The Struggle for Land in Zimbabwe (1890-2010)…attempts on Cde Mugabe’s life


The first to violate the Ceasefire Agreement was none other than the Governor, Lord Soames, who on January 6 1980 authorised the re-deployment of the pro-Rhodesian security forces which included more than 15 000 of Bishop Muzorewa’s Auxiliary forces, writes Dr Felix Muchemwa in his book The Struggle For Land in Zimbabwe (1890-2010) that The Patriot is serialising

AS part of the Ceasefire Agreement, a Ceasefire Monitoring Commission composed of equal members of ZANLA, ZIPRA and the Rhodesian Security forces, chaired by a Commonwealth Ceasefire Monitor, was formed.
The command component of the commission was made up of commanders Rex Nhongo (ZANLA), Dumiso Dabengwa (ZIPRA) and Major General Barnard, who was later replaced by Major-General McIntyre (Rhodesian Security forces) with Major-General Ackland, (British and Commonwealth Monitoring forces) being the chairman.
The other members of the Command Ceasefire Commission were Cdes Josiah Tungamirai, Lookout Masuku, T. Dube, N. Mleya, G. Maseko, A. Kambeu (Chimombe) E. Chakanyuka (Chimonyo) and Joshua Misihairambwi (Mark Dube). Lt Col Andrew Parker Bowles served as the Chief Liason Officer for the Command Ceasefire Commission.
The Commission met with Governor Soames at the State House to assess any ceasefire violations and some of the commanders in the commission made regular visits to ZIPRA and ZANLA Assembly Points.
Besides the Command Ceasefire Commission, there was also a Logistics Command Commission, headed by Lt Col Gavin Peebles.
The Logistics Command Commission was primarily responsible for feeding and housing the 22 000 ZANLA and ZIPRA guerillas in the Assembly points. (Moorcraft and McLaughlin, 1982: p.172)
Then, there was the Medical Command Commission which was made up of Colonel (Dr) Bob Blewt (British and Commonwealth Monitoring forces), Dr Dube (ZIPRA) and Dr Felix Muchemwa (ZANLA).
The Medical Command Commission was responsible for calculating the quantity of food needed in terms of kilogrammes per person per day, as well as the toiletry needed for women guerillas in each Assembly Point.
The Medical Logistics Command Commission was also responsible for the supply of medical equipment and supplies, and was directly assisted by the ICRC and Christian Care.
The Command Ceasefire Commission faced serious challenges in the form of ceasefire violations.
Re-deployment of pro-Rhodesian forces
The first to violate the ceasefire agreement was none other than the Governor, Lord Soames, who on January 6 1980 authorised the re-deployment of the pro-Rhodesian security forces which included more than 15 000 of Bishop Muzorewa’s Auxiliary forces. (Moorcraft and McLaughlin, 1982: pp.172-173)
At a time when the Governor’s neutrality was extremely desired by all sides there seemed absolutely no reason for him to take the pro-Rhodesian security forces bias.
In the countryside, re-deployed Rhodesian security forces, mainly the SAS and the Selous Scouts openly distributed anti-Mugabe leaflets (Moorcraft and McLaughlin, 1982: p.174), and Muzorewa’s security forces Auxiliaries openly campaigned for their leader under the pretext of teaching people how to vote.
Besides preventing PF supporters from campaigning, they also threatened them with death. (Herald, January 10 1980 p.2)
Lord Soames asserted that the Auxiliary forces were part of the Rhodesian security forces and that their military commanders were responsible to him for their actions (Herald, January 11 1980, p.1), a position that had already been challenged by Comrade Mugabe in a strongly worded letter of protest to Mrs Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, accusing the British of violating the Lancaster House Ceasefire Agreement. (Herald, January 9 1980, p.3)
In the end, ZANLA had no choice but to re-deploy some of its own forces, predominantly political commissars, who were ordered to ‘bury their arms and live with the people.’ (ZANLA COMD HQ Signal)
Illegal presence of South African Defence Forces
More than 15 000 South African security forces continued to illegally operate inside Rhodesia in violation of the Lancaster House Ceasefire Agreement.
An official from the Governor’s Office attempted to justify their presence by claiming: “As the bridge is a feature common to both South Africa and Rhodesia, it is in everyone’s interest that its security be assured.”
The matter was subsequently tabled on the UN Security Council agenda in New York by African members of the OAU and ZANU (PF) UN Representative, comrade Tirivafi Kangai, and during the ensuing debate, the British UN Security Council Representative, Sir Antony Parsons, tried to brush the issue aside by lying that: “Only a few South African troops were in Rhodesia … to guard Beitbridge, and these now had been withdrawn.” (Herald, February 1 1980, p.1)
However, the African States insisted that there were 5 SADF battalions supported by paratroopers, artillery batteries and armoured cars still fully deployed inside Rhodesia.
The UN Security Council fully debated the SADF presence inside Rhodesia as well as other ceasefire violations condoned by the Governor, Lord Soames and, at the end of the debate, the resolution for the withdrawal of South African troops from Rhodesia was voted for by 14 votes to zero, with the United Kingdom abstaining. (Herald February 4 1980, p 3)
In reality, the South African Defence Forces had not been withdrawn and Sir Antony Parsons deliberately lied to the UN Security Council.
It was only on March 13 1980, after the announcement of the election results in Zimbabwe, that the South African Government admitted to the presence of the SADF forces inside Zimbabwe when the South African Prime Minister, P.W. Botha announced that ‘The British authorities were aware of the presence of South African men and equipment with the Rhodesian forces, particularly with a view to facilitating the arrangements for the building of orderly elections.”
Immediately after that this assistance was being withdrawn.’ (Herald, March 15 1980 p.1)
Assassination attempts on
Comrade Robert Mugabe
Under an operation code-named ‘Operation Hectic’, the Rhodesian security forces, in particular the SAS and the Selous Scouts, sanctioned by Combined Operations HQ and General Peter Walls, launched a series of attempts to kill Comrade Robert Mugabe and to attack and destabilise ZANU PF in any way possible. (Stiff, 1999: p.292)
February 3 1980
At 0700hours on Sunday February 3 1980, near Rusape, a group of Selous Scouts commanded by a captain, ambushed a bus carrying more that 70 Bishop Muzorewa supporters from a wedding in Umtali to Salisbury.
The bus was hit by RPG-7 and heavy machinegun fire, killing the driver instantly and causing it to veer off the road. More than 16 survivors still inside the bus were then callously murdered by the Selous Scouts using bayonets and small arms fire.
A vain attempt was then made to blame the murders on ZANLA forces. (Stiff, 1999: p.292)
February 6 1980
On February 6 1980, SAS ‘A’ Squadron operatives were deployed by COMOPS, the Rhodesian Security Force Command Centre, to eliminate Comrade Mugabe as well as Comrade Kangai in Salisbury. (Cole,1984: p.415)
At 0135hours Comrade Kangai’s house in Marlborough was hit by an RPG-7 and he ‘was seriously injured and taken to Harare Hospital (where) a hospital spokesman later described his condition as satisfactory.’
The security guards identified the assailant as ‘…an armed white man’ who had stepped out of a car. (Herald, February 7 1980, p.1)
The attack on Comrade Mugabe’s house in Mt Pleasant was at 0315hours later the same morning but, he was fortunately not injured. (Herald, February 7 1980 p.1)


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