Hannes Wessels,

Pursuing my interest in Rhodesian/Zimbabwean history it has been enlightening spending time with a former senior officer in the Zimbabwe Peoples Liberation Army (ZPRA). Comparing notes, we have found we have much more in common than we realised. Swapping notes, we have tumbled to the fact that there are many reasons to believe the war that devastated our country might have been avoided were it not for the meddling of politicians, most of them foreign, with malevolent, hidden agendas.

There is now much evidence to suggest that the personnel at the vanguard of the process leading to violent conflict were people in high places in the various British administrations of the time, along with their intelligence operatives, with enthusiastic and vociferous support from the BBC and the print media.

Going back to the period before the unilateral declaration of in dependence (UDI) it now appears that people drawn from this pool may have been responsible for persuading Joshua Nkomo to renege on his commitment to signing the 1961 constitution into law, thereby bringing an early end to burgeoning political conflict and the ushering in of a plan for a phased, peaceful, transfer of power to the black majority.

Adding to the ferment, there is now reason to believe, Rhodesian CIO Chief Ken Flower, acting almost certainly on behalf of British intelligence, opened a Dar es Salaam bank account to provide the funding for Robert Mugabe’s military wing, which became known as ZANLA (Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army).

In another watershed event, on 18th March 1975, Herbert Chitepo, a highly influential Lusaka-based African nationalist leader, was assassinated in Lusaka. At the time of his death, he is reported to have been in favour of the John Vorster initiated Détente exercise and helping in the search for an early end to the war in Rhodesia. While we will probably never know the truth, there is reason to believe the hidden hand of MI6 was involved in his demise.

Following the Portuguese exit from Mozambique, and the power shift to Frelimo led by Samora Machel in 1975, a Selous Scout Major was dispatched to the eastern border town of Umtali, to formulate a planned response to the inevitable incursions that would be made by ZANLA. In this endeavour, he was blocked by the, Special Branch provincial boss, who insisted that the police were capable of dealing with the new threat. Selous Scout Commander, Ron Reid-Daly knew this was preposterous but critical time was lost before people in higher places realised the police were out of their depth in combatting the fast growing threat from the east.

At the same time, Robert Mugabe and Edgar Tekere were released from detention and escorted safely out the country by Superintendent Dan Stannard. Safely ensconced in Mozambique they immediately set about escalating the war. The SB operative who had blocked the Selous Scout intervention in Manicaland, to the surprise of his peers, abruptly resigned and went to England where he may well have been employed by the intelligence services to manage events in Mozambique from afar.

            In his memoirs, former Prime Minister Ian Smith, describes in some detail, the events unfolding late 1979 in London, during the early Lancaster House deliberations chaired by Foreign Secretary Lord Peter Carrington.

Soon after arriving at a cocktail evening aimed at allowing representatives of the various delegations the opportunity to get to know one another, Smith was soon approached by a black man who he described as tall and impressive. He stuck out his hand and introduced himself as General Josiah Tongogara, the then leader of the ZANLA army. Smith warmed to him when the general reminded the former premier that he and his family had grown up on the Smith family farm near Selukwe (now Sherugwi) and expressed his gratitude for the kind way in which his parents had been accommodated. Tongogara went on to express the view that he wanted an immediate end to hostilities and wished for a moderate government of national unity in which Smith and the country’s white minority had an important role to play. Tongogara went on to allude to the fact that his views were not shared by the radical wing of his party which included Robert Mugabe and that with the future leadership stakes high, he feared for his life. He told Smith that despite being in England, he felt his life was in danger.

Ian Smith was later marginalised at Lancaster House and returned to Salisbury. On the 20th December, John Giles, a legal adviser at the conference who had tumbled to Carrington’s chicanery, was probably murdered.

Back in Salisbury, on Christmas Day that year, he was surprised to receive a box of prawns as a gift and peace offering from Tongogara. This cheered Smith greatly who was becoming convinced that with a sensible moderate leading the enemy army the future of the country was a promising one. The next day Tongogara was dead. The official cause of death was a vehicle accident, but most informed observers are sceptical. The path was clear for Mugabe to take power unchallenged and unfettered by powerful associates like Tongogara who sought real reconciliation leading to a peaceful, prosperous future.

British elation at the elevation of Robert Mugabe, ‘their man’, to become the new leader of an independent Zimbabwe, was boundless and strongly signalled to the world by a beaming Prince Charles who was there to represent the Crown and celebrate the lowering of the Union Jack.

The British had worked hard for this, their objective achieved. The rest is history.

24 thoughts on “The Pity of War.”
  1. The Brits could never handle the way Mr Ian Smith defied them with UDI and the rest is history.How it might have been. Spot on Hannes.

  2. I wish I could say I disagreed Hannes, but my research over the last two years concurs with a great deal of what you have described. What a …… waste.

  3. You can read more in my FB page “the Uncomfortable truth group” which aligns with Hannes’s article. The irony is that some of the Rhodesian publications have actually been written by sell outs in an attempt to vindicate their importance and to cover up the truth. One should read the Peter Stiff book “See you in November”, and other articles on Chitepo’s demise, there are familiar motives, same people involved and same SF organisations. I served in Umtali when we found a terr camp in the Vumba, SB denied it was one and said it was a church meeting place, except my stick partner found a valued AK round on site which he wasn’t going to give up as evidence to our TF assertions. Sudza guts and his police drinking buddies denied Ingorima TTL was subverted as we had found out. That was until we had some hairy contacts. Then it became a massive problem. We found the first terr base in the area around Honde valley and reported it, and was told off by police again for us operating over the border.

  4. Rhodesia was sold out to communism and were highly placed in the Rhodesian government.

    There is much talk that Ian Smith was a plant. Refer Stephen Mitford Goodson who may also have been murdered.

    The British Empire – City of London were anti Rhodesia yet Rhodesia fought for England in two world wars. Go figure.

  5. I am presently reading a book called winds of change , the end of empire in africa, by Trevor Royle. It is interesting , and left wing. I will give a little bit to interest y6ou. In the 1920’s they were all ready talking about majority rule but in a 100 years.In 1953 some were still of the opinion 20 to 100 years , but majority was for immediate majority rule regardless of the destruction , dictatorships of the recent past. BUT they were on the path for immediate majority rule for Rhodesia and South Africa as well. So it was well hidden. The part that stands out about the hate for white people in Northern Rhod, and Southern Rhod. was the tradesmen, lived like or better than the Lords in the UK, eg holidays in Europe , Uk etc with their Peugoet station wagons , servants big houses etc. so a lot of jealously.! I am nearing the end of it and the dislike after over 40 years is still there. I wonder what they would say today about the earnings of tradesmen and labourers on the mines in Oz today , a severe case of the vapors. !!

    1. I think that’s right; there was a great deal of resentment; the Brits thought the Rhodesians had it too good. They ignored the fact that most had worked hard to get where they were.

  6. Well written Hannes. I was a chopper pilot at the time, but only heard from the horses mouth, so to speak, how we were lied to by the poms through that election fiasco. I guess we were just hoping they would do the right thing by all of us – look where it got us?

  7. Well spelled out Hannes. It is pretty much the only time the Yanks, Poms, and the communist Russians and Chinese have been effectively allied since WWII. The Yanks under a Democrat president showing their usual woke attitude, the Poms trying to get out of Africa while maintaining the Commonwealth (and stopping BP from being nationalised in Nigeria) and the Russians and Chinese with their beady little eyes on the resources in Africa, and using Rhodesia as a stepping stone for the big prize – South Africa.

    And the end result – breadbasket to basket case within 20 years, with a lower standard of living and people being worse off.

  8. The other week I was watching The Big Match Revisited on ITV4. The game was an English First Division game from November 1979. The camera moved onto the crowd and focused on three men seated in the stand – for 5 seconds there was no commentary. I couldn’t believe it …… sitting in the middle was Ian Smith. !

  9. Good day, yes the implementing if the UDI did cause consternation.
    As with hose who are meddlesome, they are or were blind that a peaceful transition was available.
    In regard to minerals, say copper, a winning situation could be had by all, the citizens, commerce,and businesses.
    Going to suggest on You tube, “100 years of the United States over throwing governments”. It is 10 hours long. The other “Mossad: covert operations and assassinations”, both from C-span in the 1990’s, 10 hours, too.
    In regard to Vietnam, the post action report, at the 17th parallel, the Latitude boundary separating what was called North and South Vietnam, the B-52 bombers could have gone from the South China sea to maybe 25 miles into Laos and a 25 mile area past the 17th parallel with 24 hour sorties.
    Thus would have included the Fighter bombers, too. Most likely after each sortie.
    This would have stopped the cache supplies along the Ho Chi Minh trail.
    President Diem had a very good running country, until the USA, CIA, assassinated him, and a brother.
    His other 02 brothers, Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc and Pierre, were out of the country. The ABp., was consecrated by Pope Pius the XI.
    Madame Nhu, the wife, was exiled to France. The USA, denied the plane to fly over the air space. So, in a triangular route up through Canada, to France.
    Yes, Mr. Weasels very good writing style. Obviously, I suggest in our quiet moments, to ask God for his will to be done for our Monarchs, Prime Ministers, President, Parliaments, and Cabinets.
    E.g., to fix All of the wells in Tanzania and around the world.
    I realize that my content is a mix. Often I do not explain and hope to add to knowing.
    Thank you all.

    Vayacondios [ Go with God].

  10. An SA friend who spent his life in banking in the City had this to say: “Never trust these smart Poms in pinstriped suits; they’ve been screwing the world for centuries and nothing has changed.” So yes, nothing here that’s not perfectly feasible. One understands what drove the lower level, wokish Labour lot, the spite and jealousy so well set out in David Caute’s bitter book. What I don’t understand is what the upper level Poms thought they’d gain via wrecking the country? Or was it just ignorance and greed?

  11. Well written précis of events Hannes,as always to the point and exactly as it was explained to me at the end of the war.
    Thank you,best

  12. Interesting article – I can recall speaking with an old friend who was working in the freight industry in Malawi and whilst attending a function at the British Embassy, was introduced to Robert Mugabe as ‘the new leader of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe’ by a member of the British Embassy, and this log before the so called talks. This world is full of corrupt politicians, look at British Politics today.

    1. As in the USA, “yes, we can have an election, as soon as we know who will be the winner.” -H. Clinton.
      The Deep State selects.

  13. Sadly this fits exactly with what I have been told fairly recently by a long-serving senior member of the Rhodesian armed forces who stuck with it to the very end. He was deported by Mugabe but probably lucky to get away with his life. I had been living in London for a number of years by the time the handover to Mugabe happened and no-one could understand why I considered Lord Carrington the lowest of the low, that I believed Britain had betrayed Rhodesia and much less, that I predicted exactly what would happen to the country. Extraordinarily, even today I still have Rhodesian friends who remain convinced that it was “all Ian Smith’s fault”. Needless to say it is a subject no longer discussed between us, and hasn’t been for many years.

    1. Prime Minister Smith was logical. The betrayer did not want a peaceful transition while still working as a team.
      The cause was just.

    1. I think we poked them in the eye with UDI and they were very vindictive in their response.

      1. I think this comment is so fully loaded and says infinitely more than the whole article. Indeed, the response to UDI and everything that had led to that watershed moment has shaped the lives of millions of people across Southern / Central Africa and further afield. The fallout from what happened subsequently has necessitated mass global migration from that little nation and countries across the world now have established communities from Rhodesia / Zimbabwe, who I daresay have shaped the development of those lands. Most of the readers of this very publication are ensconced in ‘greener pastures’. That said, you will never find gems that you all took for granted as children, be it Dairy Den ice creams, Willards chips, a day out at Mermaids Pool, or a curry at The Sitar in Newlands, which, by the way, still ranks as the best Indian restaurant in the world (and I have been to many).

      2. We poked them in the eye some time before UDI Hannes. There is a fascinating book written I think, in 1959, on the construction of Kariba, written by a British writer. The book outlines how the dam was decided upon, (British insisted on a dam on the Shire river in Malawi, rather than Kariba) financed, (without British help) designed (French) and built. (Italian / Rhodesian) At no point anything in it for British business and no influence for British establishment. The author highlights at the end of the book that Kariba ” is likely to cause enormous political ramifications.” WRITTEN IN 1959.

    2. There is a Shadow government(s). Operation 40 assassins killed President John Kennedy.

Comments are closed.