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Salient. Official Newspaper of Victoria University Students Association. Volume 40, Number 3. March 14, 1977.

Robert Mugabe, — ZIPA

Robert Mugabe, — ZIPA

Robert Mugabe. Secretary General of ZANU, is at Geneva as the so called political spokesman of ZIPA (Zimbabwe People's Army). ZIPA was set up in November 1975 claiming to be a military front of ZAPU and ZANU.

The formation of ZIPA and the support given to it by the Front line states must be seen in the context of imperialisms strategy in Zimbabwe.

Given the failure of the Victoria Falls talks. Nkomo's lack of credibility and the fact that the ANC under Muzorewa and Sithole was not proving to be the easily manipulated body it was hoped the follwoing were necessary to ensure a negotiated settlement and a transition to neo-colonialism:
  • the armed struggle had to be in tensified to force Smith into a more realistic bargaining position over majority rule.
  • the influence of Sithole and Muzorewa had to be minimized as it was clear as things stood any settlement which didn't take them into account would not be acceptable to the Zimbabwean masses.
  • a "new" leadership had to be imposed which could claim to be leading the armed struggle but which would in reality be complaint to imperialist and Front line pressure.

Since its formation ZIPA has claimed to represent the fighting cadres and unity between ZAPU and ZANU yet it has continually had to be propped up by the Front-line states and there have been dissensions in the guerilla camps leading to the killing of those opposed to ZIPA.

It has also mounted a campaign to discredit Muzorewa and Sithole with accusations of corruption and abandoning the armed struggle. In this it was aided by the Front-line states who refused Muzorewa and Sithole access to the camps. Moreover the leadership of ZIPA was implicated by a Zambian Commission of Enquiry supported by Mozambique and Tanzania, as being involved in the assassination of Chitepo and the 500 Zanu cadres many of whom were part of the progressive tendency in ZANU that was developing a Marxist perspective.

These factors together with the consideration that it has been consciously fostered in the Western press all seem to indicate that ZIPA fulfills imperialism's need for a narrowly nationalist movement which will not in reality oppose a neo-colonialist solution.

While it cannot be doubted that there are within ZIPA cadres who desire a principled unity and liberation through armed struggle rather than imposed negotiations the leaderships of ZIPA and the events surruonding its formation, plus the fact that it has arisen precisely at the time when imperialism needs a quick solution, places it under considerable doubt as the genuine representative of the Zimbabwean people and the fighting cadres. The composition of ZIPA with 9 ZANU and 9 NZPU members in its High Command can only be seen as another attempt to destroy ZANU given that ZAPU comprises only 10% of the cadres and ZANU 90%. It is significant that Mugabe, while claiming to be the new President of ZANU, was anxiously seeking a postponement of the beginning of the Geneva talks to allow him time to get a delegation together. This would surely not have been necessary if the position he lays claim to had genuinely resulted from democratic processes within the party.

Moreover Mugabe has been joined at Geneva by other ZIPA/ZANU leaders named as guilty in the assassination of Chitepo but recently released after being found "innocent" by the Zambian Courts. Allied to this grouping is Josiah Tongogara who is portrayed as a powerful military figure. Recently news of his impending return to the camps sparked off a two week civil war between pro Sithole and pro-Mugabe factions, with the former bitterly opposed to his return.

Photo of BJ Vorster and Ivor Richard

Vorster with Ivor Richard (right) during the latter's African tour to 'solve' the Rhodesian problem.