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It is not apparent at this stage whether Robert Gabriel Mugabe is the President of Zimbabwe, acting President, or has been ousted from power, following the military takeover. Either way his days are numbered.

There have also been reports that Mugabe is safe and at home, or under house-arrest. That at least is a step in the right direction. Now he should be charged with mass murder.

President Mugabe, in power for the last 37 years, ran roughshod over his country’s democratic process and wrecked Zimbabwe’s economy, impoverishing the vast majority of his fellow countrymen whilst greatly enriching himself, his wife and the cronies who supported him.

All of that would be bad enough but Mugabe has another charge against his name that the internationally community seem to have largely ignored over the years.


In 1983 Zimbabwe’s Fifth Brigade, a military formation made up of Zimbabwean soldiers from the army but separate from the regular army’s command structure, mounted a murderous campaign of terror against the Ndebele people in Matabeleland (Mugabe is from the majority Shona tribe).

The Ndebele had supported ZAPU, led by Joshua Nkomo, in alliance with Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party. Now, concerned that the Ndebele provided a possible base for opposition to his rule Mugabe sent in the Fifth Brigade to “re-educate” the local population.

The Fifth Brigade had been trained by specialist forces from another well-renowned democratic state, North Korea. They showed no mercy against those thought to be opposed to Mugabe’s dictatorial rule, killing (murdering) at least 4,000 people with some estimates putting the death toll as high as 20,000.

Mugabe has never admitted his direct involvement in what became known as the Gukurahundi massacre but as if it wasn’t already well known, diplomatic correspondence and intelligence reports have recently been released. These, together with many other reports and eye-witness testimonies, confirm what was already well known: Robert Mugabe planned and ordered the mass killings.


Some of these documents have come to light as the result of the publication of previously secret and confidential telexes from the Australian High Commission in Harare.

The Australian telexes revealed that Cephas Msipia, a ZAPU minister still in Zimbabwe’s government of national unity, relayed to the Australian diplomats a conversation he had had with defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi in which the latter told him, “Not only was Mugabe fully aware of what was going on” but the Fifth Brigade were carrying out their murderous work “under Mugabe’s explicit orders”.

If justice is not meted out to Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe the International Criminal Court (ICC) should take action. Neither of these eventualities is likely to take place. Several of the military commanders who have taken over power in Zimbabwe were every bit as culpable as Mugabe and the ICC will not want to start legal action against a 93 year-old man who is likely to die before proceedings can be completed.


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