Obama Tells World of Gukurahundi Massacres

barack_obama_usaLondon - US President Barack Obama has waded into ongoing efforts by the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) by reminding the world of the systematic murder of many thousands of people in Matabeleland in the 1980s. (Pictured: US President Barack Obama)

President Obama was speaking at the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award ceremony, in the East Room of the White House in Washington on November 23 where the 2009 award was presented to Bulawayo raised Zimbabwean human rights activist Magodonga Mahlangu and Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), represented by co-founder Jenni Williams.

“As a young girl raised in Matabeleland — in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe in the early 1980s, Magodonga witnessed the — Gukurahundi massacres — the systematic murder of many thousands of people, including her uncle and several cousins — many of whom were buried in mass graves that they’d been forced to dig themselves,” President Obama said.

On the 20th October 2009, ZAPUs Europe province wrote and requested that Professor Nowak includes as part of his terms of reference; the investigation into the Gukurahundi atrocities committed by Robert Mugabe and the ZANU led government in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces of Zimbabwe between 1982 and 1987. This was in the context of his visit to Zimbabwe (28 October 2009 4 November 2009). Sadly but not surprisingly, The ZANU PF and MDC government of national unity refused Professor Nowak entry into Zimbabwe to carry out these investigations.

In 1982, Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF, in pursuit of a one party state sought help from North Korea who trained the brutal 5th brigade. In 1983, this notorious brigade was deployed in Midlands and Matabeleland in an operation code named Gukurahundi (a word meaning rains or floods that wipe away rubbish in the Shona language).

Many analysts and those close to the operations at the time confirmed that there was a plan to wipe out all the ZAPU supporters, most of whom were uMthwakazi or isiNdebele speakers.

For about five years, the 5 Brigade massacred innocent civilians using the propaganda excuse that there had been insurgency in the ZAPU strongholds. Leaders Dr Dumiso Dabengwa, Lt Gen Lookout Masuku and others were arrested on trumped up charges of treason. They were acquitted by the Supreme Court in 1983, but were detained for four more years without charge. Lt Gen Masuku died in April 1986 in what many believe to be related to treatment in detention.

More than 20,000 innocent civilian were killed and thousands disappeared. They were buried in mass graves and some thrown in disused mines. Thousands of women and children survivors were rapped and abused.

The Government has repeatedly refused to acknowledge or offer any death certificates for those killed by the 5 Brigade. Many orphans were left with no identities and were thus unable to get education. The Zimbabwean system requires that you bring either parents or death certificates in order to get a birth certificate.

There has never been any compensation for victims and survivors. Many still need counselling to recover from the trauma of what they witnessed at the time.

Most Zimbabweans from other parts of the country also need to be educated about the truth about a genocide done in their name.

Background of ZAPU

ZAPU was formed in 1961. ZAPU is the first political party to fight for democracy, human rights and liberation for all Zimbabweans regardless of tribe, colour or language. We established relations with the British and the rest of the world based on our sound policies under the leadership of the late Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo.

In 1979, ZAPU signed the Lancaster agreement as part of the Patriotic Front leading to Zimbabwes independence. In 1980, we joined a Government of National Unity (GNU) but were dismissed in 1982 when Mugabe and ZANU PF started cracking down on our supporters and persecuting our leadership.

After Mugabe killed more than 20,000 of innocent and defenceless civilian ZAPU supporters, the party was forced into a GNU in 1987 for peace. ZAPU pulled out of the Unity Accord on 16th May 2009. We are now the opposition party in Zimbabwe with an important constituency.

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