As Zimbabwe Rhodesia remained a hot issue for Commonwealth leaders at the conference in Lusaka, on Thursday (2 August) the leader of the Patriotic Front, Joshua Nkomo, took journalists on a tour of one of his camps.
As Zimbabwe Rhodesia remained a hot issue for Commonwealth leaders at the conference in Lusaka, on Thursday (2 August) the leader of the Patriotic Front, Joshua Nkomo, took journalists on a tour of one of his camps. The Victory Camp is home for eight thousand people including five thousand school-age girls and many mothers and young children.
SYNOPSIS: Not far from the venue for the Commonwealth Summit lies Victory Camp. It's one of several camps that according to Patriotic Front leader Joshua Nkomo provides refugee for 75,000 Zimbabwe Rhodesian refugees and guerrillas based in Zambia. Many of those living here don't know what has become of their families after more than six years of war.
According to Mr. Nkomo, even if the situation changed tomorrow and his faction formed a government in Salisbury, the refugees would not be able to return to Zimbabwe Rhodesia for two or three years. He said that the first priority would be to rehabilitate people inside Zimbabwe Rhodesia. He alleged that hundreds of thousands of people there are living in so-called "protected villages" which, he says, are really concentration camps.
There are schools at the camps, but the future remains uncertain for most of these young people. Zambia already has high unemployment and frequent shortages of basic commodities. And the cost to Zambia of feeding the refugees is about ten thousand dollars a day. The camp inhabitants sing about their homeland for the visiting journalists.
Mr. Nkomo criticised Britain for failing to heed recommendations made by the Commonwealth. And Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark stressed that the Zimbabwe Rhodesia issue is still the crucial question at the conference.