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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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Thursday, July 28, 2011

BLOOD THE INK FOR MY AUTOPSY

BLOOD, THE INK FOR MY AUTOPSY

By Kudakwashe KANHUTU

The plan had been hatched by a very far sighted person. As the struggle for liberation intensified there was an urgent need for able bodied men to join the fight. This led to acceptance of hardened criminals and those who habitually traversed the borders of sanity, into the fighting ranks of ZANLA. The exigencies of recruiting for a war already underway did not allow the set up of a Criminal Records Bureau, to painstakingly vet all cadres joining the struggle. However, one commander in the Dare reChimurenga (the War Council for ZANLA), had anticipated this problem with extra-ordinary foresight and countered it with equal cunning.

For the uninitiated I am taking you back to the colonial period in the Southern African country formerly called Rhodesia, specifically between 1972 and 1980. This is the time when the black nationalists’ demand for a release from the yoke of white minority oppression reached its apex. The main form of the demand was an armed struggle called Chimurenga II, which saw black people leave their country for training in neighbouring Mozambique and Zambia then return to talk to the white oppressor in terms which were unequivocal. The two main fighting groups were ZANLA, which was dominated by the Shona tribe, and ZIPRA which was smaller owing to it being composed of the minority Ndebele tribe. We were fighting a war of liberating the whole black population from the indignity of being disenfranchised in our own land by foreigners. The leader of the white minority was that rabid racist, Ian Smith.

I insist that the greatest compliment I ever received as a combatant in this war came from our sworn enemy, Ian Smith, in briefing his regular JOC meetings, he is said to have uttered that “Mabhunu’s fighting force shortens our projection for a thousand year rule”. I had adopted the nom de guerre Mabhunu Muchaendepi and the grudging respect of my enemy was not so much a source of pride, but confirmation that our methods were effective.

I must say I was initially averse to what I perceived as a waste of scarce resources when I was informed I would be part of a unit, charged with terminating comrades on the battlefield who were compromising the war by being cruel to the black population we were fighting to free. It was a terrible anti climax, hearing that my engagement with the white enemy would only be coincidental. I found it hard to believe I had shared caves with pythons, walked barefoot across game parks in the middle of the night to reach Mozambique, tottering, on legs swollen to twice their size, to fight, not the enemy; but my own fellow combatants.

It felt like a betrayal of the spirit of Liberation, a betrayal of the nation of Zimbabwe, but any qualms I had were laid to complete rest once we began our training. Basic training was administered to all who arrived at Chimoio, this involved political education, weapons and physical training. Our commanders then assigned us to different fields we would man, based on their assessment and judgement of our abilities, an essential division of labour for any effective fighting force.

It was in training I came into contact for the first time with the criminals who were to be my comrades in liberating Zimbabwe. I remember the vacant look in the eyes of some of these cadres, the inordinate eagerness to get weapons and return to the theatre of war. If I were to say today that I knew instinctively that these people were sadistic, any decent magistrate would throw me in jail owing to the paradigm shift since, but in a time of war, this instinct was indispensable and invaluable an attribute.

Vindication for that instinct would come of course from a reading of the brutal massacre of black civilians between Chipinge and Wedza which took place in such a short time after our pass out from Chimoio. It evoked despondency to watch on the news while we were at advanced training in Libya, the hacked off legs, burnt corpses, pregnant women stabbed by bayonets lying lifeless in row after row, murdered by their supposed liberators.

Ian Smith’s government of course to win the battle of hearts and minds allowed reporters from all over the world to have a field day when such massacres occurred. Extreme double standards because when the Rhodesian Army, frustrated by how cunning the genuine liberators were, massacred civilians in the hundreds, reporters would be banned from these areas. I would also venture that the reason Ian Smith began to doubt his government’s resolution for a thousand year white domination of the majority blacks was – has to be – the existence of a unit in ZANLA charged with protecting civilians from wayward liberators. Was this not a clear example of the advanced political acumen he was telling the world blacks inherently lack? Furthermore the atrocities visited on civilians by Smith’s army went unpunished even when it was so obvious and undeniable.

To be able to shed light on why my autopsy is being written in this sort of ink, let me posit that my death is imminent as I have chosen to let out the most closely guarded secret of Chimurenga II. The secret is that the black liberation fighters lost the war; we lost the war the day when Comrade Josiah Magama Tongogara died. The Kaguvi Sector, my unit in the armed struggle and a brain child of Comrade Tongogara, evolved to become an army within an army, fighting a war within a war. The Sector developed its own ethos which bordered on a preference to actually lose the war than gain leverage by terrorising civilians. Unfortunately this sentiment was not shared across the board, even in Dare reChimurenga Comrade Tongogara was an isolated figure as the other members were proponents of the scorched earth policy. It is a fact that some people in high positions of government today actually instructed the other guerrillas to be ruthless against the black population, summary executions were endorsed, cruel and unusual punishments shamelessly promoted, an all is fair in war doctrine.

Of the Kaguvi Sector numbering 85 at the end of the armed struggle, I am the only one left. 30 of my comrades were detained in Chimoio during the Lancaster House talks and were massacred on the same day that Comrade Tongogara died in a bizarre accident. 20 more comrades did not make it alive from Dzapasi Assembly Point. Over the years the other 34 remaining combatants of the Kaguvi Sector have met ignominious ends over the course of their lives in independent Zimbabwe, in very suspicious circumstances, so it is left to me to honour the memory of the foremost liberation unit by letting the truth be known instead of the myth that has been perpetuated that we won the war of liberation.

Do not waste your pity on me, better people have already died; Comrades Mandebvu, Elliot Hondo, Comrade Mabhunu Muchapera, Hokoyo, Zvaipa, Tafataona, Dragon, Tichafa…