ZAPU wants dead Mugabe, Perrance Shiri charged for Gukurahundi

Party says government process illegal, chiefs cannot preside over rape, murder

By Staff Reporter

Opposition ZAPU led by Michael Sibangilizwe Nkomo, son to late former vice president Joshua Nkomo, has called for the posthumous indictment of former President Robert Mugabe and ex-military commander Perrance Shiri over the role in the Gukurahundi atrocities.

In an open letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Nkomo accused the incumbent of fueling the massacre of thousands of people in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces through inflammatory utterances when he was state security minister in the early years of Zimbabwe’s independence.

ZAPU dismissed as illegal, the current programme in which traditional leaders in Matabeleland provinces have been tasked by government to spearhead the community engagement process aimed at “bringing finality” to the Gukurahundi question.

The opposition party called for “legally guaranteed safety for victims after they give their true testimonies”, “identification and summoning of perpetrators named or described by their victims”.

The party also urged “posthumous indictment for dead perpetrators like Robert Mugabe and Perrance Shiri”.


To: President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, President Dr Emmerson D. Mnangagwa

From: President of Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), Michael Sibangilizwe Nkomo

Date: 13 January 2024

RE: Gukurahundi Conflict Management and Resolution Program Headed by

Traditional Leadership.

  1. Background.

Mr President, you will recall that when the armed struggle was launched, it was after a realization that peaceful engagement yielded nothing for the black majority. By then, you were a juvenile when the first War Council was established in 1961 at Dr Tsvarai’s residence in Gweru. Later on in 1962, you were sent for military training in Egypt under ZAPU but defected when ZANU broke away from ZAPU in August 1963. By then, the struggle was for One Man One Vote and achievement of human dignity.

Immediately after independence, minus freedom in 1980, a disturbing and false security threat was created by your government and apartheid South Africa, claiming instability in Matabeleland and the Midlands.

Your party’s appetite for a one-party state compelled your government to go into an unholy alliance with Apartheid South Africa in an effort to destroy the long-standing progressive alliance of ZAPU/ZPRA and ANC/Umkhonto weSizwe whom you viewed as a threat to your respective governments.

Dissidents sponsored by your party and those of Super ZAPU created by Apartheid South Africa created havoc in Matabeleland and Midlands as a prelude to the genocide that was to follow. This operation code named Gukurahundi turned to target Ndebele Speaking people and the whole world kept mum.

You will remember Mr. President, that ZPRA combatants were directed to surrender all their liberation uniforms, to the nearest police or military stations which were later used for pseudo dissident operations.

You will remember Mr. President when you referred to the people of Matabeleland and Midlands, particularly Ndebele Speaking people as cockroaches that needed DDT pesticide. Surprisingly, in the Midlands where Shona and Ndebele live side by side, Shonas were spared while Ndebele homesteads were savagely burnt and people indiscriminately murdered.

You are on record wanting to exclude Midlands from the Gukurahundi Conflict Management since it confirms your genocidal behavior.

It is now public knowledge that your government shared intelligence notes with Apartheid South

Africa to ensure that Umkhonto weSizwe military cadres were denied operational bases in Zimbabwe.

At the time you were the Minister of State Security, you also exaggerated ZAPU/ZPRA intentions, yet all armament and ammunition had been handed to your government. The CCJP report that projected around 20,000 killed only refers to Tjolotjo in Matabeleland North and Matopo in Matabeleland South.

You will remember that initially deaths were reported at a rate of 2,000 people killed per fortnight and became even worse towards Unity Accord negotiations to pressurize ZAPU to accede to unfavorable political conditions put forward by ZANU. This Accord further polarized our nation as it portrayed ZANU PF as a Shona party and ZAPU as a Ndebele party.

Mr. President, right from its formation, your party has always been a tribal party, very violent, with no democracy and no respect for human rights.

2. Chiefs Sponsored Program.

Mr. President, it takes two to tango. There is the victim, people of Matabeleland and Midlands and the perpetrator your government. These two need to be brought together by a neutral, independent commission, preferably with an international outlook. A politically orchestrated crime cannot be solved by Traditional leadership.

This program initiated by you and you alone, is not only irrelevant, but equally mischievous. It defeats all tenets of good Conflict Resolution and Management as it lacks truth telling and is not victim centered. As the perpetrator you cannot try and sentence yourself.

Below are some of the shortcomings of the program:

2.1 The Traditional Leaders Act, does not permit chiefs to be involved in politics,

2.2 Collection of evidence is a professional process that needs well trained personnel, as such evidence may be used in a court of law,

2.3 Chiefs do not have the capacity nor status to handle genocidal matters as they were politically motivated,

2.4 Chiefs cannot preside over rape and murder cases, as they are outside their jurisdiction,

2.5 Chiefs as custodians of cultures, customs and traditions are also victims of Gukurahundi but can work under duress, against their conscience, for fear of losing your material benefits,

2.6 This must be an open process where media is permitted to inform the public about proceedings,

2.7 Chances are high, that the final report would be sent directly to you the perpetrator thereby escaping legislative scrutiny. This reminds us of the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe

Commissions of Inquiry whose final reports on the Entumbane Clashes and the Gukurahundi

Massacres were never made public by your predecessor, President Mugabe nor yourself.

3. Other notable challenges:

3.1 The program belongs to you Mr. President, without cabinet approval let alone any legislative framework,

3.2 The program is deceitful and a shame as it protects perpetrators,

3.3 In the absence of genuine and legally binding assurances, victims would be afraid to proffer evidence due to lack of trust and fear,

3.4 Perpetrators are not involved,

3.5 Mr. President, for abductions and killings in urban areas where there are no chiefs, no mechanisms have been put in place to collect evidence,

3.6 In the Security Cluster, many were abducted, tortured and executed especially in ZNA,

3.7 Without the participation of ZAPU/ZPRA, this exercise is effectively a nullity,

3.8 Mr. President, Comrades Dumiso Dabengwa and General Lookout Masuku, were wrongfully arrested following confiscation of ZAPU/ZPRA properties by government and arraigned before the High Court on charges of high treason involving caching of arms of war. Can chiefs provide any justice and determine compensation in that particular case?

4. ZAPU’s Conditions for Conflict Resolution and Management:

4.1 Acknowledgement of Gukurahundi as a genocide and your public apology,

4.2 Victim centered restorative justice,

4.3 Restoration of properties and assets forfeited to the state or stolen by individuals,

4.4 Transitional justice.

5. Reminder of Some Barbaric Acts Carried Out by Government; 

Mr. President before putting our recommendations let me point out some savage acts done by

your government:

5.1 Do you remember that you tribalized the Gukurahundi issue by making it a Ndebele vs Shona conflict?

5.2 The scale of the operation was critical to Ndebele speaking people making it qualify as Genocide,

5.3 Do you remember when your government recommended the dismissal of ZPRA officers and men from the Zimbabwe National Army? Indeed, serving former ZPRA cadres enlisted in the ZNA were arbitrarily dismissed without due process of the law,

5.4 Do you remember reports of pregnant women whose bellies were ripped apart on allegations that their wombs were carrying dissidents?

5.6 Do you remember many people were denied access to food and medical attention by your regime in a permanent dusk to dawn curfew that covered the two provinces mainly affected by

Gukurahundi Operations?

5.7 Do you remember mass graves where people were randomly murdered and at times killed in full view of their families and close relatives?

5.8 Do you remember, the mass graves including Bhalagwe, doted all over Matabeleland and

Midlands Provinces?

5.9 Mr. President do you remember hundreds, if not thousands who disappeared during the Gukurahundi Genocide and still unaccounted for today?

6. ZAPU’s Recommendations:

6.1 Legally guaranteed safety for victims after they give their true testimonies,

6.2 Identification and summoning of perpetrators named or described by their victims,

6.3 Posthumous indictment for dead perpetrators like Robert Mugabe and Perrance Shiri

6.3 Process should be victim centered,

6.4 Urban dwellers should not be excluded,

6.5 Some members from the security cluster particularly former ZPRA combatants should not be excluded,

6.6 The process must be presided over by an independent commission preferably retired jurists

from the International Court of Justice

6.7 Government as the main perpetrator should not shy away from engaging ZAPU as a victim.

7. Conclusion.

Mr. President, I hope you will agree with me that the Gukurahundi issue is a long-standing national wound which needs to be addressed once and for all, genuinely and transparently. You and I are duty bound to find closure to this matter in the interest of progress, development, peace and stability for the nation.


Michael Sibangilizwe Nkomo,

President of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU).


1. President of the National Chiefs Council – Chief Lucas Mtshane Khumalo

2. Chairperson NPRC – Justice Nare

3. Zimbabwe Council of Churches

4. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

5. Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference

6. Catholic Commission for Justice & Peace of Zimbabwe

7. Southern African Development Community (SADC

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