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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Whoever Saw a Country with Four Armies?': The Battle of Bulawayo Revisited
Author:White, LuiseISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
armed forces
group identity
political attitudes
History and Exploration
Military, Defense and Arms
Urbanization and Migration
Politics and Government
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03057070701475708
Abstract:Between November 1980 and February 1981, fissures in the new State of Zimbabwe became obvious to all. The lines between guerrilla, former guerrilla, soldier and civilian had blurred, and each group became heavily armed. In February 1981 there was a mutiny in the newly constructed Zimbabwe National Army that many thought could lead to wholesale civil war. The mutiny was put down in what is called the Battle of Bulawayo. In that battle mutinous troops were defeated by soldiers from the 1st Rhodesian African Rifles, renamed but not reconstituted as the 11-Battalion. These soldiers went into battle against former ZIPRA (Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army) and a few former ZANLA cadres wearing the shoulder flashes and berets of their old Rhodesian uniforms. This article uses the Battle of Bulawayo, and the deployment of uniforms therein, to assess the power and legitimacy of Zimbabwe in its early years. If the new State could not monopolize the use of force, how could it claim to rule legitimately? The article argues that it was not the weakness of the new State that allowed its former enemies to do battle in its defence. Instead, the new State was able to animate relationships within the army that authorized the successful use of force. At the same time, soldiers of the new State were able to articulate their new citizenship with old loyalties - through actions and dress - to quell the mutiny. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]