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Zimbabwe: Pfumo reVanhu

Last modified: 2022-10-22 by bruce berry
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[Pfumo reVanhu flag] image by Richard Allport, resized by Devereaux Cannon, 07 Feb 2002 See also:

Pfumo reVanhu

Pfumo reVanhu was an auxiliary force created by the Rhodesian Security Forces in the late 1970s during the guerilla war in that country. The growing lack of (white) manpower gave rise to the idea of creating an auxiliary force, or militia, composed of local Africans to guard their own areas and villages. Officially entitled "Security Force Auxiliaries", they soon became known by their Shona nickname, Pfumo reVahnu which means "Spear of the People". Initially the men were not even issued with a uniform but later they used a distinctive brown uniform and so it was that their flag was also brown. According to Richard Allport in Flags and Symbols of Rhodesia (published as SAVA Journal 5/96)  [aLL96], the flag was probably introduced in 1979 when the unit became more organised and had begun to achieve some semblance of a military unit. The badge of the unit was in the shape of a brown shield, outlined in white, with a black and white spade in the centre. The name Pfumo reVahnu was in large black letters below this. The Unit was disbanded following the independence of Zimbabwe in April 1980.
Bruce Berry, 8 September 1998

The statement that Pfumo reVanhu was an auxiliary force created in the late 1970s is correct. However, the force was made up of "returned" cadres from ZANU guerillas under the leadership of Bishop Abel Muzorewa and Ndabaningi Sithole as opposed to ZANU (PF) forces, known as ZANLA under the leadership of the now President, Robert Mugabe. This amalgamation of former guerillas and Rhodesian security forces began in late 1978 and 1979. They were not initially issued with a uniform. They basically "signed up" in what they had worn during the bush war, a mixture of East German rice fleck camo, miscellaneous military "bits and pieces" and the favourite - denim jeans and jackets. The Pfumo reVanhu uniform was predominently brown and green. The Pfumo reVanhu were armed with what they had used in the bush war, mainly SKS, AK47, RPD and with the usual gammut of rocket launchers both rifle launched and tube launchers, RPG2 etc. They were also issued with German G3 assault rifles by the Rhodesian Government after their formation. As for the flag, I have an unused one I collected as a souvenir at the conclusion of the war. Within the shield is actually an "assegai", a short stabbing spear (hence "Spear of the People") rather than a spade as described in your chapter.
Paul Garnett, 10 May 2001