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

important battle.

After Chimoio, every epic battle was

won by the guerillas.

Chimoio was the last bridge to

permanent victory.

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

the canteen.

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

final victory.

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

was relentless.

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

negotiating table.

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

their dead.

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

Rhodesian border.

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

more.” (Muchemwa:2015).

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:

Part One

‘There can be

no victory to

celebrate for

any sane human

being when you

have murdered


civilians, school


patients in

hospital wards

Rhodesians described Chimoio as the most mind-boggling special operations and amputees’

victory in their history when, in fact, it was their final undoing.


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