For just over three months I stayed at the Hilton Hotel while I worked in Pietermaritzburg recently. Staying there also was an ex-Rhodesian of roughly my age. This is his story in his words of his experiences and emotions during that war and its turbulent consequences.
First my experience when living in Rhodesia.
As portion of my articles for my CA were served with Price Waterhouse in Salisbury in 1977, I experienced the effects of the terrorist war first hand. I rapidly developed an affinity for the Rhodesian’s rugged demeanour in which the rigours of war were borne with equanimity. A second social phenomenon also struck me as an endearing attribute; a largely classless [white] society. Homogeneity and a common enemy would bind the white society inextricably together.
Main picture: The Rhodesian SAS
Two terrorist forces were assailing the 250 000 white Rhodesians in order to obtain by force what Ian Smith had denied them: majority rule. In order to forestall this from happening, all whites from 18 to 50 were drafted into the Army on the basis of six weeks in and six weeks out.
The dislocation both to commerce and industry as well as the social milieu was irrevocably as it was torn asunder. Being of a stoic rugged stock, the white community bore these strictures with good grace.
They derived considerable pride from their achievements. In spite of being comprehensively outnumbered and in many cases outgunned, with largely antiquated weaponry combined with a grim determination the forces of Zanla and Zipra were kept at bay.
The full magnitude of the task at hand was denied by means of a dangerous social deceit: 250 000 whites friendless and hindered by sanctions could defeat 4 million blacks with copious and unlimited arms supplied by both Russia and China.
Allowing these forces hegemony and thus ending the idyll – for it was a paradise for the whites in Rhodesia – was not considered an option. The alternative was left unspoken partially due to the fact that the consequences of handing power to the blacks were considered to be utterly inconceivable.
Their steadfast conviction of the rightness and justness of their cause did not countenance considerations such as their woeful lack of equipment and manpower.
For me it was love at first sight. Within days I was smitten. From a fractured racial society where even the white component was bifurcated into English and Afrikaans each with its own divergent viewpoint on life together with a disparaging view of the other to one where the singleness of purpose driven by a superordinate goal was extremely refreshing.
What I did not share with them was that I did not endorse their sanguine view of the future. In the game for the future of Rhodesia, the Liberation Movements held all the key cards including the jokers. Rightfully so, the Rhodesian were derogatory of their martial ardour and soldierly abilities. Consistently in any fire-fight, the ratio of losses was 10 to 1 in the security forces favour. This might have bolstered the morale of the white population but it was ephemeral.
Instead the steady drip of white casualties had a foreboding and sobering impact. The news broadcast on Rhodesian radio and TV inevitably commenced with the following announcement, “Combined Operations regrets to announce the death in action today of…………….” In a country where most whites personal would know or know somebody who knew the deceased, the Chinese drip torture treatment corroded the very soul of the nation.
In was into this milieu that I joined PW as it was the known, in Salisbury. The war was an unspoken subject but it did intrude periodically. In spite of being civilians, persons in certain key positions within the military were on a few hours standby.
Thus it came to pass that the person who had given me a lift to work, a Dakota pilot, was summonsed for duty at New Sarum Airbase at short notice. On his return to work a few days later, he informed us that he had been part of the successful destruction of a terrorist base in Mozambique called Mapai.
Of course the international press had announced that the Rhodesian had deliberately targeted a refugee camp. With inside information supplied my fellow articled clerks at PW, one could readily ascertain the veracity of such reports. To no avail. Even the most prestigious overseas publications continued to base their reports on Zanla’s claims.
Finally in February 1980, 35 years ago, Robert Mugabe ascended to power.
Here is one man’s story of his war and his view of that unwinnable was. One might not necessarily agree with their viewpoints expressed but those of the views of the author of this piece. The ending of the idyll meant for him, like most whites not only the loss of the war and a way of life, albeit unsustainable, but more importantly, the loss of the place of their birth, Rhodesia.
Rhodesians are now to be found in all four corners of the earth, anywhere except Zimbabwe itself.
Rhodesia was probably the most successful and idyllic countries in Africa. It was settled in the 1890’s and thrived as a British colony since that time until 1965. It had everything. The country prospered greatly through its wealth in minerals and many significant mining companies were established. These included British interests and Canadian. It was richly blessed with asbestos, gold, diamonds and chrome. Agriculture thrived and Rhodesia was accorded the respect of being the bread basket of Africa, even ahead of South Africa. Rich in maize and tobacco saw the export business thrive. Rhodesians were recognised as the most advanced and successful tobacco farmers in the world. Rhodesia held its own in manufacturing as well and supplied most of its day to day needs. It was, however, not blessed with oil. The majority of motor vehicles and heavy mechanical equipment also had to be imported. This was never a problem due to its firm trading partners in Britain and South Africa. The Rhodesian economy boomed under stable Government even well into the 70’s (even after UDI in 1965) and through excellent management and in fact its currency was the strongest in Africa. It was even more superior to the South African Rand and the American Dollar.
It was also a proud country. Its men, and our fathers and grand fathers served as Commonwealth forces in both the first and second world wars. Its men also served in Malaysia, Borneo and later in Korea when waves of communism were halted. My own father served with the 44 Lancaster Bomber Squadron in England and my uncle was a fighter pilot with a Spitfire Squadron also based in England. If my memory serves me correctly, he also flew in the Battle of Britain to pull the Brits out of trouble when they were deep in it. I personally know older men that were at Dunkirk and so much more…………
Rhodesia, although a small nation, did exceptionally well in sport and fitted in with most of the South African sporting events and competitions. Many Rhodesians over the century were chosen for both rugby and cricketing honours as “Springboks” when the South African national team was ruling the roost in international competition.
So good was life that many, many international visitors relocated to become Rhodesians and enjoy the benefits of this wonderful country. Many other nationals also came to take up the life style offered.
Throughout my early growing years in Rhodesia I never experienced any race hate relationship between white and black. We could ride our bicycles and walk through remote African villagers as children with no fear whatsoever. There was never intent to do harm from either side. There was also literally no crime and life was easy and carefree.
By the time I was 12, the first signs of trouble began. It started with rioting and unrest inspired by communist terror groups trained within the communist block. We lived exactly 120 metres from a huge African compound (a work force for the mine of some 5000 people) of which my father was the administrator. When trouble started the Police and Police Reserve would come and base themselves within our yard. They used to form a protected barrier across our front lawn. They were always fully armed and often at the ready. During these times my mother (a Scot) would have her .22 rifle ready from her window and I would take my position with my number 2 pellet gun to give a little support to the armed men lying across our lawn. Not that my effort would be significant, but I could hit the stop sign just next to the compound with every shot I ever fired. I felt I may be able to lend a stinging wound if required!
During these times we would still have to attend school some 15 miles away and the school bus would operate during these times with armed Police Reservists on the bus. My father, for what ever reason, commanded huge respect from the Africans within the compound and during times of trouble he would be the only one that the rioting crowds would allow through to talk to them. He would go alone, although against strong advice, and have discussions with them. He was never ever harmed, but I did see him cock his pistol and place it in his jacket pocket each time he went through these maddening crowds! We were one of three mines in the group that spanned some 25 miles in radius. The total African work force was somewhere around 20 000 in total.
Despite the small urban unrest that took place every now and again, we never really bothered that much. When things settled I could still walk through the compound on my own without any fear or even have the slightest doubt that it was unsafe. From the age of 13 to 18 I went off to boarding school as there was not a high school in our immediate area. We needed to travel through a large African Reserve to this school and during all the years there was never a problem in the world.
In the latter years of my high school, armed incursions into the country were starting, but these were all in remote border areas of the country. Once again they seemed to be far removed. What it did produce, however, was that compulsory nation military training became a necessity. We all received call-up papers before we graduated from school. I was lucky and managed to postpone my call-up for some two years.
There was no way out and while I was 20 years of age, off I went to serve my regulatory nine months basic training. The last three of these months were spent on full operational duty. We all resented this somewhat, but we had to do it and we all just wanted it over so we could get on with life.
To go back a step, the British Government wanted to introduce black majority rule to Rhodesia. Our Prime Minister at the time, Ian Smith, another Rhodesian fighter pilot during the Second World War, declared a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI). They knew then that this would be the end of Rhodesia and all the standards and principles it stood for. They realised a number of things that the outside world never understood in all their naivety. These included things like:
Allowing a primitive civilization and culture to take power without education or required knowledge to not only to maintain every facet to a country and to progress it further.
Inspection of the rest of Africa had been a complete and utter failure with ruling thugs who had absolutely destroyed their countries that would continue crippled and broken into the next centuries.
Those wanting to take power had sourced their help directly from the communists of the world.
Tribalism of which, would always have the ability to destroy a country and not build it. The Shona’s, (Mugabe’s mob) the majority tribe, took to China for their training and aid. The Matebele’s sought assistance directly from Russia. The Shona’s military wing became known as ZANU and the Matebele’s military wing was named ZIPRA. Both factions were trained in ruthless terrorist tactics and operated that way in an uncompromising fashion.
What a recipe for disaster! What would any decent man do? I mean, a really decent principled person! So Ian Smith declared UDI and we went our own way and told the British very politely that we were not going to allow our country to be destroyed.
Soon after this the world turned against us and sanctions were imposed. Rhodesians were clever and resourceful and continued to export their goods under all sorts of ways. We had sanction busting operations that really worked and we lead the British a merry dance. They were not a problem to handle because of their naïve understanding. There was not a single Rhodesian that I ever met that did not believe we were doing the right thing. The Rhodesian people were very united. The only problems we ever really experienced were those of fuel. The Brits imposed an oil embargo of fuel coming in through Beira in Mozambique. So we had petrol rationing, but who cared, one little problem like this does not discourage one from a noble and just cause.
Initial military service, although we resented it, was pretty darn boring and little was happening in the country. In fact we saw no action whatsoever. This was to change very quickly from 1973 onwards. We thought we would be free of the army for a year or so, but within six months we were to be called up again into active service. This then became every three months and no sooner had this begun and we were called up every six weeks. In other words six weeks on active duty and six weeks back in Civy Street. If this was not bad enough, we were then called up for a solid year and when we got out of that, it reverted back to every six weeks. So heavy were the call-ups that we might as well have been regulars. I was involved on this basis for a period of five years.
Where there had initially been skirmishes with terrorist insurgents only in the border areas, by year two of my military career, the entire country was designated into operational areas. No longer was it safe even to venture out of any town or city within a radius of five miles as terrorist groups were operating all over. This, however, never stopped us and we countered it by having armed police conveys mixed in with civilian cars from place to place. A favourite tactic of the terrorists was to fire on civilians within these convoy systems. They also fired with rockets at civilian aircraft. One was once hit leaving Lake Kariba and those who were not killed in the crash landing, were later butchered by these terrorists. The terrorists attacked many gatherings of women and children while the men were away on active military duty and mutilated them. Many farmers were killed in ambushes on their farms when returning home. Once again, they would mutilate and butcher women and children of farmers while the farmer tendered his lands. Despite all this, the farmers remained and toughed it out, because we were made of better stuff! Honestly, heroes of the whole war! One particular farm we were based on was attacked the night after we moved off to another location. This was in retaliation for the farmer allowing us to base our company on his farm. Now the farmer had a veranda right around his house. At each corner it was sand bagged where they could defend themselves from. He also like all farmers had good security fencing within about 50 yards of the house. Well these terrorist firstly mortared them and then fired RPG rockets. Several struck the house. After this they attacked with small arms fire. While defending one of the corner sand bagged areas, the farmer’s wife saw three of them cutting their way in through the main gate. She ran towards them with her Uzi sub machine gun and killed all three. She then made it back to her bunker without being hit, although she sustained considerable fire power towards her. What an incredible heroic deed and as far as I know she was never decorated for this incredibly brave deed. It did, however, save their lives and after they saw three of their dead comrades they left pretty promptly.
Not all stories ended this way. I know of an incident where the farmer and his wife went out with their labourers to tend their fields. They locked their security gates, but the terrorists got in. An incredibly brave African lady had the white baby on her back as she worked. They placed material around themselves to hold the child securely while they walk or work. When the terrorists wanted to know where the white child was, she hid it in the material and told them that it was her baby. They we not fooled and took the baby out. While one held the child, another fixed his bayonet and stood at the other end of the veranda. One terrorist then slide the child across the floor and it slide onto the bayonet. This then proceeded in the same manner where one slipped the bayonet out and threw the bloodied child to the next guy that had also fixed his bayonet. This was repeated a good number of times until the child was completely mutilated!
Now, terrorist groups normally consist of eleven – one commander, one medic, one political commissar and eight cadres. The political commissar is rather a nasty fellow. His job is not to only politicise the local people but to maintain a healthy fear of the locals for the terrorist groups and their safety. I have seen where they have gone into a remote African village to make a very real point. They accuse someone of being an informer and then proceed to cut every part of his anatomy off, place them in a pot to cook and then make his wife start to eat her husband one part at a time! I have witnessed where they have arrived at villagers out in the country side, abducted the young men to join there ranks and raped every eligible young women they could find. They would steal the very food villagers depended on after harvest for the next year and leave them to starve. This is the very people they claimed to be liberating! I can go on and on and on. But by this time any reader should have the gist of what these terrorist groups were about.
As the war progressed the Rhodesian Forces became exceptional soldiers. I do not personally know of a single contact or battle that was lost. Yes, we lost men, but we knew what we were there for. Unlike our national service, we still did not like the inconvenience, but each of us stood for what we were doing and exterminating a deadly evil, like a cancer that was spreading throughout the country. Never for a single instant did we ever feel that we were wrong and never ever did we consider that we might have been the evil that the world now writes and speaks about us. We stood tall and proud, and like our fathers we were conducting a noble and honourable war against the worst of the worst that terrorism could throw at us. We genuinely fought for our country, our families and to eliminate this disgraceful enemy. We fought for what was good and right and noble.
Rhodesian troops were never sloppy in any way and would go to unbelievable lengths to track down and bring in the last terrorist we could find, no matter what it took. We would even cross borders to get our man.
It was a Wednesday in the second last week of September 1976 when my section found tracks of a terrorist group. We followed these tracks for a quarter of an hour or so to ensure that our confirmation to our rear base was in fact valid. Immediately, fire-force was alerted – this is the heliborn troops and attack helicopters and Dakotas containing crack SAS paratroopers on board. Before fire-force was deployed, a chopper arrived with professional trackers. We followed these tracks for some two hours or so plotting their course on my map and estimating the time since the tracks were left. This way, my rear base commander and I could determine just how far up ahead the terrorist group was and the route they were following. Once we established this, fire-force was instructed to take to the air. The choppers would fly a considerable distance around and ahead of the terrorist group (so they would not hear and know choppers were in the air) and then turn and come directly towards them, still stopping a good distance from them to deploy troops in stop groups (ambush positions) to engage them.
As this operation was in motion, we received an alarming message on our radios. Fire-force was return to base and all our sections in every platoon and the entire company were to return to base. In other words we were going to let this terrorist group get away! Absolutely unheard of! This had never happened in the entire Rhodesian war as far as we knew. We radioed in to question this and received a sharp rebuff to simply move to the nearest road where we could be picked up. This was a major shock and we had to believe that we were required elsewhere on a priority and urgent basis that was more important then a group of eleven terrorists moving back towards the Rhodesian/Mozambique border.
After many hours vehicles arrived to pick us up. The first question we asked was what was the urgent priority? There did not seem to be one to our utter bewilderment. All our guys on the vehicles knew was that our Major had been called away urgently to Army Headquarters in Salisbury, some two days before. All they knew was that he was flying back from Salisbury when he sent the message that he did not care what was taking place on the ground but everyone of his men were to be returned to our base camp.
When we eventually arrived back at camp, the Major was there, but in his tent. The company Sergeant Major rounded the entire company up and seated us like school children just outside his tent. Now, one must realise that this is exceptionally poor soldiering. For whatever reason, while in camp no more than a few soldiers would ever be in a group for any length of time. In fact, even when we went for food in camp we would only arrive in two’s. This was to ensure that there would be minimal casualties should a mortar bomb ever fall within our camp perimeters. He did however put up machine gun positions from HQ personnel to ensure the base was still secure.
We were very uneasy with this situation as we were doing everything against all our training and operational knowledge. Once we were all seated on the ground, the Major appeared. He proceeded to tell us what had taken place within the last few days and as he did this, tears rolled down his face. Everything was really weird and we felt exceptionally uncomfortable as this was the hardest man we knew. Not only was he a very fine soldier, but we disliked him intensely as he was hard and uncompromising. In fact so hard was this man on his own troops that we preferred to be in the bush with the terrorists rather in camp with him, no matter what your rank!
He informed us that our Prime Minister had been summoned to Pretoria the previous weekend by John Vorster, the South African Prime Minister. When Ian Smith asked John Vorster the reason for the summoning, he simply said that matters were grave and that Ian Smith was to meet the American Secretary for State, Henry Kissinger. Ian Smith attended the South African/New Zealand rugby match on the Saturday afternoon in Pretoria, and unlike before where Ian Smith would always sit with John Vorster, the Rhodesian contingent of Ministerial leaders were shunned and relegated to lesser seating.
On Monday morning the Rhodesian contingent walked into the Union Buildings in Pretoria where they were introduced to Henry Kissinger. Ian Smith asked John Vorster this direct question, “what’s this all about?” John Vorster replied, “Henry has come to insist that you accept black majority rule in Rhodesia.” Ian Smith then asked him, “If I don’t what are the consequences?” John Vorster then went on to explain that if Ian Smith would not accept, then the South African railways would become too congested to transport anything more in or out of Rhodesia. Ian Smith then asked him what would happen if he accepted. John Vorsters reply was, “then we can always make a plan.” What one has to understand is that Rhodesia and South Africa had been strong allies and all sanction busting operations were conducted through South African help. All our arms and military equipment also came via South African assistance. This was no surprise as for many years every time we returned to the bush war on call-up, new ammunition and armaments were issued. During the previous year, we were cleaning dirty ammunition for front line use. I remember the armourers saying. “We wish Smithy and Vorster would kiss and make up so we can get the regular new stuff.” Little did they know what was really transpiring? When we ordered the larger mortars, they would send us engine parts. Now we understood why all this had happened.
Ian Smith was very reluctant, but John Vorster suggested he come over and read all the documentation that was spread over two boardroom tables. Ian Smith left the contingent he brought with to examine the documentation and he returned to this hotel for the day. They called Ian Smith back later the same afternoon and explained that the Americans knew of every sanction busting operation in the world and literally how much petrol, down to the last thousand litres that the Rhodesian armed forces had. Henry Kissinger explained to Smithy that the game was up and the Americans would close down every sanction busting operation there was and would ensure that South Africa supplied no more fuel to us. Kissinger then asked Ian Smith for his decision. Smithy explained that this was impossible as it would have to be a cabinet decision. They phoned through to Salisbury before they flew home and had the entire cabinet stand by for an emergency meeting when they arrived back.
This meeting took place and went right through the night. The cabinet could not come to a decision and then summoned our JOC (Joint Operational Command – Army, Air Force and Police) to participate in discussion to reach a final decision. At this time, the military called every field commander out of the bush and they all arrived by Tuesday lunch time. This meeting was held at the Military Head Quarters in Salisbury and it was reported that it was a very heated session with many bitter pills being swallowed. This session lasted through the night once again. Early on Wednesday morning our Generals decided that the field commanders were to return to their posts and instructed our Prime Minister and Cabinet that the decision was to be theirs and theirs alone and what ever was decided JOC would abide by. Before the field commanders left, the decision had not been made. There were then two code words given to the field commanders. One was that we would continue to fight and the other that we would accept Henry Kissinger’s threat, later to be known as the “Kissinger Proposals.” During the flight back from Salisbury, the coded message was received by our Major, “We were to basically surrender and accept the evil prospect of accepting Black Majority Rule.” The record reflects that Henry Kissinger remained in Pretoria until the official acceptance came and he flew out of South Africa on the Friday morning. At this point our Major radioed our Captain on the ground and told him that he did not care whatever may be happening, but every one of his troops were to be returned to base camp. Now, this was contrary to orders they had received in Salisbury, because every field commander was to return to tell the troops that “all was well.” Our Major was further able to tell us of how events would unfold over the following three years towards the final and fateful blow of Black Majority rule. Every single thing he told us actually transpired and the timing was only some six months out.
After hearing this incredibly decapitating story, I saw men in our company walk around in a daze. I saw men pick up soil in their hands, drop it back to the ground and say, “let me feel it for the last time, because soon this will not be ours.” We then went to the Major and told him to return us to our rear regimental base, because we wanted to hand in our gear, pack our cars and get our families out of Rhodesia. He told us he did not have the authority to allow this, but he would call in the Lt. Colonel who was in command of our particular operational area. He obviously must have told him what it was about. About two hours later the Lt. Colonel arrived with a number of trucks with Military Police. He then called us and asked, “Now what is all this **?#** nonsense?” Now, in the Rhodesian Forces on call-up, were many professional people. One did not avoid call-ups because you were educated and received cushy military posts. We were still thinking people who were fighting for our country and not dumb green horns who knew no better. The first and only question was asked, “Sir, what’s the point of continuing to fight on when we are to surrender our country to the terrorists?” The answered came in a swift rebuke that made even hardened soldiers blush as he tore into us verbally. We passed the word around quickly, “Don’t ask this fool another question and let them get the heck out of here because we don’t also want to take out red caps with little to no combat experience.” We then thanked him for coming and he took off with the red caps thinking he had done a great job putting down any attempted “rebellion.” Two nights later, our Prime Minister came on National Radio and told the Nation what a positive time we were heading for and blatantly camouflaged the truth to maintain morale and order within the country. So inflamed were the men of our company that I believe, had our Prime Minister paid us a visit anytime during that particular call up, any one of twenty men would have shot him. Afrikaans men fighting within our ranks were so annoyed with South Africa that some of them swore never ever to speak Afrikaans again in protest to what their mother country had gone along with in betrayal.
Once our call-up ended and we returned home for a while, we put out the facts of this incident and truth to what was planned to the rest of our companies within our regiment. Within a period of two years, regimental strength had decreased from twelve operational companies to four, as the majority of the men felt badly betrayed, lied to and were not going to risk their lives for no further purpose whatsoever.
My wife and I made a firm decision that we would remain principled and would not remain in our country of birth and the country we had fought for, to live under one of the most brutal and terrorist regimes ever known at that time. Within a year I had found a job in South Africa and we emigrated to start a new life.
Everything that we had been told that fateful day was manifest within the next few years. The terrorists under Robert Mugabe came to power. Some of my friends that remained through the last period told me that there was a full strategic military plan to take the country back if Robert Mugabe won the election. The final order never came from General Walls to launch this operation. Our men were shattered and extremely disillusioned and once again felt betrayed and bitterly disappointed by their own people.
On coming to power Robert Mugabe gave our regular and Special Forces, consisting of the RLI (Rhodesian Light Infantry), SAS (Special Air Services) and Selous Scouts a specified and limited time to get out of the country. This they had to do and left with much dignity. SAS drove in convey through Rhodesia, carrying with them the Wall of Remembrance and the SAS Plinth, where they are erected close to Durban in South Africa to this very day. They drove through Rhodesia in open display and taunted terrorists loyal to Mugabe to take them on for one last time. Of course the terrorists were exceptionally pleased and rejoiced in seeing the back of their most feared and superior enemy! They were not going to risk great casualties in any last bravado.
So the era and legend of Robert Mugabe began! He lavished in early success and fame. The American President invited him to the White House and acclaimed him for his great victory over the White Minority Colonial Regime and wished him all success. Africans everywhere in Africa proclaimed him their hero and he defiantly rose to the occasion. EU Ministers arrived and lauded him with his great victory. They proclaimed how the new country of Zimbabwe would not be like other failed African States and they would support in every way the future success of Zimbabwe to lead and supply the rest of Africa. They claimed how the “bread basket of Africa would serve the starving African masses.” For some twelve years Africa’s hero, darling and liberator rode the crest of the wave. Zimbabwe was blessed with wonderful rain and agriculture soared to new heights. Everything prospered and its currency remained strong. During this time Mugabe also ruthlessly took care of his internal enemies. His army absolutely destroyed the ZIPRA conventional army that was based in Zambia. The Matebele knew that when the bush war was over with the whites, there would be a massive fight for eventual power. They held back this force in Zambia that was also a heavy mechanized force with tanks and heavy artillery. When they felt the time was right they launched from Zambia and drove from the Victoria Falls towards Bulawayo. Mugabe’s intelligence was excellent and he knew of the timing. He also had the remaining whites in the now Zimbabwe Air Force well prepared for such an eventuality. As this large conventionalized force moved down they were firstly attacked by the Zimbabwe Air Force and were largely obliterated. Mugabe’s forces then moved in and wiped out any remaining survivors. Mugabe, then employed the services of North Korean combat troops and with his own troops, trained by the North Koreans, moved in to practice genocide in Matebeland and they killed multitude of innocent people and largely destroyed any last credible ZIPRA resistance still operating. To this very day, Mugabe has never let the Matebele forget their opposition to him and large numbers of his forces still control the Matebele capital, Bulawayo. With the aid of the dreaded CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) many Matebele’s have been murdered and disappearance of people is reported to be a common occurrence. Absolute fear has been installed into the populace and no resistance in any form is tolerated.
From around 1992, the wonderful honeymoon period was drawing to a close. Opposition was started to emerge and suddenly the gloves were coming off towards the local populace, mostly of his previously loyalists and tribesmen. He was ruthless towards them and to ensure that votes remained with his party he started to confiscate white owned farms and to relocate the “peasants” onto these lands. In many cases, however, he gave these farms to senior loyalist party members. In the majority of cases the new owners did not have the knowledge or the funding to productively manage these farms. As a consequence many today sit as squatters on these farms as they become derelict. The net result is that Zimbabwe, the once “bread basket” of Africa, can no longer even feed itself and is now starving and living where possible on hand outs from international welfare organisations. Mining has also deteriorated to the extent that that little is exported any more due to the inability of the people to productively produce. Every facet of Public Sector life has collapsed once again through ineptitude and inability of its peoples. Banking is in disarray and little to no foreign currency has been available to the people of Zimbabwe or to major companies operating there for over some three years. Pensions that were guaranteed by the EU are no longer paid to Rhodesians living outside the country as there is no foreign currency. This has brought unbelievable hardship to Rhodesian retirees living outside Zimbabwe. This once strong economy, where the dollar was once more valuable than the South African Rand and the American Dollar, can now devalue by anything up to 100% per month. One American Dollar now fetches, on the black market (which is accepted by all institutions in Zimbabwe), nine million Zimbabwe Dollars and the Zimbabwe Dollar continues to fall even as this document is being written (as at 01 October 2006). So diabolical is the Zimbabwe currency that they have had recently to remove three noughts off the official bank notes for the people to cope with such large numbers. Infrastructure throughout the country collapses at an ever frightening rate. Democracy is a mockery! From early beginnings of voting, ballot boxes in areas where a threat exists to the terrorist Government are simply replaced. Even on my cousin’s farm, discarded actual ballot boxes were found. Many have also been retrieved from the Kariba Harbour – these are from eye witness accounts.
As Zimbabwe was emerging, terrorist forces were supposed to report to British monitored assembly points so they could not intimidate the local rural population. What in fact happened was they poorly armed many of the local people, mostly youngsters from the ages of 14 – 19 (called Majubas) and they reported to the assembly camps as “Freedom Fighters” while the terrorist remained in the bush to ensure that the election would not go array. This they did through intimidation. Now, British forces, including “Bobbies” (within the assembly points) either turned a blind eye and in many cases we are certain, never had a clue! Now, one must understand what intimidation means in Africa. You don’t vote the way we say, simply you die! Now this is not to say that they would not have won, but they certainly applied heavy insurance! One must remember that Rhodesia also had a number of African Regiments also fighting the war on the side of the Rhodesians that did not buy into the terrorist campaign. Maybe not the majority, but there was a significantly large number of African that were opposed to what Mugabe and the terrorists stood for, especially as many had suffered through them! Also just prior to terrorist forces returning home, their military leader General Tongogara, the man that would have been elected as president, was assassinated by forces loyal to the political leader Mugabe, who surprisingly, was not that well known to the masses at that time. Tongogara was their man and the most well known. In the past fourteen years great intimidation and changing of ballot boxes has continued to give Mugabe overwhelming victories. As in the case of Zimbabwe, there is no difference to the rest of Africa. Democracy truly means, “ONE MAN, ONE VOTE, ONCE at best! After that the African power game takes its course as tribal roots and power. The strongest and the most ruthless rule – this is the way of African respect and the rule of the Jungle! Their core belief system is totally contrary to the very principles of democracy.
Everything has become exceptionally tardy and run down. Towns and buildings are largely un-kept and in need of dire repair and painting. Nothing is tidy anymore and general upkeep of gardens and public areas see grass some three to four feet high, with no sign of order.
There is little to no fuel available to the public and service stations stand deserted. Food is extremely expensive to the locals and in very short supply, even in the towns. Today it is a country literally dying and without hope.
Ian Smith and many credible and experienced politicians and commentators of their day told the British, the Americans and the Europeans that this is exactly what would eventually become of Rhodesia if they insisted on black majority rule and this is exactly what has happened. They however knew better and their ignorance and lack of understanding is fully evident today. We are still labeled the “White Minority Colonial Regime” who denied these people their democratic rights and it sounds wonderful, clever and accurate. This is fine if you have people on an equal footing and you deny them such privileges. The real truth of the matter is that they come from a very low based culture and civilisation and are nowhere near or even vaguely capable of constructively managing a country in any acceptable form whatsoever. In addition to this, you have tribalism that is not understood in the west and the great, great lack of even the fringes of basic education to 95% of the country to this very day, offers the wonderful ideals of democracy to a world of ignorance. This with the background outlined, leads to the easiest of manipulation from the ruthless and cunning. To exacerbate these truths, communist ideology from terrorists in power is the greatest recipe to disaster one can possibly contemplate.
Any trip through Zimbabwe today, will without any doubt whatsoever, confirm this. From a most prosperous and stable country, today it lies in ruins so much to the extent that no matter how much money is injected, this country will take some fifty to seventy years to restore, if indeed it can ever be restored again. Reconstruction is not just erecting new building and infrastructure. For surely this will again fall down in a short period of time. It takes education to all the people, lifting skill levels and developing management expertise. Perhaps the greatest challenge lies in eradicating tribalism, changing since the beginning of time, deep rooted truly evil core values of belief and cultural systems in power and governance. If just this one thing could be accomplished, then only will Zimbabwe and the majority of Africa have a genuine chance of progress and stability. It will, however, take a minimum of the fifty to seventy years quoted above to honestly achieve this. Most of the present generations will have to pass. The question then has to be asked, “What do we do with good governance in the meantime?” My personal belief is that the colonial powers that once ruled need to come back to share Government responsibility and support such nations in a holistic way. Present incumbents will never be able to do this and this is why Africa never progresses, it just deteriorates in every aspect!
In 1986 I was consulting to a business in South Africa. The CEO and owner of this business noticed I was a Rhodesian and asked me on the story of Rhodesia. I told him of the sad story I have related in this document. After completing my verbal account, he answered, “Everything you have told me is true.” I then replied, “How do you know, I may have given you a very biased account.” He answered, “No, it’s all true, but do you think this is the worst thing that has ever happened?” Of course I believed it was. He then said, “There is a story one worse.” He proceeded to go to his wall safe and out of the safe he took out a thick black book that looked something like a diary. He paged and took me to diarised events two years prior to the Kissinger Proposals. He showed me two meetings held in Europe between Kissinger and John Vorster. He further showed me the plotting and demise of Rhodesia before it happened. I asked him why South Africa would agree to this. He again took me to notes at that point, “you see there was a deal cut that if South Africa conceded to American demands, a longer period of time could be secured for South Africa before they moved to Black Majority rule. If they did not, the Americans were threatening severe early consequences for South Africa. The most devastating revelation was yet to come. Even before the Kissinger Proposals in 1976, the final hand-over of responsible rule in South Africa was planned for late 1993. This I personally saw recorded in this book. He asked me if I had ever seen anything so diabolical. I was shocked that so much can be orchestrated and manipulated and such people had the power to be so treacherous. I then had to ask the most obvious question, “Where on earth did you get all this information?” He then told me that he had been one of the most senior officers in the South African Intelligence Service! South Africa later attained its Democracy or Black Majority Rule in May 1994, some six months after it had been planned back in the 70’s!