Gukurahundi revisited

… fresh report will light a fire under chairs of Mugabe's spin doctors
BY TREVOR GRUNDY
LONDON
Leading journalists, African human rights monitors and diplomats are getting to ready to mark the 10th anniversary of Breaking the Silence, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace rep

ort that went a long way towards opening the world’s eyes to the massacres of between 20,000-30,000 men, women and children in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the early 1980s.
The meeting scheduled for August 14 at London’s Chatham House (home of the Royal Institute for International Affairs) is to be chaired by Noel Kututwa (Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum), speakers will include Mike Auret, the former Director of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Eileen Sawyer, former Director of the Legal Resources Foundation and Nokuthula Moyo, its current chair.
Representatives from most British newspapers will be there along with African broadcasters and it is expected that a strong and loud delegation from the Zimbabwe Embassy in London will also go to Chatham House to make sure “the Mugabe version” of events in the 1980s is heard.
The event will focus on what happened in Matabeleland/Midlands during Gukurahundi, which most Zimbabweans and some Africanists say is the worst unpunished crime ever committed by a member of the Commonwealth.
The event will not only be used to launch a new issue of the report but will also remind those attending what happened:
In 1980, a few months after Independence Day (April 18) Mugabe signed an agreement with the North Korean government then led by the paranoid dictator Kim il Sung. In return for business and political clout in the new Zimbabwe, the North Koreans agreed to train and equip a special “hit squad” which came to be known as the Fifth Brigade. It was very much a law unto itself, part of Mugabe’s private army and commanded by Perence Shiri.
The objective of the Fifth Brigade was to mercilessly crush any sign of opposition in Matabeleland against the ruling Zanu (PF). Thanks to heroes within the Zimbabwean community and Roman Catholic Church Breaking the Silence told the world about civilian murders, rapes, torture and the destruction of civilian property on a massive scale.
The report said that Mugabe’s ambition was to leave the black civilian population with fear for the rest of their lives and ideally pass that fear down to the next generation.
The massacre story broke in two British newspapers on April 15, 1984. One was written by Peter Godwin of the Sunday Times, the other by Donald Trelford, editor of The Observer. On April 16 the owner of The Observer, Tiny Rowland made a personal apology to Mugabe, fearing that Lonrho’s business interests would suffer because of the report. Donald Trelford and Peter Godwin stuck to their guns and protected their sources. – (African Forum News Services)

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