Uncovering the Reality of State Violence in Western Zimbabwe, 1982-1987

Maxwell Zhira

Abstract


The Zimbabwean slate waged a sustained terror campaign in the southern and western parts of the country from 1982 to 1987. An estimated twenty thousand men, women, and children died during the campaign. Most victims were murdered by state security forces, and others succumbed to conditions of disease and deprivation. The origins, nature, and impact of this conflict are the subject of considerable contention, particularly between analysts, human rights activists, and the government of President Robert Mugabe. Official inquiries into the conduct of the state and its agents have had difficulty gaining access to relevant records, and the government has repeatedly denounced the findings of independent investigations as slanderous. The terror operation waged in Matebeleland and the Midlands provinces can be used as evidence to argue that the government of President Mugabe from early on in its rule developed a tradition of using violence and intolerance as a tool for consolidating political power.

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