Gukurahundi which means ‘the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains’ is what Mugabe chose to call a military operation to combat civil unrest. In 1980 signed an agreement with North Korean President Kim Il Sung to have the North Korean Military train a brigade for the Zimbabwean Army. This brigade was known as the Fifth Brigade. Some have gone on to say it was the launch of organised genocide.
On completion of their training and lead by Colonel Perence Shiri, the Fifth Brigade went out on their campaign of silencing dissidents. Their campaign mainly targeted the people in Matabeleland who were mostly loyal to Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) who posed a threat to ZANU PF.
The red beret wearing Fifth Brigade was not integrated into the army and only answered to Mugabe. They used a number of terror tactics to strike fear in the hearts of people. Countless numbers of people lost their lives. No-one really knows how many people lost their lives but estimates put it at 20,000.
No-one has been held accountable for these atrocities and more and more people are urging the need for reconciliation and to start a commission similar to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. A more detailed report Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe is available for purchase.