ZIMBABWE LIBERATION: 1976 Problems and Prospects

by Ken Lawrence, Freedom Information Service
Tougaloo, Mississippi, United States
April 1, 1976
Publisher: Freedom Information Service
8 pages
Type: Conference Presentation
Coverage outside Africa: United States, United Kingdom
Language: English
Paper prepared for the Southern Conference on World Affairs, Memphis, April 2-4, 1976. The paper says as the struggle to liberate all of Southern Africa from white minority domination intensifies, the spotlight is now on the fight being waged by the people of Zimbabwe to free themselves of the tyrannical grip of Ian Smith's Rhodesian government. The paper says the freedom fighters led by the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) face new obstacles; the main danger now threatening their success is the possibility that Britain may intervene to install a neo-colonial regime headed by one of the so-called "moderate" black leaders. The paper says a document prepared for the British Foreign Office in 1975 indicates that armed intervention may be imminent; the document was obtained and exposed by Tapson A. Mawere, chief representative of ZANU in North America and the Caribbean. The paper says Britain is not the only government whose contingency plans have been laid out in order to preserve "western interests" and the "existing economic infrastructure" in Southern Africa; in October 1974 columnist Jack Anderson and Esquire writer Tad Szulc exposed the U. S. government's plan detailed in National Security Study Memorandum 39 of 1969. The paper says when the U. S. officially closed its Rhodesian consulate in 1970 under heavy pressure, it remained faithful to "Tar Baby" by keeping open an unofficial liaison office with Rhodesia in Washington; in late 1971, as Congress passed the Byrd Amendment, exempting minerals from the ban on Rhodesian trade, the Treasury Department licensed Air Rhodesia to step up its business in New York; shortly after that, the Treasury and Commerce Departments licensed Hertz, Avis, and Holiday Inn to establish franchises in Rhodesia; these were important concessions, because tourism is Rhodesia's second largest source of income, after minerals. The paper says four months later, the first chrome shipment arrived in Burnside, Louisiana. The paper says the importation of chrome sparked a mass movement of opposition in the United States, primarily composed of black workers and students, to prevent these blood-stained cargoes from being unloaded, and demanding repeal of the Byrd Amendment. The paper says in 1970, the Nixon administration began to allow the U. S. aviation industry to sell aircraft to South Africa in violation of the United Nations resolutions against arms sales to South Africa by calling the planes "non-military"; communications equipment has also been supplied under a similar ruse. The paper says the South African air force, brazenly pushing the same fiction, arranged to acquire an additional 200 new planes over a four year period, including 48 Mirage Fl fighters, the latest and deadliest of the French line of aircraft; these will be built entirely in France, but South Africa's state-run Atlas Aircraft Corporation will also be building Mirages, under license, by 1977. The paper says South Africa has greatly expanded its capacity to manufacture its own arms: rifles, revolvers, grenades, mortars, ammunition, tear gas, rockets, anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, bombs, napalm, and armored cars. The paper says the collapse of Portuguese colonial power in Africa created panic in the State Department, so efforts were stepped up to shore up the eroding white-supremacist domination of Southern Africa; in January of 1974, South Africa's Information Minister to the United States, Dr. Cornelius Mulder, held talks with influential Senators and Congressmen. The paper says in May, the South African Defense Force Chief, Admiral Hugo Biermann, visited Washington to hold talks with Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Navy Secretary William Middendorf. The paper says in May, 1974, the United Nations Decolonization Committee uncovered a secret plan authorized nearly a year earlier by NATO's defense ministers in Brussels, authorizing NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in the Atlantic Region (SACLANT) to plan for contingencies "outside the NATO area"; the Supreme Command, headed by U. S. Admiral Ralph W. Cousins, based in Norfolk, Virginia, had already begun to concern itself with the bases and facilities that might be needed in the Southern African area; the authors of the U. N. report quote a NATO official as saying that the plan was to make it possible “to go to the aid of our potential allies in southern Africa if the need should arise.” The paper says as all this was going on, the liberation struggle continued; ZANU, with the most effective fighting force in Zimbabwe, was able to strike within 30 miles of the Rhodesian capital; armed struggle and strike activity both stepped up in Azania; and international pressure, mostly from the Third World, intensified; in November, 1974, the United Nations General Assembly voted 91-22 to expel South Africa. The paper says now that Angola no longer guards the Namibian flank for white South Africa, and Mozambique doesn’t shield half of the Zimbabwe frontier for white Rhodesia, the armed liberation struggle, particularly in Zimbabwe, has been immeasurably strengthened; when the people of Zimbabwe overthrow the Ian Smith government, the northern frontier of Azania will be naked, exposing the Transvaal region, the source of South Africa’s great riches and prestige, to easy armed attack from the north. The paper says in the winter of 1974-1975, Kissinger appointed Jeffrey Davidow as political officer to the U. S. embassy in Pretoria, William Bowdler as Ambassador to South Africa, and Nathaniel Davis as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Deane J. Hinton was confirmed as ambassador to Zaire in June of 1974. The paper says none of the U. S.-South Africa stratagems have stopped the advancing liberation forces; the "Settler '74" campaign, designed to bring a million white immigrants to Rhodesia in 1974, fell short by 999,405; an attempted coup failed to topple Samora Machel's FRELIMO government in Mozambique; Agostinho Neto's MPLA government has emerged victorious in Angola; the charade of talks between Smith and Nkomo has been branded a failure by everyone; mass pressure has forced Kaunda to release the members of the ZANU high command from prison. The paper discusses British Foreign Secretary James Callaghan, the Labour government, Cuban troops fighting in Angola, David Ennals, Rhodesian security forces, right-wing Tories in Parliament, a memo from Henry Kissinger to the U. S. Secretaries of State and Defense and the CIA Director, secret support for the white-supremacist states, sharply curtailed aid to neighboring black governments, military aid to support the Portuguese colonial regimes, Reynolds International, the Southern Africa Committee, Vice Admiral Ray Peet, International Security Affairs, Diego Garcia, neo-colonialism, détente, President Kenneth Kaunda, B.J. Vorster, Herbert Chitepo, Edson Sithole, the African National Council, Joshua Nkomo, the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU), Organization of African Unity (OAU), Donald Easum, FNLA, and UNITA.
Used by permission of Ken Lawrence, a former member of the Freedom Information Service.
Collection: Private collection of Ken Lawrence