UK implicated in Zim atrocities
A FORMER Zimbabwean cabinet minister and liberation war intelligence supremo has made startling claims regarding the massacres in Zimbabwe in the 1980s, claiming the atrocities that left thousands dead were planned well before independence, with the involvement of colonial master, Britain.
Dumiso Dabengwa, an opposition leader of the revived Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu), alleged the atrocities, known as Gukurahundi (loosely translated to “the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains”) were planned long before the 1979 Lancaster House talks that ushered in independence a year later.
Dabengwa said this was planned meticulously when it became apparent Zapu would emerge victorious in the elections. Britain is said to have preferred Robert Mugabe’s Zanu ahead of Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu.
“Gukurahundi was planned very meticulously and I think it was planned as early as the Lancaster talks when it became clear that the British would prefer Zanu to be victors in the 1980 elections. It is then that they planned to make sure that Zapu and Zipra (Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army, Zapu’s military wing) was the enemy,” Dabengwa alleged.
He was speaking in the second city of Bulawayo at a public dialogue organised by the Southern African Political Economy Series Trust, a regional think-tank headquartered in Zimbabwe.
Dabengwa claimed a senior former British major made the confession in the presence of Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, now president, the late Solomon Mujuru, Lookout Masuku and General Peter Walls, the head of the armed forces of Rhodesia. It could not be ascertained when the said confession regarding the deployment of the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade was made.
“One of the majors in the intelligence services had called us for a security briefing on a Friday on what potential threats Zimbabwe would possibly face.
“After analysing the political situation in neighbouring countries such as South African, Botswana and Namibia the major said the only threat is Zapu and Zipra. I am saying this for the first time,” Dabengwa said.
While Britain’s alleged role in the massacres has always been a matter of speculation, it is the first time an official has voiced such sentiments.
At the height of the atrocities, in 1984, Edinburgh University awarded him an honorary degree for “services to education in Africa.” In 1994, Queen Elizabeth II conferred a knighthood on Mugabe. The honours were revoked in 2007 and 2008 for alleged human rights violation by Mugabe following seizures of white owned farms in the country.
Dabengwa was arrested in 1982 alongside Masuku on allegations of treason. They were acquitted in 1983 but remained behind bars until their release in 1987 ahead of the unity deal between the two rival parties, culminating in the formation of Zanu- Patriotic Front (PF).
Dabengwa, meanwhile said while Mnangagwa’s recent signing of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill into law was a step in the right direction in healing the nation, Mnangagwa’s government should first acknowledge the atrocities and apologise to the victims.
Government has been tightlipped, with Mugabe describing them as “a moment of madness” at the burial of Nkomo in 1999. The issue has remained one of the major tests to Mnangagwa’s presidency after the army masterminded Mugabe’s ouster in November last year.
Recently, activists have set up an online petition to force him to establish a truth and justice commission to bring closure to the Gukurahundi killings as pressure mounts on the government.
“Gukurahundi was genocide. We will not stop speaking until an apology has been made. It was genocide and that is the premise we must begin to trace the issue. There is still some obstacles to deal with peace and reconciliation in this country,” Dabengwa said.
The atrocities were carried out in the largely-Ndebele and Kalanga minorities in a country where the Shona tribe is 80% of the 16-million population. Religious leader, Pastor Ray Mosti, echoed Dabengwa’s sentiments when he stressed the need for national dialogue on the mass killings.
“All stakeholders need to buy into it. Shared national values are necessary in bringing the Gukurahundi to finality. Government should repeal laws that hinder people from speaking about this issue,” Motsi said.
Sipho Malunga, the former defence attorney in the Tribunal for the Prosecution of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in East Timor, raised concern at the suppression of critics of Gukurahundi. – CAJ News
Britian ‘involved in Zimbabwe’s genocide’ known as Gukurahundi where many people were slaughtered by North Koreans