FROM November 23 1977 when the whiteman unleashed the worst inhumane act at Chimoio HQ Base, something changed for the whiteman — he knew it was over but he chose to turn a blind eye.

On November 23 1977 Rhodesians unleashed the worst inhumane act at Chimoio HQ Base in Mozambique.

Only one month after Chimoio,  in December 21 1977, ZANLA avenged their comrades brutally massacred and tortured at Chimoio.

They attacked the Grand Reef Airbase, overrunning it and destroying all the planes at the base.

So ferocious was the attack by ZANLA that the Rhodesians barely returned fire and, after the attack, ZANLA retreated unscathed.

This was a crippling blow to Rhodesia which lost many of its planes used against ZANLA and ZIPRA.

In September 1978, just 10 months after the Chimoio massacre, Rhodesia, in desperation, attacked the ZANLA commandos near the Vanduzi mountains.

It was a massive failure; the Rhodesians could not make a dent on this formidable force. There were some casualties on the Rhodesian side which included loss of aircraft but no casualties among the ZANLA commandos.

ZANLA was on the last lap. On December 11 1978, ZANLA came to town, blowing up the headquarters of Smith’s fuel reserves in Southerton, Salisbury (Harare).

Cde Lobo explains how they attacked the Salisbury fuel reserves in 1978.

ZANLA successfully carried out their mission undetected, and left the city with no loss; no-one was captured by the enemy in their retreat.

Smith was brought to his knees by nine young Murengas, in their late teens.

This was catastrophic for Rhodesia. It became increasingly difficult for Rhodesia to support its units with air cover as fuel was no longer abundantly available.

This was just 12 months after the Chimoio massacre — Chimurenga fire could not be quenched by murder and the crassest brutality.

The liberated zones were swallowing territories so fast that Rhodesians found more and more areas impenetrable and impassable while freedom fighters could be found everywhere.

Something became clear to the whiteman, it was time to surrender.

But as usual, the blind do not see; the whiteman did not learn from the fact that he had lost every major battle since Chimoio. The whiteman would not learn that it was ‘game over!’

But fear of irrevocably losing on the battlefield and being wiped off the face of the land of Nehanda got the better of him, and he indicated that he was interested in negotiating his terms of surrender which date was then set for September 10 1979.

Still intransigent and obdurate, he decided to torpedo the talks before they began, lily-livered, though but equally devious, he went on to plan a major war to capture the border town of Mapai which was critical to both ZANLA and FRELIMO. This was calculated to weaken ZANU’s hand at the negotiating table.

They massed forces, tens of all types of war planes, cargo and jet bombers as well as a huge arsenal from South Africa.

A huge force from South Africa combined with Rhodesia’s forces, aircraft, ammunition and bombs to create a formidable force that would wipe us out and defeat us at Lancaster House; what they could not win on the battlefield, they planned to steal on the negotiation table but we knew who they were, that they had no honour at all and, therefore, to trust nothing they ever said.

The South African and Rhodesian chief of Combined Operations, commanders of their air defence forces as well as commanders of their ground forces were all combined to direct this war to end the Chimurenga war.  The whiteman forgot he had turned every stone, but he believed he had an ace — but Chimoio had been their nemesis, it was irreversible.

Thus the biggest combined force of Rhodesians and South Africans descended on Mapai, to capture Mapai so as to cripple ZANLA and FRELIMO operations in the Gaza Province.

But Comrade Dominic Chinenge, (Constantion Chiwenga) the ZANLA Provincial Commander for the Gaza Province and Brigadier Pundo of FRELIMO forces, fought and repulsed the Rhodesians so fiercely they left without collecting their dead.

ZANLA and FRELIMO were unscathed.

Chimoio had ended it all; attacking ZANLA at the rear was now a dead end.

The attack was a dismal failure; a total failure which, in fact, strengthened the hand of ZANLA at the negotiating table, not the whiteman’s. They only succeeded in proving that ZANLA was the stronger force.

The obdurate white Rhodesian supremacists, the blind who can never learn from their mistakes, still planned to steal victory from ZANLA at the talks. They thought ZANLA had gone to sleep when the talks began. They still believed they could strengthen their hand at the negotiating table and weaken that of ZANLA.

They attacked the ZANLA HQ Base at Mavonde, only 20 kilometers from the Rhodesian border but they were routed. It was a crushing defeat for the whiteman, and a resounding victory for ZANU and ZANLA.

On the table at Lancaster was the land issue, and so the Battle Cry at Mavonde was: ‘No land no ceasefire’. Comrade Nhongo, ZANLA’s Chief of Operations and Deputy to Tongogara commanded this epic battle.

The whiteman got the message but never respected the truth — this was his last foray into ZANLA rear bases.

The whiteman called for Lancaster to negotiate his terms of surrender, but offered the freedom fighters a settlement which would require the liberation forces Government to buy from white farmers any land they needed for settling the Africans.

Never learning their lessons, they thought the freedom fighters would accept an empty calabash after fighting such a bitter war for 16 years; they thought the freedom fighters would betray the masses with whom they had fought side by side to liberate their land, which land they were now being told they would have to buy — the British were adamant on this issue.

The masses who had been murdered in their thousands in both the First and Second Chimurenga because they stood firm on the fact that the land was theirs would not be short-changed.

The freedom fighters did not betray the martyred masses who were their fellow combatants who had fallen for their land Zimbabwe; who had paid the ultimate price for the sacred gift from Musikavanhu.

The freedom fighters declared they would not buy back their land which had been seized as a right of conquest, but which same right of conquest they were now being denied so that the land would not revert to them, the freedom fighters chose rather to go back to the bush and fight on and get into office guns blazing!

The British saw unfolding before their eyes, the harshest nightmare they could imagine, they could not hide from the writing on the wall for which they needed no prophet to interpret — it was ‘game over!’. It would be a defeat with very severe costs, thus they chose for once to be sane, they knew it was the very last they would see the face of a freedom fighter at any negotiating table, so they agreed they would buy back the land repossessed to give the masses, and so the ceasefire fire was signed and it was signed on December 21 1979!

From August 8 1963 to December 21 1979, ZANU had blazed a trail that was recognisable; which ended Project Rhodesia, an instrument for usurping the power of the Africans so that they could siphon the wealth of the people of Zimbabwe.

It was the harshest, bitter years of struggle ZANU had overcome, navigated and defeated vicissitude after vicissitude, catastrophe after catastrophe as is inevitable when you are fighting an immoral force.

In 16 years, ZANU accomplished its mission of driving out the British imperialists by force of arms.

Well done ZANU! 



Happy 60th birthday ZANU! 


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