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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May, 1979


This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    Political guidelines which are at present valid are focused on ensuring maximum room for politicians to manoeuvre in attempts to have sanctions lifted in order to bring about recognition for Zim. Rhod.
    "Telegram from RGBS, Salisbury, to Secretary of Central Security Council, Pretoria," May, 1979, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, South African Archives, Department of Foreign Affairs, BTS 1/156/3. Included in "Southern Africa in the Cold War, Post-1974," edited by Sue Onslow and Anna-Mart Van Wyk.
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2. With the implementation of short term strategy in the after-election period it is clear that priority is given to retaining and expanding political initiative that was gained by election. Political guide-lines which are at present valid are focused on ensuring maximum room for politicians to manoeuvre in attempts to have sanctions lifted in order to bring about recognition for Zim. Rhod. Point of departure is that any action which could cause embarrassment to new Conservative Gov. in UK and moderates in USA who campaign for lifting of sanctions should be guarded against. Coming Commonwealth Conference during Aug. 79 at Lusaka is obvious important factor which Rhod. politicians have to take into account.

3. With regard to military action present political climate has limiting influence on external operations. There are indications of influence by British Gov. that action in adjoining states, especially Commonwealth countries, should be limited as far as possible. Present guide-lines for military action come down to following:

A. Planned action, even clandestine, against the infrastructure of adjoining Black states to destabilise them has been put on ice—for example action against the Tanzam railway line.

B. Action against command and action structure, logistic system and bases of terrorist organisations in host countries are continuing, but limited and far more selectively. Attacks on terrorist bases in Tanzania (Nachingwea) have been put on ice.


For the immediate future, especially regarding action against ZANLA,12 internal operations will be concentrated upon. Point of departure is that largest section of ZANLA’s trained terrorist force is already within Rhodesia and that they, due to fact that they filter into Rhodesia as fast as possible from where they are trained outside Mozambique, offer few good targets within Mozambique. With regard to ZAPRA [sic ]13 situation is reversed—the major section of its terrorist force is still in Zambia. In principle it is therefore accepted that priority is given to external action against ZPRA. The conditions, however, are that targets must really be worthwhile and clearly distinguishable as a terrorist complex/base.

3. [sic] Combined operations have somewhat adapted their internal strategy for after election period. Assets of vital importance have been revised as well as terrain of tactical importance. Deployment of troops is done according to that and briefly comes down to the following:

A. Security Force Auxiliaries. Continues to be deployed in certain tribal trust territories [lands] and slight increase is envisaged in short term especially to include certain tribal areas in Matabeleland.

B. Furthermore, certain power assessments are made on main infiltration routes as well as to protect vitally important assets.

C. Fire Force. Operations are especially planned in area north-east of Salisbury KMA Manicaland and Fort Victoria—Shabani—Selukwe area as they contain problem areas in ZANLA sector and terrain lends itself to effective operations of this nature.


Comment. This military strategy aimed at maintaining status quo in short term in order to give stability to GNU for expected political breakthroughs.

Limiting influence of present political climate in respect of external operations impede military capacity to move [operate] and could in long term lead to terrorist war escalating CMA [Chimerenga (war of liberation)] unless there is a timely political breakthrough or exceptional success is achieved with the amnesty programme after black take-over of the reins of government.

4. Concerning psychological action, the main focus is on the amnesty scheme in order to convince terrorists to come over, as well as on opinion shapers in especially the UK and the USA to promote the lifting of sanctions as well as recognition.

A. Amnesty scheme has thus far produced only limited and sporadic success.

Planned, especially through Sky Shout Operations, to reach terrorist groups in country coupled to high density Fire Force Operations. Lack of equipment causes great difficulty as two available jets have to return to the RSA towards 1 June. Request has been made for extension of loan of equipment while Rhod. plans to acquire similar equipment as soon as possible.

B. Although Rhod. is continuing with the influencing of opinion shapers in foreign countries it is felt that they are slowly but surely losing ground. The absence of a psychological action member in RGBS handicaps our ability to monitor this aspect properly. Indeed the RGBS is in the dark about which contribution the SABC [South African Broadcasting Corporation] and RSA press media deliver at this stage. Placing of full-time member of SA Information Service at RGBS here is urgently needed to overcome this deficiency.

5. General.

Apart from your telex K48/08 May 79 RGBS has received very few further guide-lines. With Brig. Huyser’s departure he took all RSA documents except TNSD 1 as well as correspondence with him. Clearer direction from your side would be appreciated.