The peak of the liberation struggle between 1976 and 1980 saw the white settler regime devising various means to separate the freedom fighters from the masses.

After realising that the people of the then Southern Rhodesia were serious about reclaiming their motherland as was clearly shown by their relationship with the freedom fighters, the Smith regime resorted to the divide and rule tactic by establishing protected villages also known as ‘keeps.’

Though first protected villages were established in Mashonaland Central, they were later decentralised to the south eastern parts of the country. ZBC News visited the Save area in Chiredzi East where there were a number of these protected villages because of the area’s location which is adjacent to Mozambique and South Africa where freedom fighters were gaining support and training.

According to Gogo Serina Fumani, though the Rhodesian forces claimed they were providing them with food, protected villages were like jails.

“We did not have freedom of movement at all, we actually suffered economic loss and many died due to diseases like typhoid and cholera,” she said.

War veteran, Cde Jeremiah Masiya said the purpose of protected villages was to deny freedom fighters material supplies, food and intelligence information and all those cruel measures did not succeed given the ‘fish and water’ bond that was between the masses and freedom fighters.

Despite the establishment of these protected villages, the rural folk did not abandon freedom fighters as some would sneak out to assist the ‘boys’ or even join the war and they have maintained that loyalty such that even today, many of them have not abandoned the revolutionary Zanu PF party, whose values brought about the independence they enjoy today.

with a few days before the nation commemorates its 39th independence anniversary, the new dispensation is calling for people work together if the country is to achieve economic independence.