Rhodesian Bush War

Rhodesian Bush War

battle_name=Rhodesian Bush War
campaign=Rhodesian Bush War/ Second Chimurenga

conflict=Rhodesian Bush War/Second Chimurenga
date= July 1964–1979
place=Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
result=Lancaster House Agreement, Majority rule
flag|South Africa|1928
flag|Zimbabwe Rhodesia (1979)
FROLIZI (1978-1979)
combatant2= [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0786416866&id=Gmm_aUaa6okC&pg=PA64&lpg=PA64&ots=aGcD8CGIdi&dq=Mugabe+1970s&sig=pr37blDarT8-ZNgO9Th5AZrcZqw#PPA65,M1 Page 65] "Robert Mugabe and the Betrayal of Zimbabwe", 2004.]
FROLIZI (October 1971 to 1978)
commander1=PM Ian Smith
PM Abel Muzorewa
Defence Minister P. K. van der Byl
Commander Peter Walls
Ndabaningi Sithole (1978-1979)
James Chikerema (1978-1979)
casualties3=Around 30,000 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/uk_confidential/1711382.stm Government compromise in 1971 Rhodesian talks] - BBC News 2 January, 2002] |

The Rhodesian Bush War, also known as the Second Chimurenga or the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle, was a war which lasted from July 1964Peter N. Stearns and William Leonard Langer. "The Encyclopedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, Chronologically Arranged", 2001. Page 1069.] to 1979 and led to universal suffrage, the end of white minority-rule in Rhodesia, the end of the government of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and the creation of the Republic of Zimbabwe. The Smith and Muzorewa governments fought against Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union and Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union.


Internal factors

The war is viewed by many Black Zimbabweans as a war of national liberation, as many of them view their country as having been occupied and dominated by a foreign power, namely, Britain, since 1890. The policies of the white-dominated government included racially discriminatory administration of social services. While these services were segregated, the white-run government provided health, education and housing services to blacks. Voters were divided, by the government, along racial lines into two rolls with different voting power. In addition, white Rhodesians owned the most productive farmland, which had been acquired by conquest during the colonial period.

By contrast, most white Rhodesians viewed the war as one of survival, with atrocities committed in the former Belgian Congo, the Mau Mau Uprising campaign in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa fresh in their minds. Many whites (and a sizable minority of black Rhodesians) viewed their lifestyle as being under attack, which both had considered safer and with a higher standard of living than many other African countries.

External factors

After World War II, most African colonies sought independence from colonial powers. Throughout the 1960s and 70s the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China trained and funded mainly Communist African armies of liberation to expand their global influence and gain access to natural resources against the backdrop of the Cold War. After the Sino-Soviet Split these two powers were often in competition with each other and hence there were two liberation armies in the Rhodesian Bush War; ZANLA supported by China and ZIPRA supported by the Soviet Union.

After gaining independence, the Soviet or Chinese backed nationalists would normally form Marxist/Socialist states, aligned with the Communist Bloc. This ensured valuable trade links and strategic influence in the region. This pattern was established earlier in South East Asia with conflicts such as the Vietnam War and Cambodian Civil War and in neighbouring African countries with conflicts such as the Angolan War of Independence, Mozambican War of Independence, Gaddafi in Libya or the 1974 coup in Ethiopia leading to the rule of the Marxist Derg. These insugencies supported by communist powers worried Western observers such as the United States as well as the current and former colonial governments such as Great Britain and Portugal who questioned the motives of such liberation armies.

The ZANLA fighters were mainly Shona and were supported by the People's Republic of China and North Korea, whereas the ZAPU fighters were mainly Ndebele and were supported by the Soviet Union and East Germany.Fact|date=May 2008 Each group fought separate guerrilla wars against the Rhodesian Security Forces.

Rebels were armed with a wide range of weapons, including Russian grenades, Tokarеv pistols, PPSh sub-machineguns, the Czech M52/57, the French MAS, German Mauser rifles, and MP40 sub-machineguns, but the most common infantry weapon was the AK-47 and the SKS [Abbott, Peter, "Modern African Wars (I): Rhodesia 1965-80", Osprey Publishing London, 2001, p.10.] . The nationalist movements also used a variety of Soviet and Chinese-made equipment which eventually included surface-to-air missiles and land mines. The use of ambushes and surprise attacks on civilian convoys and rural farms and villages was a common tactic as these areas were often hard to defend. Nationalists derailed several Rhodesian Railways trains with explosives.

In June 1979, the governments of Cuba and Mozambique offered direct military assistance to the Patriotic Front, but Mugabe and Nkomo declined.Preston, Matthew. "Ending Civil War: Rhodesia and Lebanon in Perspective", 2004. Page 55.]

The Communist Party of Great Britain actively supported ZAPU. North Korean military officials taught Zimbabwean militants how to use explosives and arms in a camp near Pyongyang. [http://rhodesian.server101.com/communist_support_for_terrorists.htm Red Africa: Communist support and assistance to nationalist political groups in Rhodesia] Embassy of Rhodesia in Iceland]

By April 1979. 12,000 ZANLA troops were training in Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Libya.Preston, Matthew. "Ending Civil War: Rhodesia and Lebanon in Perspective", 2004. Page 66.]

The Bush War overlapped several Cold War conflicts in its neighbouring countries, including Angola's war of independence (1961-1975) and civil war (1975-2002), Mozambique's war of independence (1964-1974) and Mozambican Civil War (1977 to 1992), and Shaba I (1977) and Shaba II (1978).

Civil disobedience (1957-1964)

In September 1956, bus fares in Salisbury were raised to the point at which workers were spending between 18% and 30% of their earnings on transportation.Fact|date=May 2008 The City Youth League responded by boycotting the United Transport Company's buses and succeeded in preventing the price change. On September 12, 1957 members of the Youth League and the defunct ANC formed the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress, led by Joshua Nkomo. The Whitehead administration banned the SRANC in 1959 and arrested 307 leaders, excluding Nkomo who was out of the country, on February 29 in Operation Sunrise.Lake, Anthony. "The "Tar Baby" Option: American Policy Toward Southern Rhodesia", 1976. Page 32.] Muzondidya, James. "Walking on a Tightrope: Towards a Social History of the Coloured Community of Zimbabwe", 2005. Page 167-170.]

Nkomo, Mugabe, Herbert Chitepo, and Ndabaningi Sithole established the National Democratic Party in January 1960. Nkomo became its leader in October. An NDP delegation headed by Nkomo attended the constitutional conference in January 1961. While Nkomo initially supported the constitution, he reversed his position after other NDP leaders disagreed. The government banned the NDP in December 1961 and arrested NDP leaders, excluding Nkomo who, again, was out of the country. Nkomo formed the Zimbabwe African People's Union which the Whitehead administration banned in September 1962.

The United Federal Party, campaigning on majority rule, lost overwhelmingly in the 1962 general election to the more conservative Rhodesian Front. Nkomo, legally barred from forming a new political party, moved ZAPU's headquarters to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

In July 1963 Nkomo suspended Ndabaningi Sithole, Robert Mugabe, Leopold Takawira, and Washington Malianga for their opposition to his continued leadership of ZAPU.Robert Cary and Diana Mitchell. "African Nationalist Leaders in Rhodesia Who's who", 1977. Page 101.] On August 8 they announced the establishment of the Zimbabwe African National Union. ZANU members formed a militant wing, the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army, and sent ZANLA members to the People's Republic of China for training.

In July 1964 ZANLA forces assassinated a Rhodesian Front official and the war began.

First phase (1964-1972)

The Smith administration detained the ZANU & ZAPU Political Leadership,headed by Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe in August 1964.The major political leaders imprisoned were Ndabaningi Sithole, Leopald Takawira, Edgar Tekere, Enos Nkala, Maurice Nyagumbo. In April 1966 the Rhodesian armed forces engaged militants in Sinoia, the first major engagement.

The Military Leaders of ZANLA, which consisted of Dare ReChimurenga were Barrister Herbert Chitepo, and Josiah Tongogara.Militants began launching attacks against Rhodesia in the mid-1960s, first from bases in Zambia and later from Mozambique.St. John, Lauren. "Rainbow's End: A Memoir of Childhood, War, and an African Farm", 2007. Page 1.]

The conflict intensified after the Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Britain on 11 November 1965. Sanctions were implemented by the British government after UDI, and member states of the United Nations endorsed the British embargo. The embargo meant the Rhodesian Forces were hampered by a lack of modern equipment but used other means to receive vital war supplies such as receiving oil, munitions, and arms via the government of apartheid-era South Africa. War material was also obtained through elaborate international smuggling schemes, domestic production, and equipment captured from infiltrating enemy combatants.

In the latter months of 1971, the black nationalist factions united and formed a coalition which became known as the 'Joint Guerrilla Alliance to Overthrow the Government.'

econd phase (1972-1979)

The black nationalists operated from secluded bases in neighbouring Zambia and from FRELIMO-controlled areas in the Portuguese colony of Mozambique. These militants made periodic raids into Rhodesia. With the decline of the Portuguese empire from 1974 to 1976, Ian Smith realised Rhodesia was surrounded on three sides by hostile nations and declared a formal state of emergency.

Soon Mozambique closed its 800-mile-long border with Rhodesia, but Rhodesian forces often crossed the border in "hot pursuit" raids, attacking the nationalists and their training camps. In 1976, Rhodesian Selous Scouts destroyed a camp containing many hundreds of trainees, which they claimed was a military target. The nationalists claimed the site was a refugee camp. The Rhodesians also operated into Zambia after Nkomo's nationalists shot down two unarmed Vickers Viscount civilian airliners with Soviet supplied SAM-7 heat-seeking missiles. In the first incident, Air Rhodesia Flight RH825, ten passengers who survived the crash landing were shot and killed at the crash scene. As the conflict intensified, the United States and Britain attempted to negotiate a peaceful settlement. However this was rejected by the Rhodesian government as they were unwilling to relinquish political and economic control, and the black nationalists were bitterly divided by feudal, tribal and political differences.

The RSF called up part-time soldiers in preparation for a major counter-offensive on May 2, 1976. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10E16FF355414758DDDAB0894DD405B868BF1D3 Rhodesia, planning offensive, to call up part-time soldiers] The New York Times] Militants bombed a railroad bridge over Matetsi River on October 7, 1976 when a train carrying ore passed over. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60F12F63C59157493CAA9178BD95F428785F9 Rhodesia says rebels bomb bridge, sending train crashing into river] , October 8, 1976. The New York Times.]

On April 3, 1977 General Peter Walls announced the government would launch a campaign to win the "hearts and minds" of Rhodesia's black citizens. [http://www.psywarrior.com/RhodesiaPSYOP.html Rhodesia Psychological Operations 1965-1980] Psychological Operations]

In May 1977 Walls received reports of ZANLA forces massing in the city of Mapai in Gaza Province, Mozambique. Prime Minister Smith gave Walls permission to destroy the base. Walls told the media the Rhodesian forces were changing tactics from contain and hold to search and destroy, "adopting hot pursuit when necessary." On May 30, 1977 500 troops passed the border and traveled 60 miles to Mapai, engaging the ZANLA forces with air cover from the Rhodesian Air Force and paratroopers in C-47 Dakotas. The Rhodesian government said the military killed 32 ZANLA fighters and lost one Rhodesian pilot. The Mozambican government disputed the number of casualties, saying it shot down three Rhodesian planes and a helicopter and took several troops prisoner, all of which Minister of Combined Operations Roger Hawkins denied.Kalley, Jacqueline Audrey. "Southern African Political History: A chronological of key political events from independence to mid-1997", 1999. Page 224.] [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,919000,00.html Smith Takes a Dangerous New Gamble] TIME magazine and CNN] [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,879724,00.html Getting ready for war] TIME magazine and CNN]

The United Nations Security Council denounced the incursion of the "illegal racist minority regime in Southern Rhodesia" into Mozambique in Resolution 411, on June 30, 1977. [http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/RESOLUTION/GEN/NR0/296/94/IMG/NR029694.pdf?OpenElement Resolution 411 (1977)] United Nations]

Walls announced a day later that the Rhodesian military would occupy Mapai until they had eliminated ZANLA's presence. Kurt Waldheim, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, condemned the incident on June 1, and Rhodesian forces withdrew. The American, British, and Russian governments also condemned the raid.

Militants bombed a department store in Salisbury on August 11, killing 11 and injuring 70.Muzondidya, James. "Walking on a Tightrope: Towards a Social History of the Coloured Community of Zimbabwe", 2005. Page 246.] They killed sixteen black civilians in eastern Rhodesia on August 21, burning their homes on a white-owned farm. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F0081EF6345D167493C0AB1783D85F438785F9 16 Rhodesian blacks reported killed by guerrillas] August 22, 1977. Reuters via The New York Times]

In May 1978, 50 civilians were killed in crossfire exchanged between Marxist militants and the Rhodesian military, the highest number of civilians to be killed in an engagement up to that point. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E14FA385413728DDDAE0994DD405B888BF1D3 50 black civilians killed in crossfire In Rhodesian War; Varying Curfew Restrictions] , May 17, 1978. The New York Times.] In July Patriotic Front members killed 39 black civilians and the Rhodesian government killed 106 militants. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50715F6345513728DDDAA0A94DF405B888BF1D3 Rhodesia Reports 39 Blacks Slain, Says Military Killed 106 Guerrillas; 106 Guerrillas Reported Slain Guerrillas Kill 39 Black Civilians, Rhodesia Reports] , July 23, 1978. The New York Times.] On November 4, 1978 Walls said 2,000 Patriotic Front militants had been persuaded to defect and fight for the Rhodesian Security Forces. In reality only 50 militants defected. In 1978 450 ZANLA militants crossed the Mozambique border and attacked the town of Umtali. At the time ZANU said the militants were women, an unusual characteristic, but in 1996 Joyce Mujuru said the vast majority involved were men and ZANU concocted the story to make Western organizations believe women were involved in the fighting.Lyons, Tanya. "Guns and Guerilla Girls: Women in the Zimbabwean National Liberation Struggle", 2003. Page 167.] In retaliation for these acts the Rhodesian Air Force bombed guerrilla camps 125 miles inside Mozambique, using 'fatigued' Canberra B2 aircraft and Hawker Hunters —­ actively, but clandestinely, supported by several of the more capable Canberra B(I)12 aircraft of the South African Air Force. A number of joint-force bomber raids on guerrilla encampments and assembly areas in Mozambique and Zambia were mounted in 1978, and extensive air reconnaissance and surveillance of guerrilla encampments and logistical build-up was carried out by the South African Air Force on behalf of the RhAF. The increased effectiveness of the bombing and follow-up 'air mobile' strikes using Dakota-dropped parachutists and helicopter 'air cav' techniques had a significant effect on the development of the conflict, until a successful raid on the Rhodesian strategic fuel reserves in Salisbury forced the decision to explore a negotiated settlement Fact|date=October 2007. The conflict continued until 1979 when an agreement was reached on a constitution to transfer power to a majority government — the Lancaster House Agreement.


The conflict was seen by the nationalist groups and the British government of the time as a war of national and racial liberation. The Rhodesian government saw the conflict as a fight between one part of the country's population (the whites) on behalf of the whole population (including the black majority) against several externally financed parties made up of predominantly black radicals and communists. The Nationalists saw their country as having been occupied and dominated by a foreign power, namely, Britain, since 1890. The British government, in the person of the Governor General, directly ruled the country from 1923, when it took over from the British South Africa Company. In 1965, Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front party took over the government when it unilaterally declared independence. [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1965Rhodesia-UDI.html]

The minority Rhodesian government believed they were defending Western values, Christianity, the rule of law and democracy by fighting Communists. They were unwilling to compromise on most political, economic and social inequalities. The Smith administration said the traditional chiefs were the legitimate voice of the black Shona and Ndebele population and that the nationalists were dangerous usurpers.

In 1979 the Smith administration attempted to blunt the power of the nationalist cause by acceding to an "Internal Settlement" which ended minority rule, changed the name of the country to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and installed the country's first black head of government, Abel Muzorewa. However, unsatisfied with this and spurred on by Britain's refusal to recognise the new order, the nationalist forces persisted. The Second Chimurenga/Bush War ended when the white-dominated government of Rhodesia returned power to the British government with the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement. The Rhodesian government did so at the behest of both South Africa (its major backer) and the U.S. Although minor multi-ethnic elections had been held on a limited basis in Rhodesia before, elections were held in early 1980. Britain recognised this new government and the newly independent and internationally recognised country was renamed Zimbabwe.

Rhodesian forces

The war saw the extensive operation of Rhodesian regulars as well as elite units such as the Selous Scouts and the Rhodesian SAS. The Rhodesian Army fought bitterly against the black nationalist guerrillas. The Rhodesian Army also comprised mostly black regiments such as the Rhodesian African Rifles. Conscription was eventually introduced to supplement the professional soldiers and the many volunteers from overseas. By 1978 all white males up to the age of 60 were subject to periodic call-up into the army; younger men up to 35 might expect to spend alternating blocks of six weeks in the army and at home. Many of the overseas volunteers came from Britain, South Africa, Portugal, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America with the latter three being held in high regard for their recent Vietnam War experience. The Rhodesian Army was, considering the arms embargo, well-equipped. The standard infantry weapon was the Belgian FN FAL Rifle as produced in South Africa under license as the R1 Rifle and supplemented by the H&K G3 rifle. However other weapons such as the British L1A1 variant of the FAL and the older British Lee-Enfield bolt action rifle were used by reservists and the British South Africa Police. Other weapons included the Bren LMG, Sten SMG, Uzi, Browning Hi-Power pistol, Colt M16 rifle (very late in the war), FN MAG general-purpose machine-gun, 81 mm mortar, and Claymore mines. After UDI Rhodesia was heavily reliant on South African and domestically-produced weapons and equipment, as well as international smuggling operations.The Rhodesian Air Force (RhAF) operated a variety of equipment and carried out numerous roles. When the arms embargo was introduced, the RhAF was suddenly lacking spare parts from external suppliers and was forced to find alternative means of keeping their aircraft flying. The RhAF was relatively well equipped and used a large proportion of equipment which was obsolete, such as the World War II vintage Douglas Dakota transport aircraft and the early British jet-fighter the de Havilland Vampire. It also used more modern types of aircraft like the Hawker Hunter, Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopters, and Canberra bombers. Very late in the war, the Rhodesian forces were able to obtain and use a very few smuggled in Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopters [Brent, W. A., "Rhodesian Air Force A Brief History 1947-1980", Freeworld Publications, 1988, p. 14.] .

At the beginning of the war much of Rhodesia's military hardware was of British and Commonwealth origin but during the course of the conflict new equipment such as armoured cars were procured from the South Africans. Several captured Soviet Bloc T-55 tanks were provided to Rhodesia by the South Africans [http://www.rhodesia.nl/quartz.htm] . The Rhodesians also produced some of their own armoured vehicles, including unlicensed copies of the Mercedes-Benz UR-416 [Stiff, Peter, "Selous Scouts Top Secret War", Galago Publishing (Pty) Ltd., 1983, P. 425.] . The means with which the Rhodesians procured weaponry meant that the arms embargoes had little effect on the Rhodesian war effort. During the course of the war most white citizens carried personal weapons, and it was not unusual to see white housewives carrying submachine guns. A siege mentality set in and all civilian transport had to be escorted in convoys for safety against ambushes. Farms and villages in rural areas were frequently attacked.

The Rhodesian government divided the nation into eight geographical operational areas; Operation Ranger - North West Border,Operation Thrasher - Eastern Border, Operation Hurricane - North East Border, Operation Repulse - South East Border, Operation Grapple - Midlands, Operation Splinter - Kariba, Operation Tangent - Matabeleland, "SALOPS" - Salisbury and District.

Rebel/Liberation Forces

's government were:
*ZANLA (Zimbabwe National Liberation Army), the armed wing of ZANU Zimbabwe African National Union.
*ZIPRA (Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army), the armed wing of ZAPU Zimbabwe African People's Union.

The fighting was largely rural, with both movements attempting to secure peasant support and to recruit fighters while harassing the administration and the white civilians. Unlike the town-dwellers, rural whites faced danger and many were killed but in 1979 there were still 6,000 white farmers. They were vulnerable every time they left the homestead.


ZANLA was the armed wing of ZANU. [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0305-7070(199612)22%3A4%3C686%3ASIZLWV%3E2.0.CO%3B2-T Soldiers in Zimbabwe's Liberation War. Volume One by N. Bhebe, T. Ranger] , IV. Zimbabwe: War and Youth, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Dec., 1996), pp. 686-688. JSTOR.]

The organization had strong links with Mozambique's independence movement, FRELIMO.

ZANLA had Chinese instructors but never actually progressed very far through the Maoist phases of revolution. Unlike ZIPRA, ZANLA was not interested in mounting a conventional threat. It had masses of ill-disciplined and barely trained guerrillas and was unable to seize and retain an objective. Training standards were so low that many cadres did not clean their rifles Fact|date=February 2008.

ZANLA, in the end, was present on a more or less permanent basis in over half the country, as evidenced by the location of the demobilisation bases at the end of the war, which were in every province except Matabeleland North Martin, D. and Johnson, P. 1981. The struggle for Zimbabwe. Boston, Faberand Faber] . In addition, they were fighting a civil war against ZIPRA, despite the formation of a joint front by their political parties after 1978. It was ZANLA's intention to occupy the ground, supplant the administration in rural areas, and then mount the final conventional campaign. ZANLA concentrated on the politicisation of the rural areas using force, persuasion, ties of kinship and collaboration with spirit mediums.

ZANLA tried to paralyze the Rhodesian effort and economy by planting Soviet anti-tank land mines on the roads. From 1972 to 1980 there were 2,504 vehicle detonations of land mines (mainly Soviet TM46s), killing 632 people and injuring 4,410. The mining of roads increased as the war intensified; indeed the increase from 1978 (894 mines or 2.44 mines were detonated or recovered a day) to 1979 (2,089 mines or 5.72 mines a day) was 233.7%. In response, the Rhodesians co-operated with the South Africans to develop a range of mine protected vehicles. They began by replacing air in tyres with water which absorbed some of the blast and reduced the heat of the explosion. Initially, they protected the bodies with steel deflector plates, sandbags and mine conveyor belting. Later, purpose built vehicles with V shaped blast hulls dispersed the blast. (The development led to the South African Hippo, Casspir, Mamba and Nyala wheeled light troop carriers). Deaths in such vehicles became unusual events. Responding to the mines, Rhodesian engineers also built the world's first effective mine detection vehicle,Fact|date=April 2007 the Pookie.

ZANLA, aided by FRELIMO, bore the brunt of the "Fire Force" and external camp attacks while establishing themselves amongst the rural people. Because Mugabe and his party later won the election it has been assumed that he had very strong support among the Shona. Nonetheless, the relief when ZANLA elements departed or were driven out was palpableFact|date=February 2008.


ZIPRA was the anti-government force based around the Ndebele ethnicity, led by Joshua Nkomo, and the ZAPU political organization.

In contrast to ZANLA's Mozambique links, Nkomo's ZIPRA was more oriented towards Zambia for local bases. However, this was not always with full Zambian government support, and by 1979 ZIPRA's forces, combined with ANC and SWAPO forces in Zambia, was a major threat to Zambia's internal security. Because ZAPU's political strategy relied more heavily on negotiations than armed force, ZIPRA did not grow as quickly or elaborately as ZANLA, but by 1979 it had an estimated 20,000 combatants, almost all based in camps around Lusaka, Zambia.

ZIPRA was responsible for two attacks on civilian Air Rhodesia Viscount airplanes, using a SAM-7 surface-to-air missiles. Ten out of the eighteen civilians on board who survived the first crash were subsequently and systematically massacred by the ZIPRA militants. Nkomo later spoke to the BBC of the attack in a way some considered gloating. In his memoirs, "Story of My Life" (1985), Nkomo expressed regret for the shooting down of both planes, claiming ZIPRA intelligence believed the plane was carrying General Walls and his aides..

ZIPRA took advice from its Soviet instructors in formulating its version of popular revolution and its strategy for taking over the country. On the advice of the Soviets, ZIPRA built up its conventional forces, and motorised with Soviet armored vehicles and a number of small airplanes [N. Bhebe and T. Ranger (eds), 1995. Soldiers in Zimbabwe's Liberation War. Volume One (James Currey, London)] , in Zambia. ZIPRA's (i.e. ZAPU's) intention was to allow ZANLA to bring the Rhodesian forces to the point of defeat, and then to take the victory from the much lighter forces of ZANLA and the essentially defeated Rhodesians. An ZIPRA kept a light presence within Rhodesia, reconnoitering, keeping contact with the peasants and sometimes skirmishing with ZANLA. ZIPRA's conventional threat actually distracted the Rhodesians from fighting ZANLA to an extent. By the late 1970s, ZIPRA had developed a strategy known as "Storming the Heavens" to launch a conventional invasion from Zambia. An operation by the Rhodesian armed forces to destroy a ZIPRA base near Livingstone in Zambia was never launched. [N. Bhebe and T. Ranger (eds), Soldiers in Zimbabwe's Liberation War. Volume One (James Currey, London)]

The ZAPU/ZIPRA strategy for taking over Zimbabwe proved unsuccessful. In any event, the transfer of power to black nationalists took place not by the military take-over expected by ZAPU/ZIPRA, but by a peaceful and internationally supervised election. Rhodesia reverted briefly to real British rule, and a general election took place in early 1980. This election was supervised both by the UK and international forces. Robert Mugabe (of ZANLA/ZANU) won this election, being the only major competitor for the vote of the majority ethnicity, the Shona. Once in power, Mugabe was internationally recognised as Zimbabwe's leader and was installed as head of government, as well as having the backing of the overwhelming majority ethnic group. He was therefore able to quickly and irreversibly consolidate his power in Zimbabwe, forcing ZAPU, and therefore ZIPRA which was ZAPU's army, to give up hope of taking over the country in the place of ZANU/ZANLA.


Under the agreement of March 1978, the country was to be known as Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and in the general election of 24 April 1979, Bishop Abel Muzorewa became the country's first black prime minister.

The factions led by Nkomo and Mugabe denounced the new government as a puppet of white Rhodesians and fighting continued. Later in 1979, the new Conservative British government under Margaret Thatcher called a peace conference in London to which all nationalist leaders were included. The outcome of this conference would become known as the Lancaster House Agreement. The economic sanctions imposed on the country were lifted in late 1979, and British rule resumed under a transitional arrangement leading to full independence.

The elections of 1980 resulted in a victory for Robert Mugabe, who assumed the post of prime minister after ZANU-PF received 63% of the vote. On April 18 the country gained international recognition. Two years later the government renamed the capital of Salisbury to Harare.

ee also

*Military history of Africa
*Operation Dingo
*Portuguese Colonial War
*Rhodesian African Rifles
*Rhodesian Armoured Car Regiment
*Grey's Scouts
*Rhodesian Light Infantry
*Second Matabele War, officially known within Zimbabwe as the First Chimurenga
*South African Border War


External links

* [http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?t=134312 Rhodesian Bush War Photographs] Photos and information about the conflict from dedicated enthusiasts, and a few who actually lived it. (Great Resource)
* [http://members.tripod.com/selousscouts/fireforce_operations.htm FireForce Operations: Helicopter Warfare in Rhodesia: 1962–80]
* [http://members.tripod.com/selousscouts/ The Selous Scouts Home Page] a site with a lot of information on the war in general and in the Selous Scouts in particular
* [http://www.rhodesia.nl/ Rhodesian and South African Military History] : An extensive collection of histories and analysis of Rhodesian and South African military operations, to the early 1980s
* [http://www.specialforcesroh.com/browse.php?mode=viewc&catid=44 Rhodesian Special Forces] roll of honour, awards and images.
* [http://www.baragwanath.co.za/leopard/ The bush war Leopard] : Leopard, Rhodesian Bush War landmine resisting vehicle.
* [http://members.tripod.com/selousscouts/rhodesian_armoured_corps_.htm The Black Devils] : the Rhodesian Armoured Car Regiment
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs7V_IBQcDg Nyadzonya Raid] : Selous Scouts raid on the Nyadzonya Camp in Mozambique.

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  • Royal Rhodesian Air Force — The Royal Rhodesian Air Force was the air arm of the British colonial state of Rhodesia. It existed between 1935 and 1980 under various names, and is now the Air Force of Zimbabwe.HistoryFormed in 1935 under the name Southern Rhodesia Staff Corp… …   Wikipedia

  • Portuguese Colonial War — Portuguese troops embarking to go to the Colonial War Date 1961–1974 …   Wikipedia