Joshua Nkomo’s Ex Aide Narrates How Gukurahundi Was Planned

Freddy Mtandah, a former aide of the late Zapu leader and Vice-President, Joshua Nkomo narrated to the Southern Eye how Gukurahundi started.

Read the full text below:

The integration of former fighters into the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) ended in 1981. Freedom fighters were demobilised and disarmed, left assembly points for their homes before the 1981 Christmas. Towards the end of 1980, the government started using former Rhodesian soldiers as special forces.

The Rhodesian African Rifles regiment was used during the (Entumbane Uprising of 1981, often called Entumbane 2) against Zipra. It was not a secret that Zipra had weapons. We had a regular army, which was not integrated. The weapons were moved from Zambia by train in 1980 and kept at Gwaai River assembly point.

The camp was deliberately closed by government. We had to move the weapons to our farms. It was not secret catches as alleged. It was not a secret that Zipra was associated with MK (Umkhonto weSizwe) of the ANC (African National Congress). There were more than 350 MK fighters at Gwaai.

The special forces, the former Rhodesian military intelligence, recruited a former Zipra battalion commander to create unit, which acted as Zipra dissidents. Just like Selous Scouts.

So I had to tell Joshua Nkomo about this development. Nkomo met Mugabe in the morning of February 5, 1980. I had to give Nkomo a piece of paper to remind him to ask Mugabe about army presence at Zipra farms (because) government was aware of the weapons which had not been surrendered as there was no policy for disarmament, but Mugabe brushed off the matter.

That afternoon, I accompanied Nkomo to Bulawayo. On the plane with us was (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa and (former Defence minister Sydney) Sekeramayi, who then went on to parade the arms.
Like others who had been recruited, the former Zipra battalion commander joined CIO [Central Intelligence Organisation] and was deployed as a diplomat. He died years ago.

Others who died later are national heroes buried at the (National) Heroes’ Acre.
Apart from those on government payroll, there were no Zipra dissidents who fought against the Zimbabwe government.

It was all a fabrication. The fear of these gallant Zipra combatants caused Gukurahundi. None of these comrades fired a single shot against fellow Zanla comrades or the new ZNA. When they were demobilised, they left unarmed to their rural areas just before Christmas in 1982.

At independence, they (Zanu and Zanla) captured the State and all its logistics, infrastructure and systems and waged a relentless effort to destroy Zapu and Zipra … This is when the stories of Zapu 2000 started coming out so that could link Zapu somehow with the dissidents, but this smear campaign failed because Zapu did not have ex-combatants who were under the authority of Zipra who were deployed as dissidents.

It did not have. Actually, among the Zipra commanders, generals like Madala Khumalo went out of their way to comb the combatants, to look out for the ex-combatants, who had remained in the bush and were refusing to come to the assembly points because then, they were suspecting that things were not level enough, but (Zipra) executed a mission to bring into the assembly points every ex-combatant who was Zipra.

So those who remained outside were no longer Zipra. We did not have them on our books as having been given a mission to go and fight the new government. So Zapu had no dissidents.

SA was complicit in Gukurahundi because the Bureau of State Security and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) of Zimbabwe were co-operating at this level, and we know for certain that they were sponsoring these operations through the groups of Kent Flower and other double agents. This we know from intelligence sources.

Those who found themselves in the arms of the dissidents formations were not Zipra. They were Zipra impersonators. All these were machinations of trying to smear the Zapu leadership and its Zipra forces as enemies of the new State.

In 1980, all the liberation forces fell under government control. All ex-combatants fell under government control, so Zapu no longer had Zipra under its command, just as good as Zanla was not supposed to be under the leadership of Zanu, but under the government.

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