IN the last edition of the Struggle for Zimbabwe we looked at the Pearce Commission of 1972, an attempt by both the British and Ian Smith to legitimise Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI).
This week we look at efforts by the nationalists outside the country to form a united front to fight the Rhodesians: the formation of the Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (FROLIZI).
In August 1964 many nationalist leaders that included Joshua Nkomo, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole and Robert Mugabe were imprisoned by the Rhodesian Government.
Those who evaded arrest went into exile in neighbouring countries where they organised the armed struggle.
However, the imprisonment of leader Joshua Nkomo created divisive and disruptive effects on ZAPU.
With Nkomo in detention from 1964 to 1974, ZAPU’s external affairs administration operated from Zambia under the leadership of vice-president James Chikerema and Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo up until 1970.
Chikerema and Moyo were responsible for ZAPU’s early military activities including the major campaigns in Wankie and Sipolilo.
However, on October 1 1971, because of a leadership misunderstanding between Chikerema and Moyo stemming from the Wankie Campaign, Chikerema broke away from ZAPU and formed his own party-Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (FROLIZI).
The front capitalised on some disgruntled elements from both ZAPU and ZANU and pressure from the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to form a united front.
Its members were drawn from both ZAPU and ZANU. These included Nathan Shamuyarira, George Nyandoro, Brigadier-General Ambrose Mutinhiri, Tshinga Dube, Shelton Siwela, Enoch Dumbutshena, Zebediah Gamanya, Stephen Parirenyatwa and Charles Goromonzi among others.
Upon its formation, the so-called ‘purpose’ of FROLIZI was uniting ZANU and ZAPU.
On paper, the FROLIZI constitution was simply a combination of the constitutions of ZANU and ZAPU.
Likewise, the aims and objectives of FROLIZI referred to the establishment of a ‘people’s army’, “to overthrow British colonial capitalism” and the establishment of “an independent socialist economy.”
The constitution of FROLIZI highlighted the following aims and objectives:
To unite all the people of Zimbabwe in order to resolutely struggle to overthrow British colonial capitalism in our country.
To establish and develop an independent socialist economy based upon the ownership and control of land, capital, and all the means of production and distribution of wealth by the masses.
To establish and guarantee Universal Adult Suffrage, one man one vote, as the basis of government in a free Zimbabwe.
To establish a common, free and compulsory educational system for all, and free health services.
To establish a revolutionary people’s army.
To build and develop our national culture and heritage, i.e. languages, norms, etc.-and to ensure the equality, unity and fraternity of all Zimbabweans.
To establish and guarantee the people’s constitutional and human rights through a people’s legal system.
To develop and strengthen solidarity with revolutionary movements, organisations and governments in Africa, Asia, South and North America, the Carribean Islands and elsewhere.
The front set up a motley army that was commanded by Shelton Siwela and organised raids into Rhodesia, causing casualties and penetrating right into Salisbury.
Although the original objective behind the creation of FROLIZI was to reunite ZAPU and ZANU into a single nationalist movement, neither party was prepared to do so.
ZANU and ZAPU were against the front and saw it as a ploy by opportunists to derail the course of the armed struggle.
Many guerillas believed FROLIZI was nothing more than a ‘tribal union of Zezurus’.
More so, some nationalists dismissed the group, describing it as a “nepotistic grouping of cousins and relatives …determined to undermine the liberation struggle.”
However, to the OAU (now African Union (AU)) member states, it appeared to be a unifying force which was looked upon as a favourable option.
Chikerema began to lobby the OAU for the full recognition of FROLIZI.
Having realised that FROLIZI’s claims of unifying ZANU and ZAPU was gaining credence in some African states, ZANU and ZAPU reacted by creating a military unit – the Joint Military Council (JMC) in February 1972.
By creating the JMC and displaying a measure of unity, ZAPU and ZANU succeeded in undermining FROLIZI’s claims.
After the formation of the JMC, there was no need for OAU to fully recognise FROLIZI.
This spelt the beginning of the demise of the front.
In 1973, FROLIZI itself split and consequently played an insignificant part in the liberation struggle.
The final straw to the end of FROLIZI was the disbanding of the party and its amalgamation with other liberation movements.
Frontline state leaders, Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda and the newly inaugurated Mozambique President Samora Machel grew increasingly impatient of the disunity among the four nationalist movements.
Besides FROLIZI, the African National Council (ANC) of Muzorewa was also added to the mix; after it had successfully organized a ‘NO’ vote for the Pearce Commission in 1972 on behalf of ZAPU and ZANU, it then took on a life of its own.
The two presidents asked ZANU, ZAPU, FROLIZI and the ANC to join and form the United African National Congress (UANC).
This resulted in the Lusaka Unity Accord of December 8 1974.
However, after the collapse of the ‘unity accord’ in 1975, FROLIZI never resurrected.
The short-lived front died a natural death, as most of its members, after realising that the front was mere rhetoric, left and rejoined their previous political parties.