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Remembering gukurahundi genocide

31 Aug 2022 at 06:36hrs | Views
The spirit of Mthwakazi insecurity and why the Mthwakazi prosecutor general must bring the perpetrators of these henious crimes to justice.

Greetings to all!
For forty-two years, the insecurity of the people of Mthwakazi has spiralled out of control to a point where their existence as a people is now being called into question. There can be no question that the collective actions of the ZANU-PF regime, through its Shona hegemony, intentionally generated a spiral of insecurity on the people of Mthwakazi through genocide, ethnic cleansing, rape, imprisonment, torture, disappearances, and various other ghastly atrocities.

This in turn, further exacerbated in the minds of the people of Mthwakazi to this day, psychological feelings of inferiority, despair, hopelessness, lack of self-worth and self- protection and as such lost all ability to defend themselves against the menacing and imagined power of the ZANU-PF regime. The effect of such a psychological yielding policy by the Mthwakazi people towards the ZANU-PF regime with its Shona hegemony as the alternative of doing nothing out of fear of the unknown has not at all improved their security. Rather, what it has done has been to embolden the ZANU-PF regime and its Shona hegemony to increase their subjugation, domination, and humiliation of Mthwakazi people.

This state of insecurity will continue perpetually until the people of Mthwakazi stop it. Not even voting in Zimbabwe can bring the perpetrators of genocide to justice until the people of Mthwakazi do that themselves. This is the reason why Robert Mugabe, Parrance Shiri and others died without facing justice for genocide against the people of Mthwakazi. So too will, Emmerson Mnangagwa escape justice unless the people of Mthwakazi ensure he does not. What this suggests is that the people of Mthwakazi have for far too long chosen anarchy instead of rationality to survive. Yet, this anarchy and irresponsible behaviour towards their survival and that of their future generations, has only worsened their conditions without thinking and acting against their Shona hegemonic bully, tormentor, and exterminator. In turn, these psychological pressures of not thinking and acting
consistent with achieving the balance of power for their own survival, vividly explain why the perpetrators of the Gukurahundi genocide have escaped justice with impunity to this day.

This article therefore calls for the appointment of the Mthwakazi Prosecutor General (MPG) who will begin collecting evidence without fear or favour for the prosecution of all those responsible (dead or alive) for the killing fields in Mthwakazi. It is incumbent to all to reject anarchy and embrace rationality, even in terms of voluntarism for such a task. We certainly do have the best legal minds in Mthwakazi who can rise to this task, if only to demonstrate to the ZANU-PF regime and the world at large, that enough is enough. It is about time that the people of Mthwakazi regarded the Zimbabwe regime as a terrorist state hellbent at their complete destruction. To this end, it is only by achieving the balance of power that existed throughout the white settler colonial period, as well as during the liberation war between ZIPRA and ZANLA that this anarchy can be reversed and prevent the annihilation of the people of Mthwakazi by imagined psychological conquest (which is not real and actual) of the Zimbabwean regime.

Definition of Genocide and its ten stages

According to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime Of Genocide which came into force on 12 January 1951, genocide is defined to include the following acts: "killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group".

Stanton Gregory (2012) identified ten (10) stages of genocide as follows:

- "Clarification: People are divided into "us and them",
- Symbolization: People are forced to identify themselves,
- Discrimination: People begin to face systematic discrimination,
- Dehumanization: People equated with animals, vermin, or diseases,
- Organization: The government creates special groups (police/military) to enforce the policies,
- Polarization: The government broadcasts propaganda to turn the populace against the group,
- Preparation: Official action to remove/relocate people begins,
- Persecution: Beginning of murders, theft of property, trials, and massacres,
- Extermination: Wholesale elimination of the group. It is "extermination" and not murder because the people are not considered human,
- Denial: The government denies that it has committed any crime".

Gukurahundi in Mthwakazi

Viewed in terms of the definition of genocide and its ten stages, the following atrocities that were committed in 1982-88 against the people of Mthwakazi in present day Zimbabwe, by the ZANU-PF regime's Fifth Brigade (also known as Gukurahundi) of Robert Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa, under the military command of Colonel Parrance Shiri (notoriously known as the Black Jesus, who also served as the Air Vice Marshall), can only be described as GENOCIDE. These include the following eyewitness accounts as documented by various journalists at the time:

"The whole village abducted from nearby to the Pumula mission area where they were beaten. Some were then forced to dig a mass grave, made to climb in and were shot. They were buried while still moving and villagers were made to dance on the grave and sing songs in praise of ZANU-PF. The number of dead given as 12".

"Every night for 'many weeks', I was told by local people, army trucks were seen driving to and from this shaft. Bodies were unloaded and thrown down the rectangular hole. Sometimes, the locals said, the corpses would snag on supporting iron girders across the shaft's interior. On some nights the trucks made only one trip, on others, several. I leaned over the open shaft and peered into the darkness. It was too far to the bottom for me to see anything. But the stench of death hit me like a sledgehammer... At another mission, run by the Salvation army, 15 miles away, staff had to plead with soldiers to allow hospital patients to remove their babies from their backs before being beaten... But the worst stories of atrocities concern Bhalagwe itself. I was told that in the camp detainees have had their wrists and ankles broken by being jumped on by soldiers in heavy boots. The hospital at Antelope had treated more than 100 fractures caused this way since the curfew was imposed".

"The soldiers gathered all the people of the area together for a compulsory rally. They made us shout government slogans and they beat many people with rifle butts - screaming at us the whole time - Where are the dissidents? They then selected three men at random, including my father, and took them behind the hill. We heard three shots and the soldiers returned alone. They warned us not to collect the bodies. They were left there for weeks, and their rotting remains were eaten by dogs".

"First you will eat your chickens, then your goats, then your cattle, then your donkeys. Then you will eat your children and finally you will eat the dissidents".

"After three years of drought, those people have no food at all. They depend on the shops. The Government cuts the supply of mealie meal overnight. It's genocide, as far as I am concerned... People were living hand-to-mouth with the food from those shops. Now they are closed. My conclusion is that those people are starving".

"I myself was only beaten, but I saw others being given electric shock, and when they fainted water was thrown on them. What I saw is that they put a wire into the mouth of the victim, which is secured by strings that are attached to the ears. The other wire was put at the back. The second wire was placed on and off the back of the person. Four people in army uniform, two men and two women, did the electric torturing while the victim was lying down".

"Quite a number of public utterances made by not a few public figures seek to hide the atrocities that have taken place, hardening thereby the sufferings of the defenceless victims. Such tactics are self-defeating; we cannot see how they will lead the country to peace and reconciliation. Any society that is not built on the firm foundation of truth, honesty and justice is already doomed to failure. In all this the mass media have singularly failed to keep the people of Zimbabwe properly informed about the facts which are common knowledge, both in the areas concerned and outside them through the reports of reliable witnesses. The facts point to a reign of terror caused by wanton killings, wounding, beatings, burning and raping. Many homes have been burnt down. People in rural areas are starving, not only because of the drought, but because in some cases supplies of food have been deliberately cut off and in other cases access to food supplies has been restricted or stopped. The innocent has no recourse or redress, for fear of reprisals".

"Neshango line. February 3, 1983. Mass beatings of villagers and shooting of two young pregnant girls, followed by their being bayonetted open to reveal the still moving foetuses.

"Kumbula School, Pumula village. February 13, 1983. Whole village beaten and seven shot dead, including a teacher, after digging their own graves. Witnesses refer to a fountain of blood from the pit.

"Tangahukwe. February 1983. All the villagers were rounded up and severely beaten. Twelve were selected and shot after being forced into mass graves. One of the chosen managed to run away so his younger brother was killed instead.

"Korodziba. February 1983. Five Brigade came to the school and took about 60 pupils aged 14 years. They were beaten and asked about dissidents. Twenty to 30 girls were raped and then ordered to have sex with some of the boys while the soldiers watched.

"Solobhoni. February 23, 1983. Five Brigade rounded up the entire village to the borehole. Six people were chosen at random and were bayoneted to death and buried in one grave. Everyone was then beaten. Five people were beaten to man who wept to see his brother killed was severely beaten and died a few weeks later from his injuries. One old lady who was found in her hut was raped and Five Brigade then set fire to a plastic bag and burned the old lady with it, setting fire to her blanket. She died three weeks later from the burns.

"Emgagwini. March 1983. One young man was taken by Five Brigade, badly beaten, returned and while his parents were washing his wounds, the Five Brigade came back and shot him.

"Mkonyeni. January 1983. The first woman to die in this area was accused of feeding dissidents. She was pregnant and was bayoneted open to kill the baby. She died later. In the same area in February 1983, all the villagers were forced to witness the burning to death of 26 villagers, in the three huts of Dhlamini.

"Bonkwe/Nyanganyoni. A young woman from Bonkwe going to buy mealie-meal was beaten for wearing her husband's watch. Her husband was summoned to Nyanganyoni and beaten to death. Every bone in his body was broken - he is referred to as being "like a cloth"

"Tshomwina and Dzokotze. January/February 1983. All the villagers of Tshomwina were force-marched to Dzokotze nearby. They were beaten and five were killed. One man died after terrible mutilations which included having his jaw broken and his tongue cut out. This man ran away and was found by his family in a neighbouring village. He took eight days to die, without medical care.

"Mpungayile. 1983. Five Brigade shot dead a mentally retarded boy and then shot three other men. Because the women wept, they were shot too, four of them.

"Nkwalini. February 1983. A man from here, trying to take his wife away to Bulawayo, was shot dead at Mlagisa siding and so was his wife when she cried when she saw him shot.

"Sipepa Area. February 1983. Whole village forced to dig roots, some were then beaten and two schoolboys who looked too old for their class were shot dead".

"A four-month-old infant was axed three times and the mother forced to eat the flesh of her dead child. An 18-year-old girl was raped by six soldiers and then killed. An 11-year-old child had her vagina burnt with plastics and was later shot. Twin infants were buried alive.

"Dry Paddock area. February 1984, A young woman and her father-in-law were asked about dissidents and beaten. They were then stripped naked and told to have sex with each other. The father-in-law said he would die first. A shot was fired, missing them, and the two were severely beaten and left for dead.

"Donkwe Donkwe. February 1984. Five Brigade rounded everyone in the area to a local school. There were about 200 men, women, and children. Everyone was beaten and kicked from sunrise to 10 am. Then some were made to dig two graves, while others were made to fight each other. Six men were chosen at random and placed in two groups of three. They were then shot dead. Everyone else was told to sing songs praising Mugabe and condemning Nkomo... While some sang and danced, others were beaten. Some of the villagers were made to bury the six dead and then had to join in the singing while being beaten. At 4 pm about 19 young men were taken away and another man was shot as they departed.

"Mloyi area. February 1984. Approximately 100 adults and school children were rounded up... they were told they were in for a treat... People were then beaten, including a 12-year-old girl and her sister and their father. The two girls were so badly beaten they were later hospitalised. Their father was then shot in front of everyone, and his children were made to search his pockets to see if they could find any evidence that he was a dissident.

"Mbembeswana area. February 1984. An ex-Zipra soldier was taken from his home in nearby Silonkwe to Mbembeswana. He was badly beaten and then his family were summoned to fetch him. He had both arms broken and no teeth. He refused to leave, saying he was dead already. He was then shot dead".

"This is a dissident baby. This is what will happen to your babies if you help dissidents. He then dropped the tiny corpse in the dust... They began beating us with sticks and guns, bayonetting us, burning plastic against our skin while our hands and mouths were secured. They tore curtains, put cushions into our mouths. We were tortured for about four hours".

"Do you think that this government is so stupid to send soldiers to defend you from dissidents when there are no dissidents? Therefore, you are the dissidents, you that hide the dissidents... You are screaming, who are you calling, is this a sign that you are calling dissidents...
Then the commander shot Tshaka, Wilson Ndlovu and Maganda Dube. Next, he killed Daniel Ngwenya and Sigidini Dube, who was shot five times... On the grave we put branches. I also saw a big grave which had stones in it. There are 16 buried in this grave. I can identify the commander who did the shootings".

"The men were made to raise their hands while being beaten. The young women were made to sing and dance... They beat me with mupani sticks, shambok and truncheon. They were all beating me at the same time. I was beaten until I fainted. They pulled up my dress and beat my bottom and back and I was bleeding".

And this is how Robert Mugabe, and his press justified these killings fields in Mthwakazi when responding to questions from the foreign press:

"The same Church has now decided to counter successful government activities directed against institutions of Joshua Nkomo which have been sustaining dissidents". To this he added how "very happy" he was with the "wonderful" slaughter of the Mthwakazi people.

"The solution in Matebeleland is a military one. Their grievances are unfounded. The verdict of the voters was cast in 1980. They should have accepted defeat then. The situation in Matebeleland is one that requires a change. The people must be reoriented".

"When bandits were on the rampage in the same areas in 1982 the Government unleashed 5 Brigade, a move which earned widespread condemnation of sections of the world press. But it worked. The bandits were routed... A return by the Army in force would be welcomed by the masses and that restoring peace was more important than risking dents in Zimbabwe's image. The troops must go in - no holds barred".

Rather than openly taking a stand as leader of ZAPU (whose followers were being exterminated) and instructing all his ex-ZIPRA forces to take up arms against Robert Mugabe's butchering brigades, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo resorted to cries reminiscent to those of the infants or babies. The following comments represent a telling example of the extent of indecisiveness that Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo (as leader of simply the best former liberation war fighters in Zimbabwe) had become:

"I told Parliament that soldiers had rounded up six men and accused them of failing to report the presence of anti-government guerrillas. They were beaten and buried in two shallow graves... I also informed parliament that government troops were preventing food getting into the curfew area and that several children had died."

"There is something terribly wrong. There has been a curfew since February 3. The press cannot go into this enormous area. There have been horrific eye-witness reports, some of them in your British papers. Yet not one of the so-called dissidents has been arrested and brought to court. No minister has been to the area. Nothing has happened except military action".

"I said it was the duty of the Zimbabwe Government to make a full official investigation. I pressed for this urgently. I find it disturbing that after a series of these crimes in Matebele country, all we have seen in court are just armed robbers. We would like to see these politically motivated people we are told about, the dissidents, brought to court and, if found guilty, convicted. This is either inefficiency or else there is something terribly wrong".

"The estimates [of the dead so far] vary from 3,000 to 20,000, but no one knows. I know of six young men who were shot by the soldiers of the Fifth Brigade and dumped in a mass grave. I have received reports of our young girls being raped, and other Matebele people whose limbs have been broken by these soldiers".

"I asked the minister if he would be prepared to meet a delegation of six - two who had seen the young men shot and know the grave, two who saw the raping, two who saw the bones being broken. But the minister said "No, I believe you". So that makes the case for an official investigation more urgent".

"I presented the men who had buried the six victims in Kezi to cabinet ministers. I also brought them two teenage schoolgirls who had been raped by Fifth Brigade soldiers... I have done my bit to tell the government about these things. It is up to the Government to discover what has happened".

"You cannot have a one-party state when people are torn apart by hatred, tribalism and racism".

"I can't say what has gone wrong with Zimbabwe, because I don't know what is right with him (Mugabe)".

"All my men were disarmed. I have no military support. I have asked the Government to set up a commission of inquiry, but they have refused. There has been no investigation of allegations I have made in Parliament about the killings and rapes".

The snippets of evidence presented in this paper is consistent with both the definition and the ten (10) stages of genocide as highlighted above and shows without any shadow of doubt that the ZANU-PF regime of both Robert Gabriel Mugabe and incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa committed genocide against an unarmed Mthwakazi civilian population. There can be no question that the people of Mthwakazi were equated to animals, rats, cockroaches, various other insects, vermin, or diseases that had to be wiped out with chemicals, by among others, Emmerson Mnangagwa himself, the current President of Zimbabwe. Throughout this period of carnage not even a single "dissident" was ever caught and brought to court. It is also important to underline that not a single soldier of the Zimbabwe regime died or suffered any injuries throughout this period from so-called dissidents.

By any conceivable human standards these few factual examples of brutality represent a systematic and deliberate strategy of annihilating a people from the face of the earth. From the above evidence, there can be no question that the Zimbabwean regime put into practice its extermination designs against the defenceless innocent citizens of Mthwakazi (infants, children, pregnant women, the mentally retarded, the disabled and the old), for no other reason than for belonging to a particular national group. To kill in the way, they did vividly illustrate the fact that there never were in existence any so-called "dissidents". Rather, this slaughter had been intended to drive out with impunity all the Mthwakazi people from their own habitat in present day Zimbabwe.

The fact that there has been no justice for the victims of genocide in Mthwakazi for approximately forty years is consistent with the rule by conquest. This has been assisted by the anarchic behaviour of the people of Mthwakazi themselves who for so long believed that their exterminator, the ZANU-PF regime, would prosecute itself. This is recklessness thinking of the worst order, to think that a person who regards you worthy of extermination because you are a rat or cockroach will give you justice! Clearly therefore, considering the foregoing, it is only the establishment of the Institution of the Prosecutor General for Mthwakazi that will go a long way in ensuring that, never, never, and never again will the people of Mthwakazi experience genocide and other heinous crimes at the hands of Shona hegemony, or anybody else, internally and externally, as also happened under the white settler colonialism. It should serve as a deterrence against the ZANU-F regime that such crimes will be prosecuted, and perpetrators brought to justice no matter how long it takes. This in turn will create conditions for the preservation of the balance of power, not only within Mthwakazi, but as a function of both the regional and international order.


The word Gukurahundi is a Shona word that describes a vicious hurricane that washes away and disposes of all dirt, litter, or rubbish in its path before the spring rains.
There is a wealth of information regarding definitions of the international crime of genocide and other serious violations of international law.
See article by David Beresford, "The untold story of Mugabe's death squads", Electronic Mail and Guardian, 2 May 1997, p.5.
See article by Peter Godwin, "Stench of death everywhere in Mugabe's siege of Matebeleland", in Sunday Times, 15 April 1984.
See article by Peter Godwin, "Zimbabwe massacre bodies found in mines", in Sunday Times, 15 April 1984.
See article by Donald Trelford, "Agony of a Lost People", in The Observer, 15 April 1984. See, "Reconciliation Is Still Possible", A Pastoral Statement of the Zimbabwe Catholics Bishops Conference", Easter 1983.
See article by Stephen Taylor, "Zimbabwe curfew renews old fears", in The Times, 7 February 1984.
See article by Stephen Taylor, "Nkomo accuses army of Matebeleland atrocities", in the Guardian, 16 February 1984.
See article by Patrick Keatley, "Nkomo presses for atrocities inquiry", in The Guardian, 18 April 1984.
See article by Andrew Viljoen, "Troops starved children to death, says Nkomo", in the Guardian, 12 March 1984.
See article by David Pallister, "Nkomo book mostly lies, says Mugabe", in The Guardian, 19 April 1984.
See article by Foreign Staff of the Observer, "Survivors tell of tribal slaughter", 15 April 1984.

Compiled by
Dr Churchill Mpiyesizwe Guduza
Mthwakazi Liberation Front President and Federal Republic of Mthwakazi Acting President

Source - Dr Churchill Mpiyesizwe Guduza
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