It is indisputable that this is the general theme of the available cables that were forwarded from the British High Commission in Harare to London during the period analysed.
The analysis also clearly proves that, even when in receipt of solid intelligence, the UK government’s response was to wilfully turn a “blind eye” to the victims of these gross abuses.
Instead, the British government’s approach appears to be have been influenced solely by consideration for the white people who were in the affected regions but were not affected by the violence.
The rationale for such naked realpolitik is multi-layered.
It is expressed clearly in numerous communications between Harare and London.
One cable notes that: “Zimbabwe is important to us primarily because of major British and western economic and strategic interests in southern Africa, and Zimbabwe’s pivotal position there. Other important interests are investment (£800 million) and trade (£120 million exports in 1982), Lancaster House prestige, and the need to avoid a mass white exodus. Zimbabwe offers scope to influence the outcome of the agonising South Africa problem; and is a bulwark against Soviet inroads… Zimbabwe’s scale facilitates effective external influence on the outcome of the Zimbabwe experiment, despite occasional Zimbabwean perversity.”
One can but assume that “occasional Zimbabwean perversity” refers to Gukurahundi.
In a more general sense it is quite clear that, apart from the immediate perpetrators, external bystanders also have to be held accountable at least to some extent for the unbridled atrocities that took place in Zimbabwe.
With the end of Mugabe’s long reign drawing ever closer, it is imperative that the international community help develop strategies to help Zimbabweans address the prevailing impunity and lack of accountability for the crimes of Gukurahundi.
That is critical for the establishment of truth, justice, and accountability for the victims, survivors and their families.
By Hazel Cameron. This article was first published by The Conversation