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Gukurahundi Genocide – Do not force forgiveness

Forgiveness is a choice, let us not turn it into the highest order of moral authority; like not forgiving, forgiveness is like any other human feeling and/ or decision. It is a choice, personal, comes from within and is subject to many factors including the abuser’s genuine acceptance of wrongs committed. Matabeleland will refuse to be blackmailed by interested politicians and biased religious leaders. People should stop judging victims of abuse and making them feel guilty for not forgiving; forgiveness is a process, not everyone will move at the same pace and not everyone will reach that destination, and nothing is wrong with that.

We must deal with the common misconception that for Matabeleland to heal and move on in life, forgiving the murderous ZANU leadership is essential. We will not be fooled into subscribing to the notion that we somehow become emotionally superior to Mashonaland tribalists who used state resources to train and arm an army of young men to hurt us in the early 1980s by following some sort of divine path and forgive them regardless of the atrocities committed and the perpetrators’ views of those acts. In short, we cannot be forced to forgive ZANU leaders and those complicit in the Gukurahundi genocide. People need to understand that only we can make the decision to forgive, and we will move in that process in our own time.

We encourage the loud preachers of forgiveness to also familiarise themselves with what Matabeleland went through between 1983 and 1984 under the directions of a black government of Robert Mugabe. People who have never tried to understand our trauma from us cannot be trusted as honest advocates for forgiveness, their intentions have always been sinister and not heartfelt.

You cannot keep chattering about the need for victims to forgive and justify that by quoting convenient biblical scriptures while not openly condemning the atrocities and the perpetrator, that is the double standards Matabeleland will resist.

The 5th Brigade was a brutal purpose-built military unit whose role was to haunt Matabeleland; with its distinguishing red berets, it was separate from the Zimbabwe national army; its commander was the late Minister of Agriculture Perence Shiri (the so-called Black Jesus) and the enforcer and public face of Gukurahundi was the current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. As alluded to above, the 5th Brigade’s purpose was never to maintain national security and safeguard citizens’ safety but to brutalise Matabele people, and certain population groups who opposed ZANU.

Thirteen main killing methods used by Mugabe’s North Korean trained 5th Brigade:

  1. Setting huts on fire with people inside and burning them to death,
  2. forcing villagers to dig their own mass graves and then burying them alive,
  3. transporting and burying victims alive in mine shafts,
  4. using blunt objects to break the victim’s skull,
  5. parading victims and shooting them before a forced audience, which is then butchered in similar fashion in turn,
  6. lining victims in single file, one behind the other facing one direction, and then firing gun shot at the back of one victim’s head so that victims are killed simultaneously by a single bullet,
  7. torturing victims brutally and slowly until they died,
  8. forcing victims to lie down on their backs staring into the sun and denying them water and food,
  9. amputating victims’ limbs with axes and other objects and then watching them bleed to death,
  10. cutting open the wombs of pregnant women with bayonets to ‘see how the foetus of a Ndebele so-called “dissident”’ looked like in its mother’s womb, and then watching these women bleed to death,
  11. tying up testicles of boys and men with a wire and then squeezing, pulling, beating and slicing them with bayonets until the victims bled to death,
  12. group raping of young girls and women after which they had their genitals savagely cut open with bayonets and left to bleed to death,
  13. kidnappings and disappearances where people were abducted from their homes, off the streets, workplaces, public transport facilities, from the forest while grazing their livestock, etc., and were never seen alive or dead again.

Anyone who cannot relate with the above has no moral authority to tell us how to grieve. We believe people of Matabeleland should be allowed to recover at their own pace and the rest of the population should apply pressure on government to publish in full findings from the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe commissions of inquiry set up by the state and take things from there.   


We will not be distracted; our focus is our recovery process, and we demand that the ZANU PF leadership acknowledges its crimes and outcomes from previous independent enquiries are made public as are the recommendations. Whether we forgive the perpetrators of Gukurahundi or we do not it is our choice. It is imperative that we resist the misconception that there is moral superiority attached to forgiving, especially seeing that status is not attached to acceptance of wrongdoing.


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