Takunda Maodza, Harare Bureau
SOUTH Africa has returned Rhodesian Cabinet files and others State papers dating back to 1927 that Ian Douglas Smith took to that country following the collapse of his regime and these will be officially handed over to President Mnangagwa at State House tomorrow.
The repatriation of the important documents follow negotiations between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The Rhodesian regime collapsed following a protracted liberation war which gave birth to Zimbabwe in 1980.
The regime grudgingly accepted defeat to majority rule but did not heartily accept the hand of reconciliation extended to it by the new black Government.
The return of the documents is of interest to the country as they form a section of Zimbabwe’s history and will also be of use to researchers and history scholars.
Director Media Services in the Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, Dr Major Anywhere Mutambudzi, confirmed the repatriation of the Cabinet files and documents in an interview yesterday.
“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. These were State documents and reveal sensitive issues on the decision making processes by the Rhodesian system,” explained Dr Major Mutambudzi.
He said the release and repatriation of the documents followed negotiations.
“They were negotiations between the Government of Zimbabwe and the Government of South Africa and the documents have been repatriated home. On Wednesday they are going to be handed over to the President at State House,” said Dr Major Mutambudzi.
National Archives of Zimbabwe director Mr Irvine Murambiwa said the Cabinet files and some of the State papers repatriated covered periods as far back as 1927.
“The majority of the papers cover period 1964 to 1978 but there are also older papers going back as far as 1927,” he said.
Mr Murambiwa said it was the mandate of the national archives to safeguard such documents.
“As national archives our role is to keep archives of historical significance and so the period covered by the papers does not matter. The history of Zimbabwe goes back centuries ago. Even records created by the Portuguese in the 16th century are of interest because they form a part of our history. We keep these archives as evidence of our history.These are all essential archives which are of interest to researchers and scholars,” said Mr Murambiwa.