Salisbury RHODESIA (Dec. 28, 1979) — Special to The Globe and Mail – The future of the Rhodesian ceasefire was in jeopardy yesterday with a warning from Patriotic Front guerrilla alliance co-leader Robert Mugabe that he might not take part in the operation and with the news that the commander of Mr. Mugabe’s forces, Gen. Josiah Tongorara, had been killed in a car crash in Mozambique.
The developments came as three British members of the Commonwealth ceasefire monitoring force died in the accidental crash of their helicopter about 90 miles northeast of the capital.
The crew of the Royal Air Force Puma died when their helicopter apparently hit a telegraph pole while flying to pick up water supply equipment for the ground forces.
In a broadcast from Mozambique, Mr. Mugabe charged that the British had reneged on the ceasefire agreement by failing to expel South African troops from Rhodesia.
What are they going to do? Mr. Mugabe asked in a broadcast on Radio Maputo. This is a question that Britain and the Government must answer before they can expect us to move to the rendezvous points and assembly areas (assigned to the guerrillas under terms of the ceasefire).
If they (the South Africans) remain in the country, we will reconsider our position, he warned.
Military sources say there are about 1,000 South African ground troops and pilots operating clandestinely in Rhodesia. The Pretoria Government repeatedly has denied such allegations.
British officials refuse to answer directly the question of whether the South Africans have been ordered to withdraw, saying only that they are confident there will be no foreign troops on Rhodesian soil when the ceasefire goes into effect at midnight tonight.
Political tension increased in Salisbury when the acting head of the Zimbabwe African National Union, Enos Nkala, said assassination squads were out to kill Patriotic Front leaders when they return from exile. Mr. Nkala said in his statement that killer squads backed by South Africa and former prime minister Bishop Abel Muzorewa were preparing to eliminate Mr. Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, leader of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union.
Mr. Nkala alleged that South African troops were being infiltrated into the country. He said after a discussion with deputy British governor Sir Anthony Duff: We raised the continued influx of South African troops into the country who are reported to change their uniforms once they cross (the border).