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A Brutal State of Affairs analyses the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe and challenges Rhodesian mythology. The story of the BSAP, where white and black officers were forced into a situation not of their own making, is critically examined. The liberation war in Rhodesia might never have happened but for the ascendency of the Rhodesian Front, prevailing racist attitudes, and the rise of white nationalists who thought their cause just. Blinded by nationalist fervour and the reassuring words of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and army commanders, the Smith government disregarded the advice of its intelligence services to reach a settlement before it was too late.

By 1979, the Rhodesians were staring into the abyss, and the war was drawing to a close. Salisbury was virtually encircled, and guerrilla numbers continued to grow. A Brutal State of Affairs examines the Rhodesian legacy, the remarkable parallels of history, and suggests that Smith’s Rhodesian template for rule has, in many instances, been assiduously applied by Mugabe and his successors.

Paperback, 424 pages


Henrik Ellert

Henrik Ellert was born in Denmark but grew up in Kenya during the Mau Mau emergency. He came to Zimbabwe in 1961 and joined the police force in 1964, initially serving two years in the uniformed branch and stationed in Shabani and Hartley, where he gained his first experience with the nationalist guerrilla insurgency after the killing of the Viljoens by ZANLA in 1966. He later transferred to the CID being stationed in Gweru and shortly after joined Special Branch posted to the Chirundu border post where he was involved in Operation Couldron and Griffin and intel collection from Zambia. Returning to the Provincial Special Branch Office, Salisbury and Mashonaland, he was first responsible for border control at Salisbury airport and later on the European desk, rising to head of the section where his work brought him into contact with a wide spectrum of society. Throughout the 1970s he was periodically stationed at JOC Hurricane and, after completing Portuguese language studies, undertook liaison duties with Portuguese authorities in Beira, Tete, Chitima and Mukumbura. In 1978 he was seconded to special duties as UANC liaison on Operation Favour before being transferred as Member-in-Charge of CID/Special Branch Que Que with responsibilities during Operation Grapple and Operation Favour. He retired with the rank of Detective Inspector in 1979.

Dennis Malcolm Anderson

Dennis Malcolm Anderson was born in London in 1930. Having moved to Rhodesia, he attested in the BSAP on 28 October 1956 and initially served in the uniformed branch at Rhodesville, Salisbury, later joining the CID and then Special Branch, where he became closely associated with nationalist leaders during the course of political rallies in the 1960s. For the first time he came into contact with educated black people, not 'domestic servants' or 'garden boys', interaction that very few Rhodesians or even his colleagues experienced. He subsequently served in Manicaland province where politically inspired crime became a daily event. In 1967 he was promoted to Detective Inspector and transferred to Salisbury. In the September 1971 he was posted to Marandellas as Member-in-Charge of the CID and Special Branch station. Promoted to Superintendent he was transferred to Salisbury but after a short posting he was transferred to Umtali where he was engaged in counterinsurgency operations with the infiltration of ZANLA into the Chipinga district as the Special Branch JOC officer; he was also the JOC officer on Operation Thrasher. In 1976 he was transferred to Special Branch HQ and posted to the Terrorist desk with Superintendent Pelissier preparing monthly analysis on the war for the Director-General. In 1977 he was transferred to Operation Hurricane as the SB JOC Officer. His final posting prior to retirement in 1979 was to COMOPS.

Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
William Evans
Same Old Attempt at Justification

Always interested to read different perspectives and the backgrounds of the authors intrigued me.

But was disappointed by this book. As well as not really containing anything new it came across as an attempt to justify Ken Flower’s role in the closing years of the war. His daughter provided plenty of source material.

It starts off with a short history of Rhodesians and in my opinion took great joy in running them down as beer swilling, rugby playing meat heads. It ends with comments about Rhodesian pioneer families being elitist etc (as if they had nothing to be proud of).

In between the book attempts to paint the Rhodesian Front as a far right fascist government but is remarkably forgiving/ says very little of the Russians and Chinese.

The most interesting part of the book are the sections dealing with Mozambique and Renamo but the authors don’t really explain why Renamo was not used as a bargaining chip before or during Lancaster house.

Oddly, there are several references to Judith Todd, the inference being that she had it right all along and then a throw away line about her being ‘attacked’ by one of Mugabe’s generals during the genocide of the Matabele.

Says quite a lot about the book.

Andrew Field – former Detective Inspector
Great Read

In the aftermath of World War II and the era of decolonization, the future of Rhodesia, and it is fair to say South Africa, was equally determined by demographic imperatives. With UDI, the clock starting ticking ever faster. Honestly, what chance did the Rhodesians have when their population was a mere 3-4% of the total (at its height) in the early 1970s? Was there ever going to be another outcome, bearing in mind the collapse of white rule in South Africa just fifteen years on? Ellert and Anderson’s book seems to fill the vacuum here, and serves well to broaden the perspective of where Rhodesians were. It may help understand why Zimbabwe is as it is today.

A Very Readable Book!

Through their dedication and in-depth knowledge, Henrik Ellert and Dennis Anderson both very competent Special Branch operators have put together a very readable book which sets out the course of history, not only covering Rhodesia, but the adjoining countries of Mozambique, Botswana, and Zambia.
This is not an “I” book, but based on facts, some aspects disturbing, others showing immense intelligence gathering ingenuity. In many ways the book portrays that from the time of the British South Africa Company in the 1890’s up to Independence the protection of the white community was high on the agenda, with a fatherly approach to the African Community.
The book also reveals that there was a section of the white community who had vision and wanted a broader political agenda, but were suppressed by the ever-powerful Rhodesia Front – just like the clamoring for a new vision is being thwarted by the ZANU-PF government today.


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