By Alois Vinga
THE United Kingdom (UK) has declined to pay compensation to former Rhodesian soldiers saying it was not responsible for recruiting them and that the then Ian Smith regime weaned the country from the British monarch’s authority.
The majority of the fighters seeking compensation from the UK are black Zimbabweans who served in the Rhodesian army or police service and were known for their notoriety against indigenous citizens.
The ex-Rhodie soldiers recently approached the British Embassy in Harare seeking clarification on their plight.
However, in its response dated August 27, 2020, the UK ambassador to Zimbabwe, Melanie Robinson said after extensive consultations with her counterparts back home, there were no chances that any compensation will be extended.
“As you are aware, Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom in 1965. The UK, the international community, and the UN security council condemned this move, and imposed economic sanctions against the Rhodesian regime,” reads the letter.
The ambassador said the UDI automatically meant all Rhodesian government forces became the sole responsibility of that regime as the war was neither recognised by Queen Elizabeth II nor the UK government.
“Given the fact, the UK government cannot take responsibility for the payment or support of the Rhodesian government’s veterans, no matter how unfair their terms had been. I understand this position must be a significant disappointment for you, but we stand with the principles of how unfair your treatment was,” said Robinson.
During earlier meetings with UK Embassy officials, the former fighters said they were conscripted by the Rhodesian government and were forced to fight against their will.
“I want to give my deepest sympathies also for this injustice,” the ambassador added in her letter.
Most of the fighters were retired from the army or police when Zimbabwe attained black majority rule in 1980.
“If Rhodesian Forces had not defended the country’s infrastructure from freedom fighters, the country would have been reduced to rubble as former liberation fighters destroyed anything within their reach,” one of ex-Rhodesian soldiers, Fanuel Muhlambo told the media in a recent interview.