A top civil society activist has said Gukurahundi was never a result of tribal differences but was a strategy by then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe to consolidate power.
Gukurahundi, is a term used to refer to disturbances in Matabeleland and Midlands in the 1980s which resulted in the death of an estimated 20 000 people when the state sent the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to “deal with dissidents.”
Ibhetshu LikaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo says the current Ndebele versus Shona narrative was beneficial to the perpetrators, the state, which employed those that killed people on its orders. Fuzwayo said:
The difference between the Gukurahundi genocide and what happened in Rwanda is that Rwandans killed each other, it was not their state, but here there were people who were paid, on government payroll, civil servants who were taking instructions from the executive. That is why you see the minister of State, Minister of Defence (Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa) and Head of State, who happened to be Robert Mugabe then, issuing statements that were inciting. It is not a Shona versus Ndebele, it is the government of Zimbabwe versus the people it was supposed to protect.
Besides Mugabe who described the massacre as a moment of madness, other Zanu PF leaders implicated in the genocide include Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who headed 1 Brigade in Bulawayo, and the late Perrance Shiri, known during that time as Black Jesus.