The Gukurahundi Massacres (1983-1987): Breaking the Silence Report

Zimbabwe became independent in 1980 with Robert Mugabe as the new Prime Minister. In his Independence Day speech in April 1980, he said: If yesterday I fought as an enemy, today you have become a friend and ally with the same national interest, loyalty, rights and duties as myself….”  Despite his reassuring words, he initiated the Gukurahundi Massacres just three years after independence.

Gukurahundi, a Shona word which means "the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains", refers to massacres carried out by Mugabe’s North Korean-trained 5th Brigade between 1983 and 1987 in the predominantly Ndebele regions of Zimbabwe.  About 20,000 people in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces died or disappeared. 

In September 2010, the Gukurahundi massacres were classified as a genocide by the internationally recognised group Genocide Watch.

For further information:

This abridged version of the original report on Gukurahundi, Breaking the Silence, Building True Peace: A report into the disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands - 1980 – 1988, was produced by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJPZ) and the Legal Resources Foundation (LRF)  in April 1999.

It is a short version of a much longer book, the original of which was published and released for sale in Zimbabwe in 1997. This first book was researched and written by the LRF and the CCJPZ.


The abridged report can be found on the Sokwanele website:

The full report can be found on the Wikipedia website:  (scroll down to “Notes”)

President Mugabe’s Independence Day 1980  speech: