The Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry was a truth commission set up by government to investigate into the Matabeleland disturbances from 1983 to 1984 now referred to as Gukurahundi. The report from the inquiry was never made public by the government and therefore the findings of the commission’s official report are unknown.


In 1981 the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) opposed Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) and violence broke out in areas surrounding guerrilla outposts throughout the country. Politically motivated violence in Entumbane during 1981 was followed by killings in Matabeleland, a Western region of Zimbabwe inhabited by the Ndebele people who opposed President Mugabe’s rule. The government responded with a series of massive military campaigns in which thousands of civilians were killed, abused, or lost their property.

The Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry was established by President Mugabe in 1983 to investigate the alleged massacres and to assuage widespread international and domestic criticism of the killings in Matabeleland.[1]


The Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry was to investigate the killing of 1,500 political dissidents and other civilians in the Matabeleland region in 1983 and to gather testimony from villagers about what occurred.

Commissioners and Structure

The Commission was composed of four male members and was chaired by Zimbabwean Judge Simplisius Chihambakwe.


No official report was issued because the government argued that the publication of the report could spark violence over past wrongs. To counter the government's silence, two Zimbabwean human rights organizations, the Legal Resources Foundation and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace produced a report entitled "Breaking the Silence, Building True Peace" in 1997. The report was produced independently from the Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry and was an attempt of civil-society to interrupt the state-sanctioned silence around the events in the early 1980s. The unofficial report called upon a variety of sources, such as statements from victims; records from missionaries, journalists, and lawyers; interviews; documents from Amnesty International and the Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights or evidence from graves and mine shafts

The CCJP report can be downloaded here: Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace Report


The findings of the commission’s official report are unknown because the government refused to release the results.

Pressure Groups Lawsuit

Bulawayo pressure groups sued former President Robert Mugabe, incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Vice-President Kembo Mohadi and British Premier Theresa May demanding release of the findings of the Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry on the Gukurahundi massacres.[2]

Dumisani Dube, Ibhetshu LikaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo, Dumisani Mpofu of Masakhaneni Trust and Charles Thomas, a victim of Gukurahundi, filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court seeking the release of the findings. They were represented by Mathonsi Law Chambers.

They cited Mugabe as first respondent, and Mnangagwa, Mohadi and May as second to fourth respondents, respectively. In his founding affidavit, Fuzwayo listed Mugabe as the chief architect who ordered the ethnic cleansing of the Ndebele tribe when he was Prime Minister between 1980 and 1987 and was the one to whom the Fifth Brigade directly reported during the killings.

Mnangagwa was cited as the current President of the country, while Mohadi was cited as the VP responsible for Healing and Reconciliation. May was cited as the head of the British government which was the guarantor of the Lancaster House Agreement and was directly in charge of the demobilisation process of ex-fighters between 1979 and 1985, the period in which Gukurahundi occurred.[3]


  1. [1], United States Institute of Peace, Published: 1 September, 1983, Accessed: 6 September, 2020
  2. [], Pressure groups sue Mugabe, Mnangagwa over Gukurahundi report , Published: 10 January 2018, Retrieved: 14 January 2018
  3. [], Pressure groups sue Mugabe, Mnangagwa over Gukurahundi report , Published: 10 January 2018, Retrieved: 14 January 2018