Rhodies’ cowardly acts of sabotage to influence talks…destroyed freedom fighters host economies


IN August 1979, the British Commonwealth of Nations held a conference in Lusaka, Zambia, where the conference decided that the racist Rhodesian Government and the black freedom fighters were to hold peace talks in London aimed at ending the Zimbabwe liberation war.
After that conference, during the months of September/October that year, the Rhodies, in a fit of madness, decided to destroy the major roads and other infrastructure of Mozambique and Zambia, the two countries who hosted the Zimbabwe black freedom fighter armies before the talks were held in London.
It is the aim of this article to answer the above short question and then highlight some of the sabotage activities that were carried out by the Rhodies in both Mozambique and Zambia so that Zimbabweans can appreciate the amount of sacrifice our brothers and sisters in both Mozambique and Zambia made for us to become free.
First, let us answer the question why the Rhodies went and destroyed vital infrastructure in our two neighbouring countries on the eve of peace talks in London.
One Richard Wood, a Rhodesian historian, provides us with an answer below.
“‘Operation Uric/Bootlace’ (attack in Mozambique) was one of the set of operations timed to affect the course of peace negotiations (in London). The others were ‘Dice’, ‘Tepid’ (Zambia) and ‘Miracle’ (Mozambique). They were meant to force Samora Machel of Mozambique and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia to indicate to (President Robert) Mugabe and (late Vice-President Joshua) Nkomo that their countries could no longer afford to host them and their followers and that they had to settle at Lancaster.”
It was extortion big time!
And what then followed can only be described as diabolic sabotage of very innocent infrastructure.
We are going to first highlight the devilish sabotage activities that the Rhodies carried out in Mozambique during their operation ‘Uric’.
During that operation, it appeared the Rhodies were interested in destroying roads infrastructure, especially bridges.
They had even the cheek to film the destruction of the bridges so that they would show the films at the Lancaster House Conference to blackmail the Mozambican and Zambian delegations.
Below are some of the despicable acts of sabotage the Rhodesians carried out in Mozambique during operation ‘Uric’.
We start by looking at the attempted blowing up of the massive bridge on the Limpopo River, better known as ‘Barragem’.
The attempt by the Rhodies to blow up that bridge turned out to be a real big battle itself.
The first thing the Rhodies did in the morning was to send in hunter bombers to scare off the FRELIMO soldiers from the bridge.
‘Nada!’ (NO!), the FRELIMO soldiers replied.
And so a real battle ensued.
As the battle progressed, the Rhodies began to suffer casualities.
“Suddenly an RPG7 rocket (bazooka) fired from some building (by FRELIMO) about a hundred metres away struck the starboard side of a helicopter taking part in the battle, severing the main rotor shaft of that aircraft, which plunged to the earth in a cloud of dust and immediately burst into flames.”
The pilot was burnt to ashes.
However, in the end the Rhodies managed to get to the bridge itself.
But the ‘mammoth task of laying all the 20 kilogramme charges took the SAS (Rhodie Unit) more than five hours with the detonation finally taking place late afternoon’.
But as things turned out, because the Rhodies did their demolition job under fire from FRELIMO soldiers and also the fact that the Barragem Bridge was built of sterner stuff, contrary to what the Rhodies expected, the Rhodesian explosives were not able to bring the bridge down.
It was partially destroyed, yes.
But vehicles were able to use it soon after the Rhodies had fled. The racists failed in their mission here.
We now come to another big bridge called Canicado, which the Rhodies decided to blow up also.
“Captain Joe Du Plooy with his 1 commando troops (Rhodies) and Captain Small with his team of combat engineers were dropped outside Caricado town. They went on to destroy vehicles, demolished two power stations and emptied a fuel bowser. After this they went down to the Canicado Bridge and rigged the bridge for demolition. A TV film crew who had accompanied the team to record the event for a press release captured the entire process.”
The film was later broadcast on Rhodesian television.
That Canicado Bridge was totally destroyed.
A number of other big bridges in Mozambique viz Folgares Maximchopes and Chibuto were totally blown up.
Not only did the Rhodesians destroy bridges in Mozambique, they destroyed irrigation canals carrying water to irrigation schemes, oil depots and electricity power installations. It was really diabolic destruction of economic infrastructure.
These were pure cowardly acts of sabotage.
We now come to Zambia.
This friendly country of ours suffered the same fate as Mozambique.
In one of a number of operations aimed at destroying economic infrastructure called ‘Cheese’, in September 1979, the Rhodesian SAS was given the go ahead to destroy several key bridges along the Tanzania/Zambia Railway Line that runs from Dar es Salaam to Lusaka and along the Great East Road that runs from the Malawian border to Lusaka in an effort to disrupt the Zambian economy.
The attacks finally went down on October 8.
One of the Rhodie soldiers who took part in blowing up one of the bridges arrogantly tells us his experience after they had put explosives at one of the bridges, after which they went and stood at a safe distance to watch the ‘show’.
“We watched, staring out into the blackness and for a horrible second or two I thought we had fucked it up. Then there was a flash, an enormous white flash like an atomic bomb going off followed by such a crack of sound it nearly flattened us. A gigantic fireball roared into the sky right in front of us, mushrooming up and up and on forever.”
The above treatment was applied to several other bridges in Zambia by the Rhodies, resulting in Zambia’s vital infrastructure being destroyed thus undermining the country’s economy.
It is, therefore, very important for us Zimbabweans, especially during these two months of September and October, to remember that it was at this time of year before the Lancaster House talks were held in December that the economies of our wonderful neighbours Mozambique and Zambia were set back many years by the Rhodies in their desperate attempt to prevent us from gaining our freedom.
It is important also for our young generation to always remember that the Rhodies went out of their way – they destroyed the economies of the former hosts of freedom fighters Mozambique and Zambia so that they remained the rulers of our motherland.
It will therefore be the height of folly to think that these very people, the former colonial masters who were forced out of power which they never wanted to lose, can today be angels wishing the country well.
Forget it!


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