torsdag den 28. juli 2011


The Fifth Brigade was an elite unit of specially trained Zimbabwean soldiers. The Fifth Brigade was formed in 1981 and disbanded in 1988 after allegations of brutality and murder during the Brigade's occupation of Matabeleland. It was reformed later and was active in 2006 at least. In October 1980, President Robert Mugabe signed an agreement with the North Korean President, Kim Il Sung, that they would train and equip a brigade for the Zimbabwe National Army. In August 1981, 106 North Koreans arrived to train the new brigade.

The members of the Fifth Brigade were drawn from 3500 ex-ZANLA troops, including two unintegrated ZANLA battalions, at Tongogara Assembly Point. There were a few ZIPRA troops in the unit initially, but they were withdrawn before the end of the training. It has been reported that there were also some foreigners in the unit, possibly Tanzanians. The training of Fifth Brigade lasted until September 1982, when Minister Sekeramayi announced training was complete.

The first Commander of the Fifth Brigade was Colonel Perence Shiri. The Fifth Brigade was different from all other army units in that it was not integrated into the army. It was answerable only to the Prime Minister, and not to the normal army command structures. Their codes, uniforms, radios and equipment were not compatible with other army units. Their most distinguishing feature in the field was their red berets, although many reports note that on occasions Fifth Brigade soldiers would operate in civilian clothes. Mugabe was also responsible and ordered Sekeramayi to announce that the training was over.

Air Marshal Perence Shiri (born 11 January 1955) is the current commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe and a member of the Joint Operations Command which exerts day-by-day control over Zimbabwe's government. Perence Shiri is a cousin of President Robert Mugabe. He has called himself Black Jesus, because according to an nonymous claim on BBC's program "The Price of Silence," he "could determine your life like Jesus Christ. He could heal, raise the dead, whatever. So he claimed to be like that because he could say if you live or not."

From 1983 to 1984, the Zimbabwean Fifth Brigade, under Shiri's command, was responsible for a reign of terror in Matabeleland. During the slaughter, thousands of civilians were killed and thousands more were tortured. Despite this, in 1986, Shiri was granted a place at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London.

In 1992, Shiri was appointed as the commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, taking over from Air Chief Marshal Josiah Tungamirai. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Shiri was reported to have organised farm invasions by war veterans. In 2002, in response to the subsequent food shortage, Mugabe dispatched Shiri to South Africa to purchase maize. This undertaking was backed by a credit note for the equivalent of 17 million GBP from the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi. With the Mugabe government facing increasing problems, the Zimbabwean press reported in February 2007 that Shiri was regularly attending General Solomon Mujuru’s unofficial meetings with other senior military commanders and some political leaders. These meetings had discussed forcing Mugabe to the polls in 2008 with a view to his replacement as president.

In 2008 some Zimbabwean lawyers and opposition politicians from Mutare claimed that Shiri was the prime mover behind the military assaults on illegal diggers in the diamond mines in the east of Zimbabwe. In the days before the 2008 Zimbabwean presidential election Shiri, along with other Zimbabwean Defence chiefs, held a press conference where they stated that defence and security forces had been deployed across the country to maintain order. In a remark aimed against the Movement for Democratic Change, the defence chiefs stated that it would be a criminal act for anyone to declare himself the winner of the election. They maintained that such a statement must only be made by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. In 2002 the European Union barred Shiri from entering the EU and on 6 March 2003, George W. Bush ordered the blocking of any of Shiri's property in the United States.

Shiri was ambushed on 13 December 2008, while driving to his farm. According to police, he was accosted by unknown people who shot at his car. Thinking one of his tyres had burst he got out and was subsequently shot in the arm. It has been speculated that the assassination attempt may have been a response to Shiri's attacks on illegal diamond miners in 2008 or because of his role in Matabeleland in the 1980s.

In the elections of February 1980, Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) won a landslide victory and Mugabe became Zimbabwe's second black prime minister (after Abel Muzorewa). Mugabe, whose political support came from his Shona-speaking homeland in the north, attempted to build Zimbabwe on a basis of an uneasy coalition with his Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) rivals, whose support came mostly from the Ndebele-speaking south, Matabeleland, and with whites. Mugabe sought to incorporate ZAPU into his ZANU–led government and ZAPU's military wing into the army; and ZAPU's leader, Joshua Nkomo, was given a series of cabinet positions in Mugabe's government. However, the new prime minister was torn between this objective and pressures to meet the expectations of his own ZANU followers for a faster pace of social change.

Around this time, ex-ZANLA and ZIPRA troops awaiting demobilization or integration into the new national army also clashed in Bulawayo and other areas. Sometimes these clashes had civilian casualties as some of the ex-guerilla units were stationed in cantonments adjacent to residential areas. An abortive ZAPU rebellion and discontent in Matabeleland spelled the end for this uneasy coalition. In 1982 Mugabe dismissed Nkomo from his cabinet, which triggered bitter fighting between ZAPU supporters in the Ndebele-speaking region of the country and the ruling ZANU.

The tight circles of "securocrats", who sit on the Joint Operations Command (JOC) committee, are now believed to be in day-to-day charge of Zimbabwe's government. They ensured Mr Mugabe did not step down after his defeat in the presidential election's first round in March and are now masterminding a campaign of terror to suppress the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and guarantee victory for Mr Mugabe in the June 27 run-off.

The government indefinitely suspended all work by aid groups and non-governmental organizations, accusing them of breaching their terms of registration. Mr Mugabe is a useful figurehead who still commands the deference of other African leaders, notably President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.
But the western diplomat said Mr Mugabe's power had ebbed away and Zimbabwe was now run by a "junta". "This is a military coup by stealth," he said. "There are no tanks on people's lawns, but the Joint Operations Command runs this country." The most powerful figures on the JOC are Gen Constantine Chiwenga, the overall military chief; Augustine Chihuri, the national police commissioner, and Gen Paradzai Zimondi, the commander of the prison service.

Air Marshal Perence Shiri, the commander of the air force, who masterminded a brutal military campaign against Zimbabwe's minority Ndebele people in the 1980s, is also part of the circle, although believed to be less influential.All four fought in Mr Mugabe's guerrilla army during the war against white rule in the 1970s. Each has publicly proclaimed their support for the ruling Zanu-PF party. They have also benefited from Mr Mugabe's seizure of white-owned land, with farms and business concessions falling into their hands, allowing them to amass considerable wealth.

The diplomat said after the first round of the election on March 29, Mr Mugabe, 84, "almost went" when it became clear that Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, had won significantly more votes. But a pivotal meeting of the JOC on March 30 convinced him to stay. "The generals didn't let him go," said the diplomat. From that moment, Mr Mugabe was "beholden to his senior generals to hold office". Another source inside Zimbabwe confirmed: "He [Mugabe] was prepared to concede but the generals, whose positions would become uncertain with his departure, prevented that from happening," he said.
Other observers backed the diplomat's view that Zimbabwean politics had fundamentally changed.

Tiseke Kasambala, a Zimbabwe specialist at Human Rights Watch, said there was an "increasing militarisation of the state". "The evidence points to an increasing role by the army in state affairs," she said. "The army is no longer just in barracks, waiting to protect the country. The army is out there, taking a role in the day-to-day government of the country."

Mr Mugabe does not fear his generals will actually overthrow him – they still need him as the regime's titular leader – or he would not have travelled to Rome for the United Nations food summit this week. However, observers believe Mr Mugabe's age and his new dependence on the generals means he is no longer the sole arbiter of Zimbabwe's fate.

Mnangagwa and other genocidaires in Zanu PF continue to somnambulate and sleepwalk themselves into their impending doom, they continue to bask in the comfortable, conniving and conspiring “opposition” of Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T who have repeatedly promised to forgive Mugabe for Gukurahundi.

Whoever sold to Morgan Tsvangirai the foolishness that he has a right to forgive Mugabe on behalf of Gukurahundi victims and survivors needs to have their head examined by a competent expert because during Gukurahundi, Tsvangirai was a loyal and active member of Zanu PF le­ading the youth wing that over turned Nkomo’s car in Masvingo. Any wonder then that Tsvangirai is so protective of Mugabe when it comes to the massacres? In reality Tsvangirai is a lab creature of Zanu PF’s politics of tribalism and hatred.

Mnangagwa’s indecent words symbolize laughter at the unburied bones of the innocents and the tears of the orphans. Exactly what Mnangangwa means when he talks about “healed wounds” of Gukurahundi boggles the ordinary mind. It is not in the office of the perpetrator to tell the victims that their wounds have healed.

Mnangagwa’s mockery of the blood of the innocent civilians who perished in the ethnic cleansing gives weight to the suggestions by the Mthwakazi Liberation Front that Matabeleland and Mashonaland be restored to their pre-colonial boundaries and separate existences. It is clear that justice for Gukurahundi atrocities will not be donated by the perpetrators but it will have to be extracted by the victims. A combination of courage and willingness to die for justice by the victims, and the efforts of international players like Genocide Watch International, will turn the laughter of the Mnangagwas of our time into tears.

It does not cross Mnangagwa’s mind or that of Zanu PF that out there, there are angry orphans who did not go to school, who will never be people again; people who are toiling in exile, enduring disabilities, haunted by memories of the slaughter and as a result do not believe in Zimbabwean nationalism, a nationalism that has only massacred them and not protected them as citizens.

It does not occur to Mnangagwa and to Zanu PF that this which appears like peace in the deprived region of Matabeleland is not peace but silence. Mnangagwa is blind to the truth that Gukurahundi victims know that even if the guns stopped in 1987, the genocide continues in other means. The occupation of Matabele ancestral lands by settlers from Mashonaland; the de-industrialisation of the region; the denial of water from the Zambezi; the killing of the language and culture of the people.