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Dabengwa fingers Shiri in Gukurahundi killings

12/01/2018 00:00:00
by Staff reporter

ZAPU President Dumiso Dabengwa has singled out Retired Air Force Commander and cabinet minister Perence Shiri as having directly been involved in the mass killing of an estimated 20,000 civilians in Matebeleland and Midlands provinces during the early 1980s.

He was speaking during a panel discussion at SAPES Trust Thursday where he pledged to approach President Emmerson Mnangagwa soon to seek the release of Zapu properties seized by then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe's government during the hostile period.

Thursday's discussion centred on the emotive Gukurahundi massacres which government has obstinately failed to acknowledge despite intense pressure from victims and activists.

Dabengwa said he did not witness much of the ghastly occurrences during the period as he was locked up at Chikurubi Maximum Prison on alleged treason.

“The only person I know is Perence Shiri who was the commander of five brigade but as for the composition of the people he was commanding, I have not been able to find out exactly,” he said.

The former Zipra intelligence supremo said Gukurahundi was “not an accident” but was a “meticulous” strategy by then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s government to kill innocent Ndebeles.

He also said the clandestine involvement of South African intelligence stocked more tensions in the region and incensed government to kill more civilians.

“It was a plan to destroy Zapu. Later on it became clear when the South African intelligence got behind the backs of those in government who they thought they were collaborating with and created Super Zapu which were dissidents of their own making. And that gave more impetus to those who were in command of the Gukurahundi to cause more massacres of the Zapu people in Matebeleland and the Midlands.

“The people in Matebeleland have not yet had closure over relatives that perished during that period," he said.

Dabengwa urged the current government to release the Dumbuchena and Chihambagwe Commission reports saying they contained information he said could help refresh memories of surviving witnesses should current peace building efforts by government require victims to speak out.

The former Zanu PF politburo member said up to 75% of the eye witnesses to the Gukurahundi massacres may have passed on by now.


During the period, Dabengwa said, it was not just PF Zapu supporters who were targeted by the Mugabe regime but the liberation movement’s properties and contributions to the liberation struggle.

“All those things are still outstanding,” he said.

“We discussed them with the previous head of state and got no word. I hope to be able to raise it with the current President because it is supposed to be a new Zimbabwe, shortly.”

The seized properties include buildings in Bulawayo, farms and motels.

Dabengwa welcomed as a step in the right direction, the belated signing into a fully-fledged law, of National Peace and Reconciliation Bill by President Emmerson Mnangagwa whom he said should now be pressured to appoint the commission chair.

Both Mugabe and Mnangagwa's successive governments have been reluctant to allow discussion, let alone acknowledge any involvement in the brutal acts.

The closest to such was back in 1999 during the burial of ex-Zapu leader and Vice President Joshua Nkomo. Mugabe said the killings were a “moment of madness”.


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