Rhodesia - The Propaganda Rhodesia The PropagandaWar This latest report from the Catholic Commission

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  • Rhodesia - The Propaganda War


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  • Rhodesia - The Propaganda War

    Alternative title Rhodesia - The Propaganda War

    Author/Creator Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace

    Contributor Catholic Institute for International Relations, Africa Fund

    Publisher Africa Fund

    Date 1978

    Resource type Pamphlets

    Language English


    Coverage (spatial) Zimbabwe

    Coverage (temporal) 1960 - 1977

    Source Africa Action Archive

    Rights By kind permission of Africa Action, incorporating the American Committee on Africa, The Africa Fund, and the Africa Policy Information Center. Reprinted by permission of the Catholic Institute for International Relations.

    Description War. Civil War in Rhodesia. Emergency Powers Act. Propaganda Attempts to Isolate Guerrillas. ZANU. ZAPU. Protected Villages. Rhodesian army pursues policy of systematic torture. Security forces inflict burns. Two case studies of the killing of civilians by Government forces. Security legislation. Sister Janice McLaughlin.

    Format extent (length/size)

    28 page(s)




  • $1.00

    $1.00 Rhodesia The PropagandaWar

    This latest report from the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Rhodesia highlights the extent of the propaganda war being waged by the Rhodesia Front regime. It also illustrates the contradictions of the propaganda campaign-to assuage white fears on the one hand and on the other to terrorise the black population in an attempt to isolate the guerrillas. As support for the nationalist cause has increased, the propaganda has become increasingly strident. It takes several forms-displaying the mutilated corpses of guerrillas and distributing photographs of them accompanied by threats, warning the black population that if they cooperate with the guerillas they will be killed. The latest element in the psychological warfare is the mass distribution of crude leaflets depicting guerrillas as 'mad dog terrorists', responsible for killing, rape and spreading venereal disease. At the same time the government has issued regulations which make it an offence to publish or distribute anything which may contribute to the spreading of alarm and despondency. Whilst the regime is thus actively engaged in spreading alarm and despondency among black Rhodesians, it is going to inordinate lengths to prevent white Rhodesians from knowing the truth of their situation. International coverage of the war in Rhodesia is at best mediocre. There is a dearth of foreign correspondents inside the country so that several newspapers have to rely on the same reporter writing under different names. Foreign correspondents have to be careful not to be too critical of the Rhodesian regime. Those who are too critical either have to leave the country or are deported. Recently the BBC correspondent Brian Barron has been refused an extension of his work permit because when he reported on a massacre of 23 blacks in northeastern Rhodesia he said "Well, we only have the Rhodesian security forces version of the massacre..." Few journalists are permitted to enter the operational areas and those who are allowed to do so are subject to censorship. As a result, most reporters are dependent on government statements and few have any opportunity for rounded background investigation. In consequence the realities of the war are distorted. This report includes an analysis of the Rhodesian regime's policy of rounding up rural Africans into "protected villages". It is estimated that these villages now contain half a million Africans in conditions of great hardship. This inhuman policy has gone largely uncriticised in the media. Indeed Rhodesian propaganda presents these villages as havens of safety and welcomed by the local people. It is clear that some of the atrocities of the war are committed by the Rhodesian security forces. Indeed the judgement of many missionaries on the spot is that the army is responsible for the bulk of the terrorising, brutality and killing of

  • civilians. Rarely, if ever, is this conveyed in the international press. One incident described in this report tells of the killing of 35 civilians, most of them women and children and the serious wounding of another 31 by the security forces. The initial report of this incident in London's largest evening newspaper, the Evening News, stated "guerrillas kill 34". According to the first report in the Evening News "Security chiefs (said) the civilians were lined up and shot with automatic weapons". In later editions the story had altered to the "killed in crossfire" account which also appeared in other British newspapers. The security forces, who claimed they were merely engaged in a normal follow-up operation of nine guerrillas, described the incident as "an unfortunate set-back". Eventually the truth of what had happened was conceded but dismissed as "unfortunately inevitable in fighting of this nature". (Rhodesian Herald Editorial, May 11 1977.) The fact is, far from protecting black civilians, the Rhodesian security forces place little value on their lives. In view of such incidents it is understandable that nationalists accuse the Rhodesian security forces of shooting anything black that moves. Nor is it surprising that the control of the army and police is a crucial factor in any negotiations for a settlement. Evidence of the kind of lawlessness which is being legitimised by the Rhodesian government is continually emerging. In the most recent example, the Rhodesian Minister for Justice and Law and Order, Hilary Squires, assured white vigilante groups that they would be indemnified against any legal repercussions if they killed anyone whilst recovering stolen cattle (The Times, July 28 1977). Statements from the Rhodesian government about the importance of maintaining law and order in the 'interim period' sound hollow under such circumstances. CIR LONDON September 1977 This Report was reprinted by permission of The Catholic Institute for International Relations. The text has not been altered in any way but some graphics have been omitted.

    Causing alarm or despondency: a crime Mimeographed papers titled "Makoni Gandanzara Military News" were dropped from a light plane as it circled over Makoni Tribal Trust Land in Eastern Rhodesia on Tuesday, 7 June 1977. Typed in English, the single sheets carried a crude threat to all persons in the area which read: WARNING TO ALL Tigers. Terrorist informers. Terrorist agents. Sympathisers and feeders of terrorists. Recruiters for terrorist training. There are still some people who continue to help the terrorists and a few even try to do their evil work for them. These people are counted as terrorists and will be killed by the Security Forces.

  • The leaflets went on to boast that the majority of people now supply information to the security forces. "This makes it easier to catch and kill the terrorists and their 'pet dogs';" it explained. Labeling the guerillas as cowards, who murder and rob innocent people, the sheet stated that "the majority of the people are tired of the terrorists and their pets." "You have now been warned," the message concluded. "Beware of the anger of the people and the Security Forces." The same week that this propaganda was being dropped on rural villages, the Rhodesian Government issued more stringent emergency regulations. Rhodesia has been in a state of emergency since just before UDI in 1965, and the regulations have been amended 32 times. Besides giving the government more powers to punish the guerillas and those who assist them, the new regulations also further restrict the free flow of information. As the Rhodesia Herald of 11 June reported, "It is also now an offence to 'communicate to any other person any rumour or report which is likely to cause alarm or despondency.' This is punishable by a fine of $100 or three months in jail. Anyone writing, publishing or distributing anything likely to cause alarm or despondency, or to lead to action which might be detrimental to national defence, public safety, public order or the termination of the state of public emergency is punishable by a fine of $600 or six months in jail." Such contradictory actions within the same week highlight the double standards which characterize the present situation. The government does not hesi- tate to alarm the people of Makoni Tribal Tr