Msipa opens lid on Gukurahundi

HARARE - Respected Zanu PF elder, Cephas Msipa, has penned a book that could set the cat among the pigeons within government circles as it spotlights on democracy deficiencies in the country and how authorities did little as an estimated 20 000 innocent people, mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands, were brutally killed by the Fifth Brigade in the early 80s.

The book, titled In Pursuit of Freedom and Justice — A Memoir, dismisses the official massaging of narratives on the Gukurahundi atrocities as “a moment of madness”, saying as the massacres happened over a period spanning more than five years, they cannot therefore be described as such.

Querying the reasons why the government had deployed the military in the western regions of the country then, Msipa also asks why it was “necessary for North Korea to train this army (5th Brigade)” in the first place, adding almost despairingly that “only God Knows”.

“Innocent men, women and children perished in their thousands. They were accused of either harbouring dissidents or supporting them. It turned out to be a massacre of people perceived to be PF Zapu supporters.

“The fact that the people were Ndebele-speakers was regarded as sufficient proof that they were PF Zapu supporters and therefore dissident supporters,” reads part of the book.

He also described the statement that the massacres were “a moment of madness” -- which is attributed to President Robert Mugabe -- as absurd, adding that three decades after Gukurahundi was launched, it still raised “more questions than answers”.

In one of the strongest condemnations of one of the darkest periods in the history of post-independent Zimbabwe, Msipa -- who fondly refers to Mugabe as his muzukuru (nephew), and helped broker the unity accord of 1987 that ended hostilities between Zanu and Zapu -- described the killings as “gruesome”, calling on authorities “to look into the aftermath of Gukurahundi.”

“Gukurahundi was not a day’s event or a ‘moment of madness’. It began in 1981 and continued until 1987 when the unity accord was signed.

“There were meetings at which the matter was raised in my presence, and Mugabe insisted that the matter be discussed so he could learn more about what had happened and was still happening.

“The question is why did he not know what was happening when it was in the media and many human rights organisations and churches were publicly protesting (about it),” Msipa writes.

He also claims in the book that as early as 1960, Mugabe was already keen on establishing a one party state in the country.

“Mugabe supported the idea of a one-party state back then, but he did not speak much about his personal experiences in Ghana. It was as if something had gone wrong while he was in Ghana, which he did not want to disclose,” Msipa said.

Despite the two men enjoying a decades-long friendship, Msipa was fired from Mugabe’s cabinet during the Gukurahundi era and placed under house arrest, something he says still puzzles him up to this day.

A man of steadfast principles and strong convictions, Msipa also says in the book that when Zanu split from Zapu in the early 1960s, he was allegedly approached by Mugabe to desert Nkomo, but refused.

“When the split occurred, Mugabe had approached me and asked if I would join Zanu. I told him I would not because I did not trust Ndabaningi Sithole. He then said to me, ‘I hope this will not affect our relationship’.

“Why should it?’ I replied, and indeed it in no way affected our friendship, which continues up to now. He remains my ‘Muzukuru’ and I remain his ‘Sekuru’”.

Msipa also touches on the disputed 2008 elections in his book and says it was during the presidential run-off elections where the “army was active” that he had decided to end his illustrious political career, as he had been appalled by the army’s involvement in the elections.

“At one election meeting, in chief Mazvihwa’s area in Zvishavane, I was surprised to find myself sharing a platform with army commanders.

“I kept asking myself, ‘is this the freedom we fought for?’ ... it was there that I made up my mind that I would never again participate in elections where people were openly threatened and intimidated into voting for any political party,” Msipa said.

Comments (35)

A true hero. I respect this man.A true liberation fighter.Mugabe should learn from his uncle Msipa.

tatenda - 27 November 2015

What more do you want . For sure a senior person like Msipa found sharing the podium with soldiers at a campaign rally because they were campaigning for ZANU then this baffles the mind . Someone claims a landslide victory after this . pathetic. Cde Msipa you laid it bare. Though they are not going to declare you a hero you are a hero IN HEAVEN because you are a truthful man.

ZVazviri - 27 November 2015

The headline should be " Msipa opens a Lid on Election Rigging in Zimbabwe.

Crankedup - 27 November 2015

No use mourning now after rubbing shoulders with them for so long

Mberekoyezvesezvese - 27 November 2015

military junta

uhuru - 27 November 2015

this war must be understood from facts at that time ,not many white farmers were killed by so cald disidents that time?plenty.The world was crying why the farmers kids were being bashed on walls.whites were not many shonas were haunted out of matabeleland n midlands that time,Mr Msipa?The disidents were a military unit of zapu n refused to cooperate wth gorvenment .Instead of them waging a war on zim army they went on a murderous spree on civil people,farmers,shona speaking people.Now do yu send police to arrest such angry military trained people?No yu send the equivalent,soldiers.farms had to be protected ,railway lines and government instituitions in matabeleland.It was a mad war.There were senior people like Zvobgo,Tekere,Nhongo,Nkala,chidzero ,these made up senior gorvenment officials .To blame a mere soldier like shire and juniors like mnangagwa ,when these men were there ,is madness.President himself was around,in command of the forces,then rex nhongo,nkala.those were in charge of the military.And Mr Msipa ,why now.Yu culdnt see this when yu were minister? fare.dont politisize bad issues .we need to move on.

viola gwena - 27 November 2015

a bad time is a bad time.If head of state acknowledge it ,what more.Yo silence during that time meant yu went along with what was hapening.yo silence after that madness means yu thot otherwise.But now that yu out of the same govenment ,yu want to distance yoself from its actions,cmon.yu shuld have writen yo book when yu were minister.yes.Gukurahundi was madness period.let the nation move on.Umdala moved on n became VP in the same government,Dabengwa ,john Nkomo,and everyone.why remind people of that n mind yu its not only our Ndebele brothers bt Shonas n white farmers also.everyone lost ,cried n numbers dont give one side to cry the worst .Death is death.Its painfull.

viola gwena - 27 November 2015

how many people in Harare celebrated when gwesela was killed,including non shonas like whites?people thanked gorvenment and mesages came in from countries.was it not madnes.Its a very sad chapter in zim history.

viola gwena - 27 November 2015

what made these pple to react if there wsnt a war gng on.dd he mention Gwesela who ws leader of tht rebel movement,many shonas wr killed displaced off the lands wc ey hd juss attained lyk w wr gng bek to the 1920s wen shonas wr being massacred by the ndebele & foreigners of the federation. they sought help from the fifth brigade bcoz ey wr e ones needed the police cld nt fyt trained soldiers only soldiers cld fyt soldiers

ndudu - 27 November 2015

If we had known then we would have supported the dissident bcoz they had a point look now where we are they had a vision that a fool had take over power and was leading us to noway and now every one can see that . . Mugabe and zanu new zipra was very strong so they waited till they handied in all their weapons of war as part of peace agreement agreed in London . Once zipra forces hand handed arms then madness of gukurahundi program started bcoz otherwise if it started while zipra forces were still armed it was not going to be achieved as they was going to be serious war which would have seen Mugabe over thrown .so for someone to say it was a moment of madness that is blood lies everything was planned here .It was not the killings only it was also the depriving the people of western zim of any thing from govt including destroying them by deploying people from Mash who can not speak local languages to do simple jobs like teaching at primary schools police men giving birth certificates changing local people names so they would sound like those of Mash the whole thing was barbaric . right up to this day go to any border for example which is western zim see who is working there and if this thing is not done away with nomatter how long we are likely going to see xeno in this country otherwise how does one justifies the killing of 20 000 people bcoz they spoke same language like 113 dissidents . .. .

Diibulaanyika - 27 November 2015

Msipa is saying nothing here. He was part of this killing but since he is no longer eating with them , he is now crying fowl. Both Shona and Ndebeles died so , what is he saying here ?

Medion kasvatutsa - 27 November 2015

Msipa must be real.The next thing you would probably hear that he is joining People First.Since this man retired from active politics,i think he should consider not to comment on political issues.If he so wishes to make a come back,i think his so called nephew is ready to welcome him back.Let the sleeping dogs sleep,Msipa.

musa dhenyula - 27 November 2015

This oldman Msipa has gone nuts. The bandits took up arms and terrorized villages and civillians, they deserved it

TRUTHS - 27 November 2015

Mugabe,Msipa,Sithole,Nkala,Chinotimba,Tekere,Nkomo, you guys are the same and no one better

Patrick Gonouya - 27 November 2015

"The fact that the people were Ndebele-speakers was regarded as sufficient proof that they were PF Zapu supporters and therefore dissident supporters." A farmer and a tourist were killed it is alleged by dissidents (for all we know it could have been by CIO, Zanu militia to give justification for what happened after, it could also have been just criminals but no the Gukurahundi deniers clutch at straws to justify the evil perpetrated on other Africans. More 'white' farmers have killed by zanu supporters under the chaotic land grab than were killed under Gukurahundi by the so called dissidents.

Galore 123 - 27 November 2015

Now you know why the idiot will die in power!

Bingo wokwaGutu - 27 November 2015

Rinowanikwepiko bhuku iri tinyatsoriverenga tinzwe chokwadi?

tsholofelo - 27 November 2015

Most of the contributors here were not around during gukurahundi this is seen by the way they are hallucinating here suwa nyinisi they were still in their fathers scrotum or they were zaigots otherwise how can a sane person say both shona and ndebele were killed when some of us who were there and victims of gukurahundi know it that gukurahundi never touched a shona speaking person it was never formed to kill even single shona . It is better to shut up if you were not there let those who were there speak Msipa is just repeating what we saw happening he is just putting it in writing for future references .Some one even said white tourists were killed that is why gukurahundi went to kill 20 000 blacks demity!!!!!!!!

Diibulaanyika - 27 November 2015

Gukurahundi targeted Ndebeles and dissidents was a ZANU conspiracy. Nothing is hidden from God and they shall be punished. The present age has a time limit unlike the next age which is unending torment for the wicked.

Dee - 27 November 2015

When one reads Msipa's book with the meaning of "memoirs" clear in one's mind one may make analytical rather than emotional criticism of this attempt by the writer.

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mama mather - 28 November 2015

vaMsipa you are exhibiting all signs of senile decay. The issue of Gukurahundi is not as simplistic as you are trying to put it across to Zimbabweans. Moreover you cannot be seen still claiming relationship to Mugabe the commander-in-chief of the perpetraters of the atrocities you purport to revulse. This is double standards on your part. What I see here is you have a personal vendetta against Ngwena. I would agree with you if you could say Ngwena brain haziko because he was used by Robert all the time to achieve his neferous ends.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 28 November 2015

Time kills people's lives. 2day pple turn back their faces & claim this or that. They pretend to be democrats, to support social justice & human rights, but forget that in order to achieve national independence, unity & stability, organized violence was used, during which the victors celebrated whilst the defeated succumbed & groaned in agony. During tribal - cum - political conflict in immediate post independence Zimbabwe, the majority pple who supported Zanu PF derived a lot of satisfaction as the 5th brigade successfully suppressed the dissident menace in the Midlands & Matebeleland regions. Ironically 2day a group of political chameleons & purported human rights activists try to fool us as they claim they can correct the past. In a conflict there always are causes, sentiments & outcomes. At that time we had our own strong sentiments about the kind of state we wanted, yes 2day things have changed and everyday except President Mugabe claims to be democratic & promoters of human rights

George Moyo - 29 November 2015

What ever reasons those who were singing jongwe rakakunda from morning to sun set in all radio stations during those days they had no right to kill 20 000 people bcoz they spoke same language with 113 dissidents bcoz that was barbaric .They were no reasons here other than to settle scores on behalf of their fore fathers who were defeated in some tribal wars which is not what a white man was removed from power. Never listen to lies that gukurahundi was there to correct situation in matebeleland never it was there to destroy every one from that region through killings and oppression right up today although the killings were stop but deprivation is still in full gear and who ever tries to blame it he or she is labelled a controvetial and tribalist like the likes of Joshua Malinga and the late Mabhena by those who are benefiting from that evil program..And if any one thinks that tribalism which party of gurahundi agenda is not in practice in matebelelands and midlands must just take a walk get into a police station, tollgate ,clinic, school border post district admin offices see if you will get any local people employed in those places and that means gukurahundi is still in full swing but in a different form .

Diibulaanyika - 29 November 2015

after reading all ,any sane person can clearly see it was madnes.Soldiers or 5th brigade was never sent to kill 20 000 people or so,but to engage perpetrators of killings that was hapening on farms.simple.dont make tribe as the ultimate issue here,it was disidents.or so calld.If the zipra guys had a problem with Zanu ,the ballot box was not denied to them.Or if its violence they prefered then target yo age group,the zanla military,NOT CIVILIANZ.They went for civil people thereby exposing the civilians leaving in those areas,in Matatbelaland.During the war the training was when yu attack the enermy and yu need to run ,dont run into civilians but away from them .Now yu take aim at soldiers n shoot kill 3 or 4 of them ,then yu run into villagers for cover?what do yu expect?It was a mad war becoz those ndebeles were Zimbabweans including the whites.Villagers were cot in it.simply put.

viola gwena - 30 November 2015

Guys yes we thank cde Msipa but lets open this for debate. Why was he quiet all along???????????????????????? Zimbos need answers

cdetorasabutiende - 30 November 2015

A lot of the people question why Msipa is opening up now, at least he had the guts to say it while the "commander" in chief is still alive and in power.

Zanu ropa - 30 November 2015

Don't just comment for the sack of commenting. Some of us we were there when mass graves were planted around my village. Children as young as 1yr

Matland - 30 November 2015

Don't just comment for the sack of commenting. Some of us we were there when mass graves were planted around my village. Children as young as 1yr

Matland - 30 November 2015

I read all the good contributions from the platform, but Viola Gwena ka...only God knows. one day by default you will join those called to account. all what the Victims are asking for is water to cool their burning souls not your Vinegar

nelson ndlovu - 30 November 2015

we can all coment.noone shuld have the right to tell all to shut up.who r u?I was around that time.Nelson ,what im saying is ,Gukurahundi was very bad,but noone planned to kill 20 000 people from the onset,it was a pre endependence war,it was a war white vs black n a mad one.the best solution is to either sit n find a way to heal,like trueth commission ,if that is necesary .and this culd have been push to hapen by Msipa himself while he was in government.He had the he is out he thinks its the time for him to do something ,opening up wounds.Yes innocent people died,it hapens in war,everywhere in the world.innocent people died during world wars ,but eventually reason must overcome evil.

viola gwena - 1 December 2015

mind yu for any crime in court yu need 1]motive, did the person plan to kill from the onset or death came by as circumstances of the war?did 5th brigade go out to kill civilians from the word go.?I dont think so.Otherwise North Corea can tell yu how they trained those soldiers.Trained to fight in a war,not to kill randomly.yu cannot blame the soldiers without blaming those that brought the problem to matabeleland.The dissidents as good soldiers people claim they were ,shuld have known how to avoid villagers n protect them ,.But they didnt,they used villagers as cover.why?why?why?why?

viola gwena - 1 December 2015

msipa is a coward honestly why was he quiet all along. now he wants to open up wound that had almost healed. its evil. your intentions are evil.

chinja maitiro - 1 December 2015

The truth will set us free. I have great respect for Msipa whom I consider as my father. I remember one we closed schools for the holiday and we went home to Plumtree. The following day we met soldiers and was asked about dissidents (their wherabout.) It was the first time for me to hear that name as I was a town boy from Bulawayo. I was beaten up as I answered that I do not know. To this day I have hearing problems on left ear. Days later my uncle was within our homestead and was called by soldiers who were outside the homestead. He was shot more than 15 times. The soldiers were drunk but I would not forget the sound of gunfire I was 13 by then. Why such a behaviour. The truth will only set us free. Gahadzingwa

Eugene - 14 December 2015

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