THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Soturda , June 19, 1976
AN INTERVIEW WITH ZANU'S DAVIS MGABE
Fighting for black
By MIKE NORTON
)AVIS MGABE hasn't seen his home-
land in 13 years.
Ever since 193, when Mgahe quit his
newspaper job to work toward the libera-
tion of Rhodesia's black population, he has
travelled around the world pleading their
cause--unable to return.
The 42-year-old Mgabe began his career
as a reporter for The African Daily News
of Salisbury, where he came into contact
with the black nationalist movement on a
regular basis. lIe was associated with the
nationalist parties that followed each other
in succession as they were founded and
banned by the colonial government.
But after the Rhodesian Constitutional
Convention of 1961, which was dominated
by right-wing whites, he became complete-
ly disillusioned with the course national
political events were taking. "I became
a very vocal opponent of the Smith re-
gime," he says. "And I wrote a lot of
"WELL, OF COURSE, that's not a peace-
ful settlement; that's a surrender.
But truly, we really, don't see the Smith
government negotiating itself out of pow-
er. That government represents the real
hard-line racist in Rhodesia; in any set-
tlement, they would find themselves com-
pletely out of it, and that's why they're
so afraid. I see a point of negotiation, yes,
when they realize they've lost the war.
But a settlement now? No."
Does this mean we can look forward
to more bloodbaths?
"LOOK, IF THE outside world - espe-
cially South Africa - would not get
involved, it wouldn't be long before the
Smith government capitulated.
But hasn't South Africa already told Rho-
desia to settle with you?
there had been prior warning; unless the
civilian had actually committed a definite
"But as far as the news reporting is
concerned, though, most of the news out
of Rhodesia comes out through AP (the
Associated Press). Well, AP in Rhodesia
is what? The Rhodesia Herald and the
Bulawayo Chronicle - and in both cases,
anybody who knows the Rhodesian situa-
tion would have to say they are not papers
which are very well-disposed toward the
African nationalists. So the kind of news
that comes out of the country cannot -be
expected to be too favorable to us.
"I remember them from my reporting
days; we used to get into unbelievable
arguments with them. We had riots in
1961 and 1962 - and they would be re-
porting from a police truck. I , would be
out there with the crowd and actually
dodging the bullets.
"But, you see, those people are AP.
The African papers are not, and at this
point we don't even have any channel to
the outside world."
As you know, our government has been
making overtures to Joshua Nkomo. (Nko-
mo is the leader of the Zimbabwe African
People's Union (ZAPU), a rival national-
ist faction.) How do you feel about this
obvious shift in American policy toward
supporting a gradual transition to black
"TO BEGIN WITH, since 1968 the U.S.
position has been almost unacceptable
for any African. In 1969, for instance, the
U.S. pursued a very anti-African policy
with the issuing of National Security Mem-
orandum No. 39. (Also called the "tar-baby
document," this memo, drafted by the Kis-
singer State Department, assumed that the
white regimen were "here to stay" and sug-
gested that the US. cooperate with them.)
"But the ten-point plan announced re-
cently by Dr. Kissinger is really very un-
fortunate, because it gives a lot of white
settlers some hope that they're going to
get out of the trouble they're in.
"It's just not a reasonable propositil
(for the U.S.) to say, "You've got to n
gotiate,' when people have been fightin
because fighting itself is a bargaining sit
ation. You fight until somebody says, 'A
right, I'm willing to stop now because th
advantages are on my side.'
"For the United States to put its pre
sure on at a point when the Africans fe
they've almost won this war is very u
fair. That's how we feel about it. If yt
give Smith another six months with i
South African support, with no U.S. sui
port, we can win this war hands do
-with no Cubans, no nothing.
"But for the United States to come I
and say, 'Now, you've got to negotiate-
well, what can we say? That puts us
things that were not exactly what they
wanted to hear."
After two years, he left the country-
now as a member of the Zimbabwe African
National Union (ZANU), the nationalist un-
derground which has been waging an arm-
ed struggle against Ian Smith's white re-
gime for the past ten years. He has served
as ZANU's diplomatic representative in
Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zaire, and - most
recently - in North America. He stepped
down from that post this past year. Mgabe
spoke to The Daily in an hour-long inter-
view last week, during which he discussed
ZANU's fight against the white regime
and his hopes for the future of his count-
It was a blazing afternoon; he ap-
peared dressed in blue trousers and a light
blue military-style shirt. His round fore-
head was covered with a fine sheen of
sweat, and as he spoke in a pleasant, well-
modulated voice his face and hands moved
expressively to support his words.
Here are some of our questions and
In light of Secretary Kissinger's recent
speech in support of black rule in Rhodesia,
what do you thing the chances are for
a peaceful settlement to the fighting go-
ing on there?
"FOR ME, THAT (a peaceful settlement)
is simply out of the question. I think
the people who talk in terms of a possibili-
ty like that are just not aware of the kind
of war that's been going on there for the
past five years. When you've been fighting
a war for five, seven, ten years, you don't
talk in terms of a peaceful settlement."
But what if the Smith government slm-
"SOUTH AFRICA makes these statements
to the outside world you know - but
when it comes down to it they back the
Smith regime all the way. Smith has been
forced, for instance, in the last six months,
to take a lot of people from the business
community to go and fight. So what does
South Africa do? It sends in 500 or so
people to take their places. It's the same
thing with soldiers; they don't send them
in wearing uniforms. They call them police.
"So you see, they can be talking to you
about a settlement on the one hand, and
still be backing Smith on the other."
There are some rumors, and I'm sure
you've heard them, that the Soviet Union
is supplying ZANU with guns through Tan-
zania. Is there any truth to them?
"WELL, IF YOU'RE talking about ZANU,
I would definitely say no. Definitely
not. Up to now, until the Angolan situa-
tion, ZANU never had very good relations
with the Soviet Union, anyway.
"We don't have any Cubans in there,
either, in case you're wondering."
What about all these stories we've been
getting out of Rhodesia about terrorism,
about people"getting hand grenades thrown
into their houses and having their chil-
dren shot in front of them? Don't you
think this kind of thing is going to hurt
"THAT'S THE GREAT PITY about it,
because, you know, up until a year
ago even the Smith regime wouldn't have
accused us of killing civilians out of hand.
Soldiers have been tried in ZANU camps
for killing civilians - unless, of course,