Nkomo's letter from exile: Part 4

Dr Joshua M NKomo
2 Stevenage Road
East Ham E6 2WL
London E6 2WL
United Kingdom

June 7, 1983

Dear Robert 

77. It is known that about 90 percent of the victims killed by dissidents were either top Zapu officials, Zapu businessmen and teachers, Zapu local government officials and generally Zapu supporters.

The remaining 10 percent appear to be white people. Not a single Zanu supporter was killed during this period.

Does not this fact speak for itself? One does not know what the position is or would be after the Fifth Brigade’s bloody escapade in the Western Province of Matebeleland.

78. It can be said without hesitation that to have used the police as if they were Zipra officers in the Dr. Bertrand case was an abominable and fascist like attempt to portray to the country and the world at large that former Zipra combatants had plotting tendencies so as to blemish the name of Zipra.

79. I believe that the notes that were purported to have been sent by former “Zipra dissidents” to the police, when foreign tourists were abducted near Bulawayo in July 1982, were in fact an effort to show Zapu and former Zipra combatants in bad light.

Having said that, I would like to make it clearly understood that former Zipra combatants are not the responsibility of Zapu but of the Zimbabwe government, like anybody else.

Despite this I found it necessary to activate and involve the masses in the areas where it was thought kidnappers may be hiding with the tourists, but before I concluded the exercise government declared a curfew in those areas, making them no-go places, causing an abrupt end to that effort.

Why that was done I do not know to this day.

80. I now understand why you have maintained legislation such as the Law and Order Maintenance Act, the Unlawful Organisation Act and the Emergency Powers Act; which was enacted by former regimes specifically for the suppression and oppression of the black population of Zimbabwe, and for use against their effort to struggle for independence, social justice, enjoyment of freedom and human rights.

You now seem to enjoy and justify the use of these notorious laws to deny your own people that which they fought and died to achieve.

What is it that makes you believe that this independence, which you and I and indeed the masses of Zimbabwe fought for, for so long should now be maintained and protected by this type of legislation? Don’t you think there is something wrong?

81. I am not surprised that you have decided to maintain a state of emergency which was declared by Ian Smith on the 5th November, 1965 in preparation for his illegal action to declare, control and protect his type of independence.

82. During the protracted war our people were subjected to every kind of cruelty and oppression. No man’s life was safe, it was the frequent fate of an innocent villager to be shot out hand, to be arbitrarily arrested and often to be tortured, to suffer the burning of his village, the massacre of his women and children, the destruction of crops and livestock, to suffer long years of imprisonment or to endure the pangs of long exile. The legal basis of this campaign of terror was the ‘State of Emergency’.

83. You well know that in point of fact the Law and Order maintenance Act was used to undermine and subvert law and order to quite a horrendous degree, and the declaration of a ‘state of emergency’ itself was instrumental in creating an acute state of emergency by unleashing forces which inflicted a wave of murder and brutality upon our people which, in its savagery and disregard for humanitarian considerations, had no precedent among our people.

84. Taken together, these facts indicate clearly that for many years an unparalleled campaign of barbarism and terror was waged against the masses. Yet this campaign failed; our people did not submit, they fought back until finally victory was won and independence achieved.

But what in fact has been achieved?

It is painful to ask this question, for it springs from events which have increasingly darkened the horizons of Zimbabwe over the past year or more, events I am trying to summarise in this letter.

85. You knew that having created the confusion, you would then be able to take military and legal action against deliberately created “political and armed dissidents”; hence the arrest of men like Lookout Masuku, Dumiso Dabengwa and others, and decided to charge them with treason. It is a shame to all of us who fought for liberty, freedom and the rule of law, to see Dumiso, Masuku and others being immediately arbitrarily detained after acquittal by the High Court.

86. It is a well known fact that in Zimbabwe today, there are more people detained without trial than in fascist South Africa. Most of these people are also without formal detention orders and the next of kin have no idea as to whether they are alive or dead.

These people are not enemies of Zimbabwe, but patriots who have suffered, like us and many others, in the struggle to free their country, Zimbabwe, peasant men, women as well as young men and women who only happen to be caught, in a conflict the government itself created.

87. The double tragedy of Zimbabwe today is, firstly, that the routine and administrative use of detention, torture and arbitrary repression has been adopted by an independent government, and secondly, that this government uses the very same mercenaries and torturers as the former regime used against the struggling people.

In fact the situation today is in some respects is even worse, as our government has abandoned even those standards of bourgeois legality which the Smith regime generally attempted to hide their repression behind.

Under that regime you could be detained but a least you were more likely to be issued with a detention order.

You were therefore, less likely to simply disappear as is the case today. The mercenaries and torturers used by the former regime are known and are very few, and therefore their exclusion from our security organs could not have disrupted those organs.

88. There are, in Zimbabwe today, so many different groups of armed men with power to do virtually anything to people.

People get arrested by the CIO, the Law and Order Section of the police, the so-called Zimpolis, the so-called Zanu Intelligence Service (which is not an arm of government), the Military Police of the Zimbabwe National Army, the Fifth Brigade (which seems to regard execution as the most effective method of arresting people), the Youth Brigade (which is also an arm of the party, but used as if it were part of the machinery of government), the Militia, by Zanu party officials, by undercover pseudo-dissidents — the list is endless.

In fact, the rights of the Zimbabwe citizen as defined in the Constitution are meaningless.

89. One of the most disgraceful and shaming aspects of our independence which is difficult to defend, is that we have taken the methods and men used to oppress, torture and kill our people and tried to use them to consolidate our “independence”.

You cannot take weapons, methods and people designed to defend colonial fascism and try to use to them defend the people.

It is just not possible. Today in Zimbabwe the same torturers that Smith used against the people are back in business “defending a people’s government”.

They must smile to themselves when they are ordered to continue their torture of patriots by an independent government.

90. The methods of torture are also the same: electric shocks, beatings, burning with cigarettes, suffocation using wet sacks, and psychological torture.

In the recent case of the State vs Dabengwa and others, the government must surely have been embarrassed when the activities of Fraser, Arnold (of CIO) and DSO Kaurayi were revealed in court.

These men whose record of torture and atrocities against the people during the liberation war are well known, were brought into this case by our government to use their same techniques against the heroes of the liberation struggle.

91. In court it was revealed that Fraser assaulted, tortured and threatened Zipra men to tell lies against their commanders. DSO Kaurayi did the same to workers on the Nitram farms.

Arnold, the so-called chief of the investigation offered bribes and threats to witnesses to try to get them to change their evidence. Fraser has now run back to his masters in Pretoria.

Arnold and Kaurayi remain to be used again to prostitute justice and bring disgrace on the memories of the fallen heroes of our struggle.

92. Under the terms of the Indemnity Act, which we condemned as barbaric and fascist during the liberation struggle, a citizen has no right of appeal or redress against those who illegally torture, maim, kill, destroy property or do any illegal act on him or against him.

I am sure you realize that the result of this use of Smith’s laws and torturers has been to create in an independent Zimbabwe a climate of terror and fear even more discriminate than that created by the Smith regime.

Remember, there is no war in Zimbabwe today.

93. As it is in Zimbabwe, everyone faces this fear.

It is a fear created by the fear the government itself obviously feels. What is it that the government is in fear of is not very clear, but the fact that our government lives in daily fear cannot be doubted.

Ministers fear to walk the streets without armed men around them, roads are sealed off, convoys of armed men race through the streets sirens wailing announcing this fear.

94. The real victims of this climate of fear are the people themselves. How can the people get on with the vital task of building the nation when all around them they feel this insecurity and fear?

At any moment they know that this machinery of fear and repression may be turned against them.

The people of Murewa may have not yet felt the bayonets of the Fifth Brigade, but they have already heard the stories. In their faces is the fear that one day this party army may be turned against them.

It is certain that some Zanu members fear that the Fifth Brigade may be turned against Zanu and that it may even turn against its creators.

Is this the climate of a confident, free, proud and independent people and government? You do not teach young people to be contemptuous of human life and expect them to respect yours.

95. Mr. Prime Minister, as I have mentioned above, the way the security organs of government in their generality is being used has created fear and despondency in the minds of a wide section of our people.

But, let me stress, that the activities of the Fifth Brigade in particular are something I never expected could happen in Zimbabwe.

I could not make myself believe that such activities could have been carried out with your knowledge and approval.

96. It was when you were reported to have given an astounding declaration at a rally in Zhombe that I realised you support what the Fifth Brigade has done and continue to do in Matebeleland; quote “When men and women provide food for dissidents, when we get there we eradicate them.

We do not select who we fight, because we cannot tell who is a dissident and who is not” (Financial Times, Telegraph and The Times, 15.4.83)...To be continued

Comments (6)

So sad how all what the late Old man predicted in 1983 has finally come to pass, all in 30 years.

mosquito - 2 January 2014

Yes they first create the fear and then they fight the fear with fear.

Maita Manyuka - 2 January 2014

I also read Lookout Masuku's letter to the then Prime Minister (J Todd's book). God help our nation.

Gogodera - 2 January 2014

I also read Lookout Masuku's letter to the then Prime Minister (J Todd's book). God help our nation.

Gogodera - 2 January 2014

I have always wondered why my uncle Stanley Ndlovu was brutally murdered like that on Wednesday 23 Feb 1983 at around 0230hrs. I understood their language as a shona my father taught in my brief stinct with him, they accused my uncle of harbouring Oliver's gun this Oliver was a Zipra Shona who had been very famous in the war frontduring the liberation struggle when we were still young headboys growing up heading cattle in the bush.

Rejoice Ndhlovu - 2 January 2014

“There are, in Zimbabwe today, so many different groups of armed men with power to do virtually anything to people. People get arrested by the CIO, the Law and Order Section of the police, the so-called Zimpolis, the so-called Zanu Intelligence Service (which is not an arm of government), the Military Police of the Zimbabwe National Army, the Fifth Brigade (which seems to regard execution as the most effective method of arresting people), the Youth Brigade (which is also an arm of the party, but used as if it were part of the machinery of government), the Militia, by Zanu party officials, by undercover pseudo-dissidents — the list is endless. In fact, the rights of the Zimbabwe citizen as defined in the Constitution are meaningless.” “Ministers fear to walk the streets without armed men around them, roads are sealed off, convoys of armed men race through the streets sirens wailing announcing this fear.” You couldn't make it up even if you tried. This was in the 80's and today in 2014, 30yrs + on nothing has changed. Mercy! The party army is still teaching ill educated young people (green bombers) to be contemptuous of human life. This will end in tears.

Hope D - 2 January 2014

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