BY SILAS NKALA
FORMER Zipra cadres yesterday said they were still bitter with the late Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri because he commandeered the North Korea-trained 5th Brigade military unit that committed atrocities in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions in the mid-1980s.
Shiri, who is the former Air Force of Zimbabwe boss, died on Wednesday morning and was buried at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare yesterday.
He commanded the 5th Brigade deployed by the late former President Robert Mugabe “to deal with a dissident insurgency” in the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces, which killed over 20 000 people, according to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe.
“As Zipra ex-combatants based in foreign countries due to the hooliganism and unethical behaviour conducted by an army commanded by Shiri, we are not saddened by his death; neither do we consider him as a cadre,” Zipra Veterans Association secretary Petros Sibanda said in a statement.
“We lost families, comrades and colleagues over the operations of 5th Brigade headed by Bigboy Chikerema (aka Perrance Shiri). Today, we are shell-shocked to learn from the President of Zimbabwe (Emmerson Mnangagwa) that Perrance Shiri was a great commander.
“This is utter nonsense. How on earth do you declare a commander of warlords a hero. Someone who masterminded the death of more than 20 000 people unarmed civilians?”
The Zipra cadres said they would put it to Mnangagwa that they abandoned their families, hard-earned independence because of the 5th Brigade Gukurahundi massacres masterminded by him working with Shiri.
“We doubt very much that he was an indeed trained soldier because a trained soldier is driven by high levels of human dignity, respect, over and above, he is selfless and protects the citizens of the country with high agility,” Zipra said.