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Nairobi, Kenya
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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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rhodesia and Zambia by Gabriel Banda


THIS week marks thirty years of Zimbabwe's independence from colonial rule on April 18, 1980. The road towards Zimbabwe's independence greatly affected people in Zambia, Southern Africa, and the whole world.

Hosting movements from Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, Zambia was a key centre for liberation of Southern Africa region from colonial and racist rule. Portuguese-ruled Mozambique and Angola got independence in 1975.

2010 marks twenty years of Namibia’s independence. This year also marks twenty years after the Nelson Mandela from prison and process of dismantling South Africa's institutions of apartheid.

Zambia's experience in support of independence and liberation struggles in the region greatly affected it then, and the effects are still with us today.

Now, from 1953 to 1963, Zambia, then “Northern Rhodesia,” together with Zimbabwe, then Southern Rhodesia, and Malawi, “Nyasaland,” had been part of Britain's Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

But when Malawi and Zambia became independent in 1964, Southern Rhodesia remained behind. On November 11, 1965, Ian Douglas Smith, on behalf of the white community, grabbed authority from Britain and declared Southern Rhodesia independent. This was “Unilateral Declaration of Independence,” UDI.

Britain’s Prime Minister Harold Wilson said Smith's rebellion would be squeezed and would last only “weeks rather than months.” Instead of a proposed African and wider force to crush the rebellion, Britain proposed sanctions that would weaken Smith's regime.

Britain brought over to Zambia some military planes. Royal Air Force Javelin jet planes flew in patrol over Lusaka and parts of Zambia. On the ground, Lusaka’s children made wire jet plane models, running with them on the ground. But, like the children's planes, RAF planes never flew into Rhodesia to stop the rebellion. Instead, some RAF pilots defected with Her Majesty's military planes and crossed to Smith's side.

Ian Smith had vowed: "I don't believe in black majority rule ever in Rhodesia, not in a thousand years." Economic and other sanctions proposed by United Nations were evaded through schemes involving governments and businesses of the west. However, some governments in the west, especially from Nordic countries, gave much support to the freedom fight. Even in places like Britain and the US, citizens campaigned against the racist regimes. It was a struggle for the whole of humanity.

Zimbabwe's freedom fighters resorted to armed liberation struggle. The first shots were made by Zimbabwean fighters prepared from Zambia.

Meanwhile, sanctions and Rhodesia's counter-sanctions were affecting Zambia. Copper exports and fuel imports were air freighted with support of governments like Britain, US, and Canada.

At one time, Smith confiscated Zambia’s military supplies coming through Rhodesia. Zambia began to move away from dependence on Rhodesia and South Africa. This meant finding other routes to the sea. New trade partners were developed.

Zambia began to build capacity to withstand effects of sanctions and counter-sanctions. Local infrastructure was built. TAZARA railway, some 1,860 kilometres long, was built from Tanzania's Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi. And the 1,710Km TAZAMA pipeline was built, with the refinery at Ndola. A good Great North Road reached Tanzania.

Coal mines were opened. Hydro electricity stations were built at Kafue Gorge and Kariba North Bank. Various publicly owned industries were established so for Zambia to withstand the liberation struggle. Farming systems improved local food production.

As the struggle intensified, Rhodesia's forces and allies increased attacks into Zambia. Zambia increased spending on defence and security. Bombings by racist regimes led to thousands of deaths of Zambians and freedom fighters. Many were maimed. Infrastructure was destroyed.

Land mines planted by both freedom fighters and the rebel forces led to much death and injury. In some rural areas people stopped farming, thus yields and incomes affected.

I understand Zambia Air Force was better equipped than sanctions-hit Rhodesia air force and Zambia's personnel were ready, if ordered, to raid Rhodesia. But there was decision not to extend that way. Such restraint requires great inner strength.

Zambia supported liberation through resources and space to freedom fighters, “FF.” Hundreds of thousands of refugees were hosted. Zambia, key member of the “Frontline States,” and working with the freedom movements, did diplomacy and campaigns using international platforms like the Commonwealth, Organisation of African Unity, Non Aligned Movement, and United Nations.

Zambia mediated between freedom fighters and the racist regimes. Freedom fighters were released from prison. And Zambia's government mediated amongst liberation movement members when there were divisions. The 1974 unity accord by Zimbabwe's movements was signed at State House, Lusaka.

The August 1979, Commonwealth Summit in Lusaka took back Rhodesia to Britain’s authority. And Zambia’s President Kenneth Kaunda was observing, on the sidelines, at the London Lancaster House meeting that followed. The Lancaster House agreement led to universal elections and Zimbabwe’s independence on April 18, 1980.

Zambia had even enlisted school leavers into military training and even operational service, under Zambia National Defence Force, ZNDF. Those doing the farm production stage were troops on standby. In late 1979, after heavy Rhodesian raids inland, Zambia mobilised its armed forces. I was amongst male school leavers, earlier trained by ZNDF, who were called back as troops in various ZNDF units. I served with Ninth Battalion, Zambia Light Infantry. We were released after Zimbabwe's elections.

Neighbouring Malawi's government's support to liberation movements was a more covered approach. At the death of Malawi's Kamuzu Banda in 1997, BBC quoted Nelson Mandela commending Kamuzu for supporting ANC and liberation movements with weapons and finances.

But Zambia's support for the liberation struggle left a legacy with great effect. In 2010, land mines and military devices are still in some rural areas. There is now some effort towards clearing land mines.

In Zambia Against Apartheid, a 2001 report I did with Lusaka's JCTR and London's ACTSA, we estimated that economic effects of Southern Africa’s liberation struggle on Zambia were, using values around year 2000, some $19 billion. And $5.34 billion was apartheid-caused debt. April 2010 figures should be higher.

Support for liberation of Zimbabwe and others contributed to Zambia going into debt and through harsh IMF and World Bank debt conditions, staying in debt. And some forces that for gain supported racist regimes have come through other windows and are getting facilities and resources built by Zambia during the liberation.

In April 1994, when apartheid South Africa changed and Nelson Mandela became president, Africa's liberation sights were reached. But for Zambia, there were no organised international or local processes of healing from Southern Africa's war of liberation.

Although the fight against racism was a task for human dignity and the whole of humanity, there has been no international material and economic support to help Zambia's rehabilitation. Thus various imbalances continue in society.

Persons and societies in Zambia, Africa, and other parts of the world, greatly contributed to the liberation of Zimbabwe and Southern Africa. This involved sacrifice of resources, infrastructure, finance, economy, human injury and loss and opportunity loss.

Sadly, force, which is difficult to manage for long, was used by sides in the conflict. Yes, the Rhodesia conflict made Zambia build some things. But without Rhodesia's UDI, Zimbabwe and Zambia's situations would have been very different. More basic needs development was likely. But the experience also showed that we have been strong. At the Lusaka cenotaph, we find this deep message: “That we, surely trusting in thy defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries.”
gabipost@zamtel.zm


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