western representatives, Sekeramayi also revealed that the killings in Matabeleland and Midlands were not an accident and were planned.

“Sekeramayi was more circumspect in direct discussions with Western representatives, but nevertheless made clear that the massacres were no accident,” Doran writes.

“The ‘army had had to act hard’, he told the British defence attaché, ‘but . . . the situation was now under control’.

“Later, Sekeramayi admitted to the British High Commissioner that ‘there had been atrocities’.”

During the killings, Shiri is said to have consulted extensively with now Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga, then commander of 1 Brigade in Bulawayo.

“Chiwenga’s unit also provided a range of practical assistance, including logistical support for 5 Brigade and a base from which Shiri’s men operated when they made punitive raids on Bulawayo’s townships,” Doran writes.

“Together with other former Zanla cadres, who shared common experiences and common hatreds, the pair was intimately involved in an apparent attempt to obliterate the Ndebele from the face of the earth.

“The first six weeks of 5 Brigade’s pogrom were genocidal in their intensity, but the documentary record shows that an order was given to curtail this phase after news of the massacres began to leak to the outside world.

“However, the killings did not end, but were instead scaled back and conducted in a more covert manner.”

Doran, who is set to publish a book based on new information on Zimbabwe titled Kingdom, Power, Glory: Mugabe, Zanu and the Quest for Supremacy, 1960–87, also questions why Western governments did so little to curtail the killings, but insists blame for the massacre lies solely with Mugabe.

“New documentary material underlines once more that post-independence Zimbabwe’s greatest crimes and deepest wounds lie squarely at the feet of Mugabe and Zanu PF,” he says.

“The killings were a thoroughly internal affair. They were neither provoked nor sustained by outsiders.

“From start to finish, the atrocities were driven from the top by Zanu PF in pursuit of specific political objectives.”

Msipa yesterday refused to comment on the latest revelations or talk about Gukurahundi, saying the matter was too sensitive .

Open discussion of the Gukurahundi massacres in the country remains heresy, with the government recently wheeling out analysts and officials who deny the atrocities.

Mphoko is the most senior member of government to try and absolve Mugabe of any involvement in the massacres, although the latest revelations are likely to leave him and his party with egg on their collective faces.

Mugabe, in the 1980s, set up a commission of inquiry into the killings, ostensibly to assuage Western diplomats who expressed uneasiness at the massacres, but the findings of the commission are yet to be made public, three decades later.

See Stuart Doran’s analysis of the Gukurahundi documents courtesy of the Daily Maverick

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18 Comments

  1. Bingo wokwa Gutu

    Like it or not zvichabuda chete. Even those responsible for disappearances will one day be named!

    1. This is nonsense. Who are the Australians to start talking about Gukurahundi? whoever took them to task for the massacre of the Aborigines? And in this case, why are not the victims crying? Why do they only cry when they are told to do so by Europeans? Why in the first place did government end up using force against the dissidents in Matabeleland and Midlands? Are we then saying because some dissidents were of Ndebele descent then it’s the Ndebeles who were being rebellious? As far as I know, ZAPU itself was not only made up of Ndebeles. Are Rex Nhongo, Mtinhiri, Marembo and Chambati Ndebeles? Why should Zimbabweans allow themselves to be driven into tribal wars? Why are the same Australians not concerned about the hundreds of thousands of Shonas killed by Mzilikazi and Lobengula from the time they settled north across the Limpopo in 1836? Why are the same Australians quite about the Shona and Ndebele thousands killed by Cecil John Rhodes up until Ian Smith’s regime? Fine, lets talk about Gukurahundi but only after the previous conflicts.

    2. Peter Arthur Mutharika

      True dat, my brother. Rine manyanga hariputirwi mumushunje. Mazinyanga acho azorebesa manje!

  2. keep your lawyers close, its a good idea that the world ought to knw the truth about Gukurahundi, but watch yo back as speak to the world, its a can of worms that others do not want opened,

  3. goodchildgonebad

    That guy and company will never release that report they know what they did unless a member of the inner circle has a copy and is probably waiting for an opportune moment to leak it
    ,i hope and pray that the report is still there .Even assuming the report is nolonger in existence i/we take comfort in that we know the truth .Guys like Mphoko are singing for their stormach they are bereft of any conscience considering lost lives

  4. Scott Gavanga

    Any response Phelikezeza Mpokho? Clearly Gukurahuni was no western conspiracy, Pelekezela!

  5. Scott Gavanga

    Any response Pelekezela Mpokho? Clearly Gukurahundi was no western conspiracy, Pelekezela!

  6. Does anyone actually think that someone could be President of a nation and not be involved in something like the gukaruhundi??? In God’s eternal laws to whom much is given much will be expected. The buck will have to stop with the man at the top. He will be held accountable. If a family home life is rotten God is going to look to the designated head of the house: the husband! None of us will get away with anything! believe me. Only that which has been confessed and repented of will be blotted out and forgiven.

  7. But this is not an expose but just an elaboration because the country knows who did it, not zva Mboko izvi. It was nasty. My uncle in Lower Gweru, a Russian trained guerilla of Zipra survived by climbing a tree near his home but they hunted him in hills and valleys.

  8. Personally I believe the only thing that can set this country free of its dark past is publishing the contents of the commission of inquiry, so that everyone debates, apologies or whatever needs to be done or said, at least from an informed position. Living it politicians to constantly look for political mileage when it suits them, will never heal the wounds. Lets man up and face our demons head on.

  9. Nathanjo Moyo

    Time will tell – we witnessed the German Hitler records clerk being arraigned before the courts recently. He was in his 90s and tried to say “I was only doing my job” but in vain. When the time’s up it’s up!

  10. I think this issue is getting out of hand. Let us also move backwards in time when all the Shonas were taken like slaves to Matabeleland without hoping to go back to their homes, changing names completely, losing all women and being butchered at Bulawayo. Stop that subject otherwise there are also serious wounds which should not be opened.

  11. You have heard the message although you have deleted the comment which is the truth.

  12. How can a normal person spend 35 years with knowledge of the death of so many innocent and not so innocent people? Is that different from ISIL, Boko Haram, Al Shabab etc.?

  13. The issue of Gukurahundi has long since been forgotten. you want to continue to inflict a healing wound. It is my hope that the word of God will help us forgive and forget else resentment will always be part of those that cannot forgive. lets leave everything to God and try to build our country. we needs better roads, clean water and above all lets fight corruption. This thing of revisiting Gukurahundi is like sowing seed of revenge.

  14. After a gruesome apartheid that left many dead and missing, A Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set that saw the perpetrators and the victims meeting face to face asking for forgiveness. Painful as it was, healing manifested for the victims and the nation at large. Here we need something of that nature because the perpetrators are known and some living in the twilight of their lives and the victims will always be affected as though this happened yesterday. Some were children left without parents and are now old. It is only the truth that sets free. It is not enough to say’ “It was my moment of madness”.

  15. Personally I think Gukurahundi started back in Chimoio wen the Zipra forces plotted the sell out to eliminate the Zanla forces towards independence im sure most of us here know abt the chimoio massacre. the reason being that the zanla had a bigger army than zipra and the zipra had few leaders and were rarely known by the masses hence limited chances of getting top leadership positions in the country. Wipin most of the forces wld equate or somehow create a balance between the two revolutionary forces in the independent Zimbabwe and give them an upperhand in getting the chance to rule and the deal wasn’t done for mahala there was a price for that from the whites and I think that is explained by the arms supply from down south. Gukurahundi to me was very necessary. tho I think it went a lil bit too far but ndo zvakaita hondo

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