Blood on our hands: How Britain cynically covered up the truth about megalomaniac Mugabe

By Donald Trelford (Daily Mail)UK

The baby was already dead, but the crowd weren't to know that. They gasped in horror as the soldier held it aloft and declared: 'This is what will happen to your babies if you hide dissidents.'

Then he dropped the tiny corpse in the dust. That brutal soldier was Brigadier Phiri, known as Black Jesus, notorious head of the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwe Army, whose mission was to 'cleanse' Matabeleland of dissidents.

There were no dangerous dissidents left, as his soldiers well knew, since the civil war had ended some years before.

The myth provided them with an excuse to beat and torture villagers for refusing to reveal the whereabouts of the so-called insurgents, but in reality it was designed to intimidate and subdue the Ndebele tribe for supporting Joshua Nkomo, who had been Robert Mugabe's opponent at the general election before independence in 1980, four years earlier.

In 1987, after up to 400,000 of his people had been murdered in the pogrom that became known as the Gukurahundi ('the wind that blows away the chaff after harvest'), Nkomo gave in and merged his party with Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

It is exactly 25 years ago that I stumbled on the first direct evidence that Mugabe was a monster who would destroy his own people to preserve his hold on power.

It seems extraordinary that it took nearly a quarter of a century for the world to catch on.

I had gone to Zimbabwe to interview him on the fourth anniversary of independence.

The interview itself was disastrously dull. He was implacable and uncommunicative.

When I asked him if he would seek a political solution in Matabeleland, where a curfew had been in force for several months, he repeated a well-rehearsed mantra: 'The political solution was the general election. They should have accepted defeat. The solution now is military.'

When I returned, disappointed, to my hotel in Harare, I found some Africans waiting for me near the reception desk - they knew I was in the country because I had appeared on ZTV.

They were nervous, looking over their shoulders.

'Terrible things are happening in Matabeleland,' one of them whispered. 'You must go to Bulawayo, to the Hilton Hotel. We will contact you.'

Then they slipped away.

I flew to Bulawayo, hired a car and drove around the apparently peaceful countryside.

Matabeleland is cattle country: cows stood on the dry river bed; old men scratched the earth with hoes; goats, donkeys, marmosets, even a kudu bull dashed across the road.

Hand of friendship: Margaret Thatcher with Robert Mugabe in 1982

Then I came to a series of roadblocks. I flannelled my way past a couple of them, then reached a no-go area, where my path was blocked by a truck-load of troops with rocket-propelled grenades on their AK-47 rifles.

No journalists had been inside the curfew area since the emergency had been imposed ten weeks before, though reports had trickled out that Mugabe's Shona troops were taking tribal revenge on the Ndebele.

Back at the hotel, I waited in my room until I heard a light tap on the door and a piece of paper was pushed under it.

At midnight, I was to go down to the hotel car park, where a van would flash its lights. I climbed into the van and off we went on a nightmarish nocturnal journey I shall never forget.

Looking back, it amazes me that I wasn't more apprehensive: my companions were all strangers and nobody else knew where I had gone.

The plan was to drive me down back routes into the curfew area to avoid the road-blocks.

This seemed to be going well until we were halted by a policeman.

It turned out that he just wanted a lift home, so he sat in the front while I hid in the back.

Eventually we reached a crossroads, where we waited for ages until a car arrived and I got in.

I was taken to a Catholic mission, where victims of Mugabe's purge had found refuge.

I was shown raw wounds from bayonets and electric torture, and women told me (interpreted by one of the priests) how they had been beaten and their husbands tortured and in some cases murdered; their bodies had been thrown down mineshafts.

I was taken to the site of a mass grave, said to contain 16 bodies.

Brutalised: Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai

A man called Jason told me how he had hidden while the soldiers collected men from the fields or their huts and then marched them through villages until they were stopped and forced to dig a large hole, where they were shot dead as they stood in it.

I went on to another mission, where many more victims described their experiences in graphic and sickening detail, including a woman whose two small children had been shot while running away.

Worse, much worse, was to happen in terms of rape, torture and intimidation over the next two decades, but the bulk of the killings were to happen in the next two years.

I flew back to Harare, where I told two people what I had seen. One was a military attache at the British High Commission, who said they had feared as much but had been warned by the Foreign Office to stay out of it.

The other was an old Afrikaner, who said: 'Donald, you have discovered an eternal truth about Africa. You stuff them and then they stuff you. For decades the whites stuffed the blacks and now it's their turn. The Ndebele stuffed the Shona, now the Shona stuff them.'

I published the story in The Observer, of which I was then the editor, and it attracted wide publicity - but not for the right reasons. I had hoped to alert the world to Mugabe's atrocities.

In the event, my scoop was sidetracked by a battle I then had with the newspaper's chairman, Tiny Rowland, whose company, Lonrho, had extensive business interests in Zimbabwe and who had an uneasy personal relationship with Mugabe because he had supported Nkomo.

I can see now that Rowland had to distance himself from the story for commercial reasons, though his methods seemed a bit extreme.

I awoke on the Sunday morning to hear the main headline on the BBC news: a statement from Mugabe saying he had received an apology from Rowland, who had decided to sack me for being 'an incompetent reporter'.

Heartbreak: The country is now in the grip of an avoidable cholera epidemic

Then all hell broke loose, with newspapers and television cameras camped outside my door, and the battle raged on for weeks in a Fleet Street soap opera - 'the most entertaining hullabaloo', as one paper put it, since Rupert Murdoch fell out with Harry Evans, whom he sacked as editor of The Times.

I survived, thanks to the support of The Observer's independent directors and journalists (though the latter's loyalty wobbled a bit when Rowland threatened to sell it to Robert Maxwell).

After Lonrho started cutting off our money supply, I offered my resignation to save further damage to the paper.

This was the signal Rowland needed to climb down and we patched things up awkwardly over lunch in the incongruous setting of a Park Lane casino he owned, served by long-legged beauties in fishnet tights.

We concocted a ludicrous press release in which we said we shared an affection for three things: we loved Africa, we loved The Observer and we loved each other.

Looking back, I regret that my personal battle with Rowland should have overshadowed such an important story.

I had been the first external witness of the Gukurahundi, but Mugabe escaped the opprobrium he deserved.

It took another 18 years before Zimbabwe was expelled from the Commonwealth.

Even now, Mugabe seems immune to outside pressure. At the time, the Foreign Office played down my story as 'exaggerated'.

The British High Commissioner admitted later that he had been ordered 'to steer clear of it' and at all costs to avoid offending Mugabe.

We should not be surprised, for British indifference to the plight of the Africans in Southern Rhodesia and later Zimbabwe goes back more than a century.

Cecil Rhodes's company stole land and cattle from them without compensation - actions later sanctioned by the British government.

In the Fifties, Britain set up the Central African Federation - including Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi) - and allowed it to rule on a racist agenda ('the partnership of rider and horse,' to quote its Prime Minister, Sir Roy Welensky).

We did nothing to prevent Ian Smith declaring unilateral independence in 1965, when we had the power to do so - I was there at the time and wrote a report, which I later heard had gone to a Cabinet committee chaired by the Foreign Secretary, showing how we could end the rebellion.

My plan was rejected as too risky - the real reason, I suspect, was that Harold Wilson feared he couldn't send troops to Rhodesia without also helping the Americans in Vietnam.

Britain's paralysis ushered in 15 years of civil war that wrecked the country and brought Mugabe to power.

By 1980, Britain was glad to be shot of the problem and looked the other way while he nationalised the Press, murdered his opponents and subverted the constitution.

We cannot dissociate ourselves from the resulting disaster: a country with the world's biggest inflation rate and fastest sinking economy, riddled with Aids and cholera, where a quarter of the population have fled the country, including 90 per cent of its graduates and most of its doctors and nurses, where only one-in-ten has a job and 75 per cent go hungry in what was once the second richest country in Africa.

Rebuilding Zimbabwe after Mugabe will be a monumental task: restoring the rule of law, the economy, democratic institutions, a free media, an independent judiciary and protection for human rights.

Britain has such a huge historic responsibility for the country's plight that we ought to make it our duty to lead this reconstruction. On second thoughts, however, we have made such a shameful mess of its past that it might be better if we kept away


Maseko's paintings interpreted as demeaning Shonas and Mugabe

Tuesday, 30 March 2010 07:35

Owen Maseko's painting of the 1987 Unity Accord between Robert Mugabe (ZANU) and Joshua Nkomo (ZAPU) which brought the ZANU-PF party into existence has been categorised as demeaning the Shona tribe and undermining Mugabe’s name.

He is charged with inciting violence, undermining Mr. Mugabe's name, and demeaning Mr. Mugabe's tribe, the Shonas. The charges carry a prison sentence or fines.


Maseko, a Zimbabwean artist was in court in Bulawayo yesterday after the government shut down his art exhibit exploring violence blamed on President Robert Mugabe

The painting shows a bloodied Nkomo bending over the accord, while Mugabe is the other individual seated at the table.

Maseko's exhibition at the national art gallery in Bulawayo focuses on an uprising that was crushed in western Matabeleland after Zimbabwe's independence in 1980.

Thousands of civilians were massacred by members of the Shona tribe trained by North Korea and loyal to Robert Mugabe.

The most striking image shows the late Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe signing an accord leading to a unity government. In the painting Nkomo is slumped across the table, blood dripping from his shoulders. Behind the two leaders is a line of men all wearing dark glasses, whom many presume are members of the Central Intelligence Organization.

Joshua Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe helped lead the guerrilla war against white rule in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

Maseko's exhibit was supposed to run through April, but last Friday Maseko was arrested and police blacked out the gallery windows and covered the murals with newspapers.

Lawyers acting for Maskeo applied for bail at the Bula wayo Magistrate's Court and judgment will be delivered Tuesday. Meanwhile, the artist remains in detention.

Police allegedly received a “complainant” from a member of the public that there were certain pieces of art at the gallery that were “insulting”, President Mugabe.

Detectives from the Law and Order section then descended on the gallery and found the exhibitor, Owen Maseko not present.

He was telephoned and later came to the gallery to find the detectives waiting for him and taking down notes on the exhibition.

Maseko appeared before Bulawayo magistrate, Mr Victor Mpofu yesterday also facing charges of undermining or insulting the President and causing offence to persons of a particular race or religion in contravention of Sections 33 and 42 of the Criminal Law (Codification and reform) Act, Chapter 9:23.

Mr Trust Muduma, for the State asked the court to put it on record that the State was opposed to Maseko being granted bail.

He led evidence from Detective Sergeant George Ngwenya, who testified that he was leading a team of detectives from the Law and Order section.

It was his testimony that they still needed time to record statements from three or four witnesses who crucial to the case.

Det Serg Ngwenya said the police were afraid that Maseko could abscond if granted bail as he had shown that he does not appreciate the seriousness of the offence he is facing.

He said this is an indicator that Maseko might continue with his activities if granted bail.

Under cross-examination from Maseko’s lawyer, Mr Kucaca Phulu of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Det Serg Ngwenya admitted that Maseko was not at the gallery when his team got there.

When Mr Phulu put it to him that investigations had been completed and that was the reason why he had been brought to court on a full docket, Det Serg Ngwenya claimed that they were working under “pressure” and that investigations were not complete.

Mr Mpofu remanded Maseko in custody to today for the bail ruling.

The magistrate, after a brief talk with Mr Phulu and the State counsel said he needed time to decide on the points raised during the application.

Soon after the case had been remanded the packed Court Two public gallery, with some people following proceedings from outside, was left empty as they walked out.

The court heard that last week on Friday, detectives received a tip off to the effect that there were controversial paintings and captions at the gallery.

The State is alleging that the paintings and captions are likely to cause hatred or engender feelings of hostility towards or cause contempt or ridicule to the President or insult to the President in person or in respect of his office.

The paintings and captions were on display for the public to view after paying a certain fee.

Some of the captions read, “Mugabe must go. Gone go. Who can forget and forgive about the Gukurahundi? All Ndebeles are dissidents. We can still be eliminated at any time. This wound is huge and deep. It is the darkest period in Zimbabwe’s political history. Gukurahundi is hanging over his head and this partly explains why there is a need and desire to continue in the office until he dies.

“In our country perpetrators of violence are still holding powerful positions and survivors remain silent and afraid.”

The paintings and statues had captions, which read; “Gukurahundi, the rains that wash away all the trash and chuff before spring time. Gukurahundi would not discuss but shoot you only. Babulelwani abafowethu. Inyembezi zabogogo.

“The overwhelming residue of unprocessed pain and super suspicions and grief remains in the community as negative and silent weight and even dark. A secret that undermines shared community activities causing finger pointing and division. They mad us sing their songs while they tortured and killed our brothers and sisters, this being a painting of this man wearing glasses and fat man sitting at a table, a fat man with a gush wound on the back of the head oozing blood.”



Exiles seek to resurrect Radio Mthwakazi

Exiles seek to resurrect Radio Mthwakazi
Saturday, 27 February 2010 17:24

CAPE TOWN — Zimbabwean exiles, fed up with the government’s delays in deregulating broadcasting laws, have applied to the Independent Communications Authority South Africa — ICASA — for a licence to set up a community radio station in Johannesburg. The station to be known as Radio Mthwakazi, will broadcast in IsiNdebele, Kalanga and Sotho for the first few months and then other languages when they eventually get a licence to operate in Zimbabwe.

“We might include Shona language in the future but for now we want to cater for languages that are marginalised in Zimbabwe,” Gerald Ngulube told The Standard by phone from Johannesburg.

The original Radio Mthwakazi which was set up by the Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation for the Ndebele-speaking community in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 1970s was shut down by the Zanu PF government in 1981.

The closure of the station sparked protests by the people of Matabeleland who described the government’s move as “both political and ethnic cleansing”.

“We have already approached ICASA for a licence but the area where we wanted to broadcast had already been taken by a Johannesburg community radio, said Ngulube, who is also the chairman of Umthombo Arts and Culture, an organisation for Zimbabwean artists based in Johannesburg.

Ngulube said the other option left for them was to apply to broadcast in the Gauteng Province. ICASA had allocated them FM frequency in Rooderport, outside Johannesburg but they turned down the offer saying there were fewer Zimbabweans in the area.

Ngulube said their main target audience was Zimbabweans in Hillbrow, Berea, Yeoville and South Western Townships — commonly known as Soweto. The government is aware of the emergence of foreign radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe.

Some of the radio stations are funded by President Robert Mugabe’s enemies in the West. Private radio stations broadcasting from their exiled bases and targeting Zimbabwe have been a cause for concern for Zanu PF.

The party has been calling on its partner in the inclusive government, the MDC-T to help shut down the foreign based stations.

Two of them SW Radio Africa and Voice of the People started in Zimbabwe but they were forced to relocate to other countries after they were denied licences.

By Thabo Kunene


President Obama Tells World of Gukurahundi Massacres


(London, November 24, 2009) US President Barack Obama has waded into ongoing efforts by the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) by reminding the world of the “systematic murder of many thousands of people” in Matabeleland in the 1980s.

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, ZAPU’s 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 Zimbabwe’s 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.


Justice Cheda sentences a man to Death in Zimbabwe

Source:The Chronicle
A FORMER police officer has been sentenced to death by hanging for the “cold-blooded and beastly murder” of a South African tourist in 2007.

Leo Matibe, 26, was accused -- along with another ex-cop who is on the run -- of the murder of 69-year-old Martinus Jacobus Oosthuyse whose body was dumped in farmland in Nyamandlovu, about 60km north-west of Bulawayo.

On Monday, Matibe was placed on death row after Justice Maphios Cheda, sitting at the Bulawayo High Court, found him guilty of murder with constructive intent.

The judge told Matibe: “In your own evidence, you stated that you knew and appreciated what you were doing. You are a trained police officer.

“This was a cold- blooded beastly murder committed without any conscience and you went on to dump the body. As a policeman, you had ample time to report the murder but you went to Harare for three weeks after the offence and still did not report.”

The court heard that Matibe, of Bulawayo’s Pumula North suburb, had been in the company of two friends – serving police officer Collin Tsikidze and Leonard Dube – when they decided to commit a robbery for money.

Shortly after midnight on September 26, 2007, the men approached Oosthuyse’s car – a Nissan Sentra bearing South African number plates -- which was parked outside a supermarket along Bulawayo’s 8th Avenue. Oosthuyse was sleeping.

Prosecutor Erick Moyo told the court Tsikidze tapped on the car’s window, showing Oosthuyse his police badge.

Tsikidze advised Oosthuyse that he was under arrest for wrongful parking and ordered him to drive to the nearby Bulawayo Central Police Station to pay a fine.

Oosthuyse let the men into his car but instead of directing him to the police station, they told to drive to the corner of Jason Moyo Street and 2nd Avenue. The frightened tourist was then ordered to stop in the middle of the road, and Tsikidze pulled out a pistol.
Dube, who was the prosecution’s star witness, immediately fled the scene.

After Oosthuyse refused to heed Tsikidze’s order to get out of the car, he was shot in the head and his body pushed to the front passenger seat, the prosecutor told the court.

Tsikidze, now one of Zimbabwe’s most wanted men, got behind the wheel and drove to Nyamandlovu where together with Matibe they dumped the body at the Bedminton Farm.

The two men drove off in Oosthuyse's car which had at the back a small refridgerator. They also robbed his dead body of a mobile phone and R700.

Oosthuyse’s body was found by locals two days later on September 28. His passport and a wristwatch were also recovered.

A post mortem report into his death was inconclusive as only parts of his body -- comprising of a fragmented skull, 13 spinal bones, left tibia, right tibia and both femurs -- were recovered.

Detectives investigating the murder got a lucky break just five days after the body was recovered when Matibe was arrested while committing a robbery at Mership House along Main Street. Police recovered a BSAP 170 CZ pistol which they linked to Oosthuyse’s murder.

In his defence, Matibe claimed that he took possession of the pistol from Tsikidze after the latter left it in a jacket which he gave to his girlfriend.

The judge rejected Matibe’s plea to find mitigating circumstances after claiming that he was drunk during the commission of the murder. During trial, Dube admitted all three man “had no money” to buy alcohol, and the judge said it followed they could not have been drunk.

“It is clear that you were actively participating in the commission of the crime,” the judge said.