British officials announced today that Rhodesian security forces and their former guerrilla enemies are getting along so well that all British Commonwealth monitoring forces will be taken off duty in the next three days.
It was not clear whether the British forces would be sent back to Britain or remain in the country.
In addition, more than 22,000 troops loyal to Bishop Abel Muzorewa, who was soundly defeated in the three-day election last week, have not disputed the election verdict.
[The Associated Press reported that Mugabe has agreed to form a coalition with Joshua Nkomo, his guerrilla ally and election rival, and decided "in principle" that Nkomo will be titular head of Rhodesia, one of his aides said. There were no reports on whether Nkomo accepted the offer.]
Robert Mugabe's electoral triumph was no ushered in the immediate chaos or the flight of whites as many had predicted. Instead, there are many hopeful signs that the transition to black majority rule under the socialist-inclined leader is going to work better than had been expected.
Tensions are down. When a reporter asked Mugabe's press spokesman, Eddison Zvobgo, about the volatile issue of South African soldiers serving in the Rhodesian Army, he calmly replied, "I don't think it's a contentious issue anymore. Those people who are not Zimbabweans [Rhodesians], if we don't want them here, they will go." Mention of the South Africans has drawn blistering attacks from Zvobgo in the past.
Reaction to Mugabe's landslide win in the white officer corps of the Rhodesian military was characterized as "stodgy" by one of its members. Although nearly 100 of approximately 600 white officers gave notice weeks ago of their intention to resign on April 30, there have not been immediate mass resignations since the election results were announced Tuesday morning.
British sources quoted by the Manchester Guardian correspondent in Salisbury said the Selous Scouts regiment that became notorious during the guerrilla war was expected to be dissolved by the end of the month.
[The mostly black Selous Scouts were accused of atrocities against civilians as well as ruthlessness against the guerrillas. The British sources said dissolution of the scouts was being left up to the Rhodesian commanders.]
The white population has not made any move to reverse the immigration that brought their colonial forefathers to this country 90 years ago by now clogging the highways to South Africa.
Instead, whites outwardly have adopted a cooperative attitude. Zvobgo told reporters the white-dominated civil service has been helpful in giving his party all the information it needs to study the restructuring of government departments.
But skepticism remains just beneath the surface.
"Most of us still don't trust Mugabe one inch. We think that after he gets Western aid and has a strong Army, in a year or two, he'll get on with his Marxist programs" said one white military officer.
This is perhaps why precautionary preparations are being made. The South African embassy has had a large number of calls from Rhodesians asking how to get immigrant status. Telephones of furniture moving companies have jangled incessantly for the past two days. Even the South Africans in Salisbury took a precautionary step. Valuable items such as paintings, china and furniture from their diplomatic residence were seen being moved into unmarked vans for the trip down to South Africa just before the last week's election began.
Most whites say the televised speech Mugabe made Tuesday night, assuring them their pensions and property would be protected, has been a main factor in their surface calm.
Other attribute it to ingrained Rhodesian doggedness. "For so many years, we've been told 'That's it. If that happens, we'll have to leave.' But when 'it' happens, we stay," said one white woman.
There are even some "overadapters" at Rhodesia's white-run government television station. Viewers of Tuesday's nightly news heard the white anchorwoman refer to the country's new leader as "Comrade Robert Mugabe" throughout the newscast.
The overzealousness was soon corrected, however, and a station spokesman said he now would be called "Mr. Mugabe" in newscasts.
But comradely talk has caught on. When a young black woman took her sick infant to a white doctor the "day after Mugabe's victory was announced, he opened the consultation with, "What's wrong with Comrade Nyareduzu?"
Later, at the pharmacy, the druggist seemed perplexed by the prescription from the same doctor unitl he deciphered the doctor's scribble. The medicine was for "Commrade Nyareduzu."
Words apart, the tremendous avalanche of support for Mugabe has brought about some swift attitude changes as well. The people have asked Mugabe to move quickly to end emergency legislation and martial law that has put hundreds of blacks behind bars on flimsy evidence for charges such as "assisting terrorists," "concealing the presence of terrorists" and stealing livestock.
Zvobgo announced today the curfew and martial law would soon be lifted.