Gukurahundi killings a ‘Western conspiracy’ says state media

Zimbabwe’s Gukurahundi massacres which saw up to 20,000 villagers and opponents of President Robert Mugabe killed in the mid-1980s, was a conspiracy of the UK, US and apartheid-era South Africa, state media reported on Sunday.

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“Gukurahundi after the [1970s] war had nothing to do with Mugabe, nothing,” the country’s new vice president Phelekezela Mphoko told the official Sunday Mail.

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“That is a fact. People can say what they want but that was a Western conspiracy.”

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Memories of the killings, carried out by Mugabe’s North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade in the south of the country, are strong among many in Zimbabwe’s Ndebele ethnic group and contribute to their distrust of the Mugabe-led government. Most of those killed were Ndebele.

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Mugabe offered a part-apology for the killings in 1999, saying they were “a moment of madness”.

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But Mphoko, who was named second vice president in December, said the US, UK and the apartheid government in South Africa created a “myth”, telling Mugabe’s government that ZAPU rebels “want to overthrow you”.

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Zenzele Ndebele, editor of the independently-run Radio Dialogue in Bulawayo, tweeted in response: “Mphoko is being economic with the truth. Did the west force Mugabe to create the 5th Brigade.”