Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army

Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) was the armed wing of the Zimbabwe African People's Union, a militant Communist organization in Rhodesia. It participated in the Second Chimurenga against white minority rule in the former Rhodesia.

ZIPRA was formed during the 1960s by the nationalist leader Jason Moyo, the sometime deputy of Joshua Nkomo. Because ZAPU's political strategy relied more heavily on negotiations than armed force, ZIPRA did not develop as quickly or elaborately as ZANLA, the armed wing of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), although by 1979 it had an estimated 20,000 combatants, almost all based in camps around Lusaka, Zambia.Fact|date=June 2007

Beside the overall political ideologies, the main differences between ZIPRA and ZANLA were that
*ZIPRA drew its recruits almost exclusively from the Ndebele ethnic group
*ZIPRA did not follow ZANLA's example of politicalisation of the peasant population (inspired by Maoism) and consequently did not enjoy as close relationship with local peasant populations
*ZIPRA was designed to be used for both guerrilla warfare and conventional warfare: entering the country, striking and pulling back to its bases in Zambia and Angola. This was in contrast to ZANLA, which introduced combatants to remain in the country for long-term campaigns of "protracted people's war."

In 1978 and 1979 ZIPRA downed two civilian passenger planes of Air Rhodesia, killing a total of 102 passengers and crew.

Tsholotsho massacre

Joseph Msika, speaking in Jotsholo at a ceremony organized by the Mafela Trust to remember 11 Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (Zipra) cadres who were killed in 1979 by Rhodesian soldiers during the ceasefire period, he said the armed struggle began in Matabeleland, Bulawayo in particular.

He said the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union, the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the African National Congress (ANC) are the parties that were in the forefront of the fight. ZIPRA was ZAPU's military wing.

"The struggle to liberate Zimbabwe started in Bulawayo, at Stanley Hall, when we formed the African Youth Congress."

Commenting on the 11 ZIPRA cadres, Cde Msika said it had taken long to give them the respect they deserved in view of what they died fighting for.

"It is true that this issue has taken too long to be looked into. All heroes should be accorded the same respect and we will do that," he said.

The traditional leadership of Jotsholo said it was a taboo to exhume people for reburial.

The 11 ZIPRA fighters are buried in a mass grave near the spot where they were killed. The 11 cadres died on their way to an assembly point at St. Paul's in Lupane.Fact|date=June 2007

Initially, they were 22, but 11 died and 11 survived.Narrating the ordeal that they went through, one survivor of the brutal attack, Cde Derrick Moses Moyo said,

"When we boarded the bus owned by Pullen, we soon realized that the mood of other passengers suddenly changed. The bus was moving at a strangely slow pace. The driver, whom we only know as Dube, was also behaving in a strange manner."

Cde Moyo said some of the cadres decided to travel while on top of the bus to give them cover.

" [The driver] was holding the steering wheel with one hand while the other was holding the door which was not closed. When we were about to reach the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road, he spotted a Puma (Rhodesian army truck) which was blocking the road. The driver suddenly switched off the bus engine and jumped off the bus and disappeared into the bush. Suddenly there was heavy gunfire and a helicopter appeared and the bus was bombed. Eleven of our fellow comrades died on the spot and some of us were injured."

All of the 11 who died were from Matabeleland South province. They are Dennis Nhlanganiso Moyo, Charles Moyo, David Moyo, Lovemore Moyo, Poktiva Nyathi, Lizwe, Livson Dube, Agrippa Tshabalala, Eleck Ngwenya and Thomas Moyo.

The meeting was also attended by the Zanu-PF National Chairman, Cde John Nkomo, Governors of Matabeleland North and South provinces, Cdes Thokozile Mathuthu and Angelina Masuku respectively, Minister for Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Cde Sithembiso Nyoni, Zanu-PF Matabeleland North chairman Cde Headman Moyo and former members of the Zipra high command and other ruling party members.

Whilst Joshua Nkomo was the commander in chief of Zipra, its commander at the end of the armed struggle (second umvukela also known as second chimurenga in Shona) was General Lookout Masuku. The head of its intelligence section was Dumiso Dabenga. According to some accounts Zipra was more sophisticated and more highly polished than Zanla as a fighting force. Zipra forces mainly fought in the south and western Zimbabwe provinces. This covered both the two Matebeleland provinces and Midlands.

Further reading

*Rasmussen, R. K., & Rubert, S. C., 1990. "A Historical Dictionary of Zimbabwe", Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen, NJ, United States of America.
*"Sunday mail", Sunday, October 08, 2006, Zimbabwe’s true armed struggle history must be told


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