Operation Quartz

With the ending of the war and an uneasy peace coming before fully democratic elections were held, the Rhodesian security apparatus - presumably working alongside their South African counterparts - planned Operation Quartz, which would have seen a combined assault on the guerrilla assembly points and targeted attacks on Mugabe and other guerrilla leaders, the previous attempts having failed. Some interpretations of Quartz are based on the assumption that it would have essentially formed an attempted counter-coup, had Mugabe failed in the election and his forces had sought to come to power in Zimbabwe through force. This seems to be part of the standard pro-Rhodesian account of the struggle - that the Rhodesian security forces were apparently victorious in all military encounters, and were defeated only at the negotiating table. As such, Quartz would only have been attempted had the expected political victory - a presumed coalition of Muzorewa and Nkomo - been subverted by Mugabe and ZANU units restarting the action in urban areas,

However, a more balanced assumption would be that the Zimbabwe-Rhodesian government was well aware that Mugabe was likely to win a political victory, and an attack on the assembly points, which were supposed to be housing the guerillas, would be the simplest way to reduce their numbers en masse. Quartz would have taken two main parts - Op Quartz (the assault on the assembly points) and Op Hectic (a covert strike against Mugabe and other ZANU leaders - this is where the Rhodesian T55s, newly acquired from South Africa following their seizure from a ship of weaponry from Libya, bound for Uganda would have come in. With South African and Rhodesian adaptations to make them more suitable for the conditions, a combined attack using the Rhodesian SAS and armoured cars would have used shell fire to destroy the walls, before ramming what was left to force their way in). With both ZANU  and ZAPU mistrusting the elections, many 'mujibas' were sent into the assembly points to take their places, and Walls later claimed that any military response would not have lasted 48 hours, and would also presumably have led to widespread killing of white civilians in rural areas. 


The T55 in Gweru is one of those intended for use in Quartz
 

Trace