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).

By Lawrence Pintak

Lawrence Pintak is an award-winning journalist and scholar. He is a former CBS News Middle East correspondent and was founding dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University (2009-2016). He was named a Fellow of the Society by the Society of Professional Journalists in 2017 for "outstanding service to the profession of journalism" around the world. Pintak is a contributor to, The Daily Beast, and other outlets. Read his articles at His books include Reflections in a Bloodshot Lens: America, Islam & The War of Ideas; Islam for Journalists (co-editor); The New Arab Journalist; and Seeds of Hate: How America’s Flawed Middle East Policy Ignited the Jihad. He holds a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Wales, Trinity St. David. Follow him on Twitter @LPintak.

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