by Austin Bay
October 30, 2002
In 1932, who believed Germans would systematically slaughter
German Jews by the millions? In spring of 1994, how many of us in an
allegedly savvier, Internet-informed world were ready to believe Rwandan
Hutus intended to hack to death 800,000 Tutsis in an orgy of macabre machete
Pay attention to Zimbabwe, a nation brutalized by the rapidly
decaying regime of dictator Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe may well be the next
genocidal killing field, with the Matebele tribe the target of Mugabe's
Last February, this column described Mugabe as the Slobodan
Milosevic of Africa. Both the Shona and the Serb are thieves, "former
Marxists" and ethnic cleansers who provoke ethnic strife, incite economic
envy, murder opponents and do so under the propaganda cover of righting
long-term historical wrongs. For beasts like Mugabe and Milosevic, "righting
historical wrongs" means killing your ethnic enemies.
I recently returned from three weeks in East Africa, examining
micro-development projects run by Africans for Africans. What a good news
story. But bad news is like bad money -- it drives out the good. Across the
continent I encountered Zimbabweans who recounted the last four years'
terrible spiral of events, as Mugabe's corrupt government turned Zimbabwe
from a food exporter to a land stalked by famine. The past 30 months have
been dreadful. The GDP has shrunk 25 percent, with inflation up 135 percent.
Mugabe's taste for tribal brutality isn't new. In 1980, with the
aid of North Korean military advisers, Mugabe's Shona tribe savaged the
Matabele tribe. From seven to ten thousand Matabele were killed. The world
ignored the attacks. At the time, Mugabe was a hero to "global
progressives," having toppled the white racist regime of Ian Smith in the
former British colony of Southern Rhodesia.
Now comes a report from The London Times that indicates Mugabe
intends to pull a Milosevic-style Kosovo on the Matabele, with an even
larger body count. The document opens with this breathless passage: FOR THE
EYES OF THE SHONA ELITE ONLY! PLEASE PASS TO MOST TRUSTED PERSON! PROGRESS
REVIEW ON THE 1979 GRAND PLAN."
The document was obtained by Matthew Parris. Parris once served
in the Rhodesian government, so he'll be dismissed by "progressives." Given
Mugabe's track record and the bitter fact of Rwanda, that would be a
According to Shona tribal history, in the 19th century, the
Matabele entered Shona country (after fleeing Zulus) and took Shona land.
Parris describes it as a "narrative" that fits the Shona's "tribal
nationalism," just like Milosevic's "Kosovo recovery" fit into a Serb litany
of historical wrong.
The Shona now live in central and northern Zimbabwe and comprise
70 percent of Zimbabwe's 13 million people. The Matabele are around 15
The "Grand Plan" outlines a political, cultural and genocidal
campaign for pushing the Matabele back into South Africa.
Mugabe has systematically kicked Zimbabwe's white farmers out of
the country and given those farms to his henchmen. Famine is the result.
Now, Mugabe must distract the hungry, and an anti-Matabele campaign serves
Mugabe's immediate political needs. Parris is even more blunt: "... a fight
with the Matabele would enhance Mugabe's troubled position among his own
Here's a key line in the Grand Plan: "For many years both the
Ndebeles (Matabele) and Europeans were living under a shameful illusion that
the crimes of their forefathers had been forgiven ... This was not to be as
(Mugabe) the illustrious son of the Shona people ensured that the two groups
pay dearly for the evil deeds of the ancestors."
These deeds included rape and looting. So what's the Grand
Plan's means of rectification? The rape and looting of the Matabele.
Could the Grand Plan be a forgery instead of Mein Kampf? Sure.
Mugabe, however, has been stoking these ethnic hatreds.
The Shona, however, are no monolith. Many Shona oppose Mugabe.
The Matabele are also capable of resisting.
But what happens if ethnic savagery begins? Send British
paratroopers? That's a thought, though Mugabe would portray that as the
return of the white colonialists. The real regional peacekeeper is South
Africa. Though the South African government has shied away from involving
itself with Zimbabwe's internal troubles, it cannot ignore a genocide on its