Twenty-five filing cabinets and 20 steel trunks containing Zipra documents went missing when leaders of the former ZAPU military wing were arrested soon after the discovery of huge arms caches at properties owned by that party just two years after independence.
Most of the properties which included farms, garages, hotels and high rise buildings were at strategic points throughout the country giving credence to the government’s argument that the party was planning to overthrow the government.
South African agents which were fomenting the seeds of disunity between the former liberation allies also ensured that there was tangible evidence around to keep things simmering.
Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa, said former ZAPU members were continuing to search for the documents because they were of great historical value. He hoped that they had not been destroyed.
Dabengwa, who appears to have softened up since his appointment as a fully-fledged minister seems to be playing his cards with caution. He is trying not to distance himself from President Mugabe’s thinking that the past should be forgotten and people should concentrate on dealing with today’s problems. Dabengwa clearly showed this attitude when he commented on the reported discovery of human bones at a building site in Harare.
In Bulawayo, though, Dabengwa seems to be a different man altogether accusing his cabinet colleagues of thwarting Bulawayo’s efforts to get water to save the country’s second city and major industrial centre from dying.
Dabengwa says politicians have always been to blame for the divisions that existed between the former ZAPU and ZANU. Soldiers from the two liberation armies, he says, closely worked together to form a national army and on many occasions they compared notes and strategies. The skirmishes that occurred from time to time between the two forces, he says, were due to politics.
He also contends that the enemy (South Africa) encouraged such divisions by leaking misinformation to one side or the other.
The amount of information that was lost can only be determined next year when two history books dealing with the modern history of the country are released. Dabengwa contributed in one of the books.
History could also be greatly enhanced by the release of the findings of two commissions which looked into the period in question. The first was the Justice Enoch Dumbutshena Commission which looked into the violent disturbances among former guerillas awaiting integration into the national army. This covers the period from 1980 to 1981 when there were skirmishes in Chitungwiza, Connemara, Entumbane and other areas. The disturbances were quelled by members of the former Rhodesian army who seemed to have been overzealous as they had a chance to massacre, in a confined area, the “terrorists” they had been hunting for years.
Also of great significance is the Simplicius Chihambakwe Commission which looked into the allegations of abuses by Five Brigade. A number of people took risks to testify to this commission and some of the witnesses disappeared soon after.
The disappearance of the Zipra documents is also a thorn in the flesh to the former combatants who contributed money to be used to buy the properties. Without the books, they cannot get their money back. Most of the money is reported to have vanished.