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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:1980: The Springtime of Robert Mugabe
Author:Blewett, Neal
Periodical:Australasian Review of African Studies
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
election monitoring
diaries (form)
Politics and Government
History and Exploration
Abstract:By the end of 1979 Zimbabwe Rhodesia, as it was then known, had been racked by civil war for over seven years with some 20,000 killed. The insurgent forces - the Ndebele-dominated Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) with its bases in Zambia, and the Shona forces of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), operating out of Mozambique - had come together in 1976 to form the Patriotic Front to overthrow the government of Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front. In the last month of 1979 Ian Smith and the moderate black nationalist leader Abel Muzorewa were compelled to the conference table with their enemies Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe. Under the chairmanship of the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, the Lancaster House Conference achieved a settlement agreed on by all parties whereby a cease-fire would come into place, to be monitored by Commonwealth troops, and elections would follow by March 1980, supervised by British electoral officials. In these elections the political parties of Nkomo and Mugabe - the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) respectively - would participate along with the parties of the incumbent regime. As part of the Lancaster House understanding, Commonwealth countries were invited to send national observers to the elections. Australia sent a delegation of four parliamentarians, among whom Neal Blewett, at that time Back Bench member for the Federal Labour Party. This article publishes the diary Blewett kept during the month he was in Rhodesia. The diary is virtually unaltered though purged of a number of personal observations - mainly on Blewett's colleagues and on the beautiful landscape.