Recently documents were made public revealing President Robert Mugabe’s of Zimbabwe role in slaughtering 20,000 of his own people. The massacre known as the Gukurahundi Massacre began in 1983 and targeted ethnic Ndebele civilians in western Zimbabwe.
The Gukurahundi Massacre was one of Mugabe’s first efforts to eliminate political opposition to what would be his 35 year reign as President of Zimbabwe. Mugabe famously said of the political opposition in the predominant Ndebele area as “needing to be re-educated.”
According to Stuart Doran, of the Daily Maverick newspaper in South Africa, “thousands of historical documents that appear to expose the perpetrators are now becoming available in a raft of foreign archival collections. The documents are wide-ranging and include, among others, diplomatic correspondence, intelligence assessments and raw intelligence garnered by spies recruited from within the Zimbabwean government. These papers—augmented by the testimony of Zimbabwean witnesses finding courage in old age—appear to substantiate what survivors and scholars have always suspected but never been able to validate: Mugabe, then Prime Minister, was the prime architect of mass killings that were well-planned and systematically executed.
The most recent documents reinforce previous investigations and reports that President Mugabe and “the [ZANU-PF] 20-member-policy-making group spoke of a decision of the central committee that there had to be a massacre of the Ndebels,” according to Eddison Zvobgo, who spoke to the Guardian UK and was a member of this group.
This reign of terror was carried out by the Zimbabwean Army’s Fifth Brigade, which ravaged communities in western Zimbabwe and conservatively saw 20,000 Ndebele murdered. However, scholars and activists believe the number dead could go as high as 80,000 dead.
Most significantly, these documents also reveal that these murders were not orchestrated by outsiders and were “one component of a sustained and strategic effort to remove all political opposition within five years of independence. ZANU-PF leaders were determined to secure a victory against a non-existent opposition in elections scheduled for 1985,” according to the Guardian.
Mugabe is the current President of Zimbabwe, and he has been Head of the Zimbabwe state since 1980. Mugabe refused to accept his loss during against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008, which provoked violence, hyperinflation, a destruction of infrastructure across the country, and international sanctions.