UK im­pli­cated in Zim atroc­i­ties

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - AFRICA -

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

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