Another year, another committee and I am so pleased to advise that the same team plus a very welcome new member in Michelle Gilmour have been re-elected. It is great to have Don McLure who did such a good job as chairman in 1997 be re-elected as chairman for 1998 and it will be a pleasure to work with the other committee members - Doug Capper, John Durbin, Doug Lyon, Stewart Milne and Graham Blick. Michelle brings us both youth and feminity - we are all looking forward to a good year.
The AGM was well attended with approximately 35 members all enjoying drinks and snacks after the formalities.
And the committee are not wasting any time - For your diary 11.30am Braai at Mt Pleasant park on Sunday 19th April and an Irish night at Blarney Castle 16th May.
Other events planned for the year are the successful Wine in the Valley in October, a special dinner in November for our 20 year anniversary, a quiz night in June and maybe a twilight get together at the zoo - time of year and weather the considerations
The Lion & Tusk is the magazine of The Rhodesian Army Association For those interested Denis Hoyes has some complimentary copies (see ad's). Whatever happened to the rogues of the past - the Idi Amins. Though not Rhodesian, it is still of interest and obviously a reminder of the type of government we all knew would originate and for which what we fought against. This edition traces where Idi and his accomplices are today. My parents recently went back to Aberfoyle Tea Plantation in the Honde Valley where I took ill and Kenneth the now manager who knew me from many years ago asked them. How is the Baas? They were also warned a pride of lion were in the area, presumably wandered from Mozambique so to be careful on their walks. My heart is still in Africa. Clem Barratt - Editor
MDALAS REPORTTHE M'dalas meeting of February 19 created something of a record for recent years, with 55 members present.
The following visitors were also welcomed: Victor and Pat Baillie, George and Marion Harwood and John Durbin.
Details were given of a coach tour being planned to Mandurah on May 5. Lunch will be provided at the senior Citizens Centre in Mandurah, which will be followed by a concert.
This should be a good day out for only $20.
After dealing with various topics the Chairman then asked Victor Baillie to give a talk on the current situation in Zimbabwe. Victor operates an extensive farming operation near Bindura in the Mazoe Valley which includes 17 hectares under roses as well as a wide variety of other crops.
He does all this very successfully in spite of being severely disabled due to an injury received during the terrorist war.
Victor spoke at length on a wide variety of topics affecting the lives of all Zimbabweans, black and white. His talk was of great interest to members and much appreciated.
On February 26, 26 of the M'dalas went on an outing which started with a tour of Channel Nine studios.
This was very interesting but of course, highly technical. We were able to watch Tina Altieri at her desk preparing and reading the midday news bulletin.
She kindly came forward and spoke to our group afterwards. We then had an excellent lunch at Sizzlers which was followed by a visit to the Perth Mint in time to see the gold pour at 3pm.
Again, we had a conducted tour of the premises which was well presented.
We then had a pleasant drive through Kings Park and on to Wellington Street, concluding a very pleasant day enjoyed by all.
D.H. LYON, Chairman
Chairman's Report for year ending 31st December 1997The Rhodesian Association has been operating for 20 years in Australia and there are 280 registered members in Perth and surrounds.
There are a number of other Rhodesian Associations in Australia, but none appear to be as large as the Perth Branch, so we can be justifiably proud of the efforts by the preceeding Committees and all the support from the M'dalas and other members, to have kept the Association going for this length of time.
Needless to say the time and uncomplaining efforts by Doug and Jackie Capper have contributed in no small measure to the Association's success over the last 7 years. A big thanks to Doug and Jackie.
Hopefully the duties demanded of the Editor in collecting data, collating photographs and advertisements etc and ensuring that the regular edition of the Bundu Times is printed to the very high standard set from the outset, are appreciated by all of us in the Association.
Thanks very much Clem Barratt for your efforts during the past year, and I hope that you may be in a position to continue this very important function during the current year. For those in the Association who may be unaware of Clem's recent very unpleasant experience in Cape Town, during his recent visit to Zimbabwe and South Africa. He was attacked whilst travelling on a train near Stellenbosch. Clem was later hospitalised for an extended period in Harare with thrombosis. Clem has only praise for the Doctors and staff in Harare. Get well soon Clem.
Thanks also to John Durbin, Graham Blick and Stewart Milne for your efforts, they are much appreciated.
The M'dalas are, I believe the backbone of this Organisation, without whose support we would surely have floundered, so thanks heartily Doug Lyon and all his supporters. Sala Gashly!
It is very encouraging to notice that there are a large number of younger members who hailed from Zimbabwe faily recently and have been supporting our Ten Pin Bowling, Musical Quiz Night and Civic Threatre events and most of the Houghton Winery and King's Park BBQS. This augurs well for the continuity of the Rhodesian Association in the years to come.
To all the members of the Rhodesian Association, thanks for your valuable support, and please continue to do so, and may this year be a healthy and prosperous one for us all.
Don MacLure, Chairman of the Rhodesian Association
Treasurer's Report for year ending 31st December 1997As we settle into 1998, it is time to reflect on the health and wealth of the Association. Our membership is slowing dwindling but fortunately very slowly. New members who joined or re-joined number 14 for 1997. A welcome small influx. Our functions and activities are being attended by a fairly broad spectrum of members which is good. The welcome inclusion of photographs in the Bundu Times shows some of the mix that attend those functions.
Now, some analysis of our financial status. The 1997 subscription increase as predicted, has maintained our viability along with careful and prudent management and again the books have balanced. We ended the year with financial assets totalling $6527 but effectively adjusted less advanced membership subscriptions of $2,235. This resulted in our net asset value being $4292 ($58 less that for 1996). This puts us in a good position to see 1998 out.
Through the 1997 year, Bundu Times costs rose some $315 which reflected a small increase overall in postage, mainly due to several overseas members now joining. Interest on our fixed deposits and daily account remained constant. A minor income of $31 was realised by commission sales on books sold through the Association on behalf of writers. Of concern was a falling of advertisers revenue now down some $788 p.a., though we are owed some $200 which we should re-coup in 1998. The Committee was prudent in 1997 and kept functions on an even keel incurring relatively minor losses.
The Association always funds the yearly AGM and provides snacks for Pub nights and boerewors for the Christmas BBQ and odd other BBQs through the year so a loss of $572 down from the previous year ($589) and is quite manageable. So, all in all, our members should be satisfied with the financial state of the Association books. I thank Tom Lane for preparing the detailed income and expenditure statements once again.
As I end, I wish members to ponder our yearly drive to encourage volunteers to join the Association Committee, it is easy, enjoyable and is appreciated.
The main costs of the Association go into the production and distribution of the Bundu Times. This was mentioned before by our editor, but if you do know people who read the Bundu Times but are not members,again please encourage them to join.
Their subscriptions will ensure the continued production of our newsletter which I believe is popular and widely read. The Association must continue to flourish and stay alive.
D.V. Capper Treasurer of Rhodesian Association
M'dalas Report for the year ending 31st December 1997In presenting my report for the M'dalas I would say that we have had quite a busy year. Monthly meetings have continued on a regular basis at the Senior Citizens Centre at the railway station. It is difficult to suit everyone, and unfortunately 2 or 3 of our members find that they can no longer attend as often as they would like to. In spite of this the attendance at monthly meetings has averaged 45, which is quite satisfactory.
During the year we have sadly recorded the deaths of three of our members, namely James Spink, Fred Clifton-Parkes and Bill Tully. A recent update of the register of M'dalas shows a potential list of nearly 100 names. However at least one third of those do not participate in meetings or functions --- so the number of active members is decreasing. In this report I would appeal to all members of the Rhodesian Association who are retired or semi retired to please consider joining the M'dalas where you would be made most welcome. I have been unable to find a precise definition of a genuine M'dala --- someone replied that it was rather a grey area, which perhaps is quite appropriate! What does happen of course is, that as the subscription paid by M'dalas is slightly less, then the Association loses out on some revenue.
I would now like to give you a brief account of various outings which took place during the year. In March 43 of us went on a Coach Tour to Fremantle where we boarded a Captain Cook's Cruise boat for a cruise with lunch on board to Barrack St. jetty. There our coach met us and took us for an afternoon run to Hillarys. In May a coach tour took place to York where 27 members went along. We had morning tea at Mundaring Weir and then on to York where we had a view of the countryside from Mt. Brown lookout. This was followed by a picnic lunch in the park by the Avon River, and a wander round the town in the afternoon. September saw us heading off by Steam Train to Northam Show when 34 members took part and found it to be of good value at S20 each In October we had our annual visit to the Botanic Golf Gardens where a very pleasant relaxing day was enjoyed by 15 who went along. There have of course been many functions organised by the parent Association which have been supported by our M'dalas.
During the year we have had three speakers who were invited to talk on various subjects. The most interesting of all was Cyril Ayris, a journalist and writer, who entertained us with some very humorous accounts of his experiences. We have also been fortunate in having visitors from South Africa and Zimbabwe to keep us in the picture of the situation in those countries.
Our Christmas Lunch was held as usual at the Wentworth Plaza Hotel. A good meal o~ Christmas fare was provided and it was a happy festive occasion. We were pleased to have as our guests Doug and Jacky Capper who do so much for the Rhodesian Association.
I would like to thank all our M'dalas for their support during the year, especially those who have assumed specific duties at our meetings. In this regard I would single out Marian Dean, our treasurer who sits by the door making sure that everyone pays their dues. In conclusion I would also like to thank Chairman Don Maclure and his Committee for their encouragement and support, they always take an interest in the activities of the M'dalas. Mr. Chairman, this now concludes my report and if there are any questions I would be happy to answer them.
D.H.Lyon, Chairman of M'dala Group.
No Longer SecretTHIRTY-YEAR old, previously closed files from the archives of the Commonwealth Secreariat have now been made available to the public.
The decision means that scholars will have access to records from 1964-66, many classified as "secret" or "restricted".
They deal with the crisis over Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence and the responses of Commonwealth governments.
The documents include minutes of a specially convened Commonwealth Prime Ministers Meeting (CPMM) of January 1966 in Lagos to discuss Rhodesia and the September CPMM in London. The Lagos meeting was the first CPMM held outside Britain. (In 1971 the CPMM was replaced by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, or CHOGM.)
Announcing the release, the Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, said: "In order to ensure that an accurate history of the association is accessible to scholars, the Secretariat will, in consultation with member governments, continue to release Shared Commonwealth Records after 30 years."
Enquiries to the Commonwealth Secretariat 's Librarian, Tel: +44(0)171-7476164 Fax: +44(0)171-7476168
For Sale/Wanted$2 Classies
Copper wall plates 11" $9.50 each 1 x Kariba, 1 x Flame Lily, 1 x Baobab tree, Spode Wall Plate depicting completion of Kariba Dam. Limited edition $35. Pure Silver Ingot Medallions 55mm x 35 mm. Gift Boxed & inscribed with Rhodesian Flag, Flame Lily & Voices of Rhodesia. $45. Tel: 9399 4881
Any odd Willsgrove (speckled mustard colour) 8" and 10" dinner and 7" soup/pudding plates to replenish loved dinner set. Contact Rose Webster on 93323425
THE LION & TUSKDenis Hoyes advises any interested Rhodies that the Rhodesian Army Association (RAA) have sent him a supply of free copies of the February 1998 issue of the Lion & Tusk - The Rhodesian Association Magazine.
Although ex BSAP himself Denis has for many years been an honarary member of the RAA and presumes this is why he has been chosen as a conduit for the magazine.
Please contact him by phone (08) 95721621 or fax (08)957256721 and he will gladly post you a copy, obviously the hope is that the recipient may choose to become a subscriber at some future time.
WORLD HERITAGE LISTINGZIMBABWE's Matopo Hills and the Ziwa settlements in Manicaland have been nominated for listing as world heritage sites. If listed, they will benefit from monies in the world heritage fund, set up to help preserve and promote endangered sites. Khoi paintings in the Matopos, where Cecil John Rhodes and several Ndebele chiefs are buried, are deteriorating. The Ziwa site has ruins from pre-colonial Manyika settlers.
OBITIARYWILLIAM (BILL) STEVENSON COCK
1925 - 1997
Bill taught at Prince Edward school from 1951 to 1982 as a geography teacher. He was a house master of Selous and was deputy head when he retired to Johannesburg. He was murdered by burglars on 8th August 1997 . Two memorial services were given , one in Johannesburg and one in the Prince Edward school chapel where the eulogy was read by Alex Simers.
Mugabe forced to back down on land seizureINTERNATIONAL pressure has forced the Zimbabwean government to agree to pay compensation for farms taken from whites for redistribution to blacks, the Financial Gazette newspaper said.
The newspaper quoted Agriculture Minister Kumbirai Kangai as saying that for fully developed land "full compensation deemed fair by the evaluators will be paid."
President Robert Mugabe had insisted that the government would pay only for improvements on farms and not for the land itself, which he says was stolen by British colonisers a hundred years ago.
Kangai's comments are the first official confirmation published locally of what has been known in diplomatic circles since January, when the cash-strapped government negotiated aid from the European Union.
Diplomats said then that the government had promised that its land reforms would not breach the constitution - meaning that it would have to pay fair compensation.
The government is now negotiating 176 million dollars in vital balance-of-payments support from the International Monetary Fund - which is believed to be insisting on the same condition.
Informed sources say Mugabe's extreme reluctance to accept the condition has brought him into conflict with members of his cabinet.
In an apparent effort to blur the edges of what is a major U-turn in government policy, Kangai told the Gazette that land classified as derelict would not be paid for.
"But for land which is fully developed - that is, where cultivation has been taking place and where there was infrastructural development - full compensation deemed fair by the evaluators will be paid.
"In this instance, the distinction between payment for the actual land and the developments becomes academic. The totality of the value of the whole land will be taken into consideration."
The government late last year released a list of some 1500 farms which it plans to take over, but agricultural sources said that more than 600 of the farms had recently been dropped from the list for various reasons.
This has not yet been confirmed by the government.
The need for land reform in Zimbabwe, where some 4000 white farmers own 30 percent of the land, is accepted by international donors and even by the white farmers' union, but they have objected to Mugabe's methods.
Dictator's 'white rat' now a Wimbledon wobblyGILES FODEN reports on Idi Amin's right-hand man, Englishman Bob Astles, considered by some to be more dangerous than Amin himself. Astles now lives in a rundown house in Wimbledon with companion Betty, a raucous cockatoo and a tame magpie called Scruffy.
IT HAD taken me a long time to track down Idi Amin's so-called right-hand man. When - after a series of phone calls to mysterious people - I did, the experience turned out to be a strange one, spooky even.
Now 74, Bob Astles was perceived by many as one of Idi Amin's closest advisers during the Ugandan dictator's blood-drenched, eight-year regime (1971-79). But Astles also suffered the cruel whims of "that man" as he calls him, serving prison terms under his orders.
Yet afterwards he kept in contact with the self-styled "Conqueror of the British Empire" and "Last King of Scotland".
When an invasion by neighbouring Tanzania toppled Amin in 1979, Astles found himself in prison again, this time on account of his alleged association with Amin's security apparatus.
He was charged with everything from murder and corruption to theft of a bag of nails and of women's underwear from washing lines. After serving six and a half years, he returned to Britain in 1985. Amin, in exile in Saudi Arabia, still rings him occasionally.
I had spent several years writing a novel about a fictional Amin sidekick, and in the course of research learned a lot about the public face of "Major" Bob (Amin gave him the title): the man who journalists loved to accuse of being Amin's "White Rat", the "second most hated man in Uganda".
But the fact is, Astles was acquitted of the murder and the other charges which nevertheless kept him in Kampala's Luzira Prison, and he continues to deny the accusations against him.
As Astles maintains, from his dilapidated Wimbledon home in his first interview in 12 years, "There was never anything - zero, zero. The court were talking about days when I wasn't even in the government; they starved me down to less than eight stones, but I wouldn't die."
He refutes in detail every charge, saying he has been made a scapegoat. It is certainly true that the prosecution was a legal farrago and no case was proven. But it is also clear that Astles was much closer to Amin than he cares to admit today.
"I lived in limbo, I was nowhere," he tells me, countering suggestions that he was central to Amin's terror network. In the end, despite his acquittals, he remained in detention.
Astles still has the pepper-and-salt moustache of the Amin days. Many considered him a malign influence on the dictator; others thought he was a moderating presence. He also retains the love of birds, animals and boats that led him to establish an island sanctuary on Lake Victoria.
As we talk in his chintzy lounge, surrounded by African masks, spears and books on Uganda, I realise there is a slight smell. I surmise it must emanate from the living room's main feature: a giant cockatoo.
After Astles's charming companion, Betty Julius, has brought us steak-and-kidney pie and potatoes to eat off trays, another bird appears: a magpie called Scruffy. Astles raised it from a chick after a cat injured its wing. It hops about before settling on Bob's shoulder - a black familiar, I fancy, as the man himself was thought to be Amin's white one.
I watch Scruffy flutter off to Astles's computer and peck at the keyboard: the former Amin aide now runs the Africa section of an Internet discussion group on the Compuserve service.
It is called "Global Crisis Forum" and, Astles says, "goes straight to top people in Washington.
Born in Ashford, Kent, in 1924, Robert Astles was a sergeant in the Royal Engineers. After the second world war, having learned to fly, he settled in Uganda when he was 30, securing a job as a building contractor's foreman.
Working-class - his accent now crosses Kent with African English - he didn't fit in with the posh colonial set, and instead became friendly with Ugandans.
His first wife, Monica - who had come with him from Kent and divorced him in 1959 - has spoken of his liaisons: "He was only a road gang foreman, yet he got the King of Toro to come to dinner." (In the year of his divorce, he married a Ugandan aristocrat, Mary Ssen-katukka; they are now separated.)
As independence approached in 1962, Astles became involved with a number of political groups. One of these was led by Milton Obote, Uganda's first president. Astles worked in his government until the 1971 coup, when he transferred his allegiance to Amin.
Over the next eight years Astles flitted in and out of Amin's service, while running a 50-acre lakeside pineapple farm to which he was often, as he puts it, "rusticated" by the dictator.
He also presided over an aviation service flying members of the government about ("I kept my eyes shut, I said nothing about what I saw, which is what they liked"), and over a squad of anti-corruption boats on Lake Victoria, chasing coffee smugglers. As Astles tells one of his many stories, the magpie craps on his cuff. He affects not to notice. I wonder if it was through that kind of not noticing, or willing self-deception, that he felt able to stay by Amin's side.
If so, he must have a will of iron. Under Amin, he was once held in the notorious Makindye Prison on a spurious charge. "I have nightmares about it, every night. Can't get rid of 'em - I went through the worst in Makindye when only two of us came out alive - so I've got that all the time."
He has a habit of covering his eyes or forehead with his hand when he is recalling unpleasant things, as if the memory is too much to bear. "They brought a man in. He was deputy commissioner of police and his bones were all sticking out and we tried to, um, repair him but they . . ." He makes pushing motions about his shins and forearms, mimicking putting the bones back, then makes the cutting sign across his throat.
He goes into gruelling detail. "The prisoners, they used to pierce them here, through the Achilles tendon, so they couldn't walk," he says, getting down on the carpet and jumping forward clumsily on his knees. "Others had to carry these prisoners when they went to be executed. I had a melodeon smuggled into me and before they went to be killed, I would play Onward Christian Soldiers and so on and we would have a church service."
Asked again why he persisted in Uganda, if he was an enemy of Amin, Astles claims: "It was because of my Africans, my staff, I had a lot of people who were relying on me." He put himself through the fire to stay there, at one point cutting three tribal scars into his cheeks in an attempt to persuade Amin he had been captured by smugglers: "I had to replace them each Sunday, with a hot wire. My wife said, why do we have to go through this horror?"
The key to Astles, why he put up with the horror, is the lure of danger and the satisfaction of a job well done - whatever it is. "Bob had to have excitement and adventure," Monica has said.
"His mind was always on the political intrigue." The risk of being associated with a regime that murdered thousands isn't one that he seems to have considered over much. There is something curiously disengaged about him altogether, as if he can't conceive of a moral dimension to practical activity. "I loved it," he recalls, "and when my minister asked me to do something, I'd do it . . . And I'd do it all again. Definitely."
What he did or did not do remains murky - even, I suspect, in his own mind, which shows clear signs of mental distress. "Of course," he says, "you don't know if I've told you the truth. Check it, check everything."
Scruffy perches on top of Astles's balding head and starts pecking it, and I think, I've got about as much chance of getting in there as that bird has.
Then Astles points to a package wrapped in string and manila paper under the table. "It's all in there, Betty will publish my book when I'm gone."
The cockatoo makes a hideous sound. I think of the prisons of Uganda, and that it is time to go. As he walks me to my car, Astles gives me a slight, hurt smile. In his ravaged face and distant eyes is the expression of a man craving rehabilitation.
Giles Foden's novel about Idi Amin, The Last King Of Scotland, was due to be published by Faber and Faber on March 16. - The Guardian
Saudis exile Idi Amin after gunrunning reportsIDI AMIN is a name few of us will forget. During the 1970s, when the war was at its height, Rhodesians only had to point north to Uganda for a reason to why they were fighting.
The brutal dictator took Uganda from a prosperous, vibrant nation to a blood-soaked wasteland.
He was reviled around the world and his name became synonymous with evil.
But he did have friends. One, Saudi Arabia's now-dead King Faisal, offered him refuge when he was eventually ousted in 1979 and since then, he has lived a life of ease.
But things are changing. Amin was recently banished to the spartan and isolated holy city of Mecca after contradictory reports that he organised arms shipments to northern Uganda, writes GILES FODEN of the Guardian newspaper in Britain. Foden reports that Amin allegedly was discovered organising a shipment of arms to northern Uganda.
The Saudis, who gave him refuge after he was toppled by a Tanzanian invasion in 1979, are thought to have limited his movements to the isolated holy city of Mecca.
A Jeddah-based source told the Ugandan Monitor newspaper that Amin had approached an Italian shipping company, Messina and Co.
"He told the shippers that he wanted them to send an urgent consignment to his friends in northern Uganda," the source is quoted as saying.
But the company is thought to have become suspicious and backed out of the deal.
It is unclear how Amin, who has been living on a monthly stipend of 5 000 riyals (about US$1400) from the Saudi government, would have been able to buy arms. Amin found refuge in Saudi Arabia as a consequence of his friendship with the now deceased King Faisal, one of a number of Arab leaders - including Libya's Colonel Gaddafy - who gave him financial and military support.
But Amin's presence is thought to be an embarrassment to King Fahd, who is bound to honour his predecessor's offer of hospitality.
In cosmopolitan Jeddah, Amin led a comfortable life, complete with a swimming pool and a Chevrolet Caprice car.
His exile to Mecca - a spartan and devout city - can only be seen as a punishment.