Rhodesian Bush War

From New World Encyclopedia
Zimbabwe, colonial "Rhodesia".

The Rhodesian Bush War, also known as the Second Chimurenga or the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle, was a war which lasted from July 1964[1] to 1979 and led to universal suffrage, the end of white minority-rule in Rhodesia, and the creation of the Republic of Zimbabwe. The Smith and government fought against Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union and Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union. Those who fought in the Bush War did so courageously to end minority white rule and to achieve for Zimbabwe independence and the freedom to form a government chosen by the majority of the population. Unfortunately, what despite sanctions was a healthy economy described as the "breadbasket of Africa," has deteriorated to the extent that many people are starving and inflation is out of control.

Largely, this has followed from a land redistribution policy that has rewarded veterans of the Bush War with farms previously owned by the white minority (who owned most of the land), which has resulted in a serious decline in food production. Some of those who have benefited from the seizure of land are not genuine war veterans. Some are, and they are cultivating the land. The true veterans of the Bush War struggled courageously to gain their freedom. Unfortunately, their leaders had no thought-out plan on how they were going to transform Zimbabwe from an unjust to a just society. The economy they inherited was healthy, even though it was unfairly structured and needed radical reform. What is needed is less blaming each other, or playing the blame-game, than international co-operation to ensure a just, sustainable and equitable resolution of what is at bottom a humanitarian crises. The victims of the crises are not themselves the cause. Their suffering ought to attract the generosity and ingenuity of the world community to ensure that, no matter where blame lies, a solution is quickly found.


Internal factors

The war is viewed by many Black Zimbabweans as a war of national liberation, as many of them recognized their country as having been occupied and dominated by a foreign power, namely Britain, since 1890. A common misconception is that blacks were subjected to extreme racism and this was the factor that led to the war; however, while some social services were segregated, voting was colorblind and the white-run government did provide health, education, and housing services to blacks. The nationalists went to war over white rule and land dispossession.

By contrast, most white Rhodesians viewed the war as one of survival with atrocities committed in the former Belgian Congo, the Mau Mau Uprising campaign in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa fresh in their minds. Many whites (and a sizable minority of black Rhodesians) viewed their lifestyle as being under attack, which both had considered safer and with a higher standard of living than many other African countries.

External factors

After World War II, most African colonies sought independence from colonial powers. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China trained and funded mainly communist African armies of liberation to expand their global influence and gain access to natural resources against the backdrop of the Cold War. After the Sino-Soviet Split, these two powers were often in competition with each other and hence there were two liberation armies in the Rhodesian Bush War; ZANLA supported by China and ZIPRA supported by the Soviet Union.

After gaining independence, the Soviet or Chinese backed nationalists would normally form Marxist/Socialist states, aligned with the Communist Bloc. This ensured valuable trade links and strategic influence in the region. This pattern was established earlier in South East Asia with conflicts such as the Vietnam War and Cambodian Civil War and in neighboring African countries with conflicts such as the Angolan War of Independence, Mozambican War of Independence, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, or the 1974 coup in Ethiopia leading to the rule of the Marxist Derg. These Cold War supported conflicts worried western observers as well the various colonial governments who questioned the motives of such liberation armies.

The ZANLA fighters were mainly Shona and were supported by the People's Republic of China and North Korea, whereas the ZAPU fighters were mainly Ndebele and were supported by the Soviet Union and East Germany. Each group fought separate guerrilla wars against the Rhodesian Security Forces.

Rebels were armed with a wide range of weapons, including Russian grenades, Tokarov pistols, PPSh Sub-machineguns, the Czech M52/57, the French MAS, German Mauser rifles, and MP40 sub-machineguns, but the most common infantry weapon was the AK-47 and the SKS.[2] The nationalist movements also used a variety of Soviet and Chinese-made equipment which eventually included surface-to-air missiles and land mines. The use of ambushes and surprise attacks on civilian convoys and rural farms and villages was a common tactic as these areas were often hard to defend. Nationalists derailed several Rhodesian Railways trains with explosives.

In June 1979, the governments of Cuba and Mozambique offered direct military assistance to the Patriotic Front, but Mugabe and Nkomo declined.[3]

The Communist Party of Great Britain actively supported ZAPU. North Korean military officials taught Zimbabwean militants how to use explosives and arms in a camp near Pyongyang.[4]

By April 1979, 12,000 ZANLA troops were training in Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Libya.[5]

The Bush War overlapped several Cold War conflicts in its neighboring countries, including Angola's war of independence (1961-1975) and civil war (1975-2002), Mozambique's war of independence (1964-1974) and Civil War (1977 to 1992), and Shaba I (1977) and Shaba II (1978).

Civil disobedience (1957-1964)

In September 1956, bus fares in Salisbury were raised to the point at which workers were spending between 18 percent and 30 percent of their earnings on transportation. The City Youth League responded by boycotting the United Transport Company's buses and succeeded in preventing the price change. On September 12, 1957, members of the Youth League and the defunct ANC formed the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress, led by Joshua Nkomo. The Whitehead administration banned the SRANC in 1959 and arrested 307 leaders, excluding Nkomo who was out of the country, on February 29 in Operation Sunrise.[1][6][7]

Nkomo, Mugabe, Herbert Chitepo, and Ndabaningi Sithole established the National Democratic Party in January 1960. Nkomo became its leader in October. An NDP delegation headed by Nkomo attended the constitutional conference in January 1961. While Nkomo initially supported the constitution, he reversed his position after other NDP leaders disagreed. The government banned the NDP in December 1961 and arrested NDP leaders, excluding Nkomo who, again, was out of the country. Nkomo formed the Zimbabwe African People's Union which the Whitehead administration banned in September 1962.

The United Federal Party, campaigning on majority rule, lost overwhelmingly in the 1962 general election to the more conservative Rhodesian Front. Nkomo, legally barred from forming a new political party, moved ZAPU's headquarters to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

In July 1963, Nkomo suspended Ndabaningi Sithole, Robert Mugabe, Leopold Takawira, and Washington Malianga for their opposition to his continued leadership of ZAPU.[8] On August 8, they announced the establishment of the Zimbabwe African National Union. ZANU members formed a militant wing, the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army, and sent ZANLA members to the People's Republic of China for training.

In July 1964, ZANLA forces assassinated a Rhodesian Front official and the war began.

First phase (1964-1972)

The Smith administration detained Nkomo and Robert Mugabe in August 1964. In April 1966, the Rhodesian armed forces engaged militants in Sinoia, the first major engagement.

Militants began launching attacks against Rhodesia in the mid-1960s, first from bases in Zambia and later from Mozambique.[9]

The conflict intensified after the Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Britain on November 11, 1965. Sanctions were implemented by the British government after UDI, and member states of the United Nations endorsed the British embargo. The embargo meant the Rhodesian Forces were hampered by a lack of modern equipment but used other means to receive vital war supplies such as receiving oil, munitions, and arms via the government of Apartheid-era South Africa. War material was also obtained through elaborate international smuggling schemes, domestic production, and equipment captured from infiltrating enemy combatants.

In the latter months of 1971, the black nationalist factions united and formed a coalition which became known as the Joint Guerrilla Alliance to Overthrow the Government.

Second phase (1972-1979)

The black nationalists operated from secluded bases in neighboring Zambia and from FRELIMO-controlled areas in the Portuguese colony of Mozambique. These militants made periodic raids into Rhodesia. With the decline of the Portuguese empire from 1974 to 1976, Ian Smith realized Rhodesia was surrounded on three sides by hostile nations and declared a formal state of emergency.

Soon Mozambique closed its 800-mile-long border with Rhodesia, but Rhodesian forces often crossed the border in "hot pursuit" raids, attacking the nationalists and their training camps. In 1976, Rhodesian Selous Scouts destroyed a camp containing many hundreds of trainees. The Rhodesians also operated into Zambia after Nkomo's nationalists shot down two unarmed Vickers Viscount civilian airliners with Soviet supplied SAM-7 heat-seeking missiles. In the first incident, Air Rhodesia Flight RH825, ten passengers who survived the crash landing were shot and killed at the crash scene. As the conflict intensified, the United States and Britain attempted to negotiate a peaceful settlement. However, this was rejected by the Rhodesian government as they were unwilling to relinquish political and economic control, and the black nationalists were bitterly divided by feudal, tribal, and political differences.

The RSF called up part-time soldiers in preparation for a major counter-offensive on May 2, 1976. Militants bombed a railroad bridge over Matetsi River on October 7, 1976, when a train carrying ore passed over.

On April 3, 1977, General Peter Walls announced the government would launch a campaign to win the "hearts and minds" of Rhodesia's black citizens.[10]

In May 1977, Walls received reports of ZANLA forces massing in the city of Mapai in Gaza Province, Mozambique. Prime Minister Smith gave Walls permission to destroy the base. Walls told the media the Rhodesian forces were changing tactics from contain and hold to search and destroy, "adopting hot pursuit when necessary." On May 30, 1977, 500 troops passed the border and traveled 60 miles to Mapai, engaging the ZANLA forces with air cover from the Rhodesian Air Force and paratroopers in C-47 Dakotas. The Rhodesian government said the military killed 32 ZANLA fighters and lost one Rhodesian pilot. The Mozambican government disputed the number of casualties, saying it shot down three Rhodesian planes and a helicopter and took several troops prisoner, all of which Minister of Combined Operations Roger Hawkins denied.[11][12][13]

The United Nations Security Council denounced the incursion of the "illegal racist minority regime in Southern Rhodesia" into Mozambique in Resolution 411, on June 30, 1977.

Walls announced a day later that the Rhodesian military would occupy Mapai until they had eliminated ZANLA's presence. Kurt Waldheim, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, condemned the incident on June 1, and Rhodesian forces withdrew. The American, British, and Russian governments also condemned the raid.

Militants bombed a department store in Harare (Salisbury) on August 11, killing 11 and injuring 70.[14] They killed sixteen black civilians in eastern Rhodesia on August 21, burning their homes on a white-owned farm.

In May 1978, 50 civilians were killed in crossfire exchanged between Marxist militants and the Rhodesian military, the highest number of civilians to be killed in an engagement up to that point. In July Patriotic Front members killed 39 black civilians and the Rhodesian government killed 106 militants in southeast Salisbury. On November 4, 1978, 2,000 Patriotic Front militants had been persuaded to defect and fight for the Rhodesian Security Forces. In reality only 50 militants defected. In 1978, 450 ZANLA militants crossed the Mozambique border and attacked the town of Umtali. At the time ZANU said the militants were women, an unusual characteristic, but in 1996, Joyce Mujuru said the vast majority involved were men and ZANU concocted the story to make Western organizations believe women were involved in the fighting.[15] In retaliation for these acts the Rhodesian Air Force bombed guerrilla camps 125 miles inside Mozambique, using 'fatigued' Canberra B2 aircraft and Hawker Hunters—­ actively, but clandestinely, supported by several of the more capable Canberra B(I)12 aircraft of the South African Air Force. A number of joint-force bomber raids on "terr" encampments and assembly areas in Mozambique and Zambia were mounted in 1978, and extensive air reconnaissance and surveillance of guerrilla encampments and logistical build-up was carried out by the South African Air Force on behalf of the RhAF. The increased effectiveness of the bombing and follow-up "air mobile" strikes using Dakota-dropped parachutists and helicopter "air cav" techniques had a significant effect on the development of the conflict, until a successful "special forces" raid on the Rhodesian strategic fuel reserves near Harare (Salisbury) forced the decision to explore a negotiated settlement. The conflict continued until 1979, when an agreement was reached on a constitution to transfer power to a majority government—the Lancaster House Agreement.


The conflict was seen by the nationalist groups and the British government of the time as a war of national and racial liberation. The Rhodesian government saw the conflict as a fight between one part of the country's population (the whites) on behalf of the whole population (including the black majority) against several externally financed parties made up of predominantly black radicals and communists. The Nationalists saw their country as having been occupied and dominated by a foreign power, namely, Britain, since 1890. The British government, in the person of the Governor General, directly ruled the country from 1923, when it took over from the British South Africa Company. In 1965, Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front party took over the government when it Unilateral Declaration of unilaterally declared independence.[16]

The minority Rhodesian government believed they were defending Western values, Christianity, the rule of law and democracy by fighting Communists. They were unwilling to compromise on most political, economic and social inequalities. The Smith administration said the traditional chiefs were the legitimate voice of the black Shona and Ndebele population and that the nationalists were dangerous usurpers.

In 1979, the Smith administration attempted to blunt the power of the nationalist cause by acceding to an "Internal Settlement" which ended minority rule, changed the name of the country to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and installed the country's first black head of government, Abel Muzorewa. However, unsatisfied with this and spurred on by Britain's refusal to recognize the new order, the nationalist forces persisted. The Second Chimurenga/Bush War ended when the white-dominated government of Rhodesia returned power to the British government with the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement. The Rhodesian government did so at the behest of both South Africa (its major backer) and the U.S. Although minor multi-ethnic elections had been held on a limited basis in Rhodesia before, elections were held in early 1980. Britain recognized this new government and the newly independent and internationally recognized country was renamed Zimbabwe.

Rhodesian forces

The war saw the extensive operation of Rhodesian regulars as well as elite units such as the Selous Scouts and the Rhodesian Special Air Service. The Rhodesian Army fought bitterly against the black nationalist guerrillas. The Rhodesian Army also comprised mostly black regiments such as the Rhodesian African Rifles. Conscription was eventually introduced to supplement the professional soldiers and the many volunteers from overseas. By 1978, all white males up to the age of 60 were subject to periodic call-up into the army; younger men up to 35 might expect to spend alternating blocks of six weeks in the army and at home. Many of the overseas volunteers came from Britain, South Africa, Portugal, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States of America with the latter three being held in high regard for their recent Vietnam War experience. The Rhodesian Army was, considering the arms embargo, well-equipped. The standard infantry weapon was the Belgian FN FAL Rifle as produced in South Africa under license as the R1 Rifle and supplemented by the H&K G3 rifle. However, other weapons such as the British L1A1 variant of the FAL and the older British Lee-Enfield bolt action rifle were used by reservists and the British South Africa Police. Other weapons included the Bren LMG, Sten SMG, Uzi, Browning Hi-Power pistol, Colt M16 rifle (very late in the war), GPMG MMG,81 mm mortar, and Claymore mines. After Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) Rhodesia was heavily reliant on South African and domestically-produced weapons and equipment, as well as international smuggling operations.

The Rhodesian Air Force (RhAF) operated a variety of equipment and carried out numerous roles. When the arms embargo was introduced, the RhAF was suddenly lacking spare parts from external suppliers and was forced to find alternative means of keeping their aircraft flying. The RhAF was relatively well equipped and used a large proportion of equipment which was obsolete, such as the World War II vintage Douglas Dakota transport aircraft and the early British jet-fighter the De Havilland Vampire. It also used more modern types of aircraft like the Hawker Hunter, Aérospatiale Alouette III] helicopters, and Canberra bombers. Very late in the war, the Rhodesian forces were able to obtain and use a very few smuggled in Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopters.[17]

At the beginning of the war much of Rhodesia's military hardware was of British and Commonwealth origin but during the course of the conflict new equipment such as armored cars were procured from the South Africans. Several captured Soviet Bloc T-55 tanks were provided to Rhodesia by the South Africans. The Rhodesians also produced some of their own armored vehicles, including unlicensed copies of the Mercedes-Benz UR-416.[18] The means with which the Rhodesians procured weaponry meant that the arms embargoes had little effect on the Rhodesian war effort. During the course of the war most white citizens carried personal weapons, and it was not unusual to see white housewives carrying submachine guns. A siege mentality set in and all civilian transport had to be escorted in convoys for safety against ambushes. Farms and villages in rural areas were attacked frequently.

The Rhodesian government divided the nation into eight geographical operational areas; Operation Ranger—North West Border, Operation Thrasher—Eastern Border, Operation Hurricane—North East Border, Operation Repulse—South East Border, Operation Grapple—Midlands, Operation Splinter—Kariba, Operation Tangent—Matabeleland, "SALOPS"—Harare (Salisbury) and District.

Rebel forces

The two major armed groups campaigning against Ian Smith's government were:

  • ZANLA (Zimbabwe National Liberation Army), the armed wing of ZANU Zimbabwe African National Union.
  • ZIPRA (Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army), the armed wing of ZAPU Zimbabwe African People's Union.

The fighting was largely rural, with both movements attempting to secure peasant support and to recruit fighters while harassing the administration and the white civilians. Unlike the town-dwellers, rural whites faced danger and many were killed but in 1979 there were still 6,000 white farmers. They were vulnerable every time they left the homestead.


ZANLA was the armed wing of ZANU.

The organization had strong links with Mozambique's independence movement, FRELIMO (Liberation Front of Mozambique).

ZANLA had Chinese instructors but never actually progressed very far through the Maoist phases of revolution. Unlike ZIPRA, ZANLA was not interested in mounting a conventional threat. It had masses of ill-disciplined and barely trained guerrillas and was unable to seize and retain an objective. Training standards were so low that many cadres did not clean their rifles .

ZANLA, in the end, was present on a more or less permanent basis in over half the country, as evidenced by the location of the demobilization bases at the end of the war, which were in every province except Matabeleland North In addition, they were fighting a civil war against ZIPRA, despite the formation of a joint front by their political parties after 1978. It was ZANLA's intention to occupy the ground, supplant the administration in rural areas, and then mount the final conventional campaign. ZANLA concentrated on the politicization of the rural areas using force, persuasion, ties of kinship. and collaboration with spirit mediums.

ZANLA tried to paralyze the Rhodesian effort and economy by planting Soviet anti-tank land mines on the roads. From 1972 to 1980 there were 2,504 vehicle detonations of land mines (mainly Soviet TM46s), killing 632 people and injuring 4,410. The mining of roads increased as the war intensified; indeed the increase from 1978 (894 mines or 2.44 mines were detonated or recovered a day) to 1979 (2,089 mines or 5.72 mines a day) was 233.7 percent. In response, the Rhodesians co-operated with the South Africans to develop a range of mine protected vehicles. They began by replacing air in tires with water which absorbed some of the blast and reduced the heat of the explosion. Initially, they protected the bodies with steel deflector plates, sandbags and mine conveyor belting. Later, purpose built vehicles with V shaped blast hulls dispersed the blast. (The development led to the South African Hippo, Casspir, Mamba, and Nyala wheeled light troop carriers). Deaths in such vehicles became unusual events. Responding to the mines, Rhodesian engineers also built the world's first effective mine detection vehicle, the Pookie.

ZANLA, aided by FRELIMO, bore the brunt of the "Fire Force" and external camp attacks while establishing themselves amongst the rural people. Because Mugabe and his party later won the election it has been assumed that he had very strong support among the Shona. Nonetheless, the relief when ZANLA elements departed or were driven out was palpable.


ZIPRA was the anti-government force based around the Ndebele ethnicity, led by Joshua Nkomo, and the ZAPU political organization.

In contrast to ZANLA's Mozambique links, Nkomo's ZIPRA was more orientated towards Zambia for local bases. However, this was not always with full Zambian government support, and by 1979 ZIPRA's forces, combined with ANC and SWAPO forces in Zambia, was a major threat to Zambia's internal security. Because ZAPU's political strategy relied more heavily on negotiations than armed force, ZIPRA did not grow as quickly or elaborately as ZANLA, but by 1979 it had an estimated 20,000 combatants, almost all based in camps around Lusaka, Zambia.

ZIPRA was responsible for two attacks on civilian Air Rhodesia Viscount airplanes, using a SAM-7 surface-to-air missiles. Ten out of the eighteen civilians on board who survived the first crash were subsequently and systematically massacred by the ZIPRA militants. Nkomo later spoke to the BBC of the attack in a way some considered gloating. In his memoirs, Story of My Life (1985), Nkomo expressed regret for the shooting down of both planes, claiming ZIPRA intelligence believed the plane was carrying General Walls and his aides.

ZIPRA took advice from its Soviet instructors in formulating its version of popular revolution and its strategy for taking over the country. On the advice of the Soviets, ZIPRA built up its conventional forces, and motorized with Soviet armored vehicles and a number of small airplanes in Zambia. ZIPRA's (that is, ZAPU's) intention was to allow ZANLA to bring the Rhodesian forces to the point of defeat, and then to take the victory from the much lighter forces of ZANLA and the essentially defeated Rhodesians. An ZIPRA kept a light presence within Rhodesia, reconnoitering, keeping contact with the peasants and sometimes skirmishing with ZANLA. ZIPRA's conventional threat actually distracted the Rhodesians from fighting ZANLA to an extent. By the late 1970s, ZIPRA had developed a strategy known as Storming the Heavens to launch a conventional invasion from Zambia. An operation by the Rhodesian armed forces to destroy a ZIPRA base near Livingstone in Zambia was never launched.

The ZAPU/ZIPRA strategy for taking over Zimbabwe proved unsuccessful. In any event, the transfer of power to black nationalists took place not by the military take-over expected by ZAPU/ZIPRA, but by a peaceful and internationally supervised election. Rhodesia reverted briefly to real British rule, and a general election took place in early 1980. This election was supervised both by the UK and international forces. Robert Mugabe (of ZANLA/ZANU) won this election, being the only major competitor for the vote of the majority ethnicity, the Shona. Once in power, Mugabe was internationally recognized as Zimbabwe's leader and was installed as head of government, as well as having the backing of the overwhelming majority ethnic group. He was therefore able to quickly and irreversibly consolidate his power in Zimbabwe, forcing ZAPU, and therefore ZIPRA which was ZAPU's army, to give up hope of taking over the country in the place of ZANU/ZANLA.


Under the agreement of March 1978, the country was to be known as Zimbabwe Rhodesia, and in the general election of April 24, 1979, Bishop Abel Muzorewa became the country's first black prime minister.

The factions led by Nkomo and Mugabe denounced the new government as a puppet of white Rhodesians and fighting continued. Later in 1979, the new Conservative British government under Margaret Thatcher called a peace conference in London to which all nationalist leaders were included. The outcome of this conference would become known as the Lancaster House Agreement. The economic sanctions imposed on the country were lifted in late 1979, and British rule resumed under a transitional arrangement leading to full independence.

The elections of 1980 resulted in a victory for Robert Mugabe, who assumed the post of prime minister after Zimbabwe African National Union—Patriotic Front received 63 percent of the vote. On April 18, the country gained international recognition. Two years later the government renamed the capital of Salisbury to Harare.

Land redistribution

With more than 70 percent of the arable land owned by less than 5 percent of the population (mainly white), the issue of land re-distribution was hotly discussed at the Lancaster House talks. Britain agreed to compensate farmers who voluntarily surrendered land, and did for eight years. However, when it became apparent that "some of the farms were being given to President Mugabe's close associates, and refused to continue the payments."[19] In 2000, the Mugabe government began to size white-owned farms and hand them over to veterans of the Bush War, or to people who were represented to be veterans.


Anti Mugabe protest outside Zimbabwe. Protest is discouraged in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe achieved independence with a government elected by the majority of the population. Mugabe served as Prime Minister 1980 to 1987, then became President. Under policies designed to redistribute land, white farmers have been dispossessed. agricultural food production has plummeted because those dubbed "war veterans," that is, veterans of the Bush War who have taken over the farms have not all managed to cultivate them. With no training program in place to equip the new owners to manage the farms, many have been neglected. Until 2000, Zimbabwe produced not only enough food for itself but exported food to the rest of Africa. Given that the white population of only 6 percent owned 70 percent of the farms, re-distribution is justified.[20] However, the program was badly managed without adequate compensation or planning in place to maintain levels of agricultural output under new management. As people in the rural area, formerly employed on the farms, starve they migrate to the cities where their problems have been compounded by "slum clearance" projects initiated by the Mugabe government. Maze production fell by 74 per cent between 1999 and 2004.[21] The economy has collapsed and inflation has run rampant. Unemployment reached 70 percent.[22] Refugees have flooded surrounding countries, especially South Africa.

Mugabe, widely believed to have rigged elections, blames Britain for all the ills of the nation, saying that "Britain should foot the bill for compensation because Rhodesian colonists had stolen the land from blacks in the first place." Britain, however, "refused, pointing out that much of the land redistributed since 1980 had ended up in the hands of government officials rather than the poor."[20] Britain did pay $35 million USD to white farmers before discontinuing payments. On the one hand, it can be argued that Zimbabwe has had enough time to put its house in order. On the other hand, the fact that at independence the while British did attempt to address would obviously become a cause of friction they did not pursue this with sufficient rigor, just as they had done little to establish a foundation for genuine democracy to develop in their former colony. Some of those who have taken possession of the former owned farms are cultivating the land, and are genuine veterans of the Bush War who have had to wait more than two decades to gain any reward for helping to throw off the illegal white-minority government, and gain their independence. Others were born many years after the end of the war, and are taking advantage of the deterioration in law and order to gain land. Some have been rewarded with land for helping Mugabwe eliminate critics and opponents of his government. These are members of what has been described as "Youth militia;" "When not directing genocide campaigns or torturing and killing political opponents, Mugabe is promoting racial hatred (particularly of whites) through his youth militias."[22] Blaming foreign companies for increasing prices and causing the economic crises, some veterans have threatened to take over businesses as well. President Mugabe "blames businesses of conniving with the west to create a crisis in a bid to incite Zimbabweans to revolt."[23] The former colonial power and the post-colonial government have both failed to plan for a peaceful, equitable, just transition from an economy that was unfairly advantageous to a tiny minority to one from which all citizens can benefit. The true veterans of the Bush War struggled courageously to gain their freedom. Unfortunately, their leaders had no thought-out plan on how they were going to transform Zimbabwe from an unjust to a just society. The economy they inherited was healthy, although it was also unfairly structured and needed to be reformed. Playing the blame game while people starve is immature. In the face of humanitarian crises, the international community has two moral obligations—first to deal with the problem and second to ensure that the errors that caused it, regardless of responsibility, are never repeated.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Peter N. Stearns and William Leonard Langer, The Encyclopedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, Chronologically Arranged (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2001, ISBN 9780395652374), 1069.
  2. Peter Abbott, Modern African Wars (I): Rhodesia 1965-80 (London, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2001, ISBN 9780850457285), 10.
  3. Preston (2004), 55.
  4. Information Section, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Red Africa: Communist support and assistance to nationalist political groups in Rhodesia. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  5. Preston (2004), 66.
  6. Lake (1976), 32.
  7. Muzondidya (2005), 167-170.
  8. Robert Cary and Diana Mitchell, African Nationalist Leaders in Rhodesia Who's who (Salisbury, ZW: D. Mitchell, 1977), 101.
  9. St. John (2007), 1.
  10. Herbert A. Friedman, Rhodesia Psychological Operations 1965-1980, Psychological Operations. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  11. Kalley, Schoeman, and Andor. 1999. page 224.
  12. Time Magazine, Smith Takes a Dangerous New Gamble. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  13. Time Magazine, Getting ready for war. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  14. Muzondidya (2005), 246.
  15. Lyons (2004), 167.
  16. Fordham University, Unilateral Declaration of Independence Documents, 1965, Modern History Sourcebook. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  17. W.A. Brent, Rhodesian Air Force A Brief History 1947-1980 (Kwambonambi, ZA: Freeworld Publications, 1988, ISBN 9780620118057), 14.
  18. Reid Daly and Stiff (1982), 425.
  19. Martin Plaut, U.S. backed Zimbabwe land reform, BBC. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Emma Batha, Britain's Troubles With Mugabe, BBC. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  21. Times, Zimbabwe's war veterans set their sights on white farms. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Christopher Orlet, From breadbasket to Dustbowl, The American Spectator. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  23. The Zimbabwe Times, War Vets Threat to take over companies. Retrieved October 24, 2008.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Kalley, Jacqueline A., Elna Schoeman, and L.E. Andor. 1999. Southern African Political History: A Chronology of Key Political Events from Independence to mid-1997. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313302473.
  • Lake, Anthony. 1976. The "Tar Baby" Option: American Policy Toward Southern Rhodesia. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231040662.
  • Lyons, Tanya. 2004. Guns and Guerilla Girls: Women in the Zimbabwean National Liberation Struggle. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. ISBN 9781592211661.
  • Muzondidya, James. 2005. Walking a Tightrope: Towards a Social History of the Coloured Community of Zimbabwe. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. ISBN 9781592212453.
  • Preston, Matthew. 2004. Ending Civil War Rhodesia and Lebanon in Perspective. International library of war studies, 2. London, UK: Tauris Academic Studies. ISBN 9781423709497.
  • Reid Daly, Ron, and Peter Stiff. 1982. Selous Scouts: Top Secret War. Alberton, ZA: Galago Pub. ISBN 9780620057714.
  • St. John, Lauren. 2007. Rainbow's End: A Memoir of Childhood, War and an African Farm. New York, NY: Scribner. ISBN 9780743286794.

External links

All links retrieved December 8, 2022.


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