COMMENT – THE BBC RADIO DOCUMENTARY – 1st August 2011
The above mentioned documentary illustrated that the truth can be covered up, but it can neither be removed nor defeated, at least, not in the long term. When being interviewed by BBC presenter Mike Thomson, I had the distinct notion that there was no sinister political agenda and that the uncomfortable truth was genuinely being sought about British support for terrorist leaders during the Rhodesian bush war. My gut feeling was not wrong.
Prior to the documentary being flighted, there were many adverse comments on Face Book as to how biased the BBC are and that the content of the documentary would be slanted in favour of British politicians, but this was not the case. Mike Thomson didn’t steer the documentary in that direction, for which he has earned my respect and doubtlessly that of many others across the globe. It was also impressive that the documentary was well structured and balanced with a good number of protagonists from opposite sides of the Rhodesian conflict to give their views.
One such view that really angered Rhodesians across the globe, was Renwick’s allegation that ruthless commanders of Rhodesian security forces thought nothing of shooting civilians in the crossfire with terrorists, which is a blatant lie. Referring to the political situation in Rhodesia, he then went on to say that Prime Minister Ian Smith was responsible “for the mess in the first place.” Perhaps Renwick’s political vision would have arrived at a similar conclusion that Churchill must then have been responsible for the mess that Britain was in for resisting the tyranny of Hitler?
History shows that Britain’s insistence of immediate majority rule in Rhodesia had disastrous implications that forced Rhodesia into declaring UDI. It wasn’t a good choice, but the only choice to resist inevitable despotism. The sanctimonious Renwick easily overlooks that it was his peers (if not himself) in the British Labour government who once preached in polished tones to the Houses of Commons that Rhodesia should be brought to its knees by the imposition of mandatory sanctions and then by enforcing it with a British naval blockade off Mozambique. Furthermore their wisdom was less than that of even Mr Bean, in planning what could only become a disastrous British military invasion of Rhodesia by land and air.
Renwick also failed to mention, that an internal settlement had been reached in April 1978 with all moderate black leaders whereby elections on the basis of one man one vote, would be held within one year, leading to majority rule within two years. Perhaps he was also suffering a convenient memory loss over the fact that Nkomo and Mugabe declined to participate in those elections, because they intended an outright military victory over one another in a tribal tug of war to win the country for themselves.
On the upside, as far as Rhodesians are concerned, Renwick could not have done better to demonstrate his hypocrisy and that of his British peers in its full glory. Did he ever condemn the downing of passenger carrying aircraft during the Viscount disasters? – NO! Did David Owen ever condemn the Viscount disasters – NO! Instead, they cowered in silence to preserve their egos and political futures.
The opinion of Zapu’s Comrade Dimiso Dabengwa that an assassination of Nkomo would lead to all hell breaking, is debatable. What could be worse than the Viscount disasters, murders of white farmers, abductions of schoolchildren, rape and bayoneting of the Elim missionaries, torture and mutilation of black tribesfolk – and the like? However, in the context of an Nkomo assassination on the threshold of the Lancaster house talks, it is obvious that this would have been extremely irresponsible and disastrous in every respect.
With regard to the leakages of strategic information, the revelation by David Owen that Ken Flowers was the mole, came as a surprise. (As it always does to some senior officials who thought they knew everything about anything) In so much that it was the first British admission since the war that they conspired to ensure that all black leaders especially Mugabe and Nkomo attended post-war elections, this constitutes a major turnaround. With elections in motion, Owen and the rest of the architects of anarchy could walk away from the country, leaving comfortably behind an inevitable dictatorship and one-party state with the usual chaos and devastation.
(Evidence of this intention can be no better than the critical issue concerning post war elections which were proven to be anything but free and fair. In terms of the Lancaster House Agreement, any party indulging in intimidation would be disqualified, but despite ample evidence, the British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher was advised of the situation which she chose to ignore, all because the OAU threatened to cut off oil supplies from Nigeria to Britain if election results were declared invalid)
Clearly, Mike Thomson could not have dealt with every aspect of the Rhodesian situation in a 30 min documentary, and neither was it wise to attempt doing so in a single attempt. The biggest city built started with the laying of one brick and the way to climb the mountain of prejudice is to use a ladder that has more than one step. The BBC documentary was the first ever admission that British support for the terrorist leaders Mugabe and Nkomo was “probably not right” as was said. There will always be another opportunity to examine the consequences of his brutal dictatorship.
The BBC is thanked for their commendable stance in bringing to light, that which can no longer be denied. It is vastly overlooked that it was the whites who architected Rhodesia’s growth since they first arrived in 1890 and liberated the small black population from illiteracy, pestilences, droughts and tribal war. It is also vastly overlooked that there was no perfect political solution against the aspirations of power hungry Marxist thugs, hell bent on self-enrichment through the process of revolution.
Today Rhodesians are a nation without a country and feel greatly betrayed after sending the bulk of its white male population together with black volunteers to answer Britain’s desperate need to fight Nazi tyranny. Then to have a successive British government at the helm of a reverse situation when Rhodesia needed Britain to support peaceful initiatives for the protection of the minority population of whites during the decolonisation process is the biggest betrayal imaginable.
It is the source of anger that will take generations to pass, but Rhodesians must remember that the architects of anarchy were largely British politicians of the Labour government of that era, and not the large proportion of the British population whose sympathies lay with Prime Minister Ian Smith and Rhodesia. Evidence of this is the fact that wherever Ian Smith appeared in England, he was followed and applauded by British citizens and the British military openly declared that they would have nothing to do with Harold Wilson’s plans to invade Rhodesia.
Once again, our thanks go to Mike Thomson and his team for making THE BIG WHEEL SPIN.