An illustration of the tight collaboration among the ZANU–ex-ZANLA elite has been provided by Kevin Woods, a white CIO officer based in Matabeleland in 1983.
During a security briefing at Chiwenga’s joint operations command (JOC) in Bulawayo – one attended by Mugabe, Mnangagwa and Shiri – Woods expressed concern about the “international repercussions” that might result from the atrocities in Matabeleland North.
Amid “great mirth”, he was told by Edson Shirihuru, the CIO’s deputy director of political affairs and a longtime sidekick of Mnangagwa’s, to “stick to basic intelligence work” associated with dissident activity and to “stay out of their war”.
Woods was exposed as a South African agent in 1988, an incident that prompted Mugabe to fire Mnangagwa as minister of state security, and his testimony would probably be vehemently denied by Mnangagwa.
But black officials – members of ZANU who were stationed in Matabeleland during the period and who attended JOC meetings – paint precisely the same picture, as do ZANU politicians who were in the mix at the time.
This underlines the problem that will confront Mnangagwa if he attempts to maintain what amounts to a lame defence.
His role is not “shrouded in mystery” for those who were there – and many pieces of extraneous evidence also exist.
ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa has called on him to come clean and “apologise”.
Chances that he will do so in a manner that admits personal culpability seem slim – even though a mere confession falls well short of what is demanded by many relatives of the dead. But one thing is clear: whether he denies or stonewalls, this issue will not go away.
By Stuart Doran- This article was first published by The Daily Maverick