Pattern of violence continues to unfold

Now comes the final onslaught on what is left of any opposition’

BY JUDY TODD

The latest “plot” to overthrow Zimbabwe’s government i


s a familiar verse in the chapter of repression opened by the ruling party Zanu (PF) in 1980.


The pact with North Korea, within which lay the seeds of the Five Brigade killing machine, was signed only six months after Zimbabwe’s Independence. The Brigade’s purpose was clearly enunciated by then Prime Minister Mugabe in December 1982. “The knowledge you have acquired will make you work with the people, plough and reconstruct.” Ploughing and reconstruction have, in varying degrees of intensity, continued ever since.


In February 1983 Zimbabwe was galvanized by the Prime Minister’s announcement of a plot to overthrow his government and the discovery of arms caches on properties belonging to the opposition party PF Zapu. Referring to Zapu’s leader, Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe said “The only way to deal with a snake is to strike and destroy its head”.


The Five Brigade was unleashed, resulting in the deaths of thousands of helpless citizens in the rural areas. On March 5 1983 police and army sealed off Bulawayo’s high density townships where, in Pelandaba, Joshua Nkomo had his home. Within the police cordon the Five Brigade started hunting him but, after Mugabe’s threat, he was already in hiding.


That night he learned that his driver and two others had been shot dead in cold blood in his home. The killers had then rampaged through his house destroying all they could, smashing the windscreens of three cars and slashing the upholstery. Nkomo’s wife, MaFuyana, implored him to flee.


The following night Makhatini Guduza and others escorted Nkomo from Bulawayo through Plumtree then along the Empandeni Road to an unguarded section of the Botswana border. They walked across the dry Ramakwabane River and then desperately helped push the enormous Nkomo over two border fences into the safety of Botswana.


A year previously Dumiso Dabengwa, Lt. Gen. Lookout Masuku, Dr. Isaac Nyathi and other Zapu luminaries were arrested and, like Ndabaningi Sithole, Bishop Muzorewa, Morgan Tsvangirai and many others in the years ahead, accused of trying to involve foreign agencies in the treasonable overthrow of the government. They were acquitted in April 1983 by Mr. Justice Hilary Squires in the High Court who described Dabengwa as “the most impressive witness any of us have seen in court for a long time” and said that Dabengwa’s actions were the antithesis of anyone “scheming to overthrow the government.”


Mugabe’s government reacted with fury through Home Affairs Minister Herbert Ushewokunze. “Let it be stated that the acquittal of Dabengwa and others proves once more that the judiciary we inherited from Smith is not in tune with the present Government”. The men were instantly redetained as, Mugabe said, the Government had more information on them than did the Courts. The survivors were eventually released nearly five years after their arrest. Lookout Masuku had died in April 1986.


Right up to the enforced “unity” of Zanu and Zapu in 1987 there were “plots” and treason trials involving Members of Parliament and key security personnel such as Members of Parliament Edward Ndlovu and Sydney Malunga; Brigadiers Charles Grey, Kindness Ndlovu, Tshila Nleya; Colonels J. Z. Dube and Eddie Sigogi. The use of torture was widespread as was the hostage system. Kembo Mohadi, today’s Minister of Home Affairs, was one of thousands of victims. He was taught very thoroughly about why not to say no to Robert Mugabe which is why he is such an assiduous yes man today.


Although Zanu (PF) won the 1985 elections Robert Mugabe was angry that he didn’t have a sufficient majority to change the constitution and introduce a one party state. So he broadcast to the nation in Shona ‘goborai zvigutswa!’ inciting his supporters to stump their fields and weed their gardens. Violence ensued as it has before and after every election there has ever been in Zimbabwe.


There has been a pattern, unfolding one stage at a time. First there was the incarceration of Zapu liberation war soldiers, then the crushing of their party, then of all other meaningful parties, then the commercial farmers thought to support the new opposition Movement for Democratic Change, then the assault on voters, first the farm workers and then the urban poor under Operation Murambatsvina.


Now comes the final onslaught on what is left of any opposition. Soon Zanu (PF) may have achieved what State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa said in 2002 was desirable regarding Zimbabwe’s population estimated then to be 13 million. “We would be better off with only six million people, with our own people who support the liberation struggle. We don’t want all these extra people.” – First published in the Cape Times

Post published in: Opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *