53 Years Ago
53 years ago, on Thursday, 11 November 1965, at the most solemn moment of Armistice Day, the 11th hour, Ian Douglas Smith, the Prime Minister of Rhodesia, signed Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.
This act of defiance, which came after many months of negotiations and fruitless discussions with the British Foreign Office, resulted in a most extraordinary explosion of diplomatic activity, international outrage, economic sanctions and motions of condemnation from the British Commonwealth, the Organisation of African Unity, the United Nations, the Soviet Union, and even from the US State Department. Incredibly, Rhodesia was labelled: "A threat to world peace!" This from nations engaged in nuclear arms races and invasion of other lands!
One commentator at the time observed that it was: "…strange that the United States should spend American blood and money like water in Vietnam in order to deter Communism from spreading a few hundred miles further; but that, due to some strange ethical kink, that same United States should be seeking to clear out of Africa those very people and governments that could effectively and forever bar the advance of Communism in that continent!" A.J.A. Peck, Rhodesia Accuses.
Never Beaten - Betrayed
As the Prime Minister of Rhodesia, Mr. Ian Smith, declared: "We were never beaten by our enemies, we were betrayed by our friends."
In the First and the Second World Wars, and in the Malayan Conflict, Rhodesia had provided more men, percentage to their population, than any other part of the British Empire and Commonwealth to fight for the West.
Stabbed in the Back
However, when Rhodesia was targeted by Soviet and Red Chinese trained and supported revolutionaries, their British, Canadian, Australian and American allies not only placed economic sanctions on Rhodesia, but even channelled funds towards the very terrorists who were murdering their people.
Blood on their Hands
It is often forgotten that Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF revolutionaries received United Nations (UN) funding, despite its terrorist record of murdering missionaries, bayonneting babies, burning to death congregations of Christians in their church buildings, ambushing Red Cross ambulances, exploding bombs in public streets, placing landmines in farm roads, and the cold-blooded murder of thousands of unarmed civilians. In fact, the World Council of Churches (WCC) also channelled church funds to these Marxists who were murdering missionaries and burning churches.
Supporting the Murderous Mugabe
Now, the results of US State Department and British Foreign Office policy in the 1970's continues to wreak havoc on the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe. We need to remember that initially Robert Mugabe was held in very high regard by the West. He was knighted by the Queen of England, given official visits to the United States and Britain, and many lifted him up as an ideal example of a wise and moderate African leader. Some even hailed Mugabe as "a modern day messiah."
When Mugabe's ZANU-PF Marxist revolutionaries were handed power in Zimbabwe / Rhodesia, Bishop Tutu, of the South African Council of Churches, declared that this was: "The arrival of the Kingdom of God in Zimbabwe!" (Ecunews Bulletin, 11/1980).
After the war came to an end and a peaceful settlement was enforced by Britain, optimism was high for Zimbabwe. Foreign aid from Britain, America and the European Union flooded the country. Today, a quarter of a century later, that once prosperous and productive nation has been impoverished and devastated.
American Recognition of the Fruit of Their Misguided Policy
In the light of the extraordinary international economic and military campaign to bring down Rhodesia and replace it with Mugabe's Zimbabwe it is most enlightening to read the speech by the American Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell (delivered 2 November, 2005 at Africa University in Mutare): "…The growing collapse of the Zimbabwean economy. Not too long ago, Zimbabwe had a vibrant and diversified economy. It was a land of great hope and optimism in Africa… A symbol for the rest of the world of what Africa could become. Today, as you know, it is a country in deep crisis. I know of no other example in the world of an economy that, in times of peace, has contracted so precipitously in the course of six years… Real GDP fell by 30% from 1997 to 2003… inflation is… triple digits and clearly on the rise. If the government continues to print money to meet its obligations it could well drive inflation into quadruple digits by years end.
"Manufacturing has shrunk by 51% since 1997 and exports have fallen by half in the last four years… Foreign direct investment has evaporated from UD$444 million in 1998 to UD$9 million in 2004. Agricultural production, the mainstay of the economy, has collapsed under the violent implementation of… badly thought through land reform. The government… have continued to expropriate farms without compensation and to distribute these farms in a non-transparent manner to ruling party insiders… not only commercial farm owners have been affected. This misguided and ill-fated land grab also displaced over a million farm workers and their family members.
Voting with Their Feet
"The human cost of Zimbabwe's economic crisis has been extraordinarily high. The estimated proportion of the population living below the official poverty line has more than doubled since mid-1990's, it is now about 80% of the population. At least half the country faces food shortages… well over a quarter of the population has fled the country, according to the last national census… Zimbabwe's economic crisis has set the country back more than half a century… That's an astonishing reversal of 53 years of progress in only half a dozen years.
"The flood of economic bad news has been continuous… the World Economic Forum… ranked Zimbabwe as the least competitive of all 117 economies studied… What has caused Zimbabwe's unprecedented economic descent? The government's official position has been that the economic collapse is the result of drought and sanctions imposed by unfriendly Western nations… The CATO Institute in Washington recently published an insightful paper… when rainfall has recovered the Zimbabwean economy nevertheless has continued to decline… it notes that rainfall patterns are regional, yet Zimbabwe's decline in maize production over the last five years has been dramatically greater than Zambia's or Malawi's. In fact, Zambia's maize production actually increased…"
Corruption and Mismanagement
"Zimbabwean firms that are not connected to regime leaders are free to do business with American firms and American firms are free to invest in Zimbabwe and trade with any individual except those top level sanctioned officials… There are no blanket sanctions against doing business in Zimbabwe…what has been the cause of Zimbabwe's unprecedented economic descent?… Neither drought nor sanctions are at the root of Zimbabwe's decline. The Zimbabwe government's own gross mismanagement of the economy and its corrupt rule has brought on the crisis… The fiscally reckless, massive, unbudgeted pay-out to war veterans in 1997… Zimbabwe's costly misadventure in the Democratic Republic of the Congo… the government's policy of land seizures and tolerance for chaotic disruptions on commercial farms led to the collapse in food production. The impact of the farm invasions has extended beyond food security, beyond Zimbabwe's balance of payments crisis, and beyond the plight of the thousands of individual expropriated farm owners. The land grab has intensified the suffering of Zimbabwe's most vulnerable segment of society, the rural and urban poor.
How to Destroy a Once Vibrant Economy
"Fast track land reform, still under way… also had the ugly and debilitating side effect of spurring violence, racial mongering, and the destruction of property and livelihood… riddled with political favouritism… the refusal to admit and correct mistakes… no wrongs are righted; the rule of law is a shambles. Multiple farm ownership by the politically powerful and their families makes a mockery of the government's official ‘one man, one farm' policy.
"The Reserve Bank keeps the printing press running and the economy suffers through the ripple effects on the value of the currency and on food and fuel supplies.
Chasing Away Investors
"…nothing rattles investor confidence more than the prospect of expropriation… the Zimbabwean economy appears to be entrenched in a downward spiral, and the abandonment of sensible economic policy has shut off most foreign aid, scared away most foreign investment, and spurred an alarming rate of brain drain… Investment flows to countries with sound macroeconomic policies, where the rule of law is respected and contracts enforced, to countries that offer a good opportunity for generating a healthy return on investments, to countries that do more than pay lip service to the concept of transparency… bad policies have side-lined this country… the outlook for the next years is bleak. Zimbabwe cannot pull itself out of the hole it has dug by itself… by short-sighted and misguided government policies."
The Catastrophic Result of US Foreign Policy
This courageous and insightful analysis of Zimbabwe's present crisis is all the more impressive when one realizes that throughout the 1970's it was a primary goal of the US State Department to replace the strong anti-Communist government of Rhodesia with Mugabe's Zimbabwe. In the last quarter century, millions of lives have been ruined, and many tens of thousands of innocent people murdered as a result of this misguided policy.
Western Support for a Violent Marxist Revolution
It is not as though ZANU had not clearly identified themselves as a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movement. Freely available in the 1970's, before the handover of power by the British governor, Lord Soames, to Robert Mugabe, the "Basic Information About ZANU" leaflet stated: "ZANU is guided by the principles of Marxism/Leninism. It aims at achieving a socialist revolution. However, before the achievement of such a socialist revolution, a transitional stage of national democratic revolution is necessary. The national democratic revolutionary is a necessary preparation for the socialist revolution, and the socialist revolution is the inevitable sequel to the national democratic revolution. The deeper the national democratic revolution, the better the conditions for socialist revolution."
A Trail of Terror
Aside from the written and public pronouncements of ZANU and its leaders, the facts that they received such massive funding, training and military weaponry from Red China, North Korea and the Soviet Union should have provided some further clues. The track record of ZANU murdering missionaries, bayoneting babies and burning to death congregations of churches should have been further warning.
Accessories to Terrorism
Nevertheless, the United Nations, the US State Department, the British Foreign Office, the European Community, the Organisation of African Unity, the Commonwealth, the World Council of Churches, the Olympic Committee, Time magazine, the Washington Post, and most of the media worldwide united in campaigning for the downfall of Rhodesia and the handover of that once peaceful and productive country to the violent Marxist revolutionary, Robert Mugabe.
Resisting Communist Aggression
This 11th November, as we remember the attempt by Rhodesia to make a brave stand against the advance of Communism in Africa, we should remember the many courageous soldiers and civilians who gave their lives in that fight against terrorism and Marxism, and the many innocent victims of the terrorist onslaught.
What Did Rhodesia's Stand and Sacrifices Achieve?
In 1976, Ian Anderson of the League of Rhodesia wrote the following: "From Thermopylae (480 BC) to Malta (AD 1565)… it has often fallen to a small community or people to give a moral examples to its larger and more powerful neighbours… in each case valuable breathing space was gained for other parties to rally to the cause and to complete the task so boldly initiated by faith.
Duty and Destiny
"We in Rhodesia have a very strong sense of national purpose. We feel we have been singled out by Providence to be the stumbling block in the path of Communist aggression. There is yet time for the Western powers to put Rhodesia's stand in its historical perspective; but they are leaving it dangerously late…" (Rhodesia: Myths and Facts)
Holding the Line Against Communist Terrorism
In standing firm against Communist aggression for 15 years, Rhodesia indeed won valuable breathing space for the free world. In much the same way as the 300 Spartans held up the enormous invading force of Persians at Thermopylae, and as the courageous knights resisted the Islamic invasion of the small island of Malta, I believe that, in time, history will recognise that the sacrifices and courage of Rhodesians in resisting Communist terrorism contributed to the ultimate collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989. Had Rhodesia not resisted and had South Africa not resisted, the consequences for South Africa could have been absolutely disastrous. Had South Africa fallen to Communism during the Cold War, the strategic Cape sea route and vital minerals essential for Western industry and defence, would have fallen into the hands of the Soviet Union with catastrophic consequences.
Vindicated by History
The reign of terror and state sponsored terrorism of Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF regime in Zimbabwe have only vindicated Ian Smith's position. In time it will become even clearer that in no small measure Ronald Reagan's successful stand against Communist expansion in the 1980's was made possible by Rhodesia's stand against Communist terrorism in the 60's and 70's.
We Need to Learn from History
The history of Rhodesia confirms the disastrous consequences of the unprecedented foreign interference and the rejection of Rhodesia's internal settlement. Even more seriously, there is a real danger of Mugabe's example of racist and lawless land invasions example in Zimbabwe being followed in Namibia and South Africa.
Remember the Persecuted
The Scripture commands us to care for widows and orphans, to love our neighbours, to remember the prisoner, and to serve our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for their faith.
Serving the Suffering
We also need to intercede for the millions of starving Christians of Zimbabwe today. Frontline Fellowship has been working in Zimbabwe since 1982. As the situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated, so we have increased our activities into that desperately needy country. As the Zimbabwean government has begun deliberately starving their citizens into submission, we have had to smuggle many tonnes of food, relief aid and medicines to suffering Christians in Zimbabwe. Amidst the state orchestrated racial hatred, lawlessness and savagery, Frontline Fellowship mission work in Zimbabwe has become particularly difficult and dangerous. However, true Christianity cares for widows and the orphans in distress. And we are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Pray for Zimbabwe
Please pray for the impact of the tonnes of Gospel literature which we are distributing throughout Zimbabwe, and do continue to lift up our field workers and the evangelists, pastors and teachers whom we are serving and equipping. The only hope for Zimbabwe is sincere repentance, Biblical Reformation and spiritual Revival. Zimbabwe needs to repent before God and rebuild their nation on Biblical principles. Please join us as we commit ourselves, for the rest of this year, to pray, daily, for the removal of the Marxist regime in Zimbabwe. Join us as we pray through the Psalms, praying for God to expose the oppression and persecution of the anti-Christian regime in Zimbabwe, and as we pray for support and freedom for the long suffering Christians of Zimbabwe.
"Remember the prisoners as if chained with them – those who are mistreated – since you yourselves are in the body also." Hebrews 13:3
Mobilising Prayer and Action for the Persecuted
Persistent prayer, publicity and pressure provide protection for the persecuted (Luke 18:1-7).
Pray for the Christians suffering in Zimbabwe.
Mobilise your congregation and Bible study group to pray.
Write to your elected representative to urge decisive political and economic pressure to be brought to bear against the Communist ZANU regime in Zimbabwe.
Encourage your church to support missions of mercy to the suffering Christians in Zimbabwe.
Phone, email, or write, to your nearest Zimbabwe embassy to protest against their racist and lawless policies of oppression.
"Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy." Proverbs 31:8-9
Visit www.frontlinemission.org for updates and articles on the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Yours for Faith and freedom in Zimbabwe
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74
Cape Town, South Africa
The 11th of November
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