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Zimbabwe, Southern Africa and the Rise of Robert Mugabe

Courtesy Reuters

On April 18, a British Tory government, by repute the most conservative since Hitler's war, handed over the last substantial British colony, Southern Rhodesia, to a professed Marxist, Robert Mugabe, with the Prince of Wales officiating at the ceremony. When the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, witnessed the all-party signature to the terms decided at Lancaster House, she can hardly have wished for such an outcome, and yet-with only a few ultraconservative backbenchers demurring-the final decolonization process was nevertheless hailed on both sides of the House as a triumph for the British premier whom the Russians call "the Iron Lady."

Mugabe himself declared that he had come to hold the outgoing British governor, Lord Soames, in admiration and "even love." President Samora Machel of Mozambique, himself also a self-styled Marxist-Leninist, labeled Thatcher the "best British Prime Minister for 15 years." Lieutenant General Peter Walls, Ian Smith's military commander through most of the

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