Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF and Umkhonto We Sizwe - a Less Than Cosy Relationship

analysis

Despite eulogies by Cyril Ramaphosa and Thabo Mbeki after his death, the historical records show Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF even collaborated with the old apartheid government to keep the ANC's military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) out of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's Zanu-PF and South Africa's old National Party government were publicly sworn enemies. Privately, their relationship was a bit more complicated.

On 7 and 8 February, 1983, for instance, Emmerson Mnangagwa, then Zimbabwe's minister of state security, and his intelligence officials met secretly with their counterparts in the South African Defence Force (SADF) in Harare. They wanted to discuss a common problem.

Mnangagwa's avowedly Marxist Zanu-PF under its leader, Robert Mugabe, had come to power three years earlier and proclaimed itself as being on the front line of the regional campaign to topple the apartheid government in Pretoria.

Behind closed doors, Harare evidently had a rather different agenda, one which dovetailed with Pretoria's interest in thwarting the ANC's armed struggle.

The SADF notes of that February 1983 meeting, still in the archives of what is now the Department of International Relations and Cooperation in Pretoria, record that the two governments agreed that, "Zimbabwe does not consider political support of the ANC...

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