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I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on yebomimi@gmail.com The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011

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Monday, August 25, 2008


Photo Dominique Hoyet

Zimbabwe's Liberation War

© Jessica Powers
Feb 26, 2001

Africans in Zimbabwe (then known as Rhodesia) had a list of legitimate complaints against the white Rhodesian Government.
The British South African Company (BSAC) had ruled "Rhodesia" from 1899-1923 under an assumption that Africans would eventually assimilate into white society (Kriger 52). The belief in eventual assimilation ended when Rhodesia became self-governing with loose ties to Great Britain in 1923, an arrangement they termed "Responsible Government." Almost immediately, the relationship between the government and Africans changed as separate development became the rule between whites and blacks.
The new constitution protected African Reserves that had been set up by the BSAC as Tribal Trust Lands; it further gave Africans the right to purchase land outside the Reserves equally with whites. This arrangement lasted five years. In 1930, the Land Apportionment Act created racial land segregation by allocating 50% of the land to Europeans, 30% for Africans, and 20% unallocated. The Land Tenure Act in 1969 increased the share of land allocated to Africans from 30 to 53% and decreased the European allocations from 50 to 47%. These land percentages mean very little, though, without population facts. The European population was scarce; they had 1 person per a square mile. The African population, on the other hand, was estimated at 45.8 persons per square mile (Kriger 53-54). In other words, the Government allocated 28 million acres to 1 million blacks and 48 million acres to 50,000 whites (Blake 202-204). Besides, African land tended to be inferior to the European land.
The Government did not evict Africans from land on a large scale until the '40s, but it passed other legislation that benefited white farmers and retarded the efforts of black farmers. The Maize Control Acts in 1931 and 1934 set higher prices on crops produced for the internal market and lower prices for exports, and then restricted Africans from participating in the internal market (Kriger 58). Thus, Africans received an average of 1 shilling and six pence to six shillings and six pence per bag of maize, whereas Europeans received more than eight shillings per bag.
The Cattle Levy Acts in 1931 and 1934 further discriminated against Africans by subsidizing exports of European-produced cattle with the proceeds paid by Africans for cattle-dipping fees. Africans who protested argued that the proceeds should be used to benefit those who paid them (Schmidt 76-77).
If discrimination in land and farming policies was the first grievance that led to the liberation war, lack of education became the second. Historians Martin and Johnson claim that many Africans in the '60s and early '70s went for guerrilla training after they had been denied further education (Martin and Johnson 56).
Discrimination in education remained a problem throughout the liberation war. Africans were unable to proceed beyond the primary level until after World War II, when education was made compulsory for European children but not for African children. Missions had always provided the majority of Africans with their education, but because the government allocated few funds to these schools, missions had to rely on donations from their overseas supporters as well as charging school fees. Government schools for Africans also charged fees. European children, on the other hand, were able to attend their government schools for free and government grants to European schools remained generous. Statistics from the period of 1972-1976 prove the point. The Rhodesian government increased the amount it spent per African student from R$29 to R$46 during those years; however, the amount it spent per European pupil increased from R$338 to R$531 (Kriger 61-62).
Europeans also had access to higher wages and jobs for skilled workers, whereas Africans were blocked from entering these jobs after 1934. In 1954, the average African earned 65 pounds per month, compared to the average European who earned 884 pounds per month (Kriger 56). Furthermore, the Europeans denied most Africans the right to vote, even though Africans outnumbered Europeans by about 20 to 1 after the early days of Company rule (Kriger 59).
"Responsible Government" ended in 1953 with a ten-year Federation that united Southern Rhodesia with Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi) in 1953. African nationalists saw it as a way to spread white power from Southern Rhodesia to the northern states. As black nationalists grew more vocal in their agitation against the Government, it banned parties like the African National Council (ANC) and Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU).
Actions like these prompted the British Government to refuse granting independence to Rhodesia. It claimed it would grant independence when it saw unimpeded progress to majority rule, guarantees against retrogressive amendments to the 1961 Constitution (which had provisions that led to majority rule), immediate improvement in the African population's political status, progress towards ending racial discrimination, and satisfaction that independence was acceptable to all Rhodesians, not just white Rhodesians. In 1966, they added a sixth principle that there should be no oppression of the majority by the minority or of the minority by the majority (Blake 376-377).
Rhodesia declared its Independence from Great Britain in 1965, commonly referred to as the Unilateral Declaration of Independence or UDI. International reaction was swift and sure. Great Britain imposed immediate sanctions and requested other countries to voluntarily impose sanctions as well. These affected many Rhodesian exports: Great Britain refused asbestos, iron ore, chrome, copper, meat, tobacco, and sugar, and forbid other countries from exporting arms, military equipment, and oil to Rhodesia. Tobacco and sugar accounted for almost three-fourths of Rhodesia's Ian Smith led the country from 1965 until 1980. The British Government sent a commission to Rhodesia in 1971 to discover whether Africans supported the new 1969 constitution. The Rhodesian Government embarked on a massive propaganda campaign to encourage Africans to say, "Yes," they supported Smith. Africans did not say, "Yes," and the Pearce Report let the world know in 1972 that there was no love lost between Smith and Africans -- Smith ruled them with force alone. This stopped all further negotiations between the two countries (Blake 405).
African nationalists stepped up their guerrilla efforts in 1972. There had been sporadic attempts to start a war throughout the sixties, but 1972 marks the official start of the war. On 21 December, Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith told a Rotary Club lunch in Salisbury that "I have been taken to task in certain quarters for describing our Africans as the happiest Africans in the world, but nobody has yet been able to tell me where there are Africans who are happier -- or, for that matter, better off -- than in Rhodesia" (Martin and Johnson 1). That day, Africans let him know they were certainly not happy when nine ZANLA guerrillas attacked a settler farmer in northeastern Rhodesia (Martin and Johnson xvii). It was the start of civil war.
Throughout the early '70's, the war continued in spurts while African leaders in other countries tried various approaches to bring peace to the region. President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia united with South Africa's Prime Minister, John Vorster, in an initiative they called "détente." Zambia had suffered enormously from sanctions against Rhodesia and Kaunda hoped to bring peace to the area. South Africa, on the other hand, wished to maintain economic dominance on the continent, and they needed an African ally (Martin and Johnson 136).
The "détente scenario" envisioned a peaceful, rather than military, solution to justice, freedom, and equality in southern Africa and hoped for a transition to majority rule in Rhodesia within five years (Martin and Johnson 191).
Nationalist leaders, including Nkomo and Sithole, signed a Declaration of Unity on December 8, 1974. They did not demand immediate majority rule, nor did they demand one man, one vote. They were willing to accept a meritocracy as long as it provided Africans with a legitimate vote and a move toward eventual majority rule.
Smith rejected the proposals; thus, the struggle continued for another five years (the same amount of time the African leaders were asking for the transition to take place) and cost "an estimated 30,000 lives" (Martina and Johnson 153-156). The guerilla war resumed in Jan. 1976 (Martin and Johnson 223).
exports. The US made these sanctions mandatory in 1968 (Houser 229).
The war was fought on several fronts by the military wings of ZAPU and ZANU during the 1970's. The Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), led by Joshua Nkomo, was formed after the Government banned the National Democratic Party (NDP). The Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), founded and led by the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, split off from ZAPU in 1963 when a group of nationalists became unhappy with Nkomo's leadership and policies. Robert Mugabe replaced Sithole as leader of ZANU in 1975. The two armies remained at odds until 1976, when they joined forces against the Rhodesian Front. They named the unified party the Patriotic Front (PF). This united front renewed its attacks with vigor and, for the first time, their efforts began to have a demonstrable effect in Rhodesia.
The United States and Great Britain entered the fray in 1976 with the Anglo-American proposals for peace. Until then, the United States' official African foreign policy had viewed African guerrilla movements as a potential door for Communism in Africa. It supported the white-led regimes and advocated leniency towards Ian Smith and relaxing sanctions. The Byrd Amendment allowed the U.S. to break sanctions after 1971 by exporting chrome from Rhodesia. Though other countries also turned a blind eye toward breaking sanctions, only the Americans legally sanctioned violating them in the early 1970's (Martin and Johnson 230-232).

U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger initiated negotiations with Ian Smith in late 1976. Though ultimately his agreement with Smith failed, it succeeded on one important point: Smith conceded to the principle of majority rule during the negotiations and he could never retreat from that position again. Negotiations from then until the end of the war dealt with how to achieve majority rule instead of whether majority rule was desirable (Martin and Johnson 263).
The Anglo-American proposals for peace in Rhodesia continued after President Jimmy Carter took office in 1977. They failed to negotiate an agreement between all parties at the Geneva Conference, largely because Smith demanded that his Government maintain control of Law and Order and Defense during the transition period to majority rule. The Patriotic Front argued that this would only continue violence against innocent African citizens and would leave them the power to create a false election. Though negotiations continued, Ian Smith began to arrange an "internal settlement" between his government and "moderate" black politicians like Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole (the ousted ZANU leader), and Chief Chirau, who headed an almost non-existent political party called the Zimbabwe United Peoples Organization (ZUPO) (Martin and Johnson 288). These men had denounced terrorism and were willing to work within the existing system.

Those who supported the liberation movement called these African leaders "puppets" of the white regime and requested international governments to "boycott" the elections. They argued that the elections could not be free and fair without including the Patriotic Front, and that international groups who came to observe the elections would be unable to detect intimidation that the Rhodesian Government would use to "encourage" Africans to vote for these "puppet" leaders. Despite international criticism, the Rhodesian Government continued with its internal election, and Bishop Abel Muzorewa was elected as Rhodesia's first black prime minister in 1979. They re-named the country "Rhodesia-Zimbabwe."
Despite Conservative approval of the internal elections, both Great Britain and the U.S. refused to recognize the new government and the new Rhodesia-Zimbabwe soon started to collapse under continued violence. The "Lancaster Agreement," signed by all parties, including the Patriotic Front, put an end to the violence late in 1979 and negotiated an interim government and new elections.
In 1980, Robert Mugabe won the British-supervised elections.
For Further Reading
Robert Blake. A History of Rhodesia, London: Eyre Methuen, 1977.
George Houser, No One Can Stop the Rain: Glimpses of Africa's Liberation Struggle, New York: The Pilgrim Press, 1989
Norma J. Kriger. Zimbabwe's Guerilla War: Peasant Voices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
David Martin and Phyllis Johnson, The Struggle for Zimbabwe: The Chimurenga War, London: Baber and Baber, 1981
Elizabeth Schmidt, Peasants, Traders, and Wives: Shona Women in the History of Zimbabwe, 1970-1939, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1992
Ian Smith, The Great Betrayal: The Memoirs of Africa's Most Controversial Leader, London: Blake Publishing, 1997

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I welcome comments from everyone on my book Choppertech.
I am interested especially on hearing from former ZANLA and ZIPRA combatants who also have thier story to tell.