Speaker: I witnessed Gukurahundi torture

via Speaker: I witnessed Gukurahundi torture 30 September 2014

SPEAKER of Parliament Jcoab Mudenda has revealed he witnessed the torture and murder of some of the more than 20,000 people in Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands during the dark years of Gukurahundi in the early 1980s, but was powerless to stop it.

Responding to questions from delegates at a three-day men’s fellowship conference organised by the Brethren-in-Christ Church in Lobengula last Sunday under the theme “Peace and Justice” where he was the guest speaker, Mudenda said he had actually witnessed people being tortured by soldiers from the 5 Brigade in Tsholotsho.

Delegates had asked Mudenda, who was Matabeleland North provincial governor during Gukurahundi, to explain to them what exactly transpired during the atrocities.

Mudenda told the conference that at one point, the Tsholotsho district administrator called him to come and witness the beatings and killing of innocent people in the area.

“I went there with other politicians and found soldiers beating up people. I asked them why they were beating people and they told me that they were looking for dissidents,” he said.

“In another case, I witnessed nurses running away deserting health institutions.”

Mudenda said he asked senior politicians, among them the late Vice-President Joseph Msika, to help stop the massacre, but they refused.

“I then phoned Cephas Msipa (the then Zapu secretary-general) to organise a meeting with (the then) Prime Minister Robert Mugabe and he did that,” he said.

“We met Mugabe with other senior politicians for about 30 minutes and told him what was happening on the ground.

“We asked them (the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo and Mugabe) to sit down as elders and reconcile. What I am telling you, I am doing it for the first time in my life.”

Mudenda said after the meeting with Mugabe, he met Nkomo, who asked him to expedite reconciliation between him and Mugabe, which he said he did with other senior politicians resulting in the signing of the December 22 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu PF and PF Zapu.

Mudenda said Gukurahundi was wrong and people were still hurting.

“The wounds are there and they need reparation. We confess as the government and this is the reason why Mugabe has said it was a moment of madness,” he said.

“We don’t want that to happen again.”

Mugabe has never apologised for Gukurahundi and the closest he has come to acknowledging its existence was by briefly describing it as “a moment of madness”.

According to a report by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, at least 20 000 people, including children and pregnant women, were killed during the genocide that only ended after Nkomo and Mugabe signed the unity treaty in 1987.

Official reports on the massacres have never been made public and discussions on Gukurahundi have been widely suppressed.

Mudenda said when they were preparing to draft the new Constitution in 2009, they sat down as lawyers and agreed that to truly achieve peace as a nation, there was need for a truth and reconciliation commission, but political parties in the coalition government did not agree among themselves.

“We ended up having the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission instead of a Truth, Peace and Reconciliation Commission. You people then voted for it during the referendum,” Mudenda said.

He said justice alone was not enough without the truth because for forgiveness to hold, the truth must be told first before justice and reconciliation.

“We must confess our wrong doings and if we haven’t admitted to them, it is impossible to achieve peace. As the State, there are things that need to be confessed,” he added.

Mudenda said when the State is killing people, the church must stand up and challenge it, but that was not easy.


  • comment-avatar
    Mapingu 6 years ago

    Thanks Mr Mudenda for the candid statement; and especially for categorically stating that ‘it was the State or rather the government, that killed people’. It was never the Shonas that killed Ndebeles per se, as some stupid pig-headed tribalists continually peddle around. Yes, the government was dominated by Shonas, which remains the case, and may remain so for a long long time given the national demography. But surely, Gukurahundi had nothing to do with Shonas, it all had to do with Mugabe and a few elite dealing with what they considered to be threats to their power; the same Mugabe & his small clique recently unleashing similarly brutal killings of MDC supporters across the country, and mostly in the Shona dominated areas of Masvingo, and Mashonaland.

    Wouldn’t it be crazy for anyone to suggest that since more Shonas than Ndebeles were killed by the State, in these most recent past killings, then it was the Ndebeles responsible for it? All I am saying is Gukuhundi was perpetrated by Mugabe’s government; not by Shonas. Let’s get it right for posterity’s sake.

    • comment-avatar
      Kevin Watson 6 years ago

      100% correct!

    • comment-avatar
      Phunyukabemphethe 6 years ago

      You are very right. It was Mugabe, ZANU PF that committed the atrocities, using SOME Shona people, who made up the Gukurahundi 5th Brigade outfit.

      The problem is that its not just SOME people in Mthwakazi who accuse the Shona people in general for Gukurahundi; its also SOME Shona people who are quick to side with ZANUPF/Mugabe each time the Gukurahundi debate comes to the fore. Even youngsters born in the 1990s are now doing this.

      I have never understood why most of these Shona’s who side with Mugabe always link Gukurahundi to the tribal wars of the 1800s?

      On one hand, they say this so-called war was about dissidents that were a threat to a democratically elected government; on the other hand they bring in the tribal wars into the equation. So, what exactly is the issue here? Was this about dissidents or it was about revenging tribal wars?

      Nobody is prepared to say. Even that ZANU PF’s Joram Gumbo said the same in Parliament; when an MDC MP raised the Gukurahundi issue. He claimed that it was best to let sleeping dogs lie, otherwise they would have to revisit the King Lobhengula issue and the raiding of the Shona people.

      So you see. The problem is not just those Ndebele people who accuse every Shona of Gukurahundi. It is also SOME of the Shona people and ZANU PF who continue to muddy the waters over this issue!!

  • comment-avatar

    @Mapingu You will never get everyone thinking like you or me. The truth is that Railwaymen of all tribes based in Dete were instrumental in transporting women and children stranded between the Game park and Dete to safety. They saved a lot of lives and risked their own lives. I know because I was there.At one stage they refused to work because the Army would not let the Police remove the body of a man and a woman who had been murdered at a level crossing near Gwayi station.The only thing was that the people in the unaffected regions did not believe this was happening. Some Shona people around these areas were frog marched and beaten for “living with dissidents” The people of Matebeleland know exactly who is responsible. It is Robert Mugabe and Zanu pf and the ghost of these people will haunt them for ever.

  • comment-avatar

    What I can never understand is why people like Mudenda have stuck with this murderous regime all these years. I mean after these massacres they signed the peace accord but they stood by and watched Gukurahundi part 2. The destruction of the infrastructure that kept Bulawayo and Matabeleland alive. They are collaborators and their silence and connection to Zanu makes the guilty of these crimes after the fact. The people of the region still won’t vote for them because of what Zanu stands for but Khaya Moyo and co still want post within a group that caused so much pain and suffering to their people and continue to do so to the populace of Zimbabwe.

    • comment-avatar
      Kevin Watson 6 years ago

      For evil to succeed it is sufficient that good men do nothing. Mudenda is not even a good man just a corrupt good for nothing fool.

    • comment-avatar
      Phunyukabemphethe 6 years ago

      The GBU
      Materialism now trumps Principle in today’s Zimbabwe. That is the problem. Gukurahundi Mugabe has always used the economy to deal with opponents. You will recall that in the early 1980s, Mugabe’s government, including the Civil Service were almost 100% Shona, because most non-Shona people were with PF ZAPU. It was hard to get a job if you were not ZANU PF; not to mention tenders and other business opportunities.

      The Mudendas of this world had no choice but to denounce PF ZAPU and join ZANU PF, because they wanted to survive. To date, this still characterises Zimbabwe politics, even within the opposition.

      A lot of people in Matebeleland will tell you that its useless to join a party led by a Ndebele because it will never win in the tribal Zimbabwean politics of today. So you wont get a govt post.

      Nothing confirms this more than what happened in the MDC-T camp at the time of choosing Ministers for the GNU government. People in Matebeleland complained that MDC-T won because of the Mthwakazi constituencies, so they deserved to be in numbers in government!

  • comment-avatar

    Guys thanks for such a refreshing debate on this very horrific episode in our vountry’s history. Mudendas candid comments are certainly without precedent at thst lrvel. Hey as speaker this man is 4th in line in terms of current power structures. As a Shona myself I hsve said the killings on Matebeleland were never in.my name. Never! Its also true that many people only woke up to this horror after the report from Catholic Commission. I fully agree with Mudenda on the need for Truth Commission.

  • comment-avatar
    Chaka 6 years ago

    Okwaziyo ngu Nkulunkulu kuphela kodwa kwafa ama Ndebele wodwa.

  • comment-avatar

    Chaka what comforts me a bit is that we tried-both Ndebeles and Shonas-to remove the offending party ZANU from power under the MDC. To me that was an unprecedented show of common purpose between the two peoples. May that continue until final victory. For as long ZANU is in.power the people of Matabeleland will never see redress.

  • comment-avatar
  • comment-avatar
    revenger avenger 6 years ago

    We won’t wait for gods judgment. God has already given permission for zanupf to face swift mob justice from the top Mugabe down to the zpf youth criminal. Pamberi street barricades. Viva the end of zpf

  • comment-avatar
    Nintalan 6 years ago

    This is a really interesting development and shows that some sanity may emerge from within Zanu-PF once Mugabe finally lets go his death grip on the nation.

    It also may just mean that Mudenda wants his excuses in the public domain for when Mugabe falls off his perch.

  • comment-avatar
    Nyati 6 years ago

    I wasnin Form4 when the madness was in progress. Teachers were forced to lie to us as to what was the cause of the killings was
    As a half shona/ndebele, I find it really sad when we vontinue to hear lies.
    Kodya Mudenda may disappear soon.

  • comment-avatar
    mark longhurst 6 years ago

    you have stood by with this information for 20 years living of the fat of the pig Mugabe and said nothing??????you deserve to go down with the rest of this disgusting murderous regime Zanupf

  • comment-avatar

    What Mugabe calls’a moment’ of madness and tried/tries to sweep under the carpet has clearly not been a moment in the memories of the affected. It has left a life time of scars and still sends chills down the spines of many.

    Some are angry(rightly so)and that anger is unlikey to be quelled by Mugabe trivialising the brutality endured and the people’s suffering by calling it ‘A MOMENT’

    The axe may forget but the tree which bares the scar will never forget. The sooner this henious act is atoned for by the Government which did it the better for all of us.

    Mugabe wanted absolute power right from the start. I believe there is a lot of truth in romours that he eliminated potential threats since before independence and the Gukurahundi was an excuse for him to eliminate threats from ZAPU.

    The Shona people had nothing to do with it.


  • comment-avatar
    s reich 6 years ago

    Well said Mapingu. There really is hope for this country after all. I salute your level headedness

  • comment-avatar
    Johnny k 6 years ago

    Genocide is Genocide and it will be that forever in the minds of the victims. The soldiers, DA’s, Teachers, policemen & Women, railwaymen and the victims who can identify the perpetrators or who gave the orders to carry out the massacres should be encouraged to come forward and tell their stories. This can be done in a Truth & reconcilliation commission. Mudenda, Munangagwa, Sekeramayi and Mugabe himself should be the first to be asked the questions.

  • comment-avatar

    Judgment comes. God will NOT tolerate hidden, denied and unrepented sin. ZPF just will NOT deal with any of the issues from 1980. And there are many. Their arrogance will take them down. No repentance! No restoration! Bottom line.

  • comment-avatar
    biend 6 years ago

    maybe there is something I am missing,what race is the President?,what race was in Government during this catastrophic period?what language were the soliders speaking?I am don’t perpetuate or condone tribalism,but if we need complete healing and reconciliation,people must come out truthfully and not try to hide and play around words and meanings to avoid the core of the matter,ZANU is Government,Government is Shona speaking and who died Ndebeles of course

    • comment-avatar

      biend After the 2nd world war did the world refer to all Germans as Nazis? No. The Nazi’s were the group that committed war crimes. Many ordinary Germans were terrified of the Nazi’s. Some were known to hide their Jewish neighbours from the Nazi’s. If we keep on blaming the children for what the fathers did we go no where. The Scots, English, Irish and Welsh have left the ghosts of tribalism behind and are able to work together as one nation.That does not mean they don’t lay the blame on certain groups in their bloody history. There was never a moment of madness. Mugabe knew exactly what he was doing. He was foolish enough not to realize he could not kill all the Ndebeles and that killing 20000 souls would not be easy to hide.

      • comment-avatar
        biend 6 years ago

        Doctor do little I hear what you are saying,if say someone wrongs you,for you to truly forgive that person has to say I am sorry without buts n excuses,on the same breath if there is reconciliation and healing people need tell the truth without hiding behind fingers

  • comment-avatar
    Phunyukabemphethe 6 years ago

    Gukurahundi was never about dissidents, rest assured. It had a two-pronged objective. Mugabe had always wanted a ONE-PARTY STATE and at the same time, there was still the unfinished business of the 1800s tribal wars.

    Why do you think right from Mozambique, especially after Mugabe took over ZANU PF in the 1970s; they made no secret of defining themselves as a Shona political party? No other Zim languages/slogans/songs were ever used in ZANU meetings, other than Shona and to some extent English.

    Nehanda and Kaguvi were resurrected simply because ZANU was appealing to the Shona people only, not to any other tribe in Zimbabwe. As far as they were concerned, the rest could go hang. It was a tribal war revenge mission, long planned in Maputo during the 1970s.

    I first came across the ZANU 1979 Grand Plan document in 1979 when I was studying abroad, during the Rhodesian era. That document was what drove Chief Khayisa Ndiweni to form his Federal Party before the 1980 elections, after he had failed to woo Joshua Nkomo and his ZAPU to ditch Mugabe and his ZANU over the tribalistic document.

    This is the reason why ZANU PF will never want the document discussed; just like they don’t want the gukurahundi issue discussed. They will never investigate its origins because they know they are guilty of authoring it.

    Its a case of THE GUILTY ARE AFRAID!!

  • comment-avatar
    roving ambassador. 6 years ago

    Who is Mugabe? Where did he come from? Is he Shona? Is his half brothers and sisters in Bulawayo Ndebele?. I am not going to give answers to this , its fir people to reflect on.
    I have been doing a lot of reading on the first Chimurenga. The cooperation of the Ndebeles and Shona is well documented . I do not see anywhere where the issue of tribalism is raised. There is an article which refers to the Ndebele raids as a mere irritation to the Shona tribes up north because of cattle theft. The Shonas had traded with the Portuguese for guns which they were using effectively to defend their communities . Having stated this , Mlimo sent a contingent of Impies to Mashonaland to strategies in the effort to repel British settlements. The question is, If there was such great enmity , how then was this possible?
    The divide and rule tactics which were employed by the British and now by Mugabe must be exposed.
    Does anyone in Zanu ever talk about the Heroes ,Mlimo , Mhasvi , Mutekedza, Hwata, Mashayamombe and Makoni. No, never because thus will not suite the agenda of this current crop of traitors and Zanu mafia..
    Lets get rid of this band of thieves then the Gukurahundi issue will be revisited and the truth will be revealed . Compensation and reconciliation is the way forward.

  • comment-avatar
    Morris 6 years ago

    Shonas had nothing to do with the politics of Gukurahundi, the recruitment for fifth brigade etc. This is a Mugabe project all through, that some Shonas were used in it cannot hide its true colours. As a sideline, if by Shonas we include Ndaus, then I will say we also had our issues with Mugabe and never were part of that brutality.

    • comment-avatar
      Phunyukabemphethe 6 years ago

      You are right. In general Shonas had nothing to do with the politics of Gukurahundi. But they should also stop linking Gukurahundi with tribal raids of old. They should also stop copying Mugabe’s politics and language, when faced with political opponents from Matebeleland. Why do we always hear threats of Gukurahundi 2; when some Shonas fail to have their way?

  • comment-avatar
    Phunyukabemphethe 6 years ago

    But what I need to understand is this; if Mthwakazi/Ndebele/Matebeleland people are till today, 2014 still being punished for the tribal wars of their forefathers in the 1800s – why shouldn’t Bona, Robert Jnr and Chatunga be made to face the same music for their father’s sins in Gukurahundi; should Mugabe die before accounting for his sins?

  • comment-avatar
    Fairtalk 6 years ago

    To some extent Phunyukabempete, I think you also have yourself largely to blame for your thinking problems. Note that your thesis on the events always pins one tribe to the crimes, at least, you are not good at hiding your own mind abound that. No wonder why even some born free Shonas rush to the defence. First because you are accusing them in the general of things they don’t even know about without tackling facts, verifiable facts. Second, you refer to ‘unfinished 1890s tribal war business’-why import irrelevences? Look, even amongst the Mutapas(Are these your Shonas now?)themselves, before the Ndebele came to Zimbabwe in 1826, the Mutapa kingdom ( Shashe- Zambezi rivers-to Indian Ocean)was torn by tribal wars of power hunger and stupid greed-resulting in tribal fissure satelite kingdoms of Rozvis to the South, Torwas (Kalanga, Venda, Nambya, Tonga) to the centra, west and north west (Is that region what you now favouritely refer to as Mthwakazi without elaborating how the name suddenly changed and which official cut the ribbon at the name- changing ceremony?)Mbires (Korekores,Zezurus, Chewa,Nyanjas,Bujas,Chikundas) to the North north east and Nyikas to the east and east south east. Talk of unfinished tribal wars? tell us now the time when these tribes will have their own Gukurahundis amongst themselves to finish their own tribal wars’ unfinished business? Cn’t you see this does not make sense? Is it true that Nehanda and Kaguvi were false spirits rallied to support one tribal party against other parties? Then what sayest thou about Nehanda’s prophesy in 1896 that ‘my bones shall rise again?’ Was it also false? And which bones now? Also consider these facts” (1)The name of the liberation war was ‘Chimurenga II’, correct?”chimurenga comes from ‘Mulenga’ the first Chimurenga rebel commander from South Western Rhodesia-was he not Kalanga by descent and Ndebele speaking? How then was the party you accuse ‘tribal’ and opposed to another tribe (2)This spirit of Nehanda, are you aware that at the time political activism commenced in the 1870s,and early 20th century, it first manifest itself amongst the Kalanga people resident at Matonjeni who however resisted it because of the Torwa-Rozvi-Mbire tribal stupidity? The Kalanga and Venda have always been a levitical tribe overseeing the spiritual matters of the Mutapa state since time imemorial, yet then,they abandoned their devine duty- and the voice tracked north north in search of remnants of levitical priesthood blood now resident in the Mbire State.You won’t believe that the Kalanga and Venda are a special priest hood will you and their genetic descendents scatterd all overthe country, even assuming Zezuru or Nyika identity?Nut don’t be fooled, Mwali can not be fooled by that false tribal tomfoolery, he will track them dwon wherever they live whenever he has something to say to the nation state. The voice of Nehanda is the same voice of Mwali God of the Mbire from the Central Africa Lakes Regions, that used to speak at Matonjeni Rocks for over 8 centuries. Not forgeting, like it or not, but truth be told, even the Zulu, and Ndebele, are one time (6th century) citizens of this great great country.Cross the Shashe river you will find Mapungubwe-it has that ancient story and all the evidence you like. Kindly invest in the study of language comparatives, and spiritual beliefs of its peoples. Even amongst the Isreaelits, mention is made of Jews in exile, jews of the Babylonian captivity, bluh bluh bluh. What makes one a jew is not where one stays, but the genes- the born marrow of Judah within them -sorry. So, whilst the return of the Ndebele Mapungubweans home to king and country was a delayed match executed with little goodwill towards all mankind due to Mfekane factors obtaining at the time, surely peddling this philosophy of tribal cleansing is truely misplaced, immature and unfounded because even the Mbire (Mutapa) state officials amongst themsleves were at each others’ throats with more fierce drama in the early 19th century.The great Mfekane was not the preserve of Zululand alone, it was the disease of the rest of Southern Africa at the time. The tribal argument can only be the trump card of a mind with kwashioker in bantu migration history. If however you disagree,this is ‘Forum Fairtalk’ please kindly engage.

  • comment-avatar
    Mixed Race 6 years ago

    Nothing has changed instead the perpetrators of the terrible crimes got promotions for the job well done.To punish the survivors industries had to be destroyed,however we are a civilised people we pray for them to at least have self conscience as they celebrate their victory.
    Gwayi Siding is my rural home,it took some of the worst treatment.