Tichaona Zindoga Political Editor
THE Rhodesian Diaspora — remnants of the old racist settler rule in Zimbabwe — have today and this weekend lined up activities to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence and observers said this is a warning that Zimbabweans must not drop guard in protecting the country’s independence and sovereignty.
Rhodesian strongman Ian Smith on November 11, 1965, declared the UDI purporting self-determination from the “mother country” Britain, a widely condemned move that paved way for heightened Rhodesian apartheid.
The outraged world imposed sanctions on the Smith regime but Rhodesia was helped to wriggle out of the United Nations sanctions by apartheid South Africa, the then Portuguese colony of Mozambique and the Unites States which continued to trade with Rhodesia effectively busting the measures.
Britain was half-hearted in its response, refusing to impose sanctions on Mr Smith who was thus emboldened to repress the majority black population.
Nostalgic Rhodesians in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and America have this week been advertising events on social media and the Internet to mark the anniversary of UDI.
Over the weekend, the Rhodesian Services Association of Western Australia invited “all Rhodesians and friends” to a celebratory dinner at Government House Ballroom St Georges Terrace in Perth.
The money raised from raffle tickets was ostensibly meant to be donated to an outfit called Zimbabwe Pensioner Support Fund.
Another event was slated for Bedford, Britain over the same weekend.
This weekend, events will be held at Novotel Waterloo, England; and Mesa, Arizona, among others.
Another notice reads, “In Association with the British South Africa Police Regimental Association (Australia) And in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence. You are invited to attend a UDI ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION WEEKEND Where: COFFS HARBOUR, New South Wales” with various events and activities arranged.
The Facebook page, Rhodesians Worldwide, is awash with messages of Rhodesian solidarity and scores of posts denigrating Zimbabwe’s independence and calling for regime change.
Yesterday the ruling party Zanu-PF slammed the Rhodesians.
“Those people are unrepentant and incorrigible. Zimbabwe will never be a colony again and they can go to hell,” said the party’s spokesman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo. He said Zimbabwe celebrated independence day which is inclusive of all people, showing the revolutionary nature of the Zanu-PF leadership.
War Veterans Affairs Minister Cde Chris Mutsvangwa notes that the Rhodesian elements were adherents to a racist ideology which killed so many Zimbabweans and caused so much suffering on either side of the colour line.
“Their myopia eventually led to the demise of their miscreant Rhodesian settler minority nation. Now their extinguished memories only exist in the non-physical world of cyberspace,” he said.
Zanu-PF UK chairman Ndavaningi Nick Mangwana said: “The Rhodesians are just a bunch of sore losers with misplaced nostalgia.
Celebrating Rhodesia is an insult to the formerly suppressed majority and the memory of our fallen heroes.
The whole purpose of UDI was to frustrate Zimbabwe from joining the wave of African countries gaining independence from the imperialistic powers like Britain and France.”
He added: “If there are people 35 years after real Zimbabwean Independence who think that UDI and the then continued marginalisation of the indigenous populations of
Zimbabwe is worth celebrating, then the only conclusion is that it is an obstinate outfit who are feasting on a sentimentality of evil.”
The opposition MDC-T, which was launched as an anti-thesis to the country’s liberation ideals, has traditionally been represented at the celebrations in Australia by former ambassador to Australia Jacqueline Zwambila.