Rhodesia: A personal glimpse of the security situation

This brief report follows a private visit to Rhodesia by Mr. McClure from 9 to 16 August, 1978. The immediate impression is of a country engaged in guerrilla war with the psychological factor as the dominant feature. Thinking centres around the “wait and see” attitude, at least until after the elections. Emigration has increased since it became apparent that the war was continuing, but the more crucial problem is that sanctions must be lifted soon. Tourism continues at a markedly lower level. So far, the security forces are holding their own, and can contain the situation as long as the economy hold out, or until possible Soviet and Cuban involvement in the conflict. There is concern over the reported presence of high ranking Soviet officers in Angola, accompanied by East German paratroopers and sophisticated military hardware. Military build-ups in Mozambique are subject to Rhodesian pre-emptive raids, but not a concentration of forces in Angola. A major military thrust into Rhodesia can no longer be dismissed. In such an event, South Africa may have to consider military intervention. Much depends on the ability of the Rhodesian Transitional Government to sell the internal settlement, especially the elections. In addition, part of the internal agreement left it to the black members of the interim administration to de-escalate the war, which they find difficult. There is much speculation on the possibility of further talks between parties to the internal agreement and the Patriotic Front.