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Panorama Sunday, 10 March, 2002, 21:43 GMT
Your comments on Mugabe: the price of silence
Your comments on Mugabe: The Price of Silence

We have now finished taking your comments.

I agree with everyone who castigates the British Government's lack of action in the early 80s, but want to underscore the fact that the present government is, in many ways, doing even less. There is no way we cannot be aware of what is going on - no blanket to hide under. Why is it that the Idi Amins, Mengistus and Sadam's (and let's not forget Mugabe) of this world get away with it? This whole election process is a sham, and we all know it. If the Commonwealth, at least, cannot react appropriately it should not exist. I hope we all read Matthew Parris' article in Saturday's Times - another good piece of journalism from someone who knows the country well! God help Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans - black and white. I agree with one of the previous writers that the priests who have laid their lives on the line to bear witness to the truth deserve our prayers and thanks.
Sue Shaw

Fascinating and horrifying edition on Mugabe and the UK. Clearly Mugabe is a disaster for Zimbabwe but is this a case of ANYBODY being better than him or is Morgan Tsvangirai really the best person for Zimbabwe? Could this turn out to be another case of backing the Taleban or Sadam Hussain and then throwing up our hands in horror if he turns to the bad?
Lloyd Sweeney

The events of September 11th were of course terrible, but why are 5,000 murders so atrocious, but 20,000 murders in Zimbabwe a mere "side issue"?

Might I suggest that rather than engage in hindsight-dominated denunciations, your correspondents might try to understand what was happening in Zimbabwe at the time.

Zimbabwe had gone through a decade of vicious civil war. By some miracle, the Lancaster House Conference had been successful, and majority rule had been achieved by means of a democratic election. At Independence, Mugabe, hard as it may now be to credit it, went on television to urge everyone to forget the past and join in creating a new multi-racial Zimbabwe. The country responded, and Mugabe's government contained two white ministers and an international civil servant of high repute. Britain tried to help in two main ways, in retraining the former guerrilla forces as a responsible, professional army and in implementing a land resettlement programme, to abolish progressively the unequal distribution of land and appease land hunger. With much of the rest of Africa failing, everyone was anxious that Zimbabwe should not go the same way.

Against this background, Matabeleland erupted. To what extent was not known at the time. To have made an issue of it would, in the first place, have been futile. As the former colonial power, we were the worst placed to influence the problem. Nothing we could do would have been remotely likely to stop it. The resentment we would have caused would have gravely prejudiced our efforts to assist Zimbabwe in overcoming its problems. At stake was not only Zimbabwe's future, but the well-being, livelihoods, and even lives of thousands of British citizens.

It may be worth adding that nobody else did anything much either. Zimbabwe's churches, with the courageous exception of Archbishop Ncube, kept silent - see page 42 of this Saturday's "Times". It was not until 1997 that the report of the Catholic Commission for Peace and Reconciliation saw the light of day.

Everybody's efforts of course failed, and Zimbabwe is where it is. But I believe we were right at the time to make the effort.
Martin Ewans

After the elections, how close will Zimbabwe be to a civil war?
Robert Jenkins

I am surprised at the strength of feeling for events that happened in 1983. It just goes to prove that the British people were as ignorant and badly informed as the politicians representing them in Zimbabwe. The facts were plain to see at the time and should not have been swept under the carpet. This excellent programme has ensured that those who would like to forget what happened, and even worse would wish to deny responsibility for decisions taken, find it difficult to do so. The current state of Zimbabwe says it all. Thank you to Fergal Keane.

The developed world was persuaded that Imperialism was evil, because many bad things happened in the name of the empire. Good things happened too and I have lived with the direct benefits of colonialism in Zimbabwe for the first 21 years of my life (education, medicine, rule of law, public infrastructure maintained by a central government). The bad acts committed in the name of colonialism were so bad that Mugabe stole moral high ground early in his career and has maintained it ever since. An overwhelming, politically correct, colonial guilt complex exists in Britain today and colonialism is synonymous with evil.

British politicians feared being branded as colonialist so much that Mugabe literally got away with murder. Now Mugabe has lost support of the Western powers, he is dropping the guillotine that he has held over Britain for so long by calling Blair an evil imperialist. African leaders in their desire to be seen doing the politically correct thing (for Africans) are siding with Mugabe. I feel that the whole thing is very patronising, and that evil acts must be judged as evil acts. Judge actions rather than concepts. White Africans have always been the scapegoats whenever Mugabe bungles. African politicians should acknowledge the work many white Africans have done as a real contribution to society. Instead whites are consistently branded as a no-good historically advantaged group of people profiting at the expense of blacks. Many of my black friends also find this view stale and patronising and would rather take responsibility for their own lives and would rather work hard to become doctors, lawyers and bankers than blame someone else for their own shortcomings.

I watched your programme with shock, horror and revulsion. I worked as a teacher in Mashonaland for two years in the 90s and am not at all surprised by these revelations. Just absolutely astounded by the callousness of the British Government, and obvious racial prejudice. I also challenge Chris from South Africa. His comments are deeply offensive to all those brave Zimbabweans who went out today and yesterday to protest in a democratic and peaceful way, despite severe provocations. The new South Africa demonstrates how painful and difficult it is to bring about change from tyranny. The transition is not perfect - there is no quick fix.
Christine Patterson

I remember my father, Robert Dyer-Smith, a very just and deep-thinking man, talking about the atrocities committed by the Fifth Brigade that were rumoured to be happening in Matabeleland, I think in January 1983. He was very worried about the stories and contrasted the situation with the Germans who, after the war, said that they heard rumours about what was happening in the concentration camps but did nothing. On 16 March 1983 my father was abducted from his smallholding outside Bulawayo. This operation had been planned - he was set up two days earlier but the abductors hung around for two days waiting for him. Although the police were notified within two hours of his being marched away from the area and the army with dogs were combing the area in the following days, his body was only discovered one mile away on 2 September 1983. I have always believed that the information was only released as we were about to organise a massive information leaflet drop offering a large reward and it was expedient for the authorities to suddenly solve the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of my father as well as that of a grandfather and his son (abducted in January 1983). I have always believed that my father was murdered by Mugabe's men for political reasons although he was non-political and merely respected by both black and white as a man of honour who built bridges between the communities. A man was tried and convicted for his murder but I could not bring myself to go to the trial and in my heart of hearts think they manipulated the evidence.
Carolyn Dyer-Smith

Friends in Harare are saying that "They keep bussing in the government supporters and push them into the front of the queue so we don't get very far in the line". Are the official observers aware of this situation?
Craig Watkins

Yes - Mugabe's leadership is a disgrace. Yes - Perence Shiri is likewise guilty of crimes against humanity. Should we really be surprised, though? Mugabe and Osama bin Laden today, Milosevic, Saddam and Qadafi yesterday, Ayatollah Khomeinei and Brezhnev the day before. In the great "cause and effect" of foreign policy and world affairs, the revelations of this programme are pretty obvious. However, it took courage and perseverance to expose them so clearly. One wonders where the next "revelations" will come from - pick an ex-colonial power in Africa or Asia and wait for the expose.

I would just like to congratulate the BBC on a fine programme, furthermore for highlighting the atrocities in Zimbabwe. For too long this government has turned a blind eye to these evil killings. I hope now people will do something about it, even if this action is too late for many people.
Miss C Bishop

Fergal Keane's excellent programme rightly showed Robert Mugabe in his true colours: the Idi Amin of Southern Africa, an evil racist monster who should be standing trial at The Hague with his henchmen, not being glad-handed by European politicians past and present. One question: apart from a handful of brave clergy inside and outside Zimbabwe (notably the admirable Pius Ncube), why is it that the Christian churches have maintained a deafening silence in the face of mounting evidence of Mugabe's atrocities dating back many years? Does it have anything to do with the fact that they were very keen to install him in power in the first place?
Michael Mcgowan

A very interesting and overdue programme on a subject that has largely been ignored by Western Governments. It is time the Commonwealth flexed its "muscles" and took action against Mugabe. The time for dictators is over. Sanctions will have no effect on an already desperate country, as has happened in Iraq - it just strengthens the despot's position. It's time for an international court to indict Mugabe and send him to the next cell to Milosovic to stand trial for crimes against his own people. Once again Britain has much to be ashamed of.
Rob Middleton

Having lived in Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa, I am desperately sad about events in Zimbabwe. What can someone living in the UK today do to help the situation in Zimbabwe? I still think of Zim as my home, and would return tomorrow - if I knew my profession (teacher) could help in any way - but - white, female - I wouldn't be allowed in? Such a feeling of helplessness...

It was disturbing to see where so-called "silent diplomacy" can lead to. The frustrating thing is that exactly the same mistakes are made again today. How about the cruelties committed by the Russians in Chechnya for example? Good relations are again more important than human rights. The action against Serbia was a very good example of how the West should deal with murderous regimes. We've got the power, we've got the opportunity and we've got the responsibility to ACT rather than just being bystanders. Sierra Leone has hopefully been a good exercise for inevitable future interventions on the African continent, eg Zimbabwe. The leaders of other African countries are being very quiet. The South African president especially should recognise his responsibilities. South Africa claims to be the regional power and the rest of the world would expect action from her behalf. By not taking a clear stance against Mugabe, Southern African leaders indirectly agree and become partly responsible. They naively damage their own economies by scaring away investment, as the current trouble of the Rand shows most clearly.

Congratulations to the Panorama team and Fergal Keane for a truly informative program on Zimbabwe. I think we can all agree that Britain's policy of appeasement with Mugabe in the 80's was sickening. Instead of looking back in the past, it is essentially that Britain and the UN get involved immediately with Zimbabwe and bring this barbarian leader to justice for the slaughtering of his fellow people. He is corrupt, unfair and also discriminates against white people.

The British have no concern for Africans in Africa and only act when British citizens are threatened. There was nothing wrong with Mugabe killing 20,000 Ndebeles in cold blood but there was concern when Mugabe arrested a few white people. It's still the same now because they are only acting after Mugabe has murdered a few white farmers. What of all the other people he murdered? That's the British Government¿s position.
Isaya Mufiri

I watched with great concern your programme on Zimbabwe. As a nation I thought we had learnt the lessons of history. Appeasement does not provide a solution. Thanks to the actions of our representatives, politicians and civil servants, I feel ashamed to be British. Mugabe and his supporters have blood on their hands but so do we through our sale of arms and inappropriate responses.

I've never cried at a documentary before. But what you achieved with your editor and director and especially your informants has moved me more than any other media report. Who knows how much a difference my tears in bloody Tokyo will make but still I have witnessed a glimpse of the terror those others endured and maybe that adds up to something. Brilliant job. Congratulations to you, your crew and especially your informants. I have a girlfriend who's thinking about her future career. After seeing your programme I'm going to tell her where she belongs: a place where she can offer her talents in the service of - for want of a better word - humanity.
Lee Frank

Those of us who lived in Zimbabwe during the Guerrilla War pre-independence will hardly be surprised at Mugabe's subsequent behaviour. We accepted black majority rule under Bishop Muzorewa. We knew Mugabe but at Lancaster House Lord Carrington bowed to pressure from Nkomo and Mugabe. I was shocked and disgusted tonight to hear Sir Geoffrey Howe saying the events in Matabeleland were a "small consideration". I have felt like weeping during the last two days when witnessing those people queuing for their vote and even now they may not get it! I agree that Britain should have taken action years ago and as for the Commonwealth and the EU - well, that's another story! The lovely people of Zimbabwe do not deserve this. I think Britain must ultimately bear residual responsibility for this.

Your programme was a real eye-opener for me. The blatant racist policies of past and present governments were clear from their lack of concern for the many thousands of victims. They were, and still are, only looking out for their own interests. I just hope that one day soon the Western World will get its act together and help the people of Zimbabwe to achieve enough freedom to live their lives without the constant threat of terror.
Elif Onur

The Panorama programme moved me to tears. My thoughts go out to Thembi. Fergal Keane proved yet again what an amazing journalist he is.

I lived in Zimbabwe during the Liberation Struggle and during the early years of independence. I worked in African Education, training teachers. I am appalled by the attitude of successive governments in dealing with the problems in Zimbabwe. Do our politicians not realise that Robert Mugabe has reduced his own country to begging for food when it was previously in excess of national demand? He has destabilised the economy of the whole of Southern Africa and is now drawing the entire Commonwealth into disrepute. It seems that Robert Mugabe has always been treated with kid gloves by the Foreign Office so is there some grand global scheme afoot that we do not know about?
Wendy & David Squair

I am also a South African living here in the UK and have quite a few good friends still living in Zimbabwe. I wish to condemn what happened during the Apartheid years of South Africa, but I find it absolutely disgusting that the British Government and the rest of the Western World had the gall to criticise and turn South Africa into the pariah of the world during this troubled period in our history, yet turned a blind eye to the murder and rape of thousands of black Ndebele in Zimbabwe. It seems to me that the White oppression of the Blacks in South Africa was regarded as a more pressing matter then the Black oppression on their own kind. Both were wrong and should have been treated as such. Given the attitude of the British Government to Human Rights and oppression of minority groups by others, why was the Government not as critical of Mugabe and his henchmen as it was of the Apartheid Government of South Africa? Hopefully one day the British Government will learn from its mistakes and take a tougher stance against people such as Mugabe.

Congratulations to Fergal Keane on a long-overdue exposé of British inaction in the face of horrific atrocities.
Paul Taylor

Will it ever be known if more votes are cast for the MDC than for Mugabe? Or does Mugabe have such a hold on things that the vote is virtual pointless ?
Jamie Charlesworth

Of course we knew all along that the British had something to do with Mugabe's actions in Matabeleland. It was no accident that there was that incident. The question that has to be answered is what prompted the British to encourage Mugabe in his murderous way or at least give its tacit approval by not speaking out?
G Moyo

A brilliant programme which addressed an important issue. This question goes beyond the specifics of events in the 1980s, but do you think there is still a reluctance amongst British diplomats and politicians to condemn the Mugabe government for its actions over the last few years? I think your programme was particularly timely. At a point when so-called "Western" values of freedom and democracy are being discussed in the media and elsewhere, I think it is good to be reminded that western governments are often not guided by such noble principles in their foreign policies.
Phil Rumney

What happened 20 years ago is disgusting and should never have happened, but that is now in the past. Not everyone is innocent, and Mugabe and his followers must not be allowed to get away with the intimidation and injustices that he is causing now. A change is needed and the lives of the people of Zimbabwe must be returned to normal. We need to be able to exercise our democratic rights, and above all, be able to earn a decent honest living and be able to feed our families again. Zimbabwe is a beautiful country and has beautiful people living here; unfortunately we are to pre-occupied with what is happening to be able to appreciate it.
Katinka Ruhe

I was surprised to hear both from the contributors and in the programme commentary that no-one seemed to realise Mugabe's intentions and thought he would be a beacon of democracy. With a handful of others, I heckled Lord Carrington at the Tory Party conference in 1979. We had the courage to denounce Mugabe as a "Marxist dictator" and advocated the recognition of the Smith-Muzorewa agreement to create Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. It might not have been perfect, but would have been better than the alternative. What is it about these people who get to the top that they will not listen at the time but later say "Oh we were wrong and now we must be tough"? I knew we would get nowhere in Yugoslavia when Carrington was involved there! I would like to see him interviewed on this and asked about that '79 speech.

A special thank you to those involved in the programme. For so many years things have been hidden and it is good to see the truth coming out. I am a white female born in Zimbabwe and brought up there, and the things you reported although they do not surprise me shock me as to the fact that no-one stood up to this evil man. I have only one question for those people who say they could do nothing. I agree that the change will come from the people, but want to challenge you on something. You did not do nothing, you gave this man the wealth he now has when you gave him £57million plus. You gave him money to buy the arms to terrorise the people, to be able to kill all the thousands plus that he has already killed and will still go on killing. The people may have had a chance if you had not made him as powerful as he is now. For as long as I can remember we all got mad, because all these loans to the government never went to the people or the country but only into the pockets of the officials. Now you have given this monster the means to terrorise, you will not even publicly say that what he is doing is wrong, only that you had your reasons. I have been lucky to get out, I feel for the people who cannot get out. Yet again thanks for putting this on air, you may have spoken up where very few would.
Alison Franklin

Clearly, the Panorama programme has struck a chord. I was in South Africa in the mid-80s, living through the depths of the apartheid era when P W Botha was flailing about, up to his ears in the Rubicon. The British Conservative Government of the time was perceived as the staunchest ally of the besieged apartheid government. As one of the Panorama interviewees noted, the whole southern African region was a tinderbox, and South Africa's racist system was seen as the most serious problem in the subcontinent. The British Government of the time, in retrospect, was clearly institutionally racist, favouring the white minority SA regime over the disenfranchised black people of South Africa, and ignoring all evidence of the atrocities being waged by the Mugabe government upon its own people.

This begs the question - is the current British Labour government any less racist in its approach? Consider its active involvement in Serbia and Afghanistan (where European and American interests were concerned)versus its restraint in Zimbabwe, Israel, Kashmir... where Black, Arab and Indian interests are at stake.

The studied indifference, self-justification and dissimulation of former Conservative ministers and high commissioners on last night's Panorama left me feeling revolted. Mugabe's tyranny is self-evident. Britain has to take definitive action against the man. So, for that matter, do the other nations in the Commonwealth, whose tolerance of their brother's actions also beggars belief. Hypocrisy abounds.
Malcolm Hay

I just hope that justice will shine through the tyranny and brutality this evil man perpetuates.

Yes certainly the British Government should have intervened even if they couldn't have changed the events for the good! So many power-hungry, blood thirsty despots in the world have been aided and abetted, unintentionally, by so many governments turning their backs on intolerance and persecution because it was expedient to so at the time! Our generation can't turn the clocks back on the sad, misguided judgements made before us, but it is our duty, either militarily or diplomatically, to show those tyrants still in power that they must go now. As for the Commonwealth, what a bunch of ineffective old women. Why didn't they act? After all, Mugabe might think that he's very clever but these "stealth-like" attacks on the Zimbabwean people, the press, the political opposition etc. are being carried out with as much grace and secrecy as a mad rhino in a shopping mall. If you can't see what he's up to you must be blind and it makes me sick to think that nobody is doing anything and an entire generation is being robbed of its free democratic rights.

Well done for such an in-depth report in a country that does not welcome reporters of any kind. Maybe now the world will take notice of what really went on in Zimbabwe and how the British Government was fully aware of killing sprees that were carried out by the 5th Brigade against the Matabele, how they did nothing to intervene 18 years ago, and how they are doing nothing now when more killings are being carried out under the orders of the same man. The international community cannot turn a blind eye again. As a Zimbabwean now living in Britain, I - along with hundreds of other Zimbabweans - am watching with great concern the way our country is spiralling out of control. Violence, hunger and political intimidation are being forced upon a nation of people trying to make a better life for themselves and their children. I left not of my own free will but for my safety. The transition from living in Zimbabwe to living in Britain is very hard and I would like nothing more than to go back to Zimbabwe. I have a great respect for all the MDC supporters and ministers in Zimbabwe that are trying to change the country for the better, where black and white people can live in harmony sharing land and food.
A Zimbabwean

I am one of many displaced, struggling Zimbabweans with a very bleak outlook for myself, my husband and my family. After watching Panorama I realise Thembi has an even bleaker future. Do you have a contact address for him? I would like to send him a small amount of money as I do not have that much to spare. Thanking you. God Bless you for your very brave work.

I lived in South Africa in the 70s. Rhodesia had sanctions because of white rule. All whites in SA could see that the British selling whites out in Rhodesia was wrong, while still agreeing that apartheid was wrong. Then we pump £57 million into Zimbabwe and let Mugabe kill fellow blacks, stash away a fortune for himself and let his people starve and be murdered.

Why are politicians so two-faced that they still do not admit on your programme that they were wrong and we need to do something about it. They have all turned a blind eye. Yes, they have got rid of apartheid, and also in South Africa which I still dearly love. But again, why do politicians not bring up the problem in India where there is so much poverty and discrimination. Is this not apartheid? The UK politician would say no, but if different classes of Indians were different colours I am sure they would all cry apartheid. Come on Blair and all other parties: stop feathering your own nest and look after us Britons and other people in the world who need us.
A Hammond

Panorama's programme will open a lot of people's eyes to what Mugabe really stands for. The British Government then and now is just as responsible for the atrocities in Matabeleland, because it did nothing to stop them. There is only one place left for Mugabe to go and that is the Court of Human Rights to be tried alongside others who have committed crimes against humanity. Will the world community arrest him and bring him to trial? I think most people know the answer to that!

The piece on Zimbabwe was excellent, and long overdue. It is a sad fact that Britain is heavily responsible for Zimbabwe's demise. Unfortunately it is almost too late to save the country, and it will take many years to mend it. The British have a moral duty to help Zimbabweans, both black and white. However, when I see how pathetic their attempts have been so far, I don't hold much hope. And as for that hopeless Don McKinnon and the gravy train they call The Commonwealth.....!
Alex Guinness
Zimbabwean in London

It seems to me that the difference between the West's treatment of Milosovic and Mugabe comes from the colour of their skin. While it is OK for the West to bomb Serbia and put Milosovic on trial, nobody can dare so much as to criticise Mugabe for his atrocities. So much for our "ethical" foreign policy.
Peter Zanetti

Another example of us turning a blind eye to mass murder, torture and corruption, when we as a nation could and should have put morals before money, trade and influence. The programme made me feel ashamed at our foreign policy then and very concerned that we don't allow arrogant dictators such as Mugabe or the like to repeat these outrages in the future.
Daniel Pankhurst
Richmond upon Thames

I cannot believe that most of the 1980s government can talk about not being able to do anything about the killing of so many innocent people. They should hang their heads in shame for not trying to help. To Bishop Pius Ncube and many others who are risking their lives in speaking out: you are in my thoughts and I will be praying for you all. God bless you.
Diane Sutherland

I took the world press to see the incineration of a whole Matabele village - 70 plus people - in about 1977. For gutless British politicians to lie that they did not know what was going on in Matabeleland after independence just shows how pathetic and incompetent they are. Thank you Panorama for at least daring to expose the truth.
Fred Ingram

Yet again people find themselves in unthinkable situations of atrocities. They make feeble excuses for themselves. Yet another example of "no consideration". As always the majority closes their eyes and their minds. This is a typical response to any uncomfortable human situation which surrounds mankind. The British are culpable as are many of Western civilisation (term used loosely) whereby they turn a blind eye and a blank mind to realities. This is a situation which prevails in all aspects of life. Our culture consistently and persistently disregards all groups who are struggling, home and abroad. This is not something to be proud of. We do not have government policy past and present to respect. Minority groups en mass are treated as lesser beings. Where is the shame? Where is the compassion? Where is the learning from the vast (world) history of the past?
Judy Williams

As a former resident of Zimbabwe I had a friend, a pharmacist, who told me she lost her family in Gukhuruhundi. She simply said her family, indeed their whole village, had "disappeared". My only question is how did you fail to lash out at those pathetic, self-serving old men who told you they knew all about this, and felt powerless to prevent it in the overall scheme of the good they felt they were attempting to do? I admire your fortitude - I think I'd have lost my temper. If there is any chance of buying a copy of this tape I would like to do so. Thank you for telling the truth.
Kim Dobson-Abrahams

I am a white Zimbabwean. I fought in the liberation war against Mr Mugabe. I have family and friends still in Zimbabwe and pray for their safety. I am, however, most pleased that Fergal Keane has highlighted the plight of a significant proportion to the Zimbabwean people, the Matabele, in this week's Panorama. I wonder why it takes the risk of c.40,000 British citizens being forced from Zimbabwe, swelling the ranks of political refugees in this country to bring about the focus needed to highlight Mugabe's blatant disregard for so many of his country's people. The Matabele and the working class are the true victims of Mugabe's policies. I hope Mr Keane's worthy efforts at highlighting those who have nowhere to run are not lost on another British Government; toothless and spineless when it comes to African Foreign Policy.
Leigh Meyer

Once again it takes committed journalists to show British people what our own government shuns for being too politically sensitive. Mr Blair: please don't let this go unchecked. You have the obligation to all British people to bring these barbarians to justice.
Mr B Cadoret
Jersey CI

Good programme, always enjoy Fergal's work, but feel very strongly that artificial reconstructions in such a serious programme introduce a "tabloid" atmosphere, risk giving ammunition to the accused and take up time that could have been used in listing more instances of concrete evidence of atrocities. When will we be able to treat African atrocities as we do those in Europe? We hear little now of the Burundi war crime courts, but Fergal's excellent programme on those atrocities is still strong in my memory. Keep up this wonderful journalism. Thank you.
John Davies

We left Zimbabwe two years ago. We were farming in the eastern highlands. We knew that there were the terrible things happening in Matabeleland in the early 80s but never imagined them to have been so bad. Having watched this evening's programme I must say I am not proud to be British. Those diplomats said they couldn't interfere with Mugabe but they all interfered in putting him into power in the first place. I think it is disgusting and Mugabe should be brought to trial. It will be very interesting to see what happens tomorrow!
Simon and Jo Warren

Mugabe should be arrested and stand trial at the Hague for genocide. The British politicians and other officials in the military who knew of these atrocities should also stand trial for lesser crimes.
R. Warburton

I would like to commend the BBC and in particular the Panorama team for bringing to our attention the plight of the many in Zimbabwe. I have to say I'm ashamed of the British representatives and the government representatives who made pathetic excuses. For someone like Sir Martin Ewans to comment that what was happening was a "side issue" disgusts me. To think that he was supposed to represent me and the British people is tragic. I hope in some way he gets to hear or feel the anger that people like him - who are supposed to be responsible but who have aided Mugabe - can generate. I felt I had to comment because at this moment in time I feel ashamed to be British and ashamed of those that have and those that are representing us.
Carl Gleeson

This country was made well aware before independence that there would be mass violence if Mugabe became President. They chose to ignore it, as they chose to ignore subsequent atrocities.
Diane Jenkins

Thank you for this informative programme. Some people don't know what is going on out there in the world (including myself regarding the Zimbabwe troubles). If we had more reports like this we might have a more informed and objective public.
M Al-Haddad

A very good and interesting report from a difficult country. Is this a similar error to Munich 1938, but without the threat of war?
JG McBride

Yes, Britain should have intervened to prevent the killings in the eighties. It would have made a difference as many countries were hailing Mr Mugabe as a hero, probably without knowing what was going on. Of course the failure to confront Mugabe convinced him he could get away with murder. I was there and had a close meeting with Shiri and his Fifth Brigade.
Alice Stotter
Tavira, Portugal

I am a Zimbabwean who has recently come to England for work experience. Well done on exposing President Mugabe and Mr. Shiri for who they are. For so long the '83 atrocities have been kept silent, and believed to be folk lore. The British Government have much to answer for. Hopefully now, Britain will realise that Mugabe is not the person they believed him to be. It is time for Britain to make amends with the Zimbabwean people, and come to their aid. Thank you for bringing the truth to light, let's hope it will not fall on deaf ears this time.
Kirsten Knaggs

Once again we have a Panorama programme to thank for exposing terrible events in another country. To think that the British Government knew about these events is shocking. With the high profile position we now take on human rights, these events must be very embarrassing for the government. Thousands of innocent people were killed on the orders of this man, and nothing was done about it. The welcoming to Britain of his right-hand man was totally wrong and should not have been allowed. Robert Mugabe is still in power, and looks likely to be after the election. Protests should now be made against him. Although too late now to help those murdered in the past, it may help save his people in the future. Robert Mugabe must not be allowed to carry out such terrible crimes, and face no punishment for them. Britain must act as soon as these atrocities become known to her.
Steve Fuller
(city) Brighton&Hove

Fergal Keane has highlighted the absolutely disgraceful and unforgivable inaction of the international community once again to prevent genocide. The problem I have is that I can watch Panorama, and be moved to tears, shocked and outraged, but what can I do? It leaves me feeling so helpless, and that is what I hate more than anything.
Anna Langleben

Excellent programme. Makes next weeks subject on the euro pale into insignificance in comparison! Another moving and excellently documented report from Fergal Keane. It must make his job worthwhile to know that he is able to enlighten millions of people to a cause that may not have had much exposure.
Alex Hands

I am seething with anger at the way the US (mainly) and Britain wish to police the world according to their vested interests. We had Asians from Uganda coming to Britain; why was it not possible to take a similar stance for the whites in Zimbabwe? This action would have enabled Britain to act as they did in Bosnia!

I found the programme on Mugabe very disturbing. In the course of history, whenever Great Britain has been involved in a region of the world, that region has ended in chaos. As a nation, we have carved up territories to suit our own needs. We have disregarded evil regimes if it suited us, and have left unresolved issues to fester and grow into horror. Over the last 100 to 150 years, our involvement in the regions of Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, the Middle East, Ireland and Africa has left a trail of blood, and yet I have not seen a documentary to put all this together and point the finger at a nation I used to be proud of being part of.
Brian Harris
Bushey Heath, Herts

The Zimbabwe regime is not alone. Amnesty International has detailed murder, torture and rape by the Indian army occupying Kashmir in contravention of UN resolutions. And what is Britain doing? Selling £1bn worth of BAe Hawk jets to India!
Umar Ali

I am from South Africa and I think the British are useless at controlling Zimbabwe. It's easy for them to deal with other places but nothing gets done in Zim. We in SA were criticised for our views towards the blacks but now you see what happens when you give them power. The same is starting to happen (since 1994) but what can 4 million whites do against 45 million blacks who can't even live with each other?

It was a programme that made me angry and also weep. Why, when these atrocities were known about, did the British Government continue to say and do nothing? Geoffrey Howe appeared to show no remorse or desire to apologise for his and his government's past behaviour. How do we respond now if this man, Mugabe, is re-elected after Monday's election closes? After speaking to a friend from Zimbabwe on Saturday, he's concerned about a coup if Mugabe loses. Could I suggest... Let us pray!
Revd Mark Umpleby
Birstall, West Yorkshire

Excellent journalism that exposed British appeasement of African crimes against humanity. Mugabe has blood on his hands.
Martyn Jones

I've been watching your Panorama on Zimbabwe, after a weekend spent behind the computer and television trying not to miss anything about the elections. I've been visiting Zim for nine years every year now, have a lot of friends and a foster child, Thobekile. It hit me like a hammer when I was listening to the testimony about the killing of pregnant women and the gang rape of nine teachers. Ntabeni Clinic! My God, I have been there... Silobela! That's where Thobekile lives...

I knew about the Matabele slaughters but now to know that these atrocities happened in places where I've been, without knowing, and without my Zimbabwean companions telling me anything about it (my first visit was in '93) is so shocking. So extremely shocking. I hope the British Government and Europe have learned a lesson from what happened back then, about how they let Mugabe go away with it, without any punishment at all. Please give him the clear message that this is not going to happen anymore. Several of my Ndebele friends have already fled from Zimbabwe, seeking asylum elsewhere.
Heidi Simons

Is Mugabe's behaviour any surprise when he originally came to power as a terrorist?
Seymour Veer

The programme was most revealing and leaves me with a sense of shame at my government's inactivity in dealing with the atrocities of which it must have been aware.
Mrs. B A Fordred

If Milosovich can be tried at the Hague then so can Robert Mugabe and his other henchmen. The UK should try to make up for its complacency in the matter!
Paul Adamson
Wimbledon London UK

Panorama goes inside Zimbabwe to investigate Mugabe's crimes against humanity and whether the British Government could have done anything to stop him.

Links to more Panorama stories are at the foot of the page.

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