Mnangagwa was not the architect of Gukurahundi but he was one of them


And there is another aspect of the Gukurahundi’s choreography that has been poorly understood. This relates to the way in which the campaign was managed in practical terms.

Coordination between agencies was handled through ethnic and political channels that often bypassed formal bureaucratic structures. It was established relationships between members of ZANU and its former military wing, ZANLA, that provided the pathways along which the Gukurahundi ran.

Within both the CIO and military, groups that did not fit these parameters – namely, whites and Ndebele speakers – were usually excluded from Gukurahundi-specific operations. There was, therefore, a coterie inside different organisations that was working independently from the rest and conducting what were more or less secret operations.

At senior levels, these organic linkages meant that political leaders and ex-ZANLA army commanders were heavily engaged in cooperative planning and were often involved in decisions and actions that went beyond the confines of their formal responsibilities.

Hence, Constantine Chiwenga, then brigadier of an army unit in Bulawayo that was operating separately from 5 Brigade, nevertheless organised logistics for the latter and had regular informal discussions with 5 Brigade commander Perence Shiri.

Mnangagwa, as Mugabe’s point man on security-related matters – a role that incorporated strategy, implementation, and a range of portfolios – likewise frequently met with army commanders, transmitting decisions made by the political leadership and discussing operational questions.

The notion that he was restricted within the narrow vertical margins of the CIO’s official intelligence function is sheer falsehood.

Along with Mugabe and the minister responsible for defence, Sydney Sekeramayi, none of the ZANU politicians was more embroiled in the Gukurahundi than Mnangagwa.

He was not the architect, but he was one of them. Of that there is no doubt.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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