Genocide Alerts: Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: Stage 5 – Polarization
7 February 2012

According to the 8 stages of genocide, Zimbabwe is currently at stage 5: ‘polarization’. Like many other African countries, the tensions within the country have much to do with the country’s ethnic and colonial history. Polarization has always been high between the Shona and the Matabele and between the black population and the white minority. Robert Mugabe has ruled the country since 1980, after years of guerrilla war against harsh white minority rule. After taking power, Mugabe’s party (ZANU-PF) has tried to eliminate all sources of opposition in order to stay in power.

In 1983 and 1984 massacres of over 20,000 Matabele citizens of Zimbabwe were committed by the Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwe Army. These massacres are called the “Gukurahundi”. This mass atrocity meets the definition of genocide because it targeted ethnic Matabele people. The massacres were carried out by the North-Korean trained, exclusively Shona Fifth Brigade under orders from President Mugabe. Genocide Watch called in September 2010 for prosecution of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and other leaders for genocide and crimes against humanity for the Gukurahundi (see below).

The small white minority (under 100,000 people) was targeted by Mugabe’s dictatorship in order to gain support from the black population. Mugabe launched a “land reform” campaign to return white-owned land to black Zimbabweans, but without adequate compensation. Much of the land went to Mugabe’s political cronies. The rest has returned to subsistence farming. Land invasions by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF militias have caused agricultural and economic collapse, as white farmers fled Zimbabwe with their families before black managers could be trained to run the commercial farms that had made Zimbabwe agriculturally self-sufficient.

Agricultural workers fled to Zimbabwe’s cities when the commercial farms collapsed, and built shantytowns around them. In a vicious policy called “Drive Out the Filth”, Mugabe’s government bulldozed the shantytowns and left hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans homeless and starving. This policy was declared a Crime Against Humanity and an early warning sign of genocide in a resolution of the International Association of Genocide Scholars in 2007.

Since 2000, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF has faced growing opposition from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which transcends ethnic divisions. After the 2008 elections, which were accompanied by systematic fraud and attacks on thousands of suspected opposition voters, a government of national unity was formed with the MDC. Nevertheless, ZANU-PF is still trying to rule the country on his own.

Mugabe and the ZANU-PF are not facing the truth about the Gukurahundi, despite courageous MDC members like Minister for Education David Coltart who has stated that the Gukurahundi was genocide (see articles “It was genocide – Coltart” and “Rights violations: Zimbabwe must face the truth”). Currently, the 87-year old Mugabe is pushing for a quick election so the MDC cannot organize against him. If ZANU-PF militias again try to steal the next election, the situation could degenerate further into the preparation stage for genocide or politicide.


Genocide Watch calls for prosecution of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe for genocide
Washington, DC and Capetown, South Africa
16 September 2010
Genocide Watch, Chair of the International Campaign to End Genocide, based in Washington, DC and Capetown, South Africa, today called for prosecution of President Robert Mugabe and other Zimbabwean leaders for genocide and crimes against humanity for the “Gukurahundi,” the mass murder of over 20,000 Matabele citizens of Zimbabwe in 1983 and 1984.

“There is no statute of limitations for genocide or crimes against humanity,” said Dr. Gregory Stanton, President of Genocide Watch.  “We campaigned for over thirty years to bring the leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia to justice for genocide and crimes against humanity, and they are finally on trial. We call upon the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct a full investigation of the Gukurahundi, with the aim of establishing a mixed UN — Zimbabwean Tribunal to put Mugabe and his co-perpetrators on trial for their crimes.  They think they have gotten away with mass murder. It is time to end such impunity in Zimbabwe.” (Click to download full release)


Genocide Watch: Zimbabwe
19 June 2008
Zimbabwe’s run-off Presidential elections on 27 June will take place in an atmosphere of terror.  ZANU-PF militias, the Zimbabwe army and police, and ZANU-PF mobs have pushed Zimbabwe to Stage 6, the Preparation stage immediately preceding political mass murder.

Families of Zimbabwe’s opposition leaders are being targeted for brutal execution.  The mutilated body of Abigail Chitoro, wife of the Mayor-elect of Harare, was found on Tuesday. Mr. Chitoro said, “The body was butchered. They had used heavy objects to crush the head. She still had the blindfold that my kid said they put on her head when they took them away.”

In the last week there have been three reports of local MDC officials who fled their homes from marauding Zanu PF mobs and who had their homes burnt down. In each case their wives were put to death, two burnt alive, the other battered to death.  Four more MDC leaders have been abducted and murdered in the last week, bringing the number of political assassinations to over one hundred in the past two months.  Hundreds more have been beaten and tortured.

Murder and torture victims have had their ears, lips, and sexual organs cut off.  Mutilation of bodies is one of the surest signs of the de-humanizing of targeted groups during genocide and politicide (political mass murder.)  ZANU-PF’s hate speech, torture, and murder have terrorized Zimbabwe since the Movement for Democratic Change defeated Mugabe and the ZANU-PF in March’s elections.  Now ZANU-PF has stepped up its violence to openly kill leaders of the MDC and their families.  Such acts are prelude to every politicide or genocide.

A sign of the gravity of the danger is the phenomenon of “mirroring,” a strange but common psychological mechanism of denial used by mass murderers. ZANU-PF spokesmen accuse their victims of being traitors or terrorists, when in fact ZANU-PF is the real perpetrator.

The terror campaign is being directed by Air Marshall Perence Shiri, who was commander of the infamous North Korean trained Fifth Brigade, which carried out Mugabe’s genocide against the Matabele in 1983-84.  Working with him is General Constantine Chiwanga, Commander of the Zimbabwe Army, and Sidney Sekeramayi, Minister of Defense, both of whom were senior officers directly involved in the 1983-84 genocide.

The military has taken effective control of Zimbabwe.  With military support, gangs of ZANU-PF marauders sweep through villages at night, killing, torturing and raping MDC supporters.

President Mugabe’s open declaration that his followers would go to war rather than accept defeat in the election is a sign of the high probability that Zimbabwe is headed for a bloodbath. His termination of relief aid to his own starving people shows his complete contempt for human life.

– Genocide Watch calls on Tanzania, Chair of the African Union to inform President Mugabe that if the election is followed by mass killing, African Union troops will intervene to stop it.
– Genocide Watch calls on the United Nations Security Council to demand that Zimbabwe immediately lift restrictions on direct food aid by non-governmental and UN organizations to Zimbabwe’s people, without regard to their political affiliation.
– Genocide Watch also calls on the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Zimbabwe to the International Criminal Court, so that those perpetrating the crimes against humanity there, including Mugabe himself, will be brought to justice.

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