The Causes Of Zimbabwe’s Gukurahundi Genocide

The Causes Of Zimbabwe's Gukurahundi Genocide

Understanding the causes of the Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe necessitates examining the broader regional context, particularly South Africa’s Apartheid government’s attempts to destabilize Zimbabwe.

This article delves into the causes of the Gukurahundi, highlighting the connections to South Africa’s strategy against newly independent African states during its Border War.

Additionally, we will explore the reasons behind the South African Border War, its impact, and the locations where it took place.

The Causes of the Gukurahundi Massacre

Zimbabwe gained independence from British colonial rule in 1980, marking a new era for the country.

However, deep-seated tensions and political rivalries emerged within the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), leading to internal conflicts and power struggles driven by Robert Mugabe’s desire to consolidate power by eliminating opposition in order to establish a One-Party State in Zimbabwe

South Africa’s Apartheid government, which enforced racial segregation and discrimination, perceived newly independent African states as a threat. It aimed to maintain dominance in the region by supporting rebel movements and destabilizing these countries. In this context, South Africa sought to undermine Zimbabwe’s newly established government

During the Cold War, the world was divided into two ideological camps, with the United States and the Soviet Union vying for influence. Newly independent African states often aligned themselves with socialist states such as Russia and China, seeking support for their struggles against colonialism. South Africa, backed by Western powers, saw these alliances as a threat to its own interests.

South Africa’s Border Wars were a series of conflicts fought between South African forces and various liberation movements in neighboring countries, such as Angola and Mozambique. The Apartheid government provided support to rebel movements in these countries, aiming to counter the influence of socialist-aligned governments and prevent the spread of Marxism across the region.

The South African Border War was primarily driven by South Africa’s desire to maintain control over its neighboring countries and prevent the emergence of Marxist governments. The Apartheid government viewed these states as potential threats to its stability and security.

 The Border War involved significant military operations, including incursions, sabotage, and counterinsurgency campaigns. South African forces engaged with liberation movements such as the African National Congress (ANC) and the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO). The conflict had a profound impact on the region, resulting in displacement, civilian casualties, and economic disruption.

 The power struggle within ZANU-PF intensified after independence, with rival factions vying for control. The dominant faction, led by Robert Mugabe, sought to consolidate power and eliminate opposition, including rival groups within the party and armed dissidents.

South Africa’s Apartheid government seized the opportunity to destabilize Zimbabwe by supporting dissident groups opposed to Mugabe’s government. It provided them with arms, training, and safe havens in South Africa, exacerbating the internal conflict and contributing to the violence of the Gukurahundi.


The causes of the Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe are intertwined with South Africa’s Apartheid government’s attempts to undermine newly independent African states.

In addition to the internal Power struggle within ZANU PF driven by Robert Mugabe’s need to consolidate power by eliminating opposition in order to establish a One Party State in Zimbabwe, the South African Border War, driven by ideological and strategic motives, LAO played a crucial role in the destabilization of Zimbabwe.

Understanding these connections provides crucial insights into the complexities of the Gukurahundi and the broader regional dynamics of the time.