A Letter From Zimbabwe
Lest we forget. Here is a letter sent from “Zimbo”
This is a very thorough synopsis that you read to understand the situation in Zimbabwe. Thanks for your interest.
“Zimbo in America”
Mugabe, Mbeki and the ANC
Subject: Mugabe, Mbeki and the ANC with minor amendments
MUGABE , MBEKI AND THE ANC
In order to understand President Mugabe it is necessary to know something about the early history of Zimbabwe.
The Shona tribe that Mugabe is a member of, was terrorised by the (black) settler Ndebele (Matabele) tribe that arrived in Southern Matabeleland from Kwazulu-Natal in about 1840 – a breakaway branch of the Zulu Kingdom in what was then Natal. As late as 1890, Mugabe’s grandparents would have experienced the wrath of the marauding Matabele impis.
The extremely cruel yearly raids on the Shona by the warlike Matabele, only ceased in 1890 when Rhodes’ pioneer column reached that part of the continent. The new (white) settlers put a stop to the practice. Because of the past tribal history, intense hatred still exists between the two ethnic groupings. During the war of liberation against the Rhodesians that culminated in independence in 1980, there were two distinct black liberation factions – ZANU (Shona) and ZIPRA (Matabele). On the battlefield, there were many deadly clashes between the two factions.
It is pertinent to note that in South Africa, the predominantly Xhosa ANC, was historically and still is at odds with the Zulus of Kwazulu-Natal. Deadly clashes have occurred between these to ethnic groupings. Mugabe’s hatred for the Matabele (Zulu) and the ANC’s support for Mugabe, is disturbingly synonymous.
When Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, the various military factions including ZANU and ZIPRA, were integrated into the new national army. Some ZIPRA (Matabele) guerrillas remained in the bush because of mistrust of ZANU (Shona) and others deserted the new army because they feared that their Shona commanders were planning their demise.
There followed a period of insurrection, lawlessness and outright warfare between ZANU and ZIPRA forces. Matabele ZIPRA deserters and their colleagues remaining in the bush, were labelled ‘dissidents’ by Mugabe and were killed wherever they were found – often brutally and in cold blood. Emmerson Mnangagwa, the then Minister of State Security, announced in parliament in February 1984 that 459 ‘bandits’ as he labelled them, had been killed. There is little doubt that many more than that number were eliminated.
Mugabe had meantime called in the communist North Koreans to train the 5-Brigade (1981). He had a sinister motive for doing so. The 5-Brigade, which was directly answerable to Mugabe, was variously deployed in Matabeleland over the period 1983 to 1984 – ostensibly to locate and destroy ZIPRA ‘dissidents’. Ultimately, in February 1983, some 16000 square kilometres of Southern Matabeleland and an area of the Midlands inhabited by mainly Matabele people, was cordoned off. Soon thereafter a 24 hour curfew was imposed. No food was allowed into the curfew area and as the region was in the grips of a third drought in a row, thousands of innocent rural people starved to death.
The 5-Brigade then commenced the systematic and indiscriminate elimination of innocent Ndebele men, women and children. What supposedly started off as a war against ‘dissidents’ ended up as an attempt to crush the Matabele nation – nothing other than a classic case of genocide – more politely referred to as ‘ethnic cleansing’. This was punishment and retribution for the attacks suffered by the Shona at the hands of the Matabele during the 1840-1890 period. Mugabe’s 5-Brigade wiped out entire villages so that there were no survivors to tell tales – other villagers simply disappeared. At least 15,000 and possibly as many as 30,000 were killed in the most brutal fashion – the true number may never be known because of the vast area involved and the methods used. Ian Smith, the former Rhodesian Prime Minister in his book ‘The Great Betrayal’, puts the death toll at 30,000.
The 5-Brigade was led by Colnel Perence Shiri – currently commander of the Zimbabwe Air Force. This inhuman thug daubed ‘The Beast of Bhalagwe’, set up a torture and killing camp in Southern Matabeleland. Thousands of men, women and children – regardless of age or health – were rounded up and conveyed to this and other camps to be re-educated in typical ‘old style’ communist fashion. Thousands of innocents were murdered, raped, maimed, beaten or simply disappeared. Horrendous and sickening methods of torture were employed, including the emersion of babies in boiling water. Camp detainees were made to dig graves for their colleagues and when the killing rate accelerated, bodies were dumped down disused mine shafts.
The feared Central Intelligence Organisation under the control of Emmerson Mnangagwa (until recently – January 2005 – Mugabe’s heir apparent), then Minister of State Security in Mugabe’s office, was at the forefront of the brutal and sadistic forms of torture and killings. The ANC had a presence in Zimbabwe at the time these atrocities occurred. It would come as no surprise if the ANC’s Aziz Pahad who spent time in Zimbabwe (South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mugabe’s most ardent supporter), was in the country at the time. There has never been any condemnation by the ANC of the genocide Mugabe perpetrated on his own black population after independence in 1980.
The atrocities committed by the 5-Brigade are well documented especially by the Zimbabwe Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace, in books, articles and reports by several investigative journalists. Following an international outcry, Mugabe in September 1983, set up a commission of inquiry headed by a lawyer Mr Chihambakwe to investigate the allegations. Although fearful of the repercussions, hundreds of eye witnesses to the atrocities turned up to give evidence. Mugabe undertook to make the report of the commission public, but it was suppressed. When taken to court (December 1999) in an effort to force the release of the report he, through his legal representative, claimed that it was lost!
Mugabe, over a twenty five year period, has employed terror tactics against all those he regards as a threat. He planned, instigated, committed or otherwise aided and abetted a campaign of violence directed against the civilian population of Zimbabwe. He has to stay in power because he knows that as soon as he loses the protection of his office, he and others of his regime will, if justice is to prevail, have to stand trial at The Hague for genocide and crimes against humanity.
The land question is important, but the way Mugabe has gone about it was and is a desperate attempt to stay in power – his trump and last card in order to secure victory at the 2002 elections. These land seizures led to the deaths of many and the displacement of some four thousand mainly white commercial farmers and an estimated 1.5 million black farm workers and their families. Mugabe does not give a jot about the illegality or consequences of his actions. He has brought economic ruin on his country to save his own skin and to remain in power – and not for the ideological reasons he claims.
Mugabe stands accused of lying to the world about the anticipated 2003/4 maize harvest in order to cover up for massive food shortage – the result of dispossessing white commercial farmers of their farmland. He refuses food aid whilst secretly importing maize to use as a political weapon. One of the more despicable aspects of Mugabe’s quest to remain in power, confirmed by the United Nations World Food Programme (August 2004) and the Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo (January 2005) – is that Mugabe is using food to force his opponents to support the ruling party in preparation for the March 2005 parliamentary
elections. Once again, it is mainly the Matabele in the South of the country who are suffering and dying from starvation – food aid is only available on production of the ruling party membership card. Mbeki and the ANC, in the face of facts that amount to genocide, maintain a silence which can only be read as support for Mugabe’s human rights abuses.
Mbeki’s statement to the American press (June 2005) that the famine in Zimbabwe is due to the drought, is an outrageous distortion of the truth – but yet another indication of his support for his despotic and tyrannical friend.
So why is it that President Mbeki, the ANC and other black African leaders are tolerant of this despot – described by Archbishop Emertitus Desmond Tutu as “the archetypal African dictator”? Why is the killing of black people by a black tyrant (the label given to Mugabe by non other than former President Nelson Mandela), seemingly acceptable to them and most of black Africa?
It is a historical fact that the ANC and both Zimbabwean liberation movements were instructed in Marxist/Leninist ideology either in Moscow or in China. Mbeki, a loyal member of the Communist party when in exile (as was his father), received instruction at the Lenin School in Moscow. Mugabe has put into practice what the Red Chinese taught him at the Nanking Military Academy. Mugabe even produced his version of the “Thoughts Of Mao” – containing typical Marxist rhetoric – and his ‘Youth Militia’ – the ‘Green Bombers’ trained to kill terrorise and disrupt those who oppose him – are reminiscent of Mao’s youthful ‘Red Guard’ that terrorised the Chinese population during the Cultural Revolution.
Mugabe and Mbeki have, according to international political commentators, both put into practice the Lenin doctrine of ‘Democratic Centralism’ learnt from their respective Communist masters – a Marxist/Socialist system whereby all important policy decisions are taken by an ‘inner circle’ or ‘politburo’ rendering the parliamentary process sterile – the antithesis of any truly democratic system of government. In order to carry out his policies, Mbeki surrounds himself with individuals such as Essop Pahad – an ardent communist – who broadcast Soviet propaganda from Prague during Moscow’s hey day.
It is no secret that not many more than eleven odd years ago the ANC would have encouraged Mugabe to dispossess and kill white farmers – which was after all one of the objectives of the ANC in South Africa. Other of Mugabe’s actions would also have received the ANC’s enthusiastic support, and I suspect that many of his actions and utterances still do – like Foreign Affair’s consistent and public support for his land grab policy, and Mbeki’s mischievous blaming (December 2003) of Britain for the Zimbabwe land crises – in support of lies put about by Mugabe.
Most importantly Mugabe, also just little more than eleven odd years ago, actively supported the ANC’s war effort in South Africa – ANC cadres were trained in Zimbabwe and supplied with ammunition, weapons and explosives, with which to carry out their work in South Africa. Mugabe often reminds the ANC of the part he played in their struggle – no doubt the ANC’S “hour of need” Mbeki so often refers to.
Mbeki’s lack of firm action against Mugabe can only be due to the historical and ideological backgrounds they share – which is a bad omen for South Africa. Mbeki could have and still can bring Mugabe to heel by simply threatening to close the border, and if necessary, restrict trade and the flow of essentials supplies to Zimbabwe – a successful ploy John Vorster and Henry Kissinger used to force the Rhodesians to end their war and accept the principle of majority rule.
Mbeki must know that unless Africans practice and apply genuine democratic principles, NEPAD is but an illusion. Mbeki’s volte face concerning support for NEPAD’S system of “peer review” under which African countries are to monitor each others standards of governance – and his embarrassing re-acceptance of the principle a week later at the 2/3 November 2002 NEPAD meeting in Abuja, is a measure of his credibility.
Mbeki’s initial refusal to support further Commonwealth action against Zimbabwe (March 2003), his unfounded but persistent and groundless claims that the Mugabe government and the opposition Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) were and are holding talks, his glib acceptance of lies propagated by Mugabe concerning the land grab and his June 2003 prediction that by June 2004 the Zimbabwe crises would be resolved – sold to the British and Americans as the objective of his “quiet diplomacy” – are but further examples of the lengths to which Mbeki is prepared to go to support his tyrannical friend and dictator. Mbeki should be aware that knowingly repeating lies put out by Mugabe will ultimately question his credibility.
And what of the broken agreement Mugabe made with Mbeki, Chisano and Nujoma at the Victoria Falls in 2000 when he undertook to remove the war veterans from occupied white commercial farms within a month. There was no comment from the tripartite when Mugabe, within the same month, reneged on his undertakings – just a supportive silence.
One wonders just what Mbeki’s real agenda is because the world might well conclude that Mbeki’s indifference to Mugabe’s human rights violation will be seen as laying the groundwork for future human rights violations in South Africa – an observation (December 2003), made by the Anglican Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu.
Helen Suzman, a former staunch supporter of the ANC and anti-apartheid activist, concludes (Weekly Telegraph May 2004) that “Mbeki and other black African leaders support Mugabe’s actions in effectively kicking the white man out of Zimbabwe”. She accuses Mbeki of supporting the Mugabe’s anti – white stance “Mugabe has done that to the whites, and I think that is exactly what Mbeki admires about him”. And further “Do not think for a moment that Mbeki is not anti-white – he is, most definitely”. Mbeki and other black African leaders who applaud Mugabe for kicking out thewhites, have clearly not stopped to think that the ultimate victims are the black citizens of Zimbabwe.
African history tells us that in every instance where the white man has been forcibly kicked out leading up to or after Uhuru (freedom) – starting in the early Sixties with the Belgian Congo now the Democratic Republic Of Congo – the result has been bankruptcy, corruption and rule by despots. The DRC to this very day still suffers from these maladies. Mbeki’s brother Moeletsi Mbeki – Chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs – observes (September 2004) that the end of Colonialism and the advent of Uhuru, has resulted in the “plundering of Africa’s resources and grand theft by the black political elite”. On Zimbabwe Mbeki’s brother states “Our intervention should be to support democracy and not tolerate the use of violence, torture and rigging of elections and if necessary we should support the opposition”. Once again a deafening silence from President Mbeki.
South Africa and the region will, I fear, in the final analysis, pay the price for protecting a despicable and cruel tyrant who only remains in power through cheating, lying, killing, torturing, gagging, starving and intimidating opponents, formulating laws controlling the media which are regularly tightened, and prohibiting opposition meetings and demonstrations – the political practises of communist Eastern Europe of the 1960’s. Mugabe’s current (June 2005) cruel eviction of some 250 000 black citizens from informal housing by destroying shanty homes and businesses is, according to a United Nations representative Miloon Kathari “a clear violation of human rights”. Mbeki and the ANC maintain their silence.
Mugabe’s uncivilised methods are indulgently referred to as ‘African Style Democracy’ by the ANC and most other black African leaders. In December 2004 at the ZANU-PF conference held in Harar
e, the Secretary General of the ANC Henry Magothi praised Mugabe and his policies and said that the ANC and people of South Africa are confident that ZANU-PF “as a party of revolution, will continue to play a leading role in the political and economic independence of Zimbabwe”. It is this unqualified acceptance of Mugabe’s draconian policies which concerns the free democratic world and which Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, warns might be regarded by the free world as “laying the groundwork for future human rights violations in South Africa”.
This watering down of genuine democratic principles was again applied to the 2005 Zimbabwen elections which could not be ruled free and fair even by the South African observer mission which could only described them as “reflecting the will of the people”. When asked (April 2005) why he chose not to declare the elections ‘free and fair’ the delegation head Minister Membathisi Mdladlana retorted – “We see no reason to follow anybody else’s culture”.
The civilized world by contrast sees Mugabe as an illegitimate leader of an illegitimate government, and unlike the ANC, the international community is insisting on a new round of internationally supervised elections in Zimbabwe. United States Secretary of Sate, Colin Powell, is on record as saying (September 2002) that there must be regime change in Zimbabwe and his successor Condoleezza Rice, regards Zimbabwe as an “outpost of tyranny” (January 2005) – an observation which Mbeki, in unqualified support of his tyrannical friend, objects to.
Hopefully, world leaders will soon come to realise that Mbeki’s “quiet diplomacy” is a charade – described by those opposing Mugabe in Zimbabwe as “an act of blatant deception”. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe sinks further and further into the abyss while the concerned world looks on, and Mbeki, with measured arrogance born of absolute power, looks the other way.
Telephone Cape Town (021) 434 0348 Facsimile (021) 439 7500
Email – [email protected]
I was a judicial officer in Zimbabwe until 1983. After independence inquest dockets were passed to me in 1982 which revealed that the National Army or other government forces were murdering ZIPRA ‘dissidents’. I was threatened with detention if I, as was my judicial duty to do, held public inquests into the deaths. I still have these dockets in my possession.
After 22 years in the Department of Justice, I resigned and left Zimbabwe in 1983 because I could not work for a government that after independence, engaged in the cold blooded murder of its own citizens.
It is remarkable how few people know the real story about Mugabe and just how murderous, tyrannical, cruel and evil he is. It is mainly the black people of that country who have suffered because Mugabe has to retain the reigns of power in order to survive politically. The whites were pawns in the game and the Matabele killed in their thousands because of ethnicity and their political opposition to him. Mugabe has brought shame on the African continent and his country to its economic knees – all to save his own political skin and to avoid justice at The Hague.
The liberators of Sub-Saharan Africa have shown themselves to be incapable of democratic governance – because democracy would have seen them voted out of office. Governments have turned corrupt and rely on brute force to remain in power and to retain the spoils. Commentators have expressed surprise at how quickly corruption has, within ten short years, spread to the upper echelons of the ANC government “… it is alarming that official corruption, that constant scourge of post-colonial Africa, has seemingly taken root so soon after democratic elections, and may have reached into the very highest levels of government” (Editorial – British Weekly Telegraph – June 2005)
The truth about Mugabe, Mbeki and the ANC, is a story which must be told and spread far and wide.