RHODESIANS described Chimoio
(November 23 1977) as the “…most
mind-boggling special operations victory
in history,” when in fact Chimoio was
their final undoing.
There can be no victory to celebrate
for any sane human being when you
have murdered defenceless civilians,
schoolchildren, patients in hospital
wards and amputees.
The Rhodesians celebrated, but it was
to be their very last celebration.
After Chimoio, they lost every single
After Chimoio, every epic battle was
won by the guerillas.
Chimoio was the last bridge to
We continued winning, forcing the
Rhodesians to beg for negotiations as
they could no longer stand the heat of
The Rhodesians were still celebrating
the so-called greatest battle in Southern
Africa, insisting they had dealt ZANLA a
death blow when we hit them.
ZANLA struck on December 18 1977,
less than a month after Chimoio.
Rhodesia’s Grand Reef Air Force Base,
a key strategic base for launching air
raids into Mozambiqude, was caught
napping; they were watching a movie in
They were convinced that the Chimoio
Raid of November 1977 had demoralised
ZANLA into incapacitation.
Armed with recoilless rifles, heavy
machine guns, RPG-7s, mortars, light
machine guns and AK 47s, Cde Stephen
Chocha led highly trained guerillas to
the air force Base.
The Rhodesians were so overwhelmed
they only feebly returned fire.
By the end of the attack, there
were zero ZANLA casualties while the
Rhodesian base was left in ashes.
It was a complete victory.
ZANLA, the giant, was now in
full control. This was just the first
installment in an endless litany of
victories won after Chimoio.
Chimoio had launched a relentless
march towards final victory.
ZANLA had been wounded at Chimoio
but not disabled; the wound was in the
heart, in the soul and it spurred them to
Rhodesia would not accept that at
Chimoio, in their so-called Operation
Dingo, they had fired their last effective
They would not listen to the message
at Grand Reef Air Base.
And so, on September18 1978, they
attacked the ZANLA operations Base in
the Vanduzi Mountains, only 15km from
the Chimoio HQ base.
Two thousand ZANLA commandos
were based there.
This is the military base Rhodesians
had avoided when they attacked the
Chimoio Base in November 1977, which
had housed mainly civilians.
For three days, Rhodesians, with their
Hunters and Canberras, tried to bomb
the base but were repelled.
They left without inflicting a single
casualty among the ZANLA. ZANLA was
unscathed, ZANLA’s march to Zimbabwe
The next blow against Rhodesia was
on December 11 1978, when ZANLA
bombed Rhodesia’s largest fuel reserves
in Southerton in the heart of Salisbury
It was a crippling blow.
Rhodesia had to reduce its fleet on
the roads and in the skies, giving ZANLA
the greatest strategic advantage.
The section of illustrious combatants,
a team in their late teens and early 20s,
accomplished a daring feat and got
away withj it, unscathed, all of them.
ZANLA had come to town, with
General Peter Walls admitting no white
person was safe in Rhodesia anymore –
a chapter had ended for Rhodesia.
The land of Nehanda could no longer
be a home for the armed robbers.
By September 1979, Rhodesians were
ready to negotiate terms of surrender
but they thought they could steal
victory from ZANLA by launching a
massive attack in a combined operation
with South Africa on the ZANLA and
Frelimo strongholdon Mapai, in the Gaza
The raid began on September 6 while
the Lancaster House Conference was to
commence on September 10.
They planned that a victory against
ZANLA would give them victory at the
Rhodesians lost the battle of Mapai.
Dominic Chinenge, now Zimbabwe’s
Vice-President, the ZANLA Commander
of the Gaza Province, together with
Frelimo counterparts, drove them out
so harshly they were not able to collect
Another unmitigated victory for
But the Rhodesians would deny the
lesson that glared them in the face –
they could not defeat ZANLA on the
battle field but they still went on to
plan another attack against ZANLA, still
plotting to steal victory at the Lancaster
House talks by defeating ZANLA.
From October 2 to 5, the Rhodesians
assaulted the ZANLA base at Mavhonde
with lynxes, Hawker Hunters as well as
armoured cars, with the Selous Scouts
as the main human contingent.
The base was only 20 km off the
They miscalculated – they thought
that with ZANLA Supremo Josiah
Magama Tongogara at Lancaster House,
ZANLA forces would be weakened.
But ZANLA was not found wanting, it
was equal to the task.
Once again they lost; the Selous
Scouts admitted ZANLA’s superiority
“We knew that we could never beat
them. They had so much equipment
and there were so many of them. They
would just keep coming with more and
ZANLA machine guns and mortar
fire against the Rhodesians was well
controlled and accurate.
The Rhodesians did not succeed in
weakening the negotiating position of
the freedom fighters; it is the Rhodesian
hand which was weakened at the
negotiating table at Lancaster House.
It was victory upon victory!
After Mavhonde, Rhodesia had to
admit it was over but, in fact, it had
been over at Chimoio – they had fired
their last effective bullet.
After Chimoio, it was not possible to
lose any more battles and we did not.
On December 21 1979, the
Rhodesians put a signature to their
terms of surrender.
We have not lost a single battle since
Chimoio, we have won every single
epic battle and we are still counting the
victories, more to come.
18 THE PATRIOT FEATURE December 3 – 9 2021
Chimoio the last bridge:
‘There can be
no victory to
any sane human
being when you
Rhodesians described Chimoio as the most mind-boggling special operations and amputees’
victory in their history when, in fact, it was their final undoing.