A letter written to Robert Mugabe by Lt Gen. Lookout Masuku and 'The Black Russian' ZIPRA Commander, Dumiso Dabengwa in 1980 (Extracted from Judith Todd's Through The Darkness Book)



RE: Allegations against ZIPRA

Whilst we appreciate the difficult task our Minister of Defence faces in moulding a Zimbabwe National Army, we would like to draw the Minister's attention to the following.

We are aware that a few former Zipra elements have refused to go to Assembly Points. These few elements have refused to take orders from any quarter including from the Minister of Home Affairs (Joshua Nkomo). In compliance with the MOD's directive and appreciable spirit of reconciliation we at one stage managed to apprehend several of these elements and put them in Khami Prison.

We are still, with full vigour and determination, forging ahead with this exercise with an objective to obtain peace and tranquility in our beloved land, and indeed create conditions for civil authority to function without let or hindrance.

In spite of this determination, it has come to our attention that Zipra has not been and is not being treated fairly and equally with other forces. The following examples serve to illustrate our case:

1.The appointments by merit to the Zimbabwe 21st Battalion was rejected by other comrades because the majority of men recommended to be officers happened to be former Zipra cadres.

2. Zipra has revealed both to the government and the Joint High Command (JHC) Headquarters the number of cadres still undergoing training abroad but our comrades in Zanla have not. We further understand that Zanla has sent men to train in Libya, Romania and Yugoslavia without the knowledge of the JHC. The intentions behind such a move puzzle us.

3. Incitement of the population against Zipra and its Command by some political leaders and slogans such as "Pasi ne Zipra" cannot make our determined effort to build one army any easier.

4. Radio broadcasts give an impression that our full and well known participation in the struggle to liberate our country is neither appreciated nor recognised. For example only Zanla and Chimurenga songs are played - a development which affects cohesion in the army and is indeed out of step with the spirit of National Reconciliation.

5. The presence of dissidents at Sanyati, Zvimba and Hurungwe has been blown out of proportion as Zipra acts of organised rebellion while similar acts by Zanla elements are not talked of. We hereby present a few cases of unmentioned Zanla dissidents.

a) On 22/06/80 Zanla dissidents at Marenga Business Centre fired two bullets destroying the fuel tank of the vehicle driven by Sgt Gava of Zvimba Police Post in Sinoia.

b) In Chipinga Police are being assaulted by organised groups or gangs of Zanla, making police patrol duties impossible. This includes an assault on Inspector De Lange at APX.

c) Zanla shootings at Kachuta TTL on 17/06/80 (ii) shooting at Murambinda on 18/06/80 (iii) stealing of two (2) watches and $40.00 from a bus driver in Maranke TTL. Also threats to farmers in Maranke and Fort Victoria area on 22/06/80.

d) Zanla has been harassing and in some cases burning villages of the civilian population around Golf and Hotel Assembly camps for their refusal to provide them with food when they visit their villages. As a result people in this area are demanding the removal of these camps from this area. The above few examples involving Zanla units exclude other wide ranging cases of murder, shooting, kidnapping, abductions and kangaroo courts by Zanla or Zanu PF cadres which are never mentioned.

6. We, in the Zipra Command, wish to remind the MOD of the fatal incidences which led to near disaster in Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique during Zipa. (Zipa, the Zimbabwe People's Army, was launched in 1975/6, an attempt to unite divided liberation forces which ended in killings and disaster.) Integration of forces can never succeed if it means the absorption of one force by another; hence the shortcomings which befell Zipa should be avoided at all costs.

7. The Zipra Command calls for non-interference by certain politicians in military affairs. Military affairs are the responsibility of the JHC and the Prime Minister in his capacity as MOD.

8. The Zipra Command and the highly disciplined Zipra cadres in the Assembly Points regard peace and co-operation with the government as our first priority and an indispensable national duty - we sacrificed our lives for.

9. At present we have specialists in the country whose weapons still remain in Zambia. We understand the government cannot permit entry of these weapons. We strongly feel that these weapons can be of better use in the defence of the state rather than left to wear and tear in Zambia.

10. We have submitted to JHC HQs figures of Zipra personnel training outside the country but to our surprise those who have completed such training find it very difficult to return home. They have been made to wait under frustrating conditions in the country of their training. At the moment we have 1 600 men in Angola who passed out two months ago and are still waiting for authorisation to enter the country.

11. On the other hand Zanla cadres have no problems returning into the country after training, for example the 2 500 recent returnees from Mozambique.

Conclusion: In the light of what we say above, we hereby recommend the following:

a) The MID to inform the nation that the army is his sole responsibility and that any reprimands or praises are done by him and the JHC.
b) That politicians must leave military matters to military men, if the process of integration is to move with the desired speed.
c) The MOD to adopt a parental attitude to the army and regard the three former armies as three children of one family, hence equal status.

D Dabengwa (Zipra Commander)[1].



References

  1. Lieutenant General Lookout Khalisabantu Masuku, Retrieved: January 08 2016