Veterans of Zimbabwe’s Armed Struggle Turn Back Hands of Time


VETERANS of Zimbabwe’s armed struggle on Thursday November 23 2021 turned back the hands of time to 44 years ago when their comrades were massacred at Chimoio and Tembwe bases in Mozambique.

Surviving comrades of the struggle in their different social media groups reminded each other of the day.

“Let us think of our departed comrades. It was not our wisdom that we are here today but our spirits and Gods guided us although some of our comrades perished,” a veteran going with his nome de guirre Advance Chimurenga said.

Below is an unedited New York Times report of the 23 November 1977 raid.

SALISBURY, Rhodesia, Nov. 28—The Rhodesian Government said today that it had carried its fight against black nationalist guerrillas deep inside Mozambique last week, killing at least 1,200 persons, smashing two guerrilla bases and destroying much war materiel.

By The Associated Press

The raids, supported by air attacks, began last Wednesday, the day before Prime Minister Ian D. Smith announced that he was prepared to concede the principle of full voting rights for Rhodesia’s black majority as a basis for negotiating a settlement with black nationalist leaders living inside the country.

The military operation, the fourth major one into Mozambique to be officially acknowledged by Rhodesia, ended yesterday, a‐communiqué said.

Rhodesia Says One Soldier Died

The Rhodesian command said ground and air forces, acting “in the interests of self‐defense,” smashed the guerrillas’ main base camp at Chimoio, 54 miles across the border, and a second camp at Tembue, 132 miles inside Mozambique in the northwestern province of Tete. It said Rhodesian casualties in the raids were one killed and eight wounded.

[The Mozambican press agency, accusing the Rhodesians of “slaughter,” said more than 80 people, mostly women and children, were killed in the Rhodesian attacks on guerrilla transit camp near Chimoio, Reuters reported from the Mozambican capital. The Mozambican account said that the Rhodesian attack against the second camp had been repulsed, with five Rhodesian soldiers killed.]

The raids ended as Prime Minister Smith was making plans to meet with Rhodesian‐based black leaders. Nationalist leaders who are conducting a guerrilla war against the white minority Government from outside Rhodesia denounced the Smith proposals and vowed to continue fighting.

The military command said Rhodesian troops had not clashed with Mozambican troops.

“The aims of these combined air and ground actions were successfully achieved,” the military said.

“Large quantities of war material, inchiding weapons, vehicles, ammunition, fuel, buildings and documents were destroyed,” it said.

Intelligence sources said both of the camps were strategic bases for guerrillas of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union, largest of the two guerrilla armies fighting to topple the Smith Government.

Officials said they believed Mugabe has about 9,000 men, more than 3,500 in Rhodesia and the rest in Mozembique. 1,200 guerrillas were killed in the raids, it would mean he has lost more than a fifth of his forces in Mozambique.

The second guerrilla army, the Zimbabwe African Peoples’ Union headed by Joshua Nkomo, is estimated to have about 3,000 men, several hundred inside Rhodesia and others in neighboring Zambia.

Mozambique closed its 800‐mile border with Rhodesia in March 1976.

In the first raid against Mozambique in August 1976, Rhodesian troops destroyed what they called a terrorist camp 25 miles inside the country, killing 340 persons, including 300 guerrillas. Mozambique claimed it was a refugee camp and said up to 1,000 persons were killed.

In other raids in October 1976 and again early this year, few guerrilla casualties were reported but troops brought back truckloads of arms and ammunition and said they had destroyed tons of other equipment before withdrawing.

Agreement on Talks

Mr. Smith said last week that he had agreed to the principle of one‐man, onevote elections, a major demand of the nationalists, in return for guaranteed safeguards for the country’s 268,000 whites.

Bishop Abel Muzorewa, the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole and Chief Jeremiah Chirau, the three nonmilitant, Rhodesiabased nationalist leaders, have given qualified acceptance to the Prime Minister’s proposed talks.

Initial discussions were expected next week to lay the groundwork for a formal constitutional conference leading to elections.

The white population, which has held political power since the country became a self‐governing colony of Britain in 1923, is outnumbered more than 20 to 1 by the largely disenfranchised blacks. In 1965, Rhodesia broke away from Britain on the issue of black majority rule.

The three local black nationalist groups are believed to have the support of more than 80 percent of Rhodesia’s 6.4 million blacks, but they do not have direct control over the guerrillas.

The Smith Government is said to forsee a settlement that would allow what officials describe as properly supervised elections, producing the country’s first black government.

Officials say they also hope the present Government security forces will be kept intact to continue operations against guerrillas and to safeguard minority interests.

Eighty percent of Rhodesia’s regular forces are black, but they are led by whites.

Scene of Fighting

The following dispatch, written last week in a Mozambique town that has no communications, reached Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday.

CHIMOIO, Mozambique (UPI)—For two days, beginning Wednesday morning, bombs could be seen exploding in the area of the guerrilla base camp 18 miles outside town.

The first attack was by Rhodesian jets, followed by helicopter gunships.

According to guerrillas who survived the raid, airborne troops alighted from the helicopters and fired at residents of the camp. The guerrillas said the Rhodesians remained in the camp two days.

A large Mozambican column reportedly attempted to fight its way to the base but was driven off by aerial bombardment.

Hospital Treats 650

By the evening of the first day, survivors of the attack, most of them wounded but not seriously, had begun streaming into Chimoio, which has a rudimentary hospital. About 650 were being treated at the hospital.

The Mozambi an column was said to have reached the camp after the Rhodesians left. Members of the force said they had found 100 bodies there, among them boys and girls in their early teens who had been receiving indoctrination in the camp.

Mozambican officials said the full casualty toll might take weeks to determine. They said the dead are spread out over a wide area of dense forests.

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