Friday, November 13, 2009

(NEWZIMBABWE) Rhodesia atrocities: forbidden debate

Rhodesia atrocities: forbidden debate
by Brilliant Pongo
13/11/2009 00:00:00

TODAY we seem to be bombarded by stories of how abusive Robert Mugabe’s government is to its people. The media is awash with stories of the “evil” perpetrated by Mugabe and his government.

I do not condone the actions of Mugabe’s government for one bit, but the sudden mushrooming of ex-Rhodesian operatives purporting to be human rights defenders needs to be challenged.

I am very suspicious of these once-upon-a-time human rights violators, and abusers of Zimbabwean people, some of whom fought tooth and nail to perpetuate and preserve the repressive Rhodesian government because at the time it afforded them certain privileges and allowed them to benefit from exploiting black people on the farms, in the kitchens and gardens in the suburbs (panga pasina mubunhu asina bhoyi).

A few weeks ago, in a discussion with a long-time friend we spoke about some of the “champions of Zimbabwean democracy”. I was amazed at what some of these people did for black people at a time when Rhodesia had some of the most repressive and discriminatory laws. Most of them, with a few exceptions, did absolutely nothing to help the black person. They defended the system and did all they could to perpetuate the status quo.

Without any explanation, some of these so-called champions of human rights not so long ago bombed, maimed, and killed a lot of innocent black people, tortured and raped many defenceless black villagers, rounded up and caged thousands of black villagers in what were called “keeps”.

They poisoned sources of water and destroyed livestock belonging to the natives and in turn whatever little form of wealth these poor people had was lost to the plunder of the raging and rampaging Rhodesian forces, who today come back and claim to be champions of human and property rights.

How can people who were born and bred as racists, educated as racists and were made to believe that they were more deserving and more superior a race than black people in their own country, who had generations of racist attitudes and culture passed down to them by their land thieving forefather just wake up one morning and claim they are no longer racist but are now champions of human rights and democracy?

Simply because Robert Mugabe is fulfilling the Chimurenga war time promise or objective of land reform, however flawed the process maybe?

How can they all of a sudden realise that we are all equal? When did this dawn upon them? What brought about that awakening if at all this is genuine?

I know they say miracles happen but when it comes to the conversion of some of these dyed-in-the-wool racist Rhodesians, I do not for one second believe that this desire to champion democracy and human rights has no ulterior motives. Could it be that they want to use the ever gullible black Zimbabweans to fight for their land and lost privileges that came with being a landed gentry?

Now, how is that having being born and bred in right wing politics whence capitalist ownership of the means of production is concentrated in the hands of a few privileged elites, now claim to be leaders of the charge of the left wing pro-socialist movement, traditionally lead by trade unions?

Racist Rhodesians, if truth be told, are Zimbabwe’s equivalent to the Nazi’s. The larger part of those in Europe today still find it difficult to forgive Hitler and his gang, but somehow they expect black Zimbabweans to just turn over and say we forgive the brutal racist Rhodesians. There was no call for Ian Smith to face the law for his war crimes, and as a matter of fact, he died unrepentant of his actions.

If we consider the massacres of women, children and refugees at Chimoio, Nyadzonya, Tembwe, Dukwe and Mboroma and Westland farms in Zambia and many other places across Zimbabwe that were attacked with chemical weapons such as anthrax, one maybe forgiven for equating the gravity of Smith’s record to that of Radovan Karadžic.

Much is said about the pain that is still felt by the Jewish community with regards to the horrors that took place in Auschwitz and other concentration camps, our horrors were not to similar scales but they were horrors nonetheless. Shockingly, to this day, very little is said about those who survived Chimoio and Nyadzonya and other camps, some of whom are still traumatised by memorise of the brutality wrought upon them by murderous Rhodesians who are now masquerading as commercial famers and lately as human rights and democracy defenders simply because they have lost racist privileges.

Many of us have parents that fought against the Rhodesian forces. We have uncles, aunts, sisters and brother even grandparents that we never saw, never got to meet because they died in the war and their graves remain unmarked and unaccounted for, these died at the hands of racist the same racist Rhodesians who are now champions of human rights.

To see some elements of the brutal ex- Selous Scouts and BSAP now masquerading as human rights and pro-democracy advocates, saying they are on our side, is difficult for many even under these trying times in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

The tragedy is that there are many who buy this dummy sold by these charlatans, it is unfortunate that many Zimbabweans think our history does not go beyond the year 2000. Why is it that in every western media story on the Zimbabwe begins or concludes with reference to white farmers?

The same born and bred racists now question the patronage system of Robert Mugabe in allocating land to former freedom fighters who fought for it. The question is: how did these same racist Rhodesians acquire the land the land in the first place and from whom? What we know for sure is that racist the Rhodesian lot rebelled against the Crown to protect and perpetuate racist privilege.

Our own media in and out of Zimbabwe has not done us any favours in this regard either; in fact they have been instrumental in the polarisation of Zimbabweans on the basis of political affiliation. Mature political discussion and debate have been reduced to slanging matches and name calling. People are threatened because they choose to voice a view or opinion that goes against the (western) grain.

Many are afraid to be labelled Zanu PF supporters and have consequently elected not to be critical of Morgan Tsvangirai or his MDC party. Somehow, there seems to be an unwritten rule that forbids those outside Zimbabwe to criticise the MDC.

Not so long ago, there was a campaign started to try and get the editor of an online newspaper,, deported because some people felt his publication was supportive of Zanu PF which usually occurs when you are judged not to be overly supportive of the MDC. At the forefront of the failed campaign were Rhodesian lobbyists who claim to champion democracy and free speech for all.

While some Zimbabweans may be genuinely fighting for a better Zimbabwe, and some blindly doing the bidding for the erstwhile master the Rhodesian, an important national question is: is the New Zimbabwe we seek the same that the ex-Rhodies seek?

Why have the Rhodesians hijacked our fight against injustice? Could it be for the return of their ill-gotten farms taken away from them by the victorious freedom fighters? Could it be because their privileged positions have been denied them? After all, whites-only Rhodesia was a little heaven on earth, honestly who would not fight for what these Rhodesians had?

Brilliant Pongo is a Zimbabwean media studies researcher based in the UK. He can be contacted at pongobrilliant ***

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