Legacy of Chimoio lives on


WHEN Ian Smith unleashed his entire air force on Chimoio Camp on November 23 1977, it was an attempt to wipe out ZANLA’s military headquarters, thereby delivering a crippling physical and morale-shattering blow to the liberation war — the result wasn’t exactly what he had expected.

The attack was meant to instill fear among the war liberators.

It was a massacre in which thousands of innocent souls perished in a scorched earth type of heartless attack.

It was a merciless onslaught in which refugee camps and Chindunduma Camp, which housed children, were not spared either.

If one of the major intentions of the attack was to discourage the war liberators from carrying on with the liberation struggle, the response proved otherwise.

Instead, the liberation struggle was intensified, with more daring reprisals.

Smith must have shaken in his boots when he heard of the successful attack, by ZANLA forces, on Grand Reef Air Base in Manicaland, which had been used as a launch pad in the attack on Chimoio.

When the Rhodies later tried similar raids at Mapai and Mavonde, this time, they got a thorough beating.

Instead of cowering at the news of the brutal bombings, the unarmed povo back home were determined to avenge the Chimoio massacre.

The morale of those whose brothers and sisters had been butchered at Chimoio was not dampened at all, as more volunteers deserted their homes to get military training to fight colonialism.

A clear lesson from the Chimoio debacle is that, a just cause cannot be easily suppressed by mere force, be it military or sanctions.

November 23 will be 43 years after the bombing of Chimoio but we still have to refer to this incident to understand the situation we are in today.

We are under illegal Western sanctions, which are as indiscriminate as the Chimoio bombs of 1977 because of the Land Reform Programme.

But surely, what’s wrong with redistributing the land when one section of society, who are the real owners, had been deprived of their possession?

When Smith massacred thousands at Chimoio, the West was soft with him because he was their kith and kin.

They were united in their bid to stop a liberation movement from governing an independent Zimbabwe.

It is this fear of a pro-people government that would be determined to safeguard its resources, the West is dying to get cheaply.

So, please don’t be fooled when characters like US Ambassador Brian Nichols and EU Ambassador Timo Olkkonen wax lyrical about ‘reform’ in their effort to justify sanctions.

The so-called ‘human rights’ and Smith’s ‘communism’ are mere bogeymen used to mislead people in order to justify indiscriminate bombings and sanctions.

Smith tried to smash the liberation movements while the US and the West are trying to dislodge from power, ZANU PF, the same liberation movement white settlers failed to cripple.   

If we go back 42 years, we find out that Smith failed despite his military might.

In the same vein, why can’t the people’s resolve also witness the US and its Western allies meet the same fate, in spite of their economic might.

Tomorrow, let us not only remember those who perished at the hands of whites at Chimoio, but also those who were butchered at Nyadzonia, Mkushi and Freedom Camp, among other centres.

This should only strengthen our determination to safeguard our sovereignty.


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