Gukurahundi Timeline (1980 - 1990)

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This Gukurahundi Timeline shows the series of events and the course of violent disturbances in Zimbabwe from April 1980 to July 1990.

For more information click on the Gukurahundi Profile.

1980

April

Zimbabwe gains independence. ZANU-PF win 57 seats out of 100 and Cde Robert Mugabe assumes leadership of the nation. Before and after Independence there are sporadic outbursts of violence in the vicinity of Guerrilla Assembly Points (APs) all over the country.

July

State of Emergency, in place since 1965 renewed: it is further renewed every six months until July 1990.

October

Prime Minister Mugabe enters into an agreement with North Korea for the training and arming of a brigade of the Zimbabwe defence forces.

The Dumbutshena Report is commissioned by the government to investigate events surrounding the Entumbane uprising: to date its findings have been suppressed.

August

Inkomo Army Barracks sabotaged by South African agents destroying $50 million in ammunition and equipment.

August

North Korean instructors arrive to begin training the "5 Brigade", which will be used to "combat dissidents".

December

South African agents sabotage ZANU-PF headquarters, killing 7 and injuring 124.

1982

February

"Discovery" of arms caches in Matabeleland leads to arrest of ZIPRA high commanders and expulsion of ZAPU leaders from cabinet. Ex-ZIPRAS defect in large numbers and banditry increases.

June

There is an abortive attack on Prime Minister Mugabe's residence. A ZIPRA connection is established, leading to curfews, detentions and weapon searches in Bulawayo.

July

  • 6 foreign tourists are kidnapped and killed, although their deaths are only confirmed years later. Curfews are imposed in Matabeleland, troop numbers and detentions are stepped up.
  • Thornhill Air Base in Gweru is sabotaged by South African Agents, and 13 military planes are destroyed.
  • Government reinstates the Indemnity and Compensation Bill first used in 1975, granting immunity from prosecution to government agencies.

November

CCJP sends a confidential report to the Prime Minister expressing concern at army excesses.

December

The 5 Brigade has its "passing out" parade and is ready for deployment.


1983

January

  • On 6 January, the Government allows farmers to re-arm, to protect themselves against dissidents, after a spate of attacks killing 6 people on commercial farms. Between Nov 1982 and Dec 1983, 33 people will be murdered by dissidents on commercial farms.
  • On 26 January the 5 Brigade is deployed in Matabeleland North. Reports of atrocities begin within days.

February

Atrocities continue and first documentation is presented to government.

March

  • Nkomo is placed under house arrest and flees to Botswana. A 4 day cordon around Bulawayo leads to 1000 detentions.
  • Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) speak personally to Prime Minister Mugabe and present their paper "Reconciliation is Still Possible".

April

5 April: The curfew is lifted in Matabeleland North.

July

22 July: 5 Brigade is withdrawn from Matabeleland for a brief retraining session.

August

29 August: 5 Brigade is redeployed in Matabeleland North.

September

Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry is set up to investigate atrocities in Matabeleland.

1984

January

  • It is announced in Parliament that since Jan 1983, dissidents have murdered 120, mutilated 25, raped 47 and committed 284 robberies.
  • The Chihambakwe Committee begins to collect evidence of army atrocities in Bulawayo.

February

4 February: A food embargo is imposed on Matabeleland South and 5 Brigade is simultaneously deployed in the region. Mass detentions follow, with thousands of civilians being incarcerated at Bhalagwe Camp in Matobo District.

April

  • 7 April: ZCBC expresses deep concern over conditions in Matabeleland South.
  • 10 April: The curfew is relaxed and the food embargo is lifted.

July

  • It is announced in Parliament that since Jan 1984, dissidents have killed 45 civilians, raped 37 and committed 253 robberies.
  • The 5 Brigade is withdrawn and retrained and in 1985 it is redeployed in Matabeleland. 1984Pre-election violence begins, mainly at the hands of the ZANU-PF Youth Brigades. Areas notably affected include Gweru, Kwekwe, Beitbridge and Plumtree.


1985

ZANU-PF Youth rampages continue before and after the July elections, resulting in 2000 being left homeless and scores dead in Matabeleland, the Midlands and Harare.

February

The CIO orchestrates a spate of detentions of ZAPU officials countrywide. Many of those detained disappear permanently.

March

CCJP send a confidential report to the Prime Minister condemning the bullying of opposition party members.

July

  • It is announced in Parliament that since January 1985, dissidents have killed 45, raped 40 and committed 215 robberies.
  • Zimbabwe has its second General Election and ZANU-PF wins convincingly although ZAPU retains all 15 seats in Matabeleland. There is a spate of post-election violence targetting ZAPU supporters. 5 top ZAPU men including 2 MPs are detained on grounds of treasonous activity.

August

Dissidents target Shona-speaking civilians in an attack in Mwenezi, killing 22. CCJP is among those who condemn the attack.

November

It is announced the Chihambakwe Commission's report will not be made public.


1986

March

2 March: ZIPRA commanders in jail for 4 years are released.

December

A ZIPRA High Commander is released, to facilitate unity talks.

1987

January

It is announced in Parliament that during 1986 dissidents killed 116 civilians, raped 57, abducted 20 and committed 210 robberies. CCJP release a confidential report on Torture in Zimbabwe to the Prime Minister.

February

It is announced at a rally in Bulawayo that Unity is imminent.

April

Unity talks break down.

June

All ZAPU rallies and meetings are banned.

September

ZAPU is effectively banned: offices are raided and officials detained.

October

Unity talks resume.

November

Dissidents murder 16 on a mission farm in Matobo.

December

The Unity Accord is signed by Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe.

1988

April

An Amnesty is announced for all dissidents, and 122 surrender.

June

The Amnesty is extended to include all members of the army who committed offences before the Unity Accord.

1990

July

The State of Emergency is not renewed.