South Africa returns old Rhodesian Cabinet files to Zimbabwe

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By Staff Reporter & Agencies

SOUTH Africa has returned to Zimbabwe Cabinet files and other State papers dating back to 1927 that former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Douglas Smith took to that country following the collapse of his government.

The consignment was in 73 boxes which had been deposited at Rhodes University in South Africa.

The documents were officially handed over to President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House on Wednesday, director of media services in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Anywhere Mutambudzi told Xinhua.

“The Cabinet files were taken to South Africa by Smith when the Rhodesian Front had collapsed and were deposited as his personal documents at Rhodes University,” Mutambudzi said.

“These were State documents and reveal sensitive issues on the decision-making processes by the Rhodesian system,” Mutambudzi said.

He added that the documents were repatriated following negotiations between the governments of Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, President Mnangagwa said; “These archival materials we gather here to receive thus constitute integral and crucial evidence of our history,” said Mnangagwa.

“Sadly, however there are still various collections from the independence transition period which are being kept in private collections in South Africa and Australia

“A considerable collection being Military and Intelligence records are in private hands in the United Kingdom.

“In addition, there are missing philatelic treasures from its Special Deposit collection, which consist of 30 rare Southern Rhodesia stamps that went missing during the 1979-1981 periods.

“Furthermore, there are remains of heroes of the First Chimurenga waged in 1986-7 which ended in foreign capitals as war trophies.”

The files are important because they form part of the country’s history and are needed by researchers and scholars.

The majority of the papers cover the period from 1964 to 1978, but older papers go back as far as 1927.

Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, was under colonial rule from 1890 to 1980 with Smith declaring unilateral independence from Britain in 1965.