Double standards

15 11 2015

I usually only buy the newspaper when I need newsprint. It’s useful for mopping up excess oil after frying fish and Marianne had bought some calamari rings for Friday supper.

The Zimbabwe Independent is actually not a bad paper and insofar as I can tell gives a reasonably balanced opinion on the local political situation.


It’s no secret that the Zimbabwe Government is broke so I was more than a bit surprised to see that it had made a substantial bid for a majority shareholding in a local mobile phone company that was going to cost some US$40 million. A bit further down the page one can also read that a civil service audit report has recommended substantial reductions in the wage bill which gobbles some 80% of revenue.

Perhaps the government thinks spending $40 million that it doesn’t have is going to earn enough to avoid laying off large numbers of its supporters. This is unlikely given the appalling record of the government to do anything well except line the pockets of the faithful.

The 11th November came and went with little fanfare in the papers about remembering Armistice Day. In this part of the world it is also known as the anniversary of Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) that broke Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe was known) away from British colonial rule. Most years it passes with little if any comment but this year was the 50th anniversary. I must admit I’d forgotten about this until I saw it in the social media.

The state controlled press in the form of The Herald newspaper wasted no time in reporting that “unrepentant Rhodies” in other parts of the world had been celebrating this anniversary (Rhodie is a derogatory term for ex-Rhodesians). One ZANU-PF (ruling party) spokesman, Cde Simon Khaya Moyo (Cde is the abbreviation for “comrade” that only the party faithful and state press use) went so far as to reiterate that “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again”. He was apparently referring to social media posts in Australia advertising celebrations for the 50th UDI anniversary. Quite why he felt threatened by people having a party half the world away is not made clear.

Why anyone would want to celebrate the UDI is beyond me too. I was nearly 6 at the time and almost certainly looking forward to what my parents promised to be my last birthday party in 6 days time. The UDI culminated in a bush war that took my father’s life and very nearly took mine. I most certainly don’t look back on Ian Smith with any fondness even if he was right that the Mugabe regime would ruin the country. He was most certainly wrong to declare UDI but I don’t lose any sleep over it; I have more important things to consider like my birthday in 2 days time and just making ends meet.



2 responses

16 11 2015
Dr. Horcajo

Let me just wish you a happy belated birthday!

17 11 2015

Smith had no alternative but to declare UDI. Had he not, he would have been replaced by one of Harper or Lilford’s extreme right wingers – as they did with Winston Field. Remember that Smith was a member of the UFP – a party who’s manifesto declared a pathway to majority rule and he only joined the Rhodesian Front whenn Britain refused to grant independence. Given the 1926 constitution, the declaration of independence could be justified – particularly given the precedence that both Northern Rhodesia and Malawi were both granted independence following the dissolution of Federation. Had not Harold Wilson, a neo communist/socialist been PM of the UK, things might have turned out a little differently. The 1961 constitution signed at Vic Falls by Nkomo, who reperesented black Rhodesians at the time, would have seen steady progress to majority rule and a more capable and intelligent government – having agreed to the constitution, Nkomo then renaged on it. Instead of demanding that he be held to it, Wilson supported him and most white Rhodesians felt betrayed. This feeling of betrayal was to continue through all the negotiations as Wilson constantly moved the goal posts – finally demanding NIBMAR – no independence before majority rule and handing the Rhodesian situation over to the UN – which was completely illegal in terms of the Commonwealth Agreement. I lived in Rhodesia during the 60s and 70s working for Rhodesia television – in all my travels, there was little anti-white racism – whilst there was racial discrimination, there was integration at many levels. Many hotels, bars and places of entertainment as well as some schools allowed entry for black people. In many rural areas whites were greeted and welcomed into villages and kraals. This was to change as acts of terrorism began and the country became divided. Notwithstanding this, even in the early 80s when on patrol, one was welcomed in many villages. As the terrorist activity increased , it was heartbreaking to see the fear in the eyes of many of the rural locals as ZANLA and ZAPU put young kids as spies into their villages.The real tragedy was that Wilson was not prepared to accept a solution that would allow a steady advance towards majority rule – the 1961 constitution would have seen majority rule by competent black leaders by the early 1980s. Instead he encouraged Mugabe, Sithole and Nkomo to use acts of terror – undoubtedly a lesson for today’s ISIS jihadists – and a replay of what Rhodesian experienced in the war of terror supported by Wilson. Muzorewa, was elected as PM in free and fair elections, but Jimmy Carter refused to accept the result and demanded that another election take place – given the time and intimidation, Mugabe won, much to Carter’s delight. His breathtaking ignorance and stupidity has brought Rhodesia where it is today. I tried many times as a producer of current affairs to create a dialogue between blacks and whites of all political persuasions on the programme I produced nightly. But it was in vain. Wilson arrogantly refused point black to enter into a live debate although Smith was amenable. Wilson seemed to have an agenda that was driven by the far left of his labour party. It always amused me that in the “peaceful UK” Wilson was always accompanied by armed body guards whilst that “terrible, racist ” Smith, supposedlly hated by all blacks – would drive to his office everyday unacompanied and unarmed, stopping at the traffic lights to chat briefly with both black and white Rhodesians. Between Wilson and Carter they managed through ignorance, stupidity and their lack of understanding to destroy an enntire country and its peoples.Thank God they changed the name to Zimbabwe – a fitting name for a country in ruins.

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