By Margaret Kamba
It is six weeks before we celebrate this year’s independence celebrations. In this article we explore the role of foreign countries in helping Zimbabwe gain its independence.
In a nutshell ZANU PF Secretary for External Relations Cde Simbarashe Mbengegwi, speaks on the role of various foreign countries in the attainment of Zimbabwe’s hard won independence.
“We start from those nearest to home, essentially the Southern African Development Community SADC countries who at that time were frontline states. By simple definition these were those countries which attained independence earlier than Zimbabwe. Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola and Botswana, although Botswana pretended not to know about it for obvious reasons, it did play an important role in because many of our cadres were deployed from Botswana into Zimbabwe.
Although Tanzania did not share the same border with us, Julius Nyerere was passionate about the liberation of southern Africa. Lesotho and Swaziland were there for the recruitment of cadres for the liberation of our country.
All these paid dearly because the Rhodesian and South African incursions went into Mozambique and Zambia and would wreak havoc. I saw it with my own eyes because I was the chief representative for ZANU in Zambia.
Then we move further up the African continent where they all played an important role, just to indicate the creation of the African Liberation Committee which constituted 15 countries and was based in Tanzania.
This was an organ set up by the Organisation of African Union now African Union. Their office called African Liberation Centre ALC was located in Lusaka where all liberation movements had offices.
The Ministers of the ALC would meet regularly to discuss tactics and strategy and their role was also to mobilise material and financial requirements and weaponry as well as military and diplomatic support. Assistance was critical because without it, the independence would not have been achieved.
Of the individual countries, Nigeria under the leadership of the current President gave us a lot of support because he decided that Nigeria would be a frontline state. So to indicate his commitment to our liberation struggle, we received military training and weapons from them.
Former Ethiopian leader Mengistu Haile Mariam equipped us with critical heavy military equipment that convinced the Smith regime that they had lost the war.
Both regional and continental countries supported with military hardware and diplomatic support.
Outside Africa the People’s Republic of China PRC and Soviet Union gave us support. The PRC supporting mainly ZANU while the Soviet Union supported ZAPU. There was confrontational support, with the Soviet Union disliking ZANU while China really didn’t worry about ZAPU.
We received help from the Nordic countries like Sweden, Norway and Denmark and help from the International Committee of the Red Cross who provided non-military support. From England and the EU countries were Non-Governmental Organisations NGOs who supported us.
Some humanitarian support was also received from various sympathisers from various countries.”