Robert Mugabe, the eloquent Zimbabwean President a part of the old guard of first generation post colonial leaders’ always delivers one of the most anticipated speeches at the annual United Nations gathering. This year he did not disappoint as he publicly defended North Korea but remained silent about Togo and other events affecting Africa as a continent.
Mugabe who had a difficult time walking to the podium at age 93 used his speech as an opportunity to defend North Korea . This man who has built his brand as the vanguard of Africa was silent about the repression going on in Togo ,Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic and so forth but stood firm in defense of the rogue nation North Korea. Why?
In October 1980, then Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe signed an agreement with the North Korean President, Kim Il Sung, that they would train and equip a brigade for the Zimbabwe National Army. In the 1980s, North Korea trained Mugabe’s 5th brigade soldiers and armed them to kill more than 20,000 people in Matebeleland through vicious means. The violence perpetrated by Mugabe’s 5th brigade militia were brutal and heartless. Those who lived to tell stories often describe the horrifying ordeals they suffered just for belonging to the wrong tribe. This man who dubs himself the leader of Africa committed genocide on his own people. He sought to obliterate their existence from the face of the earth in a campaign that was led by his staunchest lieutenants the beleaguered current Vice President, Emerson Mnangagwa.
THE FIFTH BRIGADE
The Fifth Brigade were a special unit of Zimbabwean soldiers formed in 1981 and disbanded in 1988 amid allegations of brutality and murder during the Brigade’s occupation of Matabeleland. This special unit was trained by North Korea’s military. However, there are reports that the unit was still active in some capacity until 2006. The members of the Fifth Brigade were drawn from 3500 ex-ZANLA troops, including two unintegrated ZANLA battalions, at Tongogara Assembly Point. There were a few Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) troops in the unit initially, but they were withdrawn before the end of the training. It has been reported that there were also some foreigners in the unit, possibly Tanzanians.
The Shona were largely silent about the genocide that was taking place in Matabeleland. Mugabe had instituted a campaign to label those who opposed him as terrorists or dissidents whom he accused of trying to topple his regime.
Atrocities of 5th brigade:
- Killing anyone from Matebele tribe (approximately 20,000 were killed).
- Mass burial of people while still alive
- Cannibalism as relatives were forced to chop off their family and eat their flesh
- Creating tribalism and divisions within the country.