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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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Sunday, December 28, 2008


Ian Smith wrecked Britain's plot to prevent Robert Mugabe gaining power
Martin Fletcher It was an audacious plan, and had it worked, Zimbabwe might still be a prosperous country, not a failed state. Thirty years ago James Callaghan's Government worked secretly with African leaders to end the war in Rhodesia and to help Joshua Nkomo, not Robert Mugabe, to become leader of a newly independent Zimbabwe.

The corpulent Mr Nkomo was corrupt, but not nearly as dangerous as Mr Mugabe, David Owen, Mr Callaghan's Foreign Secretary, told The Times shortly before the release of Cabinet papers under the 30-year rule.

"Better a crook than a zealot," Mr Owen, now Lord Owen, said.

The plan collapsed primarily because Ian Smith, Rhodesia's beleaguered Prime Minister, refused to step down. Eighteen months later Mr Mugabe became Zimbabwe's first prime minister. Within two more years his North Korean-trained 5th Brigade was slaughtering Mr Nkomo's supporters, and three decades later he has reduced Zimbabwe to penury and starvation.

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Lord Owen held several meetings with Mr Nkomo in 1978, when Mr Nkomo was leader of the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (Zapu) and co-leader of the Patriotic Front, an alliance of Zapu and Mr Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) that was fighting an increasingly bloody and successful guerrilla war against Mr Smith's regime.

Mr Nkomo gained Lord Owen's approval for a peace plan backed by Nigeria, Zambia and, Mr Nkomo claimed, Angola. It envisaged Mr Smith stepping down and Mr Nkomo becoming head of a transitional government that would hold elections within a year under the supervision of a British resident commissioner and a UN peacekeeping mission.

It was designed to give Mr Nkomo an electoral advantage over Mr Mugabe by making him acting prime minister, even though he belonged to the minority Ndebele tribe.

Mr Nkomo also hoped to include Mr Mugabe in the transitional government and to split Zanu by excluding hardliners who opposed the plan.

Mr Callaghan's Government had no illusions about Mr Nkomo. "He was in it to feather his own nest," Lord Owen said. However, it considered Mr Mugabe a fanatical Maoist with little time for democracy. Lord Owen, who commissioned a report from MI6 on Mr Mugabe's character and beliefs, said: "His obduracy was so great and his zealotry so fierce that I felt you could not ignore the Maoist elements within him."

On August 13, 1978, Mr Nkomo put the plan to Mr Smith at a secret meeting in Lusaka, Zambia's capital. Mr Nkomo would have argued that Mr Smith's forces were losing the war, that white generals were growing rebellious, and that Zapu would protect white Rhodesian interests better than Mr Mugabe.

Mr Smith stalled, then leaked details of the meeting. Mr Mugabe, Julius Nyerere, the President of Tanzanzia, and others denounced the plan. Then, on September 3, Mr Nkomo's guerrillas shot down an Air Rhodesia Viscount, killing 35 passengers. In a BBC interview Mr Nkomo not only claimed responsibility, but appeared to chuckle. Instantly "he became a pariah in terms of white opinion in Rhodesia, just as much as Mugabe was", Lord Owen said.

The next year the war ended and Zimbabwe gained independence, but the Lancaster House agreement contained no advantages for Mr Nkomo. In 1980 Zanu trounced Zapu in elections marked by violence and intimidation, and Mr Mugabe took charge.

At first he courted whites, and Lord Owen thought he had misjudged the man. Then he launched his "genocide" against Mr Nkomo's supporters and Zimbabwe's long slide began. "People often ask why we went overboard for Robert Mugabe," Lord Owen said. "The answer is that we didn't."

1 comment:

  1. Of course, one must take the position that Britain knew f*ck-all about "the correct solution" in Rhodesia to begin with; or in-fact had any business involving itself there at all after 1965 in order to swallow this idea that "had it not been for Ian Smith" rubbish! The truth of the matter is that, had it not been for the sanctions, or more to the point, the notion by the Brits that Rhodesians welcomed, or were beholden to the outrageous arrogance displayed by the British with their council, "wisdom" or stewardship over a matter that was none of their d*mn business to begin with, then the whole matter would have been quickly cleared up, and Rhodesia would still be a shining example of democracy, prosperity, cleanliness, and peace in a region of the world that currently knows not one example of anything like what existed "before." Ian Smith did it as right as he could. All of it boils down to a mans home, or in this case a peoples nation, is their business, and their business alone. Britain has a long history of sticking it's nose where it doesn't belong, and an even longer history of passing the buck when it's meddling goes askew; this is but one more pathetic example of that.


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.