The Sunday Mail
Cde Chris Mutsvangwa
On 10 April 1980, Rufaro Stadium in Harare witnessed a momentous occasion as Zimbabwe’s green-gold-black-and-white flag was raised up to the reverberating sounds of “Zimbabwe”, the iconic freedom chant of the reggae prophet, Bob Marley of Jamaica.
The hoisting flag was met halfway by the lowering ‘Union Jack’ flag of the colonising power, Britain.
Nine decades of imperial occupation and racist settler and predatory corporate governance came to a close.
The final 15 years were marked by a heroic and bitter guerrilla “people’s war” of the African black majority population.
They sacrificed all and everything, including their precious lives, to the quest for freedom and independence.
The finest of Zimbabwean youth – inspired by the great Samora Machel – decided to abandon all that a normal life offered.
Instead, they skipped the border and proceeded to seek arms and military training from a supportive Africa, as well as from the solidarity of the progressive humanity the world over.
These youths had that determination to master modern warfare as a riposte to the military advantage long enjoyed by the cruel racist settler minority regimes of Southern Africa.
The odds were daunting.
The imperial West, under the ambit of the military pace of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), military did all it could to give succour to their kith and kin in the subregion.
The West were not ready to forego the remnants of the 1884 Berlin Conference that had partitioned Africa into varied imperial possessions.
They felt the subregion had to remain the preserve of the West.
After all, the fertile soils, the treasure trove of minerals, as well as the hospitable climate of the southern tip of Africa, had invited a sizable European settler outpost that tenaciously held on to the gains of erstwhile military conquest and land plunder.
This defiance stood in the way of the African nationalistic resurgence of post- World War II.
Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana of 1957 had ushered in the wave of African Independence as one nation after another unshackled themselves out of the clutch of metropolitan European imperial powers.
The march to freedom faced a redoubtable challenge in Southern Africa. Imperial Portugal, racist Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa banded together to preserve a rapacious white minority hegemony.
They counted on the military technological edge of the advanced industrial powers of the West, with the USA as the core.
Africa correctly assessed its strategic advantage. After all, this was its home territory.
Continental unity became the weapon of choice as Africa opted to answer the military challenge accordingly.
Furthermore, the global geo-political dynamics had shifted from unchallenged military hegemony.
Soviet Russia was the first to break rank with the exclusive gun cartel of the European powers. It went on to aid populous China to shirk off Japanese and West European imperial predatory occupation.
The two rising global powers – Russia and China – became the core of the alternative source of military gear for the freedom-loving Africans on the southern tip of the mother continent.
Tanzania and Zambia offered their territory as the rear base of an unfolding military encounter.
By 1974, the Portuguese imperial domino had fallen.
A gingered Africa, thus, added Mozambique and Angola as military rear bases.
The stage was set for widespread guerrilla warfare to gnaw at the last outposts of the racist and apartheid regimes ensconced in Salisbury and Pretoria.
On the Western front of Angola and Namibia, a beleaguered apartheid South Africa opted for naked aggression against Angola in 1975 as it sought to install its UNITA surrogates as rulers in Luanda in the wake of the defeat of imperial Portugal.
This led to the entry of Soviet and Cuban forces into a conventional war.
The endgame was the 1987-8 epic Battle of Cuito Cunavale that so bloodied the apartheid aggressors.
Thereafter, the West had no option but to let go of its apartheid South Africa military outpost.
The eastern Mozambique front had already taken another victorious turn between 1975-9.
The influx of Zimbabwe youths eager to take up arms foreclosed any need of outside military assistance beyond arms and training.
The Frontline States of Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia felt confident enough of the capabilities of the Zanla and Zipra forces of the Zimbabwe Patriotic Front. They opted to stay clear of the geopolitical vagaries of the Cold War between Washington and Moscow.
They had a palpable assurance that the guerrilla forces of the Zimbabwe Patriotic Front could deliver victory against Ian Smith’s racist Rhodesian army.
Zanla and Zipra did not disappoint.
There was the smouldering guerrilla war that had been implanted in the north-east front of the then Rhodesia by chairperson Hebert Chitepo and General Josiah Magama Tongogara between 1969-74 with the assistance of Frelimo allies.
With the Frelimo victory in 1974 and Mozambique independence in 1975, the war took both a quantitative and qualitative dimension.
The 1000km porous border was thrown wide open to guerrilla infiltration as Maputo declared war against Salisbury.
There was no more need to contend with the roaring waters of the crocodile-infested mighty Zambezi River.
Instead, there were the camouflaging mountains of the Eastern Highlands.
The most remarkable aspect was how the youthful guerrillas quickly closed the gap in military strategy and tactics against the Rhodesian army that relied on centuries of seasoned British and NATO superiority.
The Mozambique front opened in late 1975.
By 1976, the British and their NATO allies had called for Geneva peace talks. Ian Smith and his generals baulked at the steep political price of surrendering to African majority rule.
They foolishly fought for victory on the battlefield.
This gave yet another opportunity for Zanla-Zipra guerrilla to upscale the war effort.
Even larger numbers went for more advanced military training.
The Zimbabwe Diaspora of eager recruits scoured the progressive and supporting world of Soviet Russia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Ethiopia and the Warsaw Pact nations.
They lost no time in mastering the art and science of modern warfare.
These trained thousands of freedom fighters returned to be deployed to the Mozambique and Zambia warfronts.
They blended their exposure of the acquired technique to the battlefield experiences of seasoned comrades confronting the racist Rhodesian army. The military learning curve was astoundingly steep.
Even more potent was the politicisation of the populace, especially in the countryside.
The bounty of military intelligence harvested saw the enemy engage in a blind warfare.
The advantageous kill ratio once accruing from the enemy took a negative twist.
The warfront was thrust deep into the interior, stretching the weak population base of the white minority.
The fighting rapidly diminished as their superior weaponry, highly mobile terrain and aerial transport, as well as modern communications weaponry, found a match in the form of the scientific people’s war.
A conscious majority, thoroughly politicised and organised, became too hostile a battlefield terrain.
Fearful and increasingly cowed, the ranks of the minority white Rhodesian population started to rapidly thin out.
Gaping to other white nations became the order of the day.
In no time, the writing was on the wall.
The sequel was the Lancaster House Peace Conference and the armistice of 1979. The talks swung in the favour of the Patriotic Front, courtesy of the blunting of the Rhodesia army attack at the Battle of Mavonde/Monte Casino in Manicaland in November 1979.
Other aerial Rhodesian units were routed in the southern front in Gaza Province.
Thus ended the military history of Rhodesia.
The Patriotic Front election victory in February 1980 sealed the fate of the racist state of Rhodesia.
This epic victory was a story of horrendous massacres within and without Zimbabwe.
There were painful battlefield sacrifices. Hunger and disease took their toll in the refugee camps.
There was the heinous biological and chemical warfare as they indiscriminately targeted the populace.
All this belies a tale of patriotic fervour and heroic sacrifice in a war that claimed over 70 000 souls in a population of 6 million.
The “Open for Business” mantra of President Mnangagwa is a harbinger to the rapid economic development of Zimbabwe.
It opens all the avenues of productive urbanisation as the major force of national modernisation.
Enterprising capital is being offered profitable opportunities to engage an educated, competent, disciplined and hardworking human resource base. Zimbabwe is poised to produce world-class goods and services destined for the discerning global marketplace of 6 billion consumers.
Vision 2030 and the goal of upper middle-income status is now within the national grasp.
Zimbabwe is destined to become Africa’s economic miracle.
The President is revisiting the national development agenda that had become mired in a rustic village outlook.
Mugabeist G40s were so myopic as they exhibited a negative and hateful attitude to business interests both local and global.
They had an atrocious appreciation of capital and urbanisation as the driving force of modernisation.
Factories and industries did not feature in their Government philosophy.
All they focused on were pieces of land parceled out to the jobless in urban areas. They jousted for roles as urban barons jousting for the meagre incomes of an essentially indigent occupants of shanty dwellings.
It was thus not surprising that urban amenities deteriorated whilst new townships were denied the essential infrastructure of water and sewage, garbage collection electricity, roads and other urban services.
The Second Republic is correcting that gross oversight and colossal negligence. Open for Business is actually an agenda of large-scale urbanisation.
It is wholly in line with global trends of national development.
The nurturing of an urban industrial base sees a wholesale population shift from rural to urban centres.
The labour force is attracted to more rewarding urban jobs offered by profit-making factories.
President Mnangagwa is flying out and reaching out to those countries that have a surfeit of capital.
He is courting global entrepreneurs to invest in Zimbabwe.
He is offering all sorts of incentives as he jettisons hostile statutes like indigenisation.
International best practices and case studies of business acumen are being studied, copied and adapted to national circumstances.
Zimbabwe is striving to be second to none in offering an optimally conducive environment for business.
The tangible results is the availability of employment to the teeming youthful populace.
All are well-educated and ready for assimilation onto the global labour market.
They readily and easily acquire skills much in demand by profit-seeking entrepreneurs.
The Zimbabwe Diaspora continues to exhibit their capabilities in the various foreign host countries.
The President is determined to provide the same employment opportunity at home as that which entices Zimbabwe to migrate to foreign lands
The road to modernisation through urbanisation has been charted by successful nations of the developed and newly emergent economies.
With the establishment of Special Economic Zones and other incentives to attract enterprising capital, President Mnangagwa is on the highway to catch the grasp of prosperity.
He has spelled that out in his Vision 2030 and goal of an upper middle-income economy.
In short, the Open for Business mantra is an agenda of modernisation through productive urbanisation.
Young people can look forward to quality jobs producing world-class goods and services.
Zimbabwe will carve out its own niche in the global market place of 6 billion consumers.
Finally, its about time Zanu-PF has a recipe for that urban political appeal that can win it urban voters.
The protest voting that the rival MDC had failed to assuage with trappings of urban prosperity is hungry for a new political home.
No wonder a terrified Chamisa has opted for the nihilistic narcissism that is Kudira Jecha.
The bell of President Mnangagwa is tolling.
With the Open for Business mantra, the urban electorate is the target of Zanu-PF politics and its national Second Republic.
By so doing, the aspirations to prosperity by the Chimurenga II heroes and heroines is finally being fulfilled.
All the more reason to celebrate 18 April National Independence Day in a spirit of hope and joy.