Breaking the Silence, Building True Peace: Report on the disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands 1980 to 1988
By the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe
IT is a daunting task to review the report by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJPZ) on the disturbances in Matabeleland in the early 80s.
Personally I tried to have this discussion with my in-law who is from Matabeleland and after five hours, we realised Gukurahundi is one of those ‘egg and chicken’ tales.
In this review I will intentionally ignore the inflated 20 000 casualties as reported by the CCJPZ and the tribal innuendo of Shonas settling old scores.
I will instead focus on the invisible hand, the puppet masters that put everything in play.
It must first be noted that although there were territorial tensions between the Ndebele and the Shona at first there was an understanding established by the time the colonialists came.
Historian Terrence Ranger writes that Rhodes bribed Courtney Selous to exaggerate the tribal conflict between the two tribes.
The reason was to have two warring tribes so engrossed in civil war they would not see the real enemy coming.
This was not unique to Zimbabwe.
“As countries in Southern Africa began to gain their independence from 1975 onwards, white-ruled South Africa began an increasingly coherent policy of destabilising these nations, in order to prolong its power.
“Independent nations most notably affected by South African destabilisation in the early 1980s were Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Lesotho,” the CCJPZ Report highlights.
This is further reinforced by Rhodesian double agent with the South African intelligence, Kevin Woods in his book, In The Shadow of Mugabe’s Gallows who writes, “By late 1983 the dissident situation was going nowhere.
“The people taking the most strain were the local peasants and the Matabeleland commercial farmers.
“We had information of South African military assistance to the dissidents in Matabeleland, South Africans were not shy about issuing weapons either.
“They gave former ZIPRA guerillas rockets, 60mm mortars, RPD machine guns with thousands of ammunition enough to carry on a small war, which they did.”
In Mozambique, they had created and funded Alfonso Dhlakama with his RENAMO guerrillas since 1977 to destabilise newly independent Mozambique, a problem still haunting the country to this day.
The white-backed RENAMO were ruthless in their indiscriminate targeting of civilians and use of child soldiers.
They had what was called ‘Gandira’, which forced the rural populations to work for the rebels, thereby neglecting their own agricultural responsibilities and forced women into sexual slavery.
In Angola, the United States together with apartheid South Africa backed UNITA a rebel group to destabilise independence and the MPLA’s (the ruling party) progress resulting in a civil war.
After 16 years of fighting that killed up to 300 000 people, a peace deal led to an election which was rejected by UNITA and the war continued.
Thousands more were killed until 1994, despite the United Nation’s ‘intervention’; ironically the world body is chiefly funded by the sponsors of the war.
The fighting worsened again and in 1999, the peacekeepers withdrew, leaving behind a country rich in natural resources, but littered with landmines and the ruins of war.
Typical of white people, they fund a civil war and go in to ‘save’ it in the name of ‘democracy’.
In Iraq it was not the people that did not like Saddam Hussein, it was the Americans, they are the ones who pulled down his statue at Baghdad Firdos Square when a US military vehicle pulled it down on April 9 2003.
The same with Libya where foreign agents equipped to carry out a civil war arrived days before the alleged uprise by the nationals.
In Zimbabwe we were not spared.
Just as the country was getting independence, several assassination attempts were carried out targeting those spearheading the liberation.
As the leaders met with the British at Lancaster, the Rhodesians, under an operation codenamed ‘See you in November’ sent an assassin to kill President Robert Mugabe.
There would be similar operations over the next years.
South African agents, Colonel Moeller and Colonel Jan Breytenbach supervised and carried out ‘Operation Drama’ an action plan that would see Zimbabwe destabilised through fuelling tribal hatred enough to sponsor defectors and carry out a civil war.
“Operation Drama’s primary role was the formation and funding of ‘Super ZAPU’,” the CCJPZ Report says.
“This was a small band of dissident, recruited from refugee camps in Botswana and trained in four camps in the Transvaal.”
The CCJPZ chronicles these disturbances year by year.
According to the report, in February 1982 there was the ‘discovery’ of arms caches in Matabeleland leads to arrest of ZIPRA high commanders and expulsion of ZAPU leaders from cabinet.
“Major arms caches which were discovered in early 1982, and which caused the final rift between ZANU PF and ZAPU were almost certainly engineered by a south African agent Matt Calloway,” the report notes.
Calloway was then part of the Zimbabwean intelligence working as a double agent.
Ex-ZIPRAs defected in numbers and banditry increased.
In June of the same year, there was an abortive attack on Prime Minister Mugabe’s residence.
The following month six foreign tourists were kidnapped and killed.
In that same month Thornhill Military Airbase was sabotaged by South African agents.
According to the report, it was announced in parliament in 1984 that from January 1983, dissidents had, “murdered 120, mutilated 25, raped 47 and committed 284 robberies.”
There is a striking resemblance with Dhlakama’s RENAMO destabilising activities.
It was then that the Fifth Brigade was sent although few like to put the ‘Gukurahundi’ issue in its proper context in fact the so-called human rights groups do not want the public to know that the demonised Fifth Brigade was made up of both ZAPU and ZANU soldiers who were incorporated into the army.
Many will not want to accept this fact because it is the only ‘truth’ they have known and would want to hold on to it.
Others are on the Western agenda payroll so they would want to keep the nation agitated and weary of their neighbour.
If we could band up to fight the Rhodesians, then surely we can forge on to build our nation without ‘human rights watchers’ whispering in our ears.
Currently, the nation is agitated, strikes, economic ‘uncertainty’ and the added knowledge that the American President, Barrack Obama extended economic on Zimbabwe.
In such an environment the word ‘Gukurahundi’ crops up again as it often does at the encouragement of the numerous non-governmental organisations in Matabeleland.
Many are quick to dismiss the sinister motive behind the push to open the Gukurahundi files and do a truth and reconciliation commission as was done in South Africa even though nothing much came out of it.
We become so caught up in the past at the cost of the nation’s future.
Even as I write this, I will be labelled a propagandist, racist and hater of the West, but they say, ‘throw enough mud and some of it will stick’.
That is what the West have been doing in Africa.