Rhodesian soldiers about to be deployed

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: The Struggle for Independence in Colonial Zimbabwe 1900-1980: Rhodesian Government Response to the War

  • Smith maintained that he fought the war to support Western Christian Civilization
  • According to Smith it was war against Communism, Subversion and Foreign Infiltration
  • According to Smith the guerillas were not freedom fighter but terrorists
  • The Rhodesian government used all means necessary to try and suppress the uprisings even though some of them were inhumane
  • These include, the detaining of nationalist leaders for 10 years without trial
  • Sentences such as life imprisonment or death sentences were also given to those undergoing guerilla training, those recruiting guerrillas, encouraging guerrilla training and other activities viewed as terrorist in nature
  • About 50 guerrillas were hanged by the colonial settlers
  • The government refused to treat captured guerrillas as prisoners of war as stipulated by the Geneva Convention
  • Many Zimbabwean youths captured at Mozambique and Botswana borders were shot or blown by landmines
  • The Rhodesian forces disrespectfully displayed mutilated bodies of civilian or guerrillas so that the guerrillas would cooperate with what they wanted
  • Films and leaflets were produced of mutilated guerrillas and shown to women and children to scare them
  • Rewards of cash were given to those giving information leading to the arrest of guerrillas
  • Torture was used on those captured to get information
  • Parcel bombs were sent out to nationalist leaders in neighbouring countries, some were killed by landmines and some abducted and never seen again
  • Press censorship was established and propaganda was wide spread as state press only published ideas only in support of the government
  • Spying was also used by Rhodesian forces by the use of spies, and aerial maps of bases, camps and refugee camps
  • The pictures taken by aerial maps were then used to raid these camps
  • Over 2 000 refugees that is, children were murdered and buried in mass graves
  • Repressive legislation was used by the settler government to restrict the amount of cattle raised by those in rural areas
  • Fines were imposed on those who helped guerrillas with food or any other support
  • Properties that were used by guerrillas were destroyed by the settlers such as homes, clothes and cattle
  • Peasants were resettled into protected areas or consolidated villages to limit their contact with guerrillas
  • Dusk and dawn regulations were enforced in protected areas

To access more topics go to the History Notes page.

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