Zimbabwe: stage 5 ‘polarization’
By Genocide Watch
7 February 2012
According to the 8 stages of genocide, Zimbabwe is currently at stage 5: ‘polarization’. Like many other African countries, the tensions within the country have much to do with the country’s ethnic and colonial history. Polarization has always been high between the Shona and the Matabele and between the black population and the white minority. Robert Mugabe has ruled the country since 1980, after years of guerrilla war against harsh white minority rule. After taking power, Mugabe’s party (ZANU-PF) has tried to eliminate all sources of opposition in order to stay in power.
In 1983 and 1984 massacres of over 20,000 Matabele citizens of Zimbabwe were committed by the Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwe Army. These massacres are called the “Gukurahundi”. This mass atrocity meets the definition of genocide because it targeted ethnic Matabele people. The massacres were carried out by the North-Korean trained, exclusively Shona Fifth Brigade under orders from President Mugabe. Genocide Watch called in September 2010 for prosecution of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and other leaders for genocide and crimes against humanity for the Gukurahundi (see below).
The small white minority (under 100,000 people) was targeted by Mugabe’s dictatorship in order to gain support from the black population. Mugabe launched a “land reform” campaign to return white-owned land to black Zimbabweans, but without adequate compensation. Much of the land went to Mugabe’s political cronies. The rest has returned to subsistence farming. Land invasions by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF militias have caused agricultural and economic collapse, as white farmers fled Zimbabwe with their families before black managers could be trained to run the commercial farms that had made Zimbabwe agriculturally self-sufficient.
Agricultural workers fled to Zimbabwe’s cities when the commercial farms collapsed, and built shantytowns around them. In a vicious policy called “Drive Out the Filth”, Mugabe’s government bulldozed the shantytowns and left hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans homeless and starving. This policy was declared a Crime Against Humanity and an early warning sign of genocide in a resolution of the International Association of Genocide Scholars in 2007.
Since 2000, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF has faced growing opposition from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which transcends ethnic divisions. After the 2008 elections, which were accompanied by systematic fraud and attacks on thousands of suspected opposition voters, a government of national unity was formed with the MDC. Nevertheless, ZANU-PF is still trying to rule the country on his own.
Mugabe and the ZANU-PF are not facing the truth about the Gukurahundi, despite courageous MDC members like Minister for Education David Coltart who has stated that the Gukurahundi was genocide (see articles “It was genocide – Coltart” and “Rights violations: Zimbabwe must face the truth“). Currently, the 87-year old Mugabe is pushing for a quick election so the MDC cannot organize against him. If ZANU-PF militias again try to steal the next election, the situation could degenerate further into the preparation stage for genocide or politicide.