Exiled Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZPRA) ex-combatant and former dissident Vincent Ndlovu says they took up arms against former president Robert Mugabe’s government in self-defence as they were faced with total annihilation by security forces.
In his new book titled “Seeking Freedom and Justice (Loyal but not Docile) under the chapter Seeking Refugee in Tsholotsho”, Ndlovu chronicles how government forces hounded ZPRA comrades out of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and the comfort of their homes, forcing them to set camp in the Tsholotsho bushes to escape torture and killings.
Ndlovu claims that despite being poorly resourced with firearms, government forces, even with air support, were forced to retreat on several occasions after suffering humiliating defeats at the hands of the few dissidents. He said:
As much as we would have liked to enjoy the fruits of our independence, our loved ones, we had been driven back to the woods and pursued by armed men who would shoot first and ask questions later.
That we had been driven to the bush against our will left us with no option that being ex-ZPRA had become a crime and that invoked in us the spirit of resistance that raised the impetus to use the few arms and ammunition that we had to protect ourselves from total annihilation.
Our initial group of seven had become the core around which the self-defence initiative was built and within a month we had been able to repel a few attacks by the security forces.
Ndlovu will next week present a public lecture under the topic: The Dissidents Story during the week-long Annual Healing and Reconciliation Film Festival organised by the Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE).
The festival, which will run from October, 25 to 30, seeks to highlight the importance of transitional justice using film and academic lectures by experts in the area of history and genocidal studies.
An estimated 20 000 civilians lost their lives with researchers arguing that the killings were deliberate to create a one-party state as the majority of the victims were supporters of the opposition ZAPU and Ndebeles.
According to late ZAPU president Dumiso Dabengwa, the dissidents numbered less than 50 disgruntled ZPRA guerrillas that were frustrated by Mugabe’s harassment of ZAPU members.
Mugabe never accepted the blame for the Gukurahundi, only describing the period as a moment of madness.