Zimbabweans react to Thatcher’s death

Margaret Thatcher and Robert Mugabe soon after Independence

By Violet Gonda
08 April 2013

UK’s ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher died Monday morning after suffering stroke.

She was 87.

Baroness Thatcher, who served as prime minister from 1979-1990, was Britain’s first female Prime Minister and was arguably the most significant British leader of the 20th century. She also had an unprecedented three consecutive terms as Prime Minister.

Thatcher was described by many, including the late US President Ronald Reagan, as a woman with incredible aura and charisma, although many critics accused her of dividing the country, creating an ethos of capitalist greed and not supporting industry. She is also accused of doing little to advance women’s issues.

Her achievement was to transform the British economy and serve notice on the old style socialists.

Thatcher was also heavily criticized for refusing to back sanctions against South African apartheid and dismissing the African National Congress as, “a typical terrorist organization.” She preferred to pursue a policy of “constructive engagement”.

In Zimbabwe Thatcher would be remembered for helping bring about a ceasefire during the liberation struggle, as it was under her government that the negotiations to end the war took place. The Lancaster House Agreement in 1979 was her first international achievement right at the beginning of her first term in office.

Dr Simba Makoni, a former Minister of Finance in the ZANU PF government, was in the party’s support team for the Patriotic Front negotiation team in London during the Lancaster House talks.

Makoni, who is now an opposition leader, has fond recollections of that period as he was an exiled student in the UK when Thatcher assumed office and endured some of the drastic policy changes she introduced there.

“But as one in the negotiating teams of the Patriotic Front during the Lancaster House Conference, I do recall her influence on her team led by Lord Carrington that resulted in the December 21st agreement that led to our independence in 1980.

“Even though she was not involved directly her firm hand was felt throughout the negotiations,” Makoni told SW Radio Africa.

He said more significantly Thatcher accepted primary responsibility for solving the Rhodesian problem after the Commonwealth Summit in Lusaka in 1979. “That’s what led to Lancaster House negotiations and that is also why we spent nearly three month haggling there and she kept insisting through her negotiators that we wouldn’t leave London until there was an agreement.”

It’s reported that Thatcher had a good relationship with President Robert Mugabe and their relationship grew stronger after independence when Mugabe became Prime Minister.

The “Iron Lady” was British Prime Minister during the Gukurahundi massacres where 20 000 Ndebele people are estimated to have been killed by Mugabe’s North Korean trained Fifth Brigade between 1983 and 1987.

“The British covered it up and went on to knight Mugabe in 1994, four years after Thatcher left office,” said a commentator who did not want to be identified.

ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa remembers Thatcher as the British leader who at least managed to bring development towards a ceasefire in Zimbabwe, but said her government was part of a plot to destroy his party’s armed wing – Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA).

“We in ZIPRA accuse the British of having been part and parcel of that plot to destroy ZIPRA and to destroy ZAPU as a party. They were responsible. In fact we think they hired the North Koreans to do that because the British themselves did not want blood on their hands.”

Dabengwa said the British worked behind the scenes during the Matebeland disturbance and made sure there was no publicity about the atrocities in their own country.

“They stated it very clearly. We know it. ZIPRA was too close to the Russians. It was during the Cold War and Russia was the enemy, so similarly ZIPRA was the enemy,” the ZAPU leader said.

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12 Responsesto “Zimbabweans react to Thatcher’s death”

  1. Chimbwido Warvet says:

    While the Argentinians may have the inclination to call her a villain, Margaret Thatcher is my hero for without her enormous contributions to our genuine cause for our sovereignty and independence, our struggle could have taken longer. The Lancaster House Constitution that brought about the independence of Zimbabwe was due to her tireless efforts. She told the warring parties to the conflict that they were not to leave London before a settlement was reached. Many lives that could have perished in this unjust war were saved.

  2. Common Sense says:

    A controversial but great leader, who had the courage of her convictions… the best leader GB ever had after Churchill

  3. mike hondo says:

    goodby maggie thatcher you made some good decisions you made some bad ones and you cant please eveyone.you were of coarse a war crimminal for the sinking of the belgrano international waters and steaming away from the falklands at the time although im sure you had your reasons[aregintina did start the war after all] as regards zimbabwe it very nearly went all badly wrong! zanla forces not trusting the peace plan thought that they would be massacered at assembly points and hostels sent innocent civillians in their place to massacered while they still hid in the bush,the roadies had a plan to shoot all these people if the peace plan didnt work and you maggie thatcher sent a well known soak, a drunk and a man of very low quality an d intelligence to be in control of this powder keg, that man was lord soames, what a fool this decision shows you to be mrs thatcher , it is a credit to both of the conflicting sides tha t they managed to find peace

    • Chimbwido Warvet says:

      What is this now to this wonderful lady. I could not figure what your arguments are on her contributions to former Rhodesia. You seem to have unarticulated and unexplained bitterness. Take your time and tell us what your misgivings are towards this wonderful woman who made us a proud and independent nation.

      • mike hondo says:

        she sent a well known drunk/ alchohic lord soames to be in charge of the transition why would you do that?, ever heard of lord soames before or since,its like jamaica sending jimmy dreadlocks and his massive bong/pipe filled with ganga to play at your most crucial gig ever instead of bob marley .mrs thatcher lacked sincerity , did she ever visit zim to see the fruits of her labours? no! she brought in the council tax , sold off gas ,electric, water , railways companies practicaly giving away the infrastucture to rich people who now hold the taxpayer to ransome ,and made it illegal to dance all night to repetative beats/music, and now her state funeral will cost the british taxpayer £10 million.she has amassed an£11 million fortune herself too much for any reasonable person to ever need,see my point

        • Chimbwido Warvet says:

          Oh no no my gosh aha, it news to me that a man I regarded in high esteem and respect was a well know drunk and alcoholic. I usually do not refer people to read Wikipedia as a source of credible information, but if you read it, Lord Soames is considered to be a man of high accomplishments and achievements. How he could have made those achievements while he was an alcoholic as you say, is miraculous.

          • mike hondo says:

            alas i live in a county in england where our conservative mp is nicolas soames son of lord soames, they are related to winston churchill, you get to hear bits of information about people i did not seek this information , i just heard the lord soames was mostly drunk during his time in zimbabwe then i heard it again . if you look at his record it will tell u that his main claim to fame is being trhe last british colonial governer. i just think it was an insult to send this man and a poor decision by MT im not really trying to insult lord soames im sure he did ok in his achievments and who am i to judge him he is what he is.

          • Chimbwido Warvert says:

            Thank you for a well articulated explanation Mike. It is true we all do not know at times what goes on behind closed doors. It now explains why we had serious teething difficulties during the ceasefire leading to independence as it could well be that the guy was under the influence of whisky. Who knows?

          • mike hondo says:

            he was probably quite a nice guy and i have nothing against him my point is/was that britain has made some really bad choices/decisions when it comes to zimbabwe and that is why there is still problems, it all started in the 1890 s naming a country after yourself [cecil rhodes] how long did you think that would last? in hindsight it seems madness now! all i can say when i was younger we played on a monoply board i didnt understand why it was called monopoly i just played as best i could , nowdays in the current economic situation i come to know its a game where you try to take and own it all,money and property, the word monopoly now sounds quite greedy and wrong, im sure the makers of the game started out with the best intentions.

          • Chimbwidos Warvets says:

            As usual, you really talk a lot of sense each time you open your mouth. It is refreshing to know that we still have young people like you who know the history of their country. Quite frankly, if the people of this country do not know the origins of their political and economic problems, they will not know how best to extricate themselves from the man-made problems they are suffering from today. Like all colonialists of the African continent, the United Kingdom was merely interested in exploiting our natural resources using free labour for hundreds of years. When we became independent, they just walked away without considering and caring of the enormous economic and political problems they left behind. It is really a pity and at best a tragedy that a great nation as the United Kingdom can treat us like that. But we will not tire but survive like we have been able to for the past 13 years when they imposed economic sanctions against us.

          • mike hondo says:

            that is my point MT and the rest of the world just walked away ,it is indeed tragic and a shame i feel as a uk resident . all we can do is feel a little bit happy that the french didnt colonize zimbabwe just look at the mess they left in their ex colonies.

          • Chimbwido Warvet says:

            In the case of the former French colonies, their currencies are still tied to the French francs to this day. It is known that France has no economy of its own but relies heavily on its former colonies for its economic survival. How ridiculous that the African leaders of these countries accommodate this nonsense!!!!!!

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