~ Quirks and Quiddities ~

(after the RBC radio programme on items of topical interest.)

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Attractive, dangerous and ruthless: MI5's verdict on 'Comrade' Doris Lessing in newly declassified files from the 1950s.

She was one of the most admired and respected novelists of the 20th century and won a Nobel Prize. [Doris Lessing lived in Rhodesia from 1925 to 1949]

Lessing, who died aged 94 in 2013, was active in Left-wing politics, joining the Left Book Club in Southern Rhodesia – regarded by MI5 as a ‘subsidiary of the Communist Party’. There she met her second husband Gottfried Lessing – also a suspected communist. A 1952 report describes her as ‘certainly pro-communist’ It accused her of being ‘irresponsible in her statements’, almost thinking ‘everything black is wonderful and that all men and all things white are vicious’. In correspondence she was addressed as Comrade Lessing.

Doris Lessing communist party registration form

The above extract is taken from The Daily Mail, London.

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Rhodesians send their heartfelt sympathies to the victims and families of those affected by the Charleston murders.

The Rhodesian Services Association has issued a statement condemning the brutal murders committed by a deranged young white man in Charleston, South Carolina.  No doubt like every Rhodesian alive today, I wish to associate myself with this statement which is called for by the murderer quite arbitrarily having associated himself with Rhodesia.

To my knowledge he has never visited Southern Africa and was anyway not even born until many years after Rhodesia had ceased to exist as a country.

Some media, such as the New York Times, seemingly as ignorant of the facts as the murderer himself, referred to Zimbabwe "where whites fought blacks for 15 years and enlisted white supremacists as mercenaries"  The fact is that something of the order of three quarters of our police and military were black Rhodesians who fought alongside white Rhodesians. Most of the black population was just as fearful of the communist inspired and trained terrorists, such as Mugabe, as were the whites. Whites were not fighting blacks in the bush war, black and white Rhodesians were fighting together against an evil ideology.  As for mercenaries, like Britain in 1940, Rhodesia welcomed any volunteer willing to help in its struggle for survival but they were all enlisted at the standard rates of pay available to any Rhodesian resident.

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The London Daily Mail has stated that "the murderer was recently arrested for possession of Suboxone, a drug given to opioid abusers, and suspected of causing personality changes and violent outbursts. A student at his high school described him as a ‘pill-popper’".  This may help to explain his outrageous behaviour but, along the way, he appears to have besmirched the good name of Rhodesia and its flag along with that of others including the national flag of his own country.

As the Rhodesian Services Association says: "We honour our fallen black comrades equally alongside all those who fought for Rhodesia" and "Of course the media made no mention that on 19th July 2015, a memorial to the Rhodesian Native Regiment and the Rhodesian African Rifles will be [was] unveiled at the National Arboretum in England. This monument is a result of private subscription, hard work and donations in order to give lasting recognition to the black soldiers who served in those units and fought loyally and bravely for the Crown and Rhodesia in a number of wars around the world in the 20th century."

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Missile attack on civilian airliner

The crash in July 2014 of a civilian airliner over the Ukraine has been widely attributed to a surface to air missile fired near the Russian border.  World leaders and media commentators were quick to condemn this terrible event - although, whoever did the deed, it was almost certainly not intended to hit a civilian aircraft. The Ukrainian military themselves most likely used a missile to shoot down a Russian airliner by mistake over the Black Sea in 2001 whilst en route from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk and killed all on board. And of course in 1988 the USA itself shot down an Iranian airliner in error.

But, terrible though this latest event was, their reaction shows the awful double standards of leaders in Britain, Europe and the USA.

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Air Rhodesia Flight 825 was a scheduled passenger flight deliberately shot down by TERRORISTS of the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) on 3 September 1978 using a Russian made SAM7. The aircraft involved, a Vickers Viscount named the Hunyani, was flying the last leg of Air Rhodesia's regular scheduled service from Victoria Falls to the capital Salisbury, via the resort town of Kariba. Despite losing two engines on the same side, the pilot miraculously managed to crash land the plane. Of the 56 passengers and crew, 38 were killed but 18 survived! Some moved off to seek help while others, including the injured, remained near the plane.  TERRORISTS then arrived and machine gunned 10 of the survivors before looting the plane wreckage. Those who had moved away into the bush witnessed what happened.

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Terrorist leader Jushua Nkomo claimed responsibility for the attack in an interview with the BBC on the evening of 3 September 1978, laughing as he did so, to the horror of most Rhodesians.

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The key point of interest is that not a single world political or religious leader condemned this awful deliberate atrocity!

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Please do listen to the short but powerful eulogy by the Very Rev. John da Costa from the memorial service held in Salisbury Cathedral.

Air Rhodesia, began developing anti-missile shielding for its Viscounts but, before the work was completed, terrorists shot down a second Viscount, Umniati, Air Rhodesia Flight 827, on 12 February 1979. This time all 59 on board were killed.  Again the world looked the other way.......

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After the 2nd missile attack, Air Rhodesia coated the underside of the Viscounts with low-radiation paint and the exhaust pipes were concurrently shrouded. According to tests conducted by the Air Force, a Viscount so treated could not be detected by the Strela SAM7 system once it was over 2,000 feet.  No more airliners were shot down in Rhodesia.

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As it is topical, John da Costa's eulogy has been posted here before I have had the chance to digitise my own copy.  In the meantime, I wish to acknowledge the use of Keith Nell's copy taken from his website: www.viscountdown.com

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No change to the sad news story two years on:  Harare still a worse place to live than Tripoli! (but better than Lagos!!)

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According to the latest Economist Intelligence Unit global 'liveability' study August 2014

Best ten cities to live in:                            And the worst ten:

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1. Melbourne, Australia                                        131. Abidjan, Ivory Coast

2. Vienna, Austria                                                  132. Tripoli, Libya

3. Vancouver, Canada                                            133. Douala, Cameroon

4. Toronto, Canada                                                134. Harare, Zimbabwe

5. Adelaide, Australia                                            135. Algiers, Algeria

6. Calgary, Canada                                                 136. Karachi, Pakistan

7. Sydney, Australia                                               137. Lagos, Nigeria

8. Helsinki, Finland                                               138. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

9. Perth, Australia                                                  139. Dhaka, Bangladesh

10. Auckland, New Zealand                                  140. Damascus, Syria

The EIU first began ranking cities to test whether or not companies should pay staff a hardship allowance if they make employees relocate to a different country.

Its researchers look at how “tolerable” it is to live in a particular place given its crime levels, threat of conflict, quality of medical care, levels of censorship, temperature, schools and transport links.

In the latest rankings for 2014, Melbourne again came top.

Australia’s second city is famed for its sporting events, such as racing's Melbourne Cup, although is perhaps still best known in Britain as the setting for the soap opera Neighbours.

According to the EIU Melbourne came close to recording a “perfect score” with a liveability rating of 97.5 per cent, losing points only for climate, culture and petty crime.

Like most of the cities at the top of the league, it is much less crowded than the long-established metropolis of London.

Australian cities continue to thrive in terms of liveability: Not only do they benefit from the natural advantages of low population density, but they have continued to improve with some high profile infrastructure investments.

See full report here: http://pages.eiu.com/rs/eiu2/images/Liveability_rankings_2014.pdf

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"Smith's Rhodesia was better" - Sunday Mail  Zimbabwe October 2013

Ordinary Zimbabweans have often been heard to say:

"It was better under Smith"

Zimbabweans on Sunday, 6th October 2013, woke up to a shocking admission by the state weekly newspaper, The Sunday Mail, that the colonial (sic) government of Ian Smith had fared better at managing the economy that the ZANU PF government which has been in power since independence. - by Gift Kugara  8th October 2013

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The Sunday Mail is widely regarded as a ZANU PF mouthpiece. It has been the chief propaganda platform for ZANU PF, the party led by President Robert Mugabe and has ruled Zimbabwe for 33 years.

In Sunday’s refreshingly honest editorial, The Sunday Mail wrote comparing the post-independence and the Rhodesian governments, “The racist Rhodesian regime had its many blemishes but you have to acknowledge its ability to identify quick win economic solutions.” 

The implication is that the ZANU PF government has not shown the same capacity over its 33-year rule.

Observers have said this direct attack on Robert Mugabe’s government which is made worse by comparing it unfavourably to their traditional punch-bag, the colonial government, is unprecedented.

“It is unthinkable that of all papers, The Sunday Mail would acknowledge and give credit to the colonial government and in the process attack ZANU PF by showing that the latter has fared worse”, said a commentator who wished to remain anonymous.

In the same editorial, The Sunday Mail castigated Robert Mugabe’s 33-year rule with brutal honesty regarding its poor record of policy implementation.

Commenting on the widespread power outages that have left domestic and industrial users without electricity for up to 15 hours per day, The Sunday Mail criticised Robert Mugabe’s government for failing to take pre-emptive measures to address the power deficit.

“Zimbabwe’s power deficit is not a new challenge”, wrote The Sunday Mail. It went further, “In the 1980s and 90s, the nation should have taken significant measures to address the power deficit. How we failed to do this is mind-numbing.”

This confirms criticisms that have been levelled against Robert Mugabe’s rule over the years, an observer noted. “Finally, we have a state newspaper that is rabidly pro-ZANU PF, admitting failure.”

Julius Nyerere, Founding Father of Tanzania is said to have told Mugabe at independence that he had inherited a jewel economy and that he should not destroy it. Nyerere’s words seem to have gone unheeded.

Facing serious economic challenges under Mugabe’s rule, ordinary Zimbabweans have often been heard to say, it was better under Smith, much to Mugabe and ZANU PF’s chagrin.

The full Sunday Mail editorial is reproduced below.

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Editorial Comment: Power outages: Is solar the way to go?

After weeks of public anxiety over unrelenting power cuts and blackouts, the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Cde Dzikamai Mavhaire, finally called a Press conference and explained to the nation what is happening.

For weeks on end, newspapers have been inundated with inquiries from a glum public keen to know the cause of a worsening power supply system that has seen homes, factories and even hospitals going for hours or days without electricity.

Invariably, affected consumers would complain bitterly about the power cuts and then ask the all-too-familiar question: “Where is the Minister of Energy and what is he saying about these power cuts?”

Some members of the public — perhaps out of malice more than anything — even asked whether Cde Mavhaire was based in Harare or Masvingo.

Well, Minister Mavhaire addressed a Press briefing in Harare on Wednesday. He told journalists that Zimbabwe’s maximum demand for electricity was 1 730 megawatts per day, but the local power stations and imports were producing only 1 167 megawatts. This leaves a shortfall of 563 megawatts.

To be fair to Minister Mavhaire, a lot of the criticism being levelled against him is uncalled for. He is newly appointed and there is no doubt that his first task is to gain a thorough understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the power sector before he starts implementing a turnaround strategy.

Zimbabwe’s power deficit is not a new challenge. In fact, one could argue that the demand for electricity has lessened in recent years owing to a drastic decline in the capacity utilisation and productivity levels of the manufacturing sector.

In the 1980s and ’90s, the nation should have taken significant measures to address the power deficit. How we failed to do this is mind-numbing. There were all manner of high-sounding blueprints and well-articulated strategy documents, but all the plans came to naught because policymakers and bureaucrats are good at policy formulation but dismal at implementation.

In those two decades, the nation seemed serious about confronting the energy challenge. So serious, in fact, that in September 1996, Harare hosted the World Solar Summit. It was a grand occasion, a huge statement for Zimbabwe’s commitment to the exploration of alternative energy solutions.

The thinking was that solar energy, alongside biogas, wind, geo-thermal, coal-bed methane, ethanol and hydro-electric power, held great promise and could be the panacea to Africa’s energy woes.

At the World Solar Summit, the World Solar Programme (1996-2005) was launched to address energy problems through the increased use of renewable energy technologies. Zimbabwe — being host and chair — was at the very heart of these cutting-edge initiatives.

There was a comprehensive plan of action centred on a selection of high-priority renewable energy projects at the national or regional level to be implemented between 1996 and 2005. The programme was meant “to foster the research, development, commercialisation and rational use of renewable energy resources and technologies.”

The Summit set out to prioritise “strategic projects” that would be selected for their outstanding value to renewable energy policy, legislation, research and technology demonstrations, and they would be executed voluntarily and collaboratively by all participating countries.

One of the proposed strategic projects was the creation of a Global Solar Energy Information System that would stimulate international co-operation through exchange of scientific and technical information.

Another proposed strategic project was the World Solar Energy Education and Training Programme that would broaden solar energy education opportunities, enhance technology transfer, and unify standards worldwide.

Have these lofty ideas been implemented? By now, Zimbabwe should have been manufacturing, on a large scale, solar equipment for local use and export. Surely, the level of technology required in manufacturing solar panels and inverters is not beyond the ken of hard-working, skilled and highly educated Zimbabweans.

At 300 days of full sunshine per year, Zimbabwe is blessed with abundant sunlight. Why should domestic consumers rely on expensive thermal power yet a simple solar kit comprising a panel, inverter and cabling can enable them to harness photovoltaic energy free of charge? It just does not make sense anymore.

In the past, rural communities decimated forests while foraging for firewood. These days, urban dwellers are also accelerating the deforestation menace by resorting to firewood for cooking. At this rate, many tree species could go extinct in our lifetime.

If trees were elephants, we would witness in Zimbabwe’s forests the equivalent of the Hwange cyanide calamity every single day. There’s no better definition of an ecological disaster.

To solve a plethora of challenges, Zimbabwe has to expand its generation capacity while vigorously pursuing alternative energy sources.

We used to import electricity from four countries. There is no guarantee that Mozambique will continue exporting power to Zimbabwe. As Mozambique’s economy grows — buoyed by the construction sector, coal exports and newly discovered gas fields — Maputo may run out of surplus power to export to Zimbabwe. What then?

And when we talk of an energy deficit, we are referring to the entire consumer spectrum encompassing domestic, commercial and industrial users. On the economic front, there are untold stories of countless companies that have collapsed under the weight of unsustainably high electricity bills.

The racist Rhodesian regime had its many blemishes but you have to acknowledge its ability to identify quick-win economic solutions. For instance, a whole host of strategic companies and industries directly depended on cheap electricity from Lake Kariba.

Mines, fertiliser makers, major farms, engineering firms and the manufacturing sector all relied on Kariba power. Without this cheap (back then) source of electricity, Rhodesia’s industrial and mining companies would have flopped.

It defies logic that in today’s Zimbabwe we expect mining companies, fertiliser manufacturers and large farms to continue operating viably on the backdrop of expensive or erratic electricity supplies.

Textbook economists may not openly say it, but the brutal reality is that every nation under the sun must identify its strategic economic players and subsidise their power supply.

The energy sector is the lifeblood of economic development. In the lingo of today’s armchair commentators, it is a key enabler of economic activity. Zimbabwe must get it right.

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Zimbabwe squanders Rhodesian inheritance - official!

Zimbabwe finance minister admits:

'We've only got £138.34 in the bank'

Tendai Biti made the announcement at press conference declaring: 'Last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 in government coffers'

Result is culmination of years of ruinous economic policy by Zimbabwe's despotic President Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwe's finance minister has taken a hard look at the cash strapped country's bank accounts - and discovered it only has £138 left.
Tendai Biti made the announcement at press conference yesterday declaring: 'Last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 in government coffers.'
Mr Biti went on to tell the shocked news reporters that they were individually likely to have healthier bank balances than the state's.
'The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment', Mr Biti admitted. 
- see here for full article 30.01.2013

Tendai Biti - Zimbabwe Minister of Finance under Robert Mugabe

'The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment', Mr Biti admitted.

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Spitfire. The pursuit of a Dream - Jack Malloch

Spitfire. The Pursuit of a Dream - Jack Malloch

Recently published on line (2013) here.

A good film of the story of one of Rhodesia's surviving Spitfires which some may recall used to be on a plinth at the entrance to New Sarum Air Force Base. 

Towards the end there are many aerial views of some grand Rhodesian scenery as well as fleeting glimpses of Borrowdale Race Course and Salisbury city centre.

Jack Malloch flew with Prime Minister Ian Smith in 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron during World War II and, like him, was hit by flak over Italy, bailed out and, again like Smithy, evaded capture to regain allied lines. 

Jack Malloch later played a key role in the evasion of sanctions against Rhodesia and made many flights to friendly (although officially hostile) countries in both Europe and Africa!

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Equality, the Third World and Economic Delusion

by P. T. Bauer (Harvard University Press, 1981)

Much of the modern world is obsessed with a feeling of guilt towards the concept and history of colonialism. 

There is little on this planet which is perfect but the undoubted benefits of Western Civilisation, brought to the third world by the leading nations of Europe, are today almost universally denigrated well beyond reason and the evidence. Schools and universities today teach the new generation of the "evils" of European rule. 

The article Western Guilt and Third World poverty is an extract, first published by The Africa Institute, from the book Equality, the Third World and Economic Delusion written by Prof Peter Bauer in 1981.

It first appeared in Africa Insight in 1984 and articulates very well what many normal people have long thought!

Peter Thomas Bauer was a developmental economist and is best remembered for his opposition to the widely-held notion that the most effective manner to help developing countries advance is through state-controlled foreign aid.  He was born in Budapest in 1915 and studied law there before embarking for England in 1934 to study Economics at Cambridge from where he graduated in 1937. After a brief period working for Guthrie & Co., a London-based merchant house that conducted business in the Far East, Bauer spent most of his career at the London School of Economics. He started teaching there in 1960 and retired in 1983 as Emeritus Professor of Economics. In 1983, with the support of his friend and admirer, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he was made a life peer as Baron Bauer of Market Ward in the City of Cambridge. Lord Bauer was also a fellow of the British Academy and a member of the Mont Pelerin Society of leading economists founded by his friend Friedrich Hayek.  In 1978, Bauer received an Honorary Doctoral Degree at Universidad Francisco Marroquin, one of the leading universities in Latin America, for his contribution to economics.  He died in London on 2 May 2002. (Summarised from Wikipedia)

Bauer shatters the misdirected attempts to promote Western guilt for Third World poverty.

“The West has not caused the relative poverty of the Third World,” Bauer writes. “The opposite is the case. The contacts established by the West have resulted in improved living conditions, longer life expectation and much wider choice for hundreds of millions of people in the Third World . . . . Indeed, millions of people, who would otherwise have died, survived because of Western techniques and ideas, notably medicine and public security which came with colonial rule.”  

Read a full review here:

http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/book-review-equality-the-third-world-and-economic-delusion-by-p-t-bauer/#ixzz2FLZZstdE

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BBC News 7 December 2012

Ian Smith's farm seized in Zimbabwe as Robert Mugabe eyes election

Ian Smith, 1976

Ian Smith, Rhodesia's prime minister from 1964 until 1979

"The farm of former white minority leader Ian Smith has been seized by Zimbabwe's government. 

Mr Smith led Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known, when its forces battled Robert Mugabe's guerrillas in the 1970s. Most white-owned land has been confiscated for redistribution to black farmers since 2000. Mr Smith's farm, known as Gwenoro, had been left alone.

The seizure came as Mr Mugabe addressed thousands of his supporters, ahead of elections expected in 2013. 

Zimbabwe's land-reform programme has been widely blamed for its economic collapse in recent years.

BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding says Gwenoro was perhaps the most symbolic of all Zimbabwe's white-owned farms. 

It was where Mr Smith bred cattle and lived for most of his adult life, even after he lost power in 1979.  His ashes were scattered there after he died in 2007.

The farm has been handed over to a local technical college - a move some are linking to next year's election.

Foreign firms targeted

Mr Mugabe, 88, is running for another term.

Our correspondent says land ownership remains a highly politicised, emotive issue, and seizing Mr Smith's farm may be seen as a vote-winner.

The AFP news agency also reports that Mr Mugabe on Friday told delegates to his party conference that he wanted to seize full control of foreign-owned companies.

His government has already passed an indigenisation law, which forced companies to cede 51% of shares to Zimbabweans.

"I think now we have done enough of 51%. Let it be 100%," he told thousands of Zanu-PF delegates.

The indigenisation policy is opposed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who will once more run against Mr Mugabe in the election.

The pair agreed to share power after disputes over the last election caused the economy to go into freefall."

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Gwenoro Farm is South West of Selukwe, find it on this map

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A sad news story: Harare a worse place to live than Tripoli! (but better than Lagos!!)

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According to the Economist Intelligence Unit global 'liveability' study August 2012

Best ten cities to live in:                            And the worst ten:

1. Melbourne, Australia                                        131. Abidjan, Ivory Coast

2. Vienna, Austria                                                 132. Tehran, Iran

3. Vancouver, Canada                                           133. Douala, Cameroon

4. Toronto, Canada                                                134. Tripoli, Libya

5. Calgary, Canada                                                135. Karachi, Pakistan

6. Adelaide, Australia                                            136. Algiers, Algeria

7. Sydney, Australia                                               137. Harare, Zimbabwe

8. Helsinki, Finland                                                138. Lagos, Nigeria

9. Perth, Australia                                                   139. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

10. Auckland, New Zealand                                   140. Dhaka, Bangladesh

The EIU first began ranking cities to test whether or not companies should pay staff a hardship allowance if they make employees relocate to a different country.

Its researchers look at how “tolerable” it is to live in a particular place given its crime levels, threat of conflict, quality of medical care, levels of censorship, temperature, schools and transport links.

In the latest rankings for 2012, Melbourne came top having overtaken Vancouver in Canada.

Australia’s second city is famed for its sporting events, although is perhaps still best known in Britain as the setting for the soap opera Neighbours.

According to the EIU Melbourne came close to recording a “perfect score” with a liveability rating of 97.5 per cent, losing points only for climate, culture and petty crime.

Like most of the cities at the top of the league, it is much less crowded than the long-established metropolis of London.

Australian cities continue to thrive in terms of liveability: Not only do they benefit from the natural advantages of low population density, but they have continued to improve with some high profile infrastructure investments.

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Rinderpest - Students of African history may be interested to know that in 2011 Rinderpest (cattle plague) finally joined smallpox as a major disease which has been wiped from the face of the planet. The major outbreak in the 1890s killed 80 to 90 percent of all cattle in Southern Africa and, together with the withdrawal of most of the BSAP for the “Jameson Raid”, was a major contributory cause of the native rising in Rhodesia in 1896. 

- see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rinderpest

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