DEFENCE minister Sydney Sekeramayi has been implicated as having been instrumental in the post-independence atrocities committed by President Robert Mugabe’s government that left over 20 000 civilians dead.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
A declassified document from US spy agency, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), quotes Sekeramayi as having indicated that a crack North-Korean trained military unit codenamed Fifth Brigade had specific instructions at deployment.
“Renewed violence at the end of 1982 provoked the government into a full-scale military campaign against Zapu. The dissidents attacked cars, buses and trains and destroyed government construction equipment; they seized several hostages and killed six whites,” the report said.
“The 5th Brigade was sent to Matabeleland in January 1983 with a mandate to be ‘relentless in neutralising dissident elements,’ according to Minister of State for Defence Sekeramayi.
“Although there were some exaggerated Press reports of atrocities against Ndebele villagers by the all-Shona brigade, there is little doubt it engaged in indiscriminate brutality and destroyed property, including entire villages, in several instances,” the report said.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Sekeramayi said he was yet to see the declassified report.
“I am yet to see that report,” he said.
When NewsDay quizzed him on whether the quoted words were consistent with what he might have said at the time, the Defence minister insisted: “I have not had sight of the report you are referring to.”
According to the CIA, the government followed a campaign, also codenamed “Mailed Fist”, whose aim, besides ending dissident violence also targeted the elimination of “Zapu as a political organisation”.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has denied culpability in the atrocities, arguing he was neither head of government nor the army at the time. Mugabe has described Gukurahundi, which continues to raise emotions, as a “moment of madness”.
Several accounts have accused Mnangagwa and Sekeramai of playing a leading role.