Monday, March 31, 2008

Owen on Nkomo

As the world gears up for what are hopefully the very last few days of Mugabe's rule over Zimbabwe, it is just worth remembering that, in Africa, there are very few goodies, and lots of baddies in varying degrees. David Owen, who had a hand in at the creation of Zimbabwe, is a little bit disingenuous here for example.
I judged in 1978 that Joshua Nkomo, rather than Mugabe, would make a better first – interim – leader of Zimbabwe as it prepared for truly free elections. For a while I helped to pursue secret negotiations with Nkomo to bring this about, eventually concluding in a meeting between Nkomo and the then prime minister, Ian Smith, held in total secrecy in Lusaka. The meeting should have ended with Nkomo flying straight back to Rhodesia to be saluted as prime minister and bringing illegal independence to an end. It was not to be: another Lusaka meeting was planned, but before then the initiative became public and the meeting never reconvened.
The reason that there was so much public hostility in Rhodesia to the talks between Smith, Nkomo and Owen was that, while they were underway, Nkomo's ZIPRA guerrillas shot down a Rhodesian Airways Viscount, the Hunyani, and then machine-gunned the survivors, including women and children, in Gokwe TTL. Nkomo then boasted about the incident on the BBC, chuckling as he did so. It explains why the initiative never got anywhere - and it also renders questionable whether the tubby and seemingly affable Nkomo would have been any better than Mugabe.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

10:00 am  
Blogger Tim J said...

And wonderfully undisprovable too.

10:01 am  

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