No evidence of British involvement in Gukurahundi: Historian

Historian, Stuart Doran, has said there is no evidence to suggest that the British were involved in the Gukurahundi massacres, which claimed an estimated 20 000 civilians in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the early 1980s.

Between 1983 and 1987 then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe unleashed the North Korean-trained fifth brigade on innocent Zimbabweans in Matabeleland and the Midlands under the pretext of getting rid of dissidents resulting in a massive loss of lives.

The international community, however, did not openly condemn the massacres, raising questions of possible involvement among ZAPU members and its supporters.

Speaking during a CITE online public lecture, Friday, titled: “Why the international community turned a blind eye to the Gukurahundi genocide,” Doran rebutted publicly held views that Zimbabwe’s former coloniser had a hand in Gukurahundi.

“It’s a popular conspiracy theory in Matabeleland, and it was one promoted – heavily promoted – by the late Dumiso Dabengwa, among others. And its the idea that there was an international conspiracy, led by the British, to destroy ZAPU,” said Doran, who is popular for his book, Kingdom, Power, Glory: Mugabe, Zanu and the Quest for Supremacy, 1960-1987.

“There is the allegation that the British encouraged Gukurahundi and were involved in Gukurahundi. The long and short of that is there is no shred of evidence in that regard and in fact there is a huge body of evidence that it’s not the case.”

He further explained: “For example, the British were actually hoping that the first government of Zimbabwe would be formed under Joshua Nkomo, with Joshua Nkomo as the prime minister and Bishop Muzorewa as a participant in that government with the whites and they were surprised and shocked by the victory of Zanu-PF.”

Doran emphasized that the idea that the British wanted to destroy ZAPU was not supported by any evidence.

The historian added that it was not true again that the South Africans promoted Gukurahundi and wanted to see it happen.

“That’s not the case,” he argued.

“When I spoke to a general who was one of the key people in the South African military who organised RENAMO in Mozambique, who organised important UNITA in Angola, he said to me that when the Gukurahundi broke out, it was a shock in South Africa. In fact Gukurahundi destroyed the possibility of using super ZAPU to destabilise Zimbabwe, so I don’t think those conspiracy theories hold any water.”

Doran said the conspiracy theories were meant to divert people’s attention from those responsible for the massacres.

“The other thing is they (conspiracy theories) take away the focus on the true perpetrator which was Zanu-PF from start and finish; it was Zanu-PF and Mugabe who perpetrated those things,” he said.

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