Gukurahundi – Zimbabwe

Hoe moes die burgers van Zimbabwe nie gevoel het nie?  Erg getraumatiseerd omdat hul eie geliefdes voor hul vermink, vermoor en soms met ‘n mes oopgeslag is soos wat ‘n bok of bees afgeslag word.   Hul babas uitgeslag is en so gelaat om te sterf.    Hulle is gemartel en aan die brand gesteek of opgekap en in massagrafte gegooi.   Dat mense wat soos hulle lyk en praat, hul eie mense uitwis.   Ons is ook daar al sedert HF Verwoerd se dood, waar blankes agter jou staan, nie skroom om ‘n mens in jou rug te steek nie, hulle lyk soos ons en praat ook soos ons in Afrikaans.  Wie was hoofsaaklik by en in Dakar om in die geheim saam die kommuniste te konkel, daarna was dit Kodesa.   Al hierdie verrigtinge sowel as die skrywe en selfs skrywers, was en is deur Kommuniste, soos o.a. George Soros – Ford Foundation en ander gefinansier.   Hulle beheer almal in Suid-Afrika. Demokraties?  nee, beslis nie.  Dis hoekom ons alles in ons vermoeë moet doen om pad te gee uit die kommunistiese sfeer en bose sweer wat ons daagliks uitwis met swart bemagtiging en misdaad.
(photo)  The key men behind the Gukurahundi Massacres: Robert Mugabe (President), Emmerson Mnangagwa (then State Security Minister) and Perrence Shiri (then commander of the 5th Brigade).

Skerp veiligheid op.  In en rondom jou huis en gaan maar vir ekstra opleidings.  Sluit aan by Burgerlike beskerming.  (Gordon)








Following Zimbabwe’s independence of 1980, the Zimbabwe Government led by Robert G. Mugabe began an ethnic cleansing genocide aimed specifically at killing all isiNdebele speaking persons of Zimbabwe or in the least case scenario striking such terrifying fear amongst the population of abaThwakazi, through despicable methods of brutal abductions and torture. Rape, torture, dismemberment of body organs such as ears, lips, sexual organs, arms and legs etc., burning people alive, burying large groups of civilians alive in mass graves, throwing large numbers of civilians in deep open old mine shafts and opening up bellies of pregnant women with knifes to kill both mother and child at the same time, causing disappearances of civilians identified as government threats were some but a few of the gruesome methods that were executed to purge an entire ethnic population of abaThwakazi and particularly persons identified as speaking isiNdebele. Along with the isiNdebele speaking population, anyone belonging to Mthwakazi nation became victim of the atrocities.It was and it is only one’s ability to speak the Shona language of Zimbabwe that one could and can be saved the wrath of such brutal death or abuse by the tribalist government of Zimbabwe which carried out the Gukurahundi atrocities using its special British and North Korean trained 5th Brigade forces ( a special army that was trained only to carry out the genocide to cleanse or purge the newly independent Zimbabwe, of abaThwakazi).

Reports and witnesses have proven and confirmed that the atrocities and systematic cleansing of the abaThwakazi nation which carried on from the British government and Monarch in 1980 by the Zimbabwe government was infact the results of a carefully planned and drafted program which was authored by a special committee of Zanu PF politburo headed by Nathan Shamuyarira and Zimbabwe’s current Vice President, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. This carefully authored program later leaked into the public domain and is popularly known by its title “1979 Zanu PF. Grand Plan” This documented plan was and is a masterminded program drafted against the targeted tribes of abaThwakazi and it appears to have been written during the period of war of liberation dating back to 1963. Evidence clearly shows that the 1979 Grand Plan was carefully and expertly written by Zanu PF’s elite structure and its purpose was to come up with a plan that would exterminate the existence of the abaThwakazi nation from Zimbabwe. isiNdebele was used as the identifying language for the targeted victims of abaThwakazi and as such even today that systematic abuse of anyone caught speaking isiNdebele in Zimbabwe is highly prevalent in all structures of government and the private sectors that the government monitors and controls.

If you read The 1979 Grand Plan together with its follow up supporting documents, you will have no doubt that Zimbabwe’s independence of 1980 had been celebrated to benefit Mashonaland and deprive or eliminate Mthwakazi (Matebeleland) as a people and as a nation.

To this day the 1979 Grand Plan of Zimbabwe’s Zanu PF is still ploughing its vicious tribalist terror system to the masses of Mthwakazi. Reports have indicated that the Gukurahundi genocide, torture, mass killings and disappearances of civilians during the period of 1983 to 1987 may have left about 20 000 civilians dead in the region. We find these reports to be greatly deflated and inaccurate, owing to the account of methods of mass killings that happened daily and by the hour in all regions of Mthwakazi during that period.

We are also direct victims that experienced first had, the torture and abuse and also were witness to the killings, some of which we were made to dig the mass graves ourselves and then after people were ordered to lie in those graves we were then orded by the government army of Zimbabwe’s Zanu PF to then bury the many civilians lying underground alive. No reporters or news agencies or international observers where there to witness 90% of the killings in the region of Matebeleland and Midlands (Mthwakazi) and as such to pull a figure of 20 000 from a hat and decide to claim that it is what number of people could have been killed or disappeared or buried alive etc is very unreasonable.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians were never accounted for by the quoted reports such as the CCJP (Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace) report. Investigators of this report could not have been allowed to exhume all the mass graves and account for the dead fetuses of pregnant women who had still-born babies or had their children cut out of their mothers bellies with a knife.

A more reasonable figure of the murdered cannot be any less than 500 000 unarmed civilians coupled with tens of thousands of civilians that lost limbs and were dismembered by the special government army.

Also over 2 million civilians fled to neighboring South Africa and Botswana and even to date many abaThwakazi are still in exile from the continuing tribalist systematic abuses by the Zimbabwe Zanu PF government. Victims that have never been accounted for include fetuses and still born babies who died due to the forced stress labor by their mothers. Pregnant women had their stomachs cut open to kill them and release unborn babies so that the Mthwakazi population would not expand.

Large groups of villages were ordered to dig mass graves and ordered to get in them and either would then be buried alive or shot dead before being buried. villagers were thrown into old dysfunctional mines to die in agony below the earth. Large populations of abaThwakazi were dismembered and mutilated to instil fear on survivors. Schools were burnt down with principals, teachers and students in them so that education would not be possible in Mthwakazi. Speaking local languages, especially isiNdebele was not allowed as every Mthwakazi person was forced to learn and speak Shona and not doing so got thousands of civilians killed just for speaking isiNdebele. Even today in Zimbabwe, opportunities in the workforce, education in schools, colleges and universities and business dealings will only be a success to a Mthwakazi person if you are able to show ability to speak Shona.

Thousands of abaThwakazi civilians were forced to change their last names to Shona last names just so as to try and open up opportunities to persue education, get employed or promoted at work, etc. All the above witnesses and facts of the mass killings and abuses perpertrated against abaThwakazi could not have accounted for only 20 000 victims.

This 20 000 figure is a figure that Zimbabwe’s Zanu PF murderers appear to be confortable with as it does not sound alarm bells such as would do, the real estimates of the murdered and disappeared and maimed. Zimbabwe’s officials trust that a figure of 20 000 victims is going to keep potential arrest at bay to them. They are dependent on the fact that victims of such gross violations, genocide, crimes against humanity and ethinic cleansing may not find the courage and motivation to approach such courts as The Hague and the ICC (International Criminal Court).


THIS is the fifth in a series of articles of a detailed research paper by British academic Hazel Cameron on the state-sponsored killings of civilians by Zimbabwean security forces between 1982 and 1987 under the pretext of suppressing dissidents in the atrocities now widely referred to as the Gukurahundi massacres.

Hazel Cameron,British academic

The following day, March 5, US Secretary of State George Shultz informed the American embassies in Maputo, Mozambique, and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), that the “Fifth Brigade’s activities have been lightly covered in the British press; however, a detailed report by Nick Worrall datelined Bulawayo appeared in today’s Guardian. Worral wrote in part: ‘At one church refugee centre in a Bulawayo suburb last night, 209 people slept the night on a bare stone floor surrounded by their bundles of possessions. Most were either old men or women with small children. One woman said she had fled from her village north of Bulawayo after she and all the other people from the village had been made to lie face down on the ground while soldiers walked along beating them with sticks. She said two men who had tried to get up had been shot dead by soldiers … an old man from a village 30 miles east of the city said two of his young male relatives were shot dead by soldiers last week. He had left home and was afraid to return’.”

The offensive by the Zimbabwean government continued, with Minister of State for Security, Emmerson Mnangagwa, making a public statement on March 4, at a rally held not far from Lupane. His statement was reported in the Chronicle, March 5 1983.

“He told his audience that (the) government had ‘an option’ of ‘burning down … all the villages infected with dissidents’.

“He warned ‘the campaign against dissidents can only succeed if the infrastructure which nurtures them is destroyed’. In a supercilious manner, he chillingly described dissidents as “cockroaches” and the Fifth Brigade as “DDT” brought in to eradicate them.”

The very next day, the largest recorded massacre occurred at Cewale in Northern Lupane with the death of 55 people.

“Mnangagwa, in these statements and in others he made later, made clear plainly that the action against the civilian population of Matabeleland was part of a deliberate state policy.”

In an effort to develop a working strategy to deal with the Zimbabwe problem, Chester Crocker, the US Assistant Secretary of State, Africa, wrote to a US delegation visiting Zimbabwe to explain that: “The reasons for the (Prime Minister Robert) Mugabe’s government’s actions are several and interrelated. Like African leaders since the wave of independence began in 1957, he wants to consolidate his power. In practice, this means suppression of the rival, minority, Ndebele tribe by the Shona. This comes against a background of centuries of tribal rivalry …

“Another core reason for the Zimbabwe government’s action — with important US domestic political ramifications — is the need which Mugabe recognises, to maintain a climate of law and order in Zimbabwe that encourages the still economically necessary white minority to stay.”

It is of note that in this same document, Crocker described Mugabe’s policy in Matabeleland as “turning the Fifth Brigade loose on the Ndebele”, while on the very same day (March 4 1983) British High Commissioner Robin Byatt met with Minister of Defence Sydney Sekeramayi and told him that “we sympathise with the difficulties his government face in handling the dissident problem. We did not wish to add to these”.

Byatt continued, saying he “thought that Zimbabwe’s image and international reputation would suffer badly if the kind of reports which had been appearing recently were to continue over any protracted period of time … I urged him strongly to ensure that excesses were curbed and that, while military force was needed, no more was used than was essential to the requirement of the moment … I said, again speaking personally, that in addition to our concern for Zimbabwe’s security and for her international reputation … we had to be particularly careful of the reputation of our army”. Byatt ended by advising London “I am sure that our best tactic is to continue to try to proffer sympathetic and constructive, rather than simply critical advice if we wish to influence Zimbabwean decisions”.

The rationale for such decision-making is undoubtedly multi-stranded. However, it is quite clear that one of the major concerns for the British is “the reputation of (their) army” and British public opinion as opposed to the ongoing atrocities and human violations.

Such was the increasing concern among Western diplomats in Harare over the unbridled atrocities taking place, that a meeting was organised at the Canadian High Commission on March 11 1983 to share data on conditions in Matabeleland among the chiefs of mission. Representatives from the major involved Western countries — Canada, West Germany, Sweden, Australia and the United States — all attended. Strikingly, Byatt failed to attend, with no apology proffered.

After the meeting, the Americans concluded “that conditions are about as bad as they have been reported in the press, if not worse, though there may have been an improvement following the initial Fifth Brigade rampage in late January and early February”.

Intelligence collated from “Zapu people” by the West German ambassador indicated “that the terror (in Matabeleland) has been directed mainly against women and children. Fifth Brigade has had little contact with actual dissidents, they say, and in two cases where there was contact, five brigade soldiers fled the scene. Zapu people insist there was no intention to restore law and order. Rather the operation was purely political — to crush Zapu and establish a one-party state”.

A decision was made during this meeting that individual démarches should be undertaken “mainly directed at acting foreign minister Nathan Shamuyarira”.

Later that same day, US Ambassador Robert Keeley made “a fairly strong démarche” with acting Prime Minister Simon Muzenda, while the Swedish and West German ambassadors met separately with Shamuyarira to make their démarche. In the meantime the Canadian ambassador “had received very broad and soft instructions about a démarche” while the Australian ambassador planned to make a démarche at the earliest opportunity, but had “not seen any one high-level yet”.

It is notable that the British did not participate in a démarche. As has been noted, Byatt failed to attend the chiefs of mission meeting and Keeley reporting back to Washington that the “UK was conspicuously absent, for reasons I don’t know”.

Upon learning of Byatt’s failure to appear at the meeting in the Canadian High Commission, Washington wrote to the American ambassadors in both London and Gaborone advising them that “off the record, I want you to know that we don’t entirely share the (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) FCO’s confidence about how much of a lead their representatives are willing and eager to take. The UK High Commission has always, since independence, cared more about the UK’s bilateral relations with the GOZ (Government of Zimbabwe) and has not been inclined to participate in démarches that might cause them damage, though clearly supportive of the overall Western interest in this country. One example is that we and the West Germans have worked hard on trying to get the Zimbabwe media to bring more balance to their coverage of east-west issues, but our British colleagues have not joined us in this endeavour.”

Washington continued: “Still off the record, the British High Commissioner leaves here on transfer to London in two weeks’ time after nearly a three-year tour and a decade of involvement with the Rhodesian problem. He seems somewhat distressed at having to leave at a time when things are going sour. He doesn’t want to go out on a low note, that is, a GOZ-UK confrontation over the GOZ’s strategy for (Joshua) Nkomo, Zapu, the Ndebele and Matabeleland …

“I had an hour-long conversation with General Shortis 10 days ago before he had received his instructions on what to say about Matabeleland and found him excessively defensive about what has been going on in Matabeleland and almost an apologist for the GOZ, as well as naive about the political consequences in the longer term. He obviously has a vested interest in the success of BMATT (British Military Advisory and Training Team)’s armed forces integration exercise and tends to downplay the dangers of a blow-up which would scuttle that long and arduous effort.”

As previously noted, a film crew had arrived in Zimbabwe to make a documentary on events in Matabeland. David McMillan of the British High Commission in Harare, invited the film presenter, Jeremy Paxman, to dinner on March 16 1983. After the meeting, McMillan reported back to London that Paxman “took an unreservedly gloomy and sensational view of recent events in Matabeleland where he has recently spent some 10 days. He (Paxman) claimed tha tthe situation was worse than any other he had covered in his years with the BBC. He did not think that the Zimbabwean government would much care for the programme he intended to produce, which was due to broadcast on 21 March (1983)”.

In his report, McMillan noted that he “tried to get Paxman to see events in Matabeleland in their true perspective and put it to him that it was difficult to believe that he had seen nothing worse … I would expect next Monday’s Panorama to be hard-hitting and likely to displease the Zimbabweans”.

One of the more notable parts of the subsequent film was Paxman interviewed BMATT chief of staff, Colonel Chuck Ivey. Ivey was excessively defensive and dismissive regarding events in Matabeleland, claiming, when questioned, “there are stories out of Matabeleland and stories out of Northern Ireland. Which stories are you going to believe?”

At Easter 1983, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference prepared a pastoral statement noting: “Violent reaction against dissident activity has, to our certain knowledge brought about the maiming and death of hundreds and hundreds of innocent people who are neither dissidents nor collaborators. We are convinced by incontrovertible evidence that many wanton atrocities and brutalities have been and are still being perpetrated.”

Dr Cameron teaches International Relations at the University of St Andrews in Britain. Her main research interests include state crime; external institutional bystanders and international criminal law; state and corporate complicity in genocide, war crime and crimes against humanity; intersection of criminality and the extractive industries in the DRC; and Rwandan state violence.

She has written a monograph of her doctoral research titled Britain’s Hidden Role in the Rwandan Genocide.





The Gukurahundi was a series of massacres of Ndebele civilians carried out by the Zimbabwe … In early 1983, the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade began a crackdown on … of Genocide Scholars is that more than 20,000 people were killed



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Mugabe planned Gukurahundi in 1979


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ON THE DAY in 1980 when control of the southern African nation of Rhodesia passed from the minority whites to the majority blacks, a white farmer named Michael Townsend was on patrol in the bush with the Rhodesian Army. His wife, Cathy, was home at their farm with their youngest son, behind a barbed wire fence and bulletproof screens.

Rhodesia died that day and was renamed Zimbabwe following more than a decade of international sanctions and seven years of guerrilla war. Under pressure from Britain, the United States and South Africa, Prime Minister Ian Smith had grudgingly agreed several months earlier to hold open elections in a country where blacks outnumbered whites by a ratio of about 28-1. There was little doubt that the new prime minister would be black, but whites were convinced that he would be Bishop Abel Muzorewa, a moderate Methodist minister heavily backed by South Africa.




Robert Mugabe (Shona) gee in Januarie 1983 opdragte aan sy eie opgeleide 5de Brigade van “noord-korea” om Ndebele’s uit te wis.

In January of 1983 Robert Mugabe, a member of the ethnic Shona majority, ordered his North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade to carry out what he called a gukurahundi against the Ndebele people.


From January 1983, a campaign of terror was waged against the Ndebele people in Matabeleland in western Zimbabwe. The so-called Gukurahundi massacres remain the darkest period in the country’s post-independence history, when more than 20,000 civilians were killed by Robert Mugabe’s feared Fifth Brigade.

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This article examines the role of diplomatic relations during the first stages of the 1983 Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe. Based on a preliminary reading of South African Department of Foreign Affairs files for 1983, the article suggests that Cold War relations
between Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom helped to provide cover for the Zimbabwean National Army’s Fifth Brigade’s campaign of terror. Similarly, American support for Mugabe’s claims to be a pro-Western leader committed to non-racialism helped provide international cover for the atrocities. At the same time, evidence shows high-ranking ZANU-PF officials negotiated with the South African Defense Forces in 1983 to cooperate in their efforts to keep ZAPU from supporting South African ANC operations in Zimbabwe.

The 5th Brigade’s campaign therefore served the purposes of
South Africa, even as ZANU-PF officials rationalized the Gukurahundi violence in international and anti-apartheid circles as a campaign against South African destabilization. The article suggests that the diplomatic history of the Gukurahundi can
provide a useful lens for understanding the tragedy in both regional and international Cold War contexts.

Mugabe received extensive support from the UK and US
governments, while simultaneously portraying his government as a leading Frontline state in the anti-apartheid struggle. However, the anti-apartheid efforts of ZANU-PF were constrained by the realities of regional power. Faced with a much more powerful South African military and economy, Mugabe found it more convenient to cooperate with the South African Defence Forces against Nkomo’s ZAPU given the historic ties between ZAPU and the African National Congress (ANC). Cold War realities meant that Mugabe could benefit from his rivals’ longstanding support from the Soviets and the links between Soviet support for ZAPU and the ANC. Mugabe and others in Zimbabwe’s new government therefore worked with South Africa to keep ZAPU from providing bases for the ANC’s Umkhonto we Sizwe (The Spear of the Nation) (MK) in Zimbabwe.

South Africa’s Involvement in the Gukurahundi

Historian Sue Onslow has investigated South Africa’s role in trying to make sure Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF did not come to power in 1980. Onslow sums up South Africa’s strategy after Mugabe’s electoral victory and its impact on the conflict between ZANU and ZAPU. ‘Mugabe’s victory shocked Pretoria.

This drove South Africa back onto violence and subversion in neighbouring countries, rather than trying to manipulate the political process.’ Onslow argues that the involvement of South Africa in supplying a small amount of weapons to ZIPRA dissidents ‘rebounded on ZAPU/ ZIPRA forces’ in the Gukurahundi ‘as the Mugabe government … was able to stigmatise the disaffected ZIPRA combatants as stooges of the apartheid state, manipulated by a malevolent and oppressive foreign power.’16 South Africa did more to destabilize Zimbabwe in these years, but the support for ‘super-ZAPU’ dissidents proved to be the most important factor in helping the ZANU-PF government rationalize the Gukurahundi.


When Robert Mugabe assumed office as the first Prime Minister of Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980, he was faced with the task of uniting a country which had been subjected to 90 years of increasingly repressive, racist rule.

The Government agencies which were engaged in this second conflict were primarily 5 Brigade, the CIO, PISI and the ZANU-PF Youth Brigades, as shown in this report. These units committed many human rights violations, which compounded the plight of civilians who were once more caught in the middle of a problem not of their own making.



There is no denying the political nature of events as they unfolded in the 1980s, as the Shona-speaking, ZANU-PF-supporting 5 Brigade ruthlessly persecuted the Ndebele-speaking, ZAPU supporting residents of Matabeleland.


Many ex-members of the Rhodesian army, police and CIO became integrated into the South African armed forces.

Some remained in the country after Independence and actively recruited people for sabotage duties or to act as double agents. Some became trusted Government informers, ideally placed to exacerbate tensions between ZAPU and ZANU-PF by the use of misinformation.


The political and military violence of the 1980s resulted in huge losses for the citizens of Zimbabwe, in terms of human life, property, and economic development in affected areas. The dissidents themselves became answerable for this in no small measure, and are certainly known to have committed deeds of heinous cruelty against their fellow Zimbabweans during these years.

Civilians who lived in the rural areas and came into contact with them describe them as “cruel, uncontrollable, leaderless”. Their activities led to the abandonment of around 200 000 hectares of commercial farmland in Matabeleland, the murders of scores of civilians, the destruction of many homesteads, and scores of robberies.

At the end of 1980 only 15 000 out of 65 000 ex-combatants had been integrated into the Army, and the decision was made to remove some of the remaining ex-combatants into housing schemes near the major centres.


ZAPU Cabinet Ministers Nkomo, Chinamano, Muchachi and Msika were dismissed from the Government and ZIPRA’s former military leaders Dumiso Dabengwa and Lookout Masuku were arrested with four others, and subsequently tried for treason.

The High Court later acquitted all the men on the treason charges, and referred to Dabengwa as “the most impressive witness this court has seen in a long time” and “the antithesis of [a person] scheming to overthrow the government”.


Super ZAPU consisted of probably fewer than 100 members who were actually actively deployed in Zimbabwe. They were largely recruited from refugee camps and led by ex-ZIPRA members, who had been retrained in South Africa, in the covert operation known as Operation Drama.

A Zimbabwean Government briefing paper on the situation in 1983 conceded “the recent efforts of the Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland have offered the South Africans another highly motivated dissident movement on a plate”.

Some sources claim that it was once again Matt Calloway, an ex-member of the Rhodesian CIO who acted as a double agent for the South Africans, who was a key player in the campaign to recruit from Dukwe Refugee camp in Botswana.

While they operated, South Africa provided ammunition for Super ZAPU, and some of this found its way to other dissident groups in the country: arms and ammunition used by dissidents frequently indicated South Africa as the source of origin, particularly during 1983. Super ZAPU were also directly responsible for the deaths of white farmers in southern Matabeleland, during their time of operation.




Derduisende blankes vlug uit Rhodesië uit…. Daar was in 1965 so oor die 200000 blankes en 4 miljoen swartes.


Pat Ashton, a stocky, white-haired fifty-five-year-old farmer, stops in at least twice a month. Ashton grew up in Cheshire, England, and moved to Rhodesia in 1971. Trusting Mugabe’s moderate rhetoric, he made a down payment on a farm the year after independence. It took him two decades to pay back his loans, but in 2001 he finally did so. The Ashton farm grew mangoes, tobacco, maize, and flat peas, grossing about $800,000 annually. His workers didn’t earn enough to buy their own land (“I probably could have done more to make them self-sufficient,” he admits), but he did build them a village of some ninety houses, a social hall, a football field, and a medical clinic. Ashton reinvested virtually all of his surplus in the farm.

In July of 2001 about fifty people who lived in the nearby town arrived on his land. Most were miners, and they were led by three officials from the Mugabe government. The group began surveying Ashton’s property and marking out plots for homes. The next six months were a constant battle. The settlers returned and erected makeshift thatch huts in the middle of Ashton’s maize and tobacco fields. They dug up his maize crops, beat up his farm workers, and removed and bent his irrigation pipes. Still Ashton hung on, living in his farmhouse and planting and harvesting what he could. In January of 2002 four trucks arrived, containing youth militia and men claiming they were veterans of the liberation war collecting their reward for service. This time the invaders attacked Ashton, with steel rods and an ax, cutting him in the forearm and badly damaging his pickup truck as he tried to escape. They held two of his sons hostage for a day, threatening to execute them and making them chant songs in praise of the ruling party. As the invaders carted away all the Ashton family’s transportable belongings—from crockery to toilet seats—the police watched with amusement and then decided to join in.

Ashton is more sympathetic than many other farmers, but the story of his eviction is fairly typical. In 2000, about 4,000 large-scale commercial farmers owned some 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s arable land. Nearly two thirds of these farmers had bought their farms after independence, and thus held titles issued not by Ian Smith or the British colonial regime but by the Mugabe government. Mugabe had long pledged land reform as a way of redistributing farmland to black peasants and dismantling what many saw as the country’s “mini-Rhodesias.” But he had delayed action for two decades, generally taking farms only on a “willing seller, willing buyer” basis.

Initially, the farmers held their ground, but it became clear after several white farmers were murdered that they were too few and Mugabe’s regime was too determined. Of the 4,000 large-scale commercial farmers in business three years ago, all but 500 have been forced off their land. Most Zimbabweans (including white farmers) say that land reform was both necessary and inevitable. The tragedy of Mugabe’s approach is that it has harmed those whom a well-ordered, selective redistribution program could and should have helped. Generally the farms have not been given to black farm managers or farm workers. Indeed, because of their association with the opposition, more than a million farm workers and their dependents have been displaced, and they are now at grave risk of starvation. In fact, the beneficiaries of the land seizures are, with few exceptions, ruling-party officials and friends of the President’s. Although Mugabe’s people seem to view the possession of farms as a sign of status (the Minister of Home Affairs has five; the Minister of Information has three; Mugabe’s wife, Grace, and scores of influential party members and their relatives have two each), these elites don’t have the experience, the equipment, or, apparently, the desire to run them. About 130,000 formerly landless peasants helped the ruling elites to take over the farms, but now that the dirty work is done, many of them are themselves being expelled.

The drop-off in agricultural production is staggering. Maize farming, which yielded more than 1.5 million tons annually before 2000, is this year expected to generate just 500,000 tons. Wheat production, which stood at 309,000 tons in 2000, will hover at 27,000 tons this year. Tobacco production, too, which at 265,000 tons accounted for nearly a third of the total foreign-currency earnings in 2000, has tumbled, to about 66,000 tons in 2003.

4. Legislate the impossible
For all the lawlessness in Zimbabwe, the country in fact suffers from an overabundance of laws. Indeed, Mugabe has introduced so many economic edicts in the past year that most citizens have found it impossible to keep track. He fixed the price of a loaf of bread at half the bakers’ break-even price, and levied astronomical fines on any baker who charged more. Bakers stopped making bread until somebody noticed that sesame bread, a “luxury item,” wasn’t price-controlled; by sprinkling a few sesame seeds on their standard loaves, bakers were able to get back in business. A pair of mortuary workers were arrested recently for running a profitable “rent-a-cadaver” business: because Mugabe had decreed that drivers in funeral processions would get privileged access to the trickle of fuel coming into the country, these entrepreneurs had begun leasing bodies to Zimbabwean drivers.

“Mugonomics,” as Mugabe’s brand of economic policy is known in Zimbabwe, addresses the symptoms of economic collapse, such as food and fuel shortages, but ignores the underlying causes. Inflation in Zimbabwe is expected to surpass 800 percent by year’s end. Unemployment is at 70 percent. Zimbabwe has its own dollar, but the highest (and rarest) currency denomination, a $Z 1,000 note, cannot buy even a loaf of bread. Most transactions require hundreds of $Z 50 and $Z 100 bills. When Tsvangirai was arrested, several men were needed to carry his bail money to the Harare high court in huge cardboard boxes. Newspapers advertise “money rubber bands” and electronic money counters that “count 1,500 bills per minute.”

Because the rate of inflation is astronomical in comparison with the interest rates offered by banks, Zimbabweans are desperate to withdraw their savings in order to spend the money while it still has value. The banks say they would be happy to oblige—but they don’t have the cash. The government has so little foreign currency that it can’t pay to import the ink and the paper needed to print more bills or bills of higher denominations. In July desperate Zimbabweans began sleeping outside banks so as to be there when the doors opened. But because the banks limited the maximum withdrawal to the equivalent of $2.50, patrons were rewarded for a night’s wait with just enough money to cover their bus fare home.

Mugabe has kept the official exchange rate fixed at 824 Zimbabwean dollars to one U.S. dollar, even though the black-market rate hovers around $Z 5,000. Businessmen thus do their best to bypass official banks and government institutions, and the black market has become the only market of relevance. The state requires Zimbabweans who export goods to change 50 percent of their foreign earnings into local money at the official exchange rate. This means that every dollar converted loses almost all of its value—giving companies no incentive to bring money home, and worsening the severe cash shortage.

Forlorn Zimbabwean pensioners whose savings have vanished in a matter of months are reminiscent of the doleful Yugoslavs and Argentines who have endured similar implosions. The economic dynamic in Zimbabwe is perversely robust: while ordinary people suffer, black-market dealers and people with foreign bank accounts prosper, making them powerful stakeholders in the perpetuation of devastating economic policies.


Teach hate
When Mugabe took over as President, fewer than half of Zimbabweans could read and write. He transformed the country—producing a literacy rate higher than 85 percent. Yet he may be remembered less for his education drive than for creating the “Green Bombers,” the youth militia that emerged from the National Youth Service Training Program, introduced after the ruling party’s dismal showing in the 2000 parliamentary elections.

Some 50,000 Zimbabweans aged ten to thirty have passed through the training program since it started. The youth academies initially advertised themselves as offering training in agriculture, construction, and other occupations, but they have morphed into a paramilitary and indoctrination enterprise. When dictators feel their support slipping among adults, it is not unusual for them to alter school textbooks in the hope of enlisting impressionable youths in their cause. And because tyrants never stop worrying about the loyalty of their militaries, they often establish ruling-party militias to act as personal guarantors of their safety in the event of assassination or coup attempts. In the service of the third chimurenga in Zimbabwe, students are taught how to make gasoline bombs and set up roadblocks. Elliot Manyika, a hard-line ruling-party official who now runs the program, says the training will teach youths to “change their mind-set … and not aspire to be a servant of the white man,” especially now that “whites are going where they came from.” Many enroll reluctantly, because they know they have no chance of finding work otherwise: slots at university, at teacher and nurse training schools, and in the civil service are reserved for those who can produce certificates showing that they have graduated from a youth academy. Clad in green fatigues and red-and-green berets, those graduates who become Green Bombers vandalize MDC offices, harass Zimbabweans waiting for food, seize whites’ farms, confiscate newspapers, and intimidate voters and candidates.


Scare off foreigners
The Mbare market, in Harare, is Zimbabwe’s largest bazaar. It contains more than a hundred stalls, selling African carvings, tapestries, and sculptures. In normal times at least four tourist buses and dozens of taxis visited the market every day. Yet when I arrived one Sunday, the vendors looked at me as though they were seeing the ghost of Cecil Rhodes. After a moment’s pause they rushed behind their stalls and hurriedly began polishing and propping up their wares. One of them told me I was his first customer of the month; it was July 27.

The murder of white farmers, the attacks on the opposition, and the theft of an election have obviously done nothing to help tourism. Nor has the disappearance of two indispensable travel items: cash and fuel.

One Air Zimbabwe flight attendant recently explained a two-hour delay by telling passengers that the plane was waiting for a flight arriving from London “so we can siphon from its tank.” One of the reasons tourists used to visit Zimbabwe was its game parks. But many of the fences around the parks have been destroyed by squatters, and amid starvation, poachers have begun hunting even rare wildlife. Farm invaders running out of white commercial farms to seize have begun taking over wildlife preserves, creating safari parks for their personal viewing. Foreign capital is disappearing faster than the wildlife. When Mugabe called for the “indigenization of the economy,” he asserted pointedly that some Zimbabweans were “more indigenous than others.” It wasn’t only farmers who were threatened by the chimurenga. In 2000 “war veterans” invaded white-owned urban businesses—everything from hotels and department stores to the offices of foreign corporations. The remaining investors are running scared.


Invade a neighbor
As even a democracy like the United States has shown, waging war can benefit a leader in several ways: it can rally citizens around the flag, it can distract them from bleak economic times, and it can enrich a country’s elites. In August of 1998 Robert Mugabe sent 11,000 soldiers—a third of his army—into the most menacing country in Africa: the Congo. He justified the invasion on the grounds that he was defending the sovereignty of an African country being invaded by Rwandan, Ugandan, and Burundian forces, which were backing a rebellion against the Congo’s President, Laurent Kabila. In reality, just as Saddam Hussein went after the oil in Kuwait, Mugabe had his eye on the Congo’s riches. “There are fortunes to be made in the Congo,” Tshinga Dube, one of Mugabe’s colonels, told a television interviewer, “so why rush to conquer the rebels?” Mugabe’s cronies did in fact get rich off diamonds, cobalt, and timber. But the war was extremely unpopular at home. As casualties mounted, some army officers grew restless and began plotting a coup, which was foiled in its planning stages. Mugabe dismissed his critics as “black white men wearing the master’s cap.” But it was harder for him to ignore the outrage of one of his key constituencies: the veterans of the 1970s liberation war, who saw fortunes being made in the Congo and began clamoring for the compensation Mugabe had promised them for their sacrifices. Mugabe thought he might placate the war veterans by offering up the white farms, but in the end, although the vets were the ones who expelled the white farmers, it is the country’s elites who got the farms. Zimbabwe’s troops are thought to have withdrawn from the Congo in September of last year, but the consequences of the war are more durable. In addition to unleashing the war veterans as a powerful political force, the Congo war consumed vast sums of money that would have been better spent on medicine for the country’s dying people.


Commit genocide

Gukurahundi refers to the seasonal Zimbabwean rains that wipe out the debris of the previous year’s crop. It signifies a purging of the old, a purification. In January of 1983 Robert Mugabe, a member of the ethnic Shona majority, ordered his North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade to carry out what he called a gukurahundi against the Ndebele people.

The Ndebele account for about a fourth of the country’s population, and Mugabe felt that they threatened him because his chief political rival at the time, Joshua Nkomo, was a Ndebele. The Nazis gave us the Final Solution; the Serbs gave us “ethnic cleansing”; the Zimbabweans have given us “wiping away.”

Public discussion of the gukurahundi is forbidden in Zimbabwe. But George Mkwananzi, thirty-three, is the self-anointed keeper of Ndebele memory. Wearing thick spectacles that keep sliding down his nose, he doesn’t fit the image of a would-be rebel leader. But that is what he says he and others will become if Mugabe is not punished for the murder of the Ndebele. “In the whole history of this country nobody ever caused such a loss of life, not even Cecil John Rhodes,” Mkwananzi says. Rhodes’s conquest left some 5,000 Ndebele dead. Mugabe’s forces are thought to have killed 25,000. “When liberation was achieved, we never experienced it as a region,” Mkwananzi says. “We were merely transferred from British colonialism to Shona colonialism. If Mugabe and his henchmen are not prosecuted, we will break away and create our own country, and we will find a way to make revenge against Mugabe. It will happen. It may sound like a dream, but ours is a brutalized past that has to be revisited. Five or ten years from now they will say, ‘What that man was saying was true.'”

In an era of international justice, dictators with blood on their hands are afraid that if they relinquish power, they will end up prosecuted, like Slobodan Milosevic, or humiliated, like Augusto Pinochet. Mugabe knows that his massacres have been carefully documented by survivors and human-rights investigators, and he is right to be nervous. Tsvangirai, for his part, might be willing to accept a deal in which Mugabe was given a golden parachute to Nigeria (as Charles Taylor, of Liberia, was), but he knows that if he does so, his many Ndebele supporters may revolt. “I cannot stand up now and say, ‘We will forgive Mugabe,’ because I will be dead,” Tsvangirai told me. “But neither can I say, ‘We are going to send you to the Hague,’ because he will say, ‘Let me burn down the building.'”



Published on Oct 26, 2015
Documentary of the massacres in Matabeleland by the Zimbabwe Army 5th Brigade



Published on Oct 26, 2015


Zimbabwe (SA volg)

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Een gedagte oor “Gukurahundi – Zimbabwe”

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