Now a report published this month also says Mujuru knew about the atrocities in Matebeleland at the time they were happening.
In the report entitled: The Matabeleland massacres- Britain’s willful blindness, author Hazel Cameron says although Five Brigade did not report to the Zimbabwe National Army “ops room” like other brigades, its commander Perence Shiri reported directly to Solomon Mujuru.
Mujuru was also kept abreast of the atrocities by the commander of the British Military Advisory and Training Team, Colin Shortis. BMATT was retraining Zimbabwean soldiers that were being integrated into the Zimbabwe National Army from three previously warring factions- ZANLA, ZIPRA and Rhodesian soldiers.
One of the documents obtained by Cameron for her report and written by then British High Commissioner to Zimbabwe Robin Byatt, states that: “Just over two weeks ago, the British defence attaché in Harare noted in a cable t the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) that although I BDE [brigade] are still reporting to army ops room 5 BDE are not. I presume COMD [command] 5BDE to be operating on the loose direction of [Rex] Nhongo or Sekeramayi”.
Byatt also says Shortis met Zimbabwe Defence Minister Sekeremayi and senior army commanders Nhongo and Gava (Vitalis Zvinavashe) to brief them about the increasing massacres.
But nothing was done because Britain was also downplaying the atrocities.
British High Commissioner to Zimbabwe at the time Robin Byatt told Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Geoffrey Howe that: “Zimbabwe is important to us primarily because of major British and western economic and strategic interests in southern Africa, and Zimbabwe’s pivotal position there.
“Other important interests are investment (£800 million) and trade (£120 million exports in 1982), Lancaster House prestige, and the need to avoid a mass white exodus.
“Zimbabwe offers scope to influence the outcome of the agonising South Africa problem; and is a bulwark against Soviet inroads … Zimbabwe’s scale facilitates effective external influence on the outcome of the Zimbabwe experiment, despite occasional Zimbabwean perversity.”