New book to shed fresh light on Gukurahundi?

Historians, journalists and those who survived Gukurahundi (1981 -1987) when as many as 25,000 men, women and children were slaughtered by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) are eagerly awaiting the publication of a new book by a former British High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Sir Martin Ewans KCMG.

Sir Martin was appointed BHC in Harare in 1983 and received first hand accounts of the massacres from journalists, human rights workers, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) as well as from politicians attached to the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU).

In the early 1980s. Britain was not only Zimbabwe's number one trading partner but also one of the architects of a country born from the ashes of a seven year war which challenged all-white rule and which cost at least 30,000 lives.

Sir Martin is a formidable academic as well as diplomat. He joined the Foreign Office in 1952 and retired from it in 1988.� He is author of six books, three of them dealing with Britain's relations with Afghanistan.

The former diplomat is writing his latest book about Zimbabwe at a time when the British Government is claiming the moral high ground on human rights and condemning Robert Mugabe for allowing attacks on the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and anyone else who challenges his almost 28 years of power.

Prime Minister Brown has told the world that if Prime Minister Mugabe goes to Lisbon in December to attend a European Union / Africa Union summit meeting he will not be there.

"He fears having to shake hands with a dictator," said a Commonwealth source in London.

But in the early 1980s, the picture was somewhat different with Britain going out of its way not to offend Prime Minister Mugabe by asking awkward questions about what the ZNA was up to in Matabeleland and the Midlands.

"I think the advice was to steer clear of it in the interests of doing our best positively to help Zimbabwe build itself up as a nation," said Sir Martin.

In remarks that revealed British attitudes towards Gukuruhundi and the so-called "wider picture" in Africa in the mid-1980s (during protracted and complicated relations between Big Business and the ANC which led to the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990) Sir Martin said: "We had very much an eye to what was happening in South Africa at the time with apartheid and we were hopeful Zimbabwe would be something of a contrast and South Africans would look at Zimbabwe and say 'Ah, yes, it is possible to work with a multiracial society'. So I think Matabeleland was a side issue. The real issues were more positive and more important." – African Forum News Services

Post published in: Arts

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