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.


Quick NetOne, Telecel, Africom, And Econet Airtime Recharge

If anything goes wrong, chat with us using the chat feature at the bottom right of this screen