Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence
|Unilateral Declaration of Independence|
A photograph of the proclamation document
|Ratified||11 November 1965|
|Location||Salisbury, Rhodesia[n 1]|
|Author(s)||Gerald B. Clarke et al.|
|Purpose||To announce and explain unilateral separation from the United Kingdom|
|Read online||Unilateral Declaration of Independence at Wikisource|
The Unilateral Declaration of Independence (commonly referred to as UDI) was a statement adopted by the Cabinet of Rhodesia on 11 November 1965, announcing that Rhodesia,[n 1] a British colony in southern Africa that had governed itself since 1923, regarded itself as an independent sovereign state. The culmination of a protracted dispute between the British and Rhodesian governments regarding the terms under which the latter could become fully independent, it was first unilateral break from the United Kingdom since the U.S. declaration of 1776. Britain, the Commonwealth and the United Nations all deemed Rhodesia's UDI illegal, and economic sanctions, the first in the UN's history, were imposed on the breakaway colony. Amid near-complete international isolation, Rhodesia continued as an unrecognised state with the assistance of South Africa and Portugal.
The Rhodesian government, which mostly comprised members of the country's white minority, felt scandalised when, amid decolonisation and the Wind of Change, less developed African colonies to the north without comparable experience of self-rule quickly advanced to independence during the early 1960s while Rhodesia was refused sovereignty under Britain's new "no independence before majority rule" policy. Rhodesian whites felt that they were due independence following four decades' self-government, and that Britain was betraying them by withholding it. This combined with the colonial government's extreme reluctance to hand over power to black nationalists—the manifestation of racial tensions, Cold War anti-communism and the fear that a dystopian Congo-style situation might result—to create the impression that if Britain did not grant independence, Rhodesia might be justified in taking it unilaterally.
Stalemate developed between the British and Rhodesian Prime Ministers, Harold Wilson and Ian Smith respectively, between 1964 and 1965. Dispute largely surrounded the British condition that the terms for independence had to be acceptable "to the people of the country as a whole"; Smith contended that this was met, while Britain and black nationalist leaders in Rhodesia said that it was not. After Wilson proposed in late October 1965 that Britain might safeguard future black representation in the Rhodesian parliament by withdrawing some of the colonial government's devolved powers, then presented terms for an investigatory Royal Commission that the Rhodesians found unacceptable, Smith and his Cabinet declared independence. Calling this treasonous, British colonial Governor Sir Humphrey Gibbs formally dismissed Smith and the government, but they ignored him and appointed an "Officer Administering the Government" to take his place.
While no country recognised UDI, the Rhodesian High Court deemed the post-UDI government legal and de jure in 1968. The Smith administration initially professed continued loyalty to the Queen, but abandoned this in 1970 when it declared a republic in an unsuccessful attempt to win foreign recognition. The Rhodesian Bush War, a guerrilla conflict between the government and two rival black nationalist groups, began in earnest two years later, and after several attempts to end the conflict Smith agreed the Internal Settlement with moderate nationalists in 1978. Under these terms the country was reconstituted under black rule as Zimbabwe Rhodesia in June 1979, but this new order was rejected by the guerrillas and the international community. The Bush War continued until Zimbabwe Rhodesia revoked UDI as part of the Lancaster House Agreement in December 1979. Following a brief period of direct British rule, the UK granted independence to Zimbabwe in 1980.
Constitutional background and status
The southern African territory of Rhodesia, officially Southern Rhodesia,[n 1] was a unique case in the British Empire and Commonwealth—though a colony in name, it was internally self-governing and constitutionally not unlike a Dominion. This situation dated back to 1923, when it was granted responsible government within the Empire as a self-governing colony, following three decades of administration and development by the British South Africa Company, and empowered to run its own affairs in almost all respects, including defence.[n 2] Whitehall's powers over Southern Rhodesia under the 1923 constitution were, in theory, considerable—the British Crown was theoretically able to cancel any passed bill within a year, or alter the constitution however it wished—but none of this was ever exercised. As the South African constitutional lawyer Claire Palley comments, it would have been extremely difficult for Whitehall to enforce actions of this kind, and attempting to do so would have probably caused a crisis. In the event, a generally cooperative relationship developed between the metropole and the colonial government and civil service in Salisbury, and dispute was rare.
The 1923 constitution was drawn up in non-racial terms, and the electoral system it devised was similarly open, at least in theory. Qualifications for suffrage regarding personal income, education and property were applied equally to all, regardless of race, but since most blacks did not meet the set standards, both the electoral poll and the colonial parliament were overwhelmingly white. The result was that indigenous black interests were sparsely represented if at all. Bills such as the Land Apportionment Act of 1930, which earmarked about half of the country for white development while dividing the rest into black purchase, tribal trust and national areas, are often described as racially discriminatory, and far more precedence was given to the education of whites that that of their black compatriots. That said, political, social and economic segregation in the colony did not approach the rigidness or extent of South African apartheid, and a small minority of urbanised blacks gradually developed and took part in mainstream politics.
In the wider Imperial context, Southern Rhodesia was considered a sui generis case because of the "special quasi-independent status" it held; the Dominions Office, formed in 1925 to handle British relations with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa and the Irish Free State, also included Southern Rhodesia under its purview. From 1930, Imperial Conferences included the Southern Rhodesian Prime Minister alongside those of the Dominions, a unique arrangement which continued following the advent of Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conferences in 1944. Southern Rhodesians of all races fought for Britain during the Second World War, and the colonial government gradually received more autonomy regarding external affairs. Political opinion in the colony during the immediate post-war years was generally that they were as good as independent as they were, and that full autonomy in the form of Dominionship would make little practical difference for them.
Federation and Wind of Change
Believing full Dominion status to be effectively symbolic and "there for the asking", Prime Minister Godfrey Huggins (in office from 1933 to 1953) twice refused British offers of Dominion status, and instead pursued an initially semi-independent Federation with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, two colonies directly administered from London. This Federation, defined in its constitution as indissoluble, began in 1953, mandated by the results of a referendum, with Southern Rhodesia, the most developed of the three territories, at its head, and Salisbury as Federal capital. Southern Rhodesian politicians from various parties later claimed that had the Federation not occurred, Southern Rhodesia would have been a Dominion by 1955.
Coming at the start of the decolonisation period, the Federation of self-governing Southern Rhodesia with two directly ruled British protectorates was later described by the British historian Robert Blake as "an aberration of history—a curious deviation from the inevitable course of events". Huggins, who was made the first Federal Prime Minister, intended for the Federation to bring the three territories together towards independence as one nation, but the project faced black opposition from the start, and ultimately failed because of the shifting international attitudes and rising black nationalist ambitions of the late 1950s and early 1960s, often collectively called the Wind of Change. Britain, France and Belgium vastly accelerated their withdrawal from Africa during this period, believing colonial rule to be no longer sustainable geopolitically or ethically. Britain adopted a policy of "no independence before majority rule". When Huggins (who had been recently ennobled as Lord Malvern) asked Britain to make the Federation a Dominion in 1956, he was rebuffed. The opposition Dominion Party responded by repeatedly calling for a Federal unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) over the next few years. Following Lord Malvern's retirement in late 1956, his successor Roy Welensky pondered such a move three times, but always backed down.
Attempting to advance the case for separate Southern Rhodesian independence, particularly in the event of Federal dissolution, Southern Rhodesian Prime Minister Edgar Whitehead brokered the 1961 constitution with Britain, which he thought would remove all British powers of reservation over Southern Rhodesian bills and acts, and put the country on the brink of full Dominionship. Despite containing no independence guarantees, Whitehead, Welensky and other proponents of this constitution presented it to the Southern Rhodesian electorate as the "independence constitution" under which Southern Rhodesia would become a Commonwealth realm on a par with Australia, Canada and New Zealand if the Federation dissolved. White dissenters included Ian Smith, MP for Gwanda and Chief Whip for the governing United Federal Party (UFP) in the Federal Assembly, who took exception to the constitution's omission of an explicit promise of Southern Rhodesian independence in the event of Federal dissolution, and ultimately resigned his post in protest. A referendum of the mostly white electorate approved the new constitution by a majority of 65% on 26 July 1961. The final version of the constitution included a few extra provisions inserted by the British, one of which—Section 111—reserved full powers to the Crown to amend, add to or revoke certain sections of the Southern Rhodesian constitution by Order in Council at the request of the British government. This effectively negated the relinquishment of British powers described elsewhere in the document, but the Southern Rhodesians did not initially notice it.
The black nationalist movement in Southern Rhodesia was repeatedly banned by the colonial government because of the political violence, industrial sabotage and intimidation of potential black voters that characterised its campaign. The principal nationalist group, led by Bulawayo trade unionist Joshua Nkomo, renamed itself with each post-ban reorganisation, and by the start of 1962 was called the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU).[n 3] Attempting to win black political support, Whitehead proposed a number of reforms to racially discriminatory legislation, including the Land Apportionment Act, and promised to implement these if his UFP won the next Southern Rhodesian election. But intimidation by ZAPU of prospective black voters impeded the UFP's efforts to win their support, and much of the white community saw Whitehead as too radical and soft on what they saw as black extremism. In the December 1962 Southern Rhodesian election, the UFP was defeated by the Rhodesian Front (RF), a newly-formed alliance of conservative voices headed by Winston Field and Ian Smith. Field became Prime Minister, with Smith as his deputy.
Federal dissolution; the roots of mistrust
In the meantime, secessionist black nationalist parties won control of the Northern Rhodesian and Nyasaland legislatures, and Harold MacMillan's Conservative administration in Britain moved towards breaking up the Federation, resolving that it had become untenable. In February 1962, the British Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, Duncan Sandys, secretly informed the Nyasaland nationalist leader Hastings Banda that secession would be allowed. A few days later, he horrified Welensky by telling him that "we British have lost the will to govern". "But we haven't," retorted Julian Greenfield, Welensky's law minister.[n 4] MacMillan's Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State, R. A. Butler, who headed British oversight of the Federation, officially announced Nyasaland's right to secede in December 1962. Four months later, he informed the three territories that he was going to convene a conference to decide the Federation's future.
As Southern Rhodesia had been the UK's legislative partner in forming the Federation in 1953, it was not possible for Britain to dissolve the union without Southern Rhodesia's cooperation. Field could therefore potentially hamstring the British by refusing to attend the conference until they pledged to grant his country full independence. According to Field, Smith and other RF politicians, Butler made several such guarantees orally to ensure their cooperation at the conference, but repeatedly refused to give anything on paper.[n 5] The Southern Rhodesians claimed that Butler justified his refusal to give a written promise by saying that binding Whitehall to a document rather than his word would be against the Commonwealth's "spirit of trust"—an argument that Field eventually accepted. "Let's remember the trust you emphasised," Smith reportedly warned Butler; "if you break that you will live to regret it." Southern Rhodesia attended the conference, which was held at Victoria Falls over a week starting from 28 June 1963, and among other things it was agreed to formally liquidate the Federation at the end of the year. In the House of Commons afterwards, Butler flatly denied suggestions that he had "oiled the wheels" of Federal dissolution with secret promises to the Southern Rhodesians.
Field's government was startled by Britain's announcement in October 1963 that Nyasaland would become fully independent on 6 July 1964. While no date was set for Northern Rhodesian statehood, it was generally surmised that it was going to follow shortly thereafter. Smith was promptly sent to London, where he held a round of inconclusive Southern Rhodesian independence talks with the new British Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas-Home.[n 6] Around the same time, the presence and significance of Section 111 of the 1961 constitution emerged in Southern Rhodesia, prompting speculation in political circles that a future British government might, if it were so inclined, go against previous conventions by legislating for Salisbury without its consent, withdrawing devolved powers or otherwise altering the Southern Rhodesian constitution. Fearing what the Labour Party might do if it won the next British general election (which was projected for late 1964), Salisbury became increasingly minded that independence had to be secured before Britain went to the polls, and preferably at the same time as Nyasaland. The Federation dissolved as scheduled at the end of 1963.
Case for UDI
In the immediate post-Federal period, the Southern Rhodesian government and its supporters found it bizarre that Britain was making independent states out of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, less developed territories with little experience of self-rule, while withholding sovereign statehood from Southern Rhodesia, the Federation's senior partner, which had already been self-governing for four decades, ripening into one of the most productive and Westernised areas of Africa during that time. Indeed, they had presumed that in the event of Federal dissolution they would be first in line for independence without major adjustments to the 1961 constitution, an impression confirmed to them by prior intergovernmental correspondence, particularly the oral promises they claimed to have received from Butler.
Salisbury contended that its predominantly white legislature, having demonstrated its ability to govern responsibly over more than 40 years, was more deserving of independence than the untried black nationalist politicians who were taking over elsewhere in Africa. The bulk of the majority-ruled African countries to the north had become corrupt, autocratic or communist one-party states very soon after independence amidst bloody civil wars, military coups and other disasters, most prominently the brutal Congo Crisis, and the RF claimed that this showed that the nationalist leaders in those countries had not been ready to govern. Influenced strongly by the white refugees who had fled south from the Congo, Southern Rhodesian whites developed chaotic doomsday scenarios of what might occur if black majority rule were introduced in a similar manner in their own country.
Proponents of the RF stand downplayed black nationalist grievances regarding land ownership and segregation, and argued that despite the racial imbalance in domestic politics—whites made up 5% of the population, but over 90% of the registered voters' roll—the electoral system was not racist as the franchise was based on financial and educational qualifications rather than ethnicity. They stressed the superiority of Southern Rhodesia's education system (for both blacks and whites) compared to neighbouring states, their wish in the context of the Cold War to make a stand alongside South Africa and Portugal on the West's behalf against what they saw as communist expansionism in Africa, and the colony's prior war record on Britain's behalf, which included larger contributions to both World Wars, proportional to white population, than any other part of the Empire and Commonwealth, including the UK itself. These factors combined to create the case put forward by RF politicians and supporters that Whitehall's actions were irresponsible and treacherous, and that UDI, despite its dubious legality and likely averse international ramifications, might nevertheless be in their eyes justifiable and necessary for the good of the country and the region.
Road to UDI
First steps, under Field
Field's failure to secure independence concurrently with the end of the Federation caused his Cabinet's support for him to waver during late 1963 and early 1964. The RF caucus in January 1964 revealed widespread dissatisfaction with him on the grounds that the British seemed to be outwitting him. The Prime Minister was put under immense pressure to win the colony's independence. Field travelled to England later that month to press Douglas-Home and Sandys for independence, and raised the possibility of UDI on a few occasions, but returned empty-handed on 2 February. The RF united behind Field after Sandys wrote him a terse letter warning him of the likely Commonwealth reaction to a unilateral declaration, but the Prime Minister then lost their confidence by failing to pursue a possible route to at least de facto independence devised by Desmond Lardner-Burke, a lawyer and RF MP for Gwelo. During March 1964, the Legislative Assembly in Salisbury considered and passed Lardner-Burke's motion that the Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, should submit a petition to the Queen requesting alteration of Section 111 of the 1961 constitution so that the Royal Assent described therein would be exercised at the request of the Southern Rhodesian government rather than its British counterpart. This would both remove the possibility of British legislative interference and pave the way for an attempted declaration of independence by Order in Council.[n 7] The RF's intention was partly to test whether or not the British would attempt to block this bill after Gibbs had granted Royal Assent to it, but this issue never came to a head because Sandys persuaded Field not to forward it to Gibbs for ratification on the grounds that it had not been unanimously passed. The RF hierarchy interpreted this backtrack from Field as evidence that he would not seriously challenge the British on the independence issue, and forced his resignation on 13 April 1964. Smith accepted the Cabinet's nomination to take his place.
Smith replaces Field; talks with Douglas-Home
Smith, a farmer from the rural town of Selukwe who had been seriously wounded while serving in the British Royal Air Force during the Second World War, was Southern Rhodesia's first native-born Prime Minister.[n 8] Regarded in British political circles as a "raw colonial"—when he took over, Smith's personal experience of the metropole comprised four brief visits—he promised a harder line than Field in independence talks. The RF's replacement of Field drew criticism from the British Labour Party, whose leader Harold Wilson called it "brutal", while Nkomo described the new Smith Cabinet as "a suicide squad ... not interested in the welfare of all the people but only in their own". Smith said he was pursuing a middle course between black nationalist rule and South African-style apartheid so that there would still be "a place for the white man" in Southern Rhodesia; this would benefit the blacks too, he claimed. He held that the government should be based "on merit, not on colour or nationalism", and insisted that there would be "no African nationalist government here in my lifetime".
Salisbury's blunt refusal to be part of the Wind of Change caused the Southern Rhodesian military's traditional British and American suppliers to impose an informal embargo, and prompted Whitehall and Washington to stop sending Southern Rhodesia financial aid around the same time.[n 9] In June 1964, Whitehall informed Smith that because of a change in Commonwealth policy, Southern Rhodesia would not be represented at the year's Commonwealth Prime Minister's Conference, despite Salisbury's record of attendance going back to 1930.[n 10] Receiving no explanation, Smith felt deeply insulted. Lord Malvern equated Britain's removal of Southern Rhodesia's conference seat with "kicking us out of the Commonwealth", while Welensky expressed horror at what he described as "this cavalier treatment of a country which has, since its creation, staunchly supported, in every possible way, Britain and the Commonwealth".
At Downing Street in early September 1964, impasse developed between Douglas-Home and Smith over the best way to measure black public opinion in Southern Rhodesia. A key part of Britain's policy was that the terms for independence had to "acceptable to the people of the country as a whole"—agreeing to this, Smith said that white and urbanised black opinion could be gauged through a general referendum of registered voters, and that rural black views could be obtained at a national indaba (tribal conference) of chiefs and headmen. Douglas-Home told Smith that although this proposal satisfied him personally, he could not accept it as he did not believe the Commonwealth, the United Nations (UN) or the Labour Party would also do so. He stressed that such a move towards accommodation with Smith might hurt the Conservatives' chances in the British general election the next month, and suggested that it might be in Smith's best interests to wait until after the election to continue negotiations. Smith accepted this argument. Douglas-Home assured Smith that a Conservative government would settle with him and grant independence within a year.
Attempting to form a viable white opposition to the Rhodesian Front, the UFP resurrected itself around Welensky, renamed itself the Rhodesia Party, and entered the Arundel and Avondale by-elections that had been called for 1 October 1964. The RF poured huge resources into winning both of these former UFP safe seats, and fielded Clifford Dupont, Smith's deputy, against Welensky in Arundel. During the bitterly fought campaign, Welensky was falsely personified by his opponents as representing appeasement of Britain and black extremists, and heckled at public meetings with cries of "communist", "traitor" and "coward". The RF won both seats comfortably, and the Rhodesia Party soon faded away. Spurred on by this success, Smith organised the indaba for 22 October, and called a general independence referendum for 5 November 1964. Meanwhile, Wilson assured the black nationalists in letters that "the Labour Party is totally opposed to granting independence to Southern Rhodesia so long as the government of that country remains under the control of the white minority".
Wilson's Labour government; Salisbury's tests of opinion
Labour defeated the Conservatives by four seats in the British general election on 15 October 1964, and formed a government the next day. Both Labour and the Conservatives told Smith that a positive result at the indaba would not be recognised by Britain as representative of the people, and the Conservatives turned down Salisbury's invitation to send observers to the conference. Smith pressed on, telling parliament that he would ask the tribal chiefs and headmen "to consult their people in the traditional manner", then hold the indaba as planned. On 22 October, 196 chiefs and 426 headmen gathered at Domboshawa and began their deliberations. Smith hoped that Britain, having taken part in such indabas in the past, might send a delegation at the last minute, but none arrived, much to his annoyance, particularly as British Commonwealth Secretary Arthur Bottomley was only across the Zambezi in Lusaka at the time.[n 11]
While the chiefs conferred, Northern Rhodesia became independent Zambia on 24 October 1964, emulating Nyasaland, which had achieved statehood as Malawi three months earlier. Reasoning that it was no longer necessary to refer to itself as "Southern" in the absence of a northern counterpart, Southern Rhodesia began calling itself simply Rhodesia.[n 1] The same day, the commander of the Rhodesian Army, Major-General John "Jock" Anderson, resigned, saying that he was doing so because of his opposition to UDI, which he said he could not go along with because of his oath of allegiance to the Queen. Interpreting this as a sign that Smith intended to declare independence if a majority backed it in the referendum, Wilson wrote a stiff letter to Smith on 25 October, warning him of the consequences of UDI, and demanding "a categorical assurance forthwith that no attempt at a unilateral declaration of independence on your part will be made". Smith ignored this, saying he was unsure what he had done to provoke it.
When the indaba ended on 26 October, the chiefs and headmen returned a unanimous decision to support the government's stand for independence under the 1961 constitution, saying that "people who live far away do not understand the problems of our country". This verdict was rejected by the nationalist movement on the grounds that the chiefs received governmental salaries; the chiefs countered that the black MPs in parliamentary opposition were also paid (and more amply so), but still opposed the government. Malvern dismissed the indaba as a "swindle", while the British ignored the whole exercise. On 27 October, Wilson released a firm statement regarding Britain's intended response to UDI, which tersely warned that Rhodesia's economic and political ties with Britain, the Commonwealth and most of the world would be immediately severed amid a campaign of sanctions if Smith's government went ahead with UDI. This was intended to discourage Rhodesian whites from backing independence in the referendum, though Smith insisted that doing so was not the same as voting for UDI. Wilson was pleased when Douglas-Home, his leading opponent in the House of Commons, praised the statement as "rough but right". On 5 November 1964, Rhodesia's mostly white electorate voted "yes" to independence under the 1961 constitution by a margin of 89%,[n 12] prompting Smith to declare that the British condition of acceptability to the people as a whole had been met.
Stalemate develops between Smith and Wilson
Smith wrote to Wilson the day after the referendum, asking him to send Bottomley to Salisbury for talks. Wilson replied that Smith should instead come to London. The British and Rhodesians exchanged often confrontational letters for the next few months. Alluding to the British financial aid pledged to Salisbury as part of the Federal dissolution arrangements, Wilson's High Commissioner in Salisbury, John Baines Johnston, wrote to Rhodesian Cabinet Secretary Gerald B. Clarke on 23 December that "talk of a unilateral declaration of independence is bound to throw a shadow of uncertainty on the future financial relations between the two governments". Smith was furious, seeing this as blackmail, and on 13 January 1965 wrote to Wilson: "I am so incensed at the line of your High Commissioner's letter that I am replying directly to you ... It would appear that any undertakings given by the British government are worthless ... such immoral behaviour on the part of the British government makes it impossible for me to continue negotiations with you with any confidence that our standards of fair play, honesty and decency will prevail."
The two premiers were brought together in person in late January 1965, when Smith travelled to London for Sir Winston Churchill's funeral. Following an escapade concerning Smith's non-invitation to a luncheon at Buckingham Palace immediately after the funeral (noticing the Rhodesian's absence, the Queen sent a royal equerry to Smith's hotel to retrieve him, much to Wilson's annoyance), the two Prime Ministers inconclusively debated at 10 Downing Street. They differed on most matters, but agreed on a visit to Rhodesia the next month by Bottomley and the Lord Chancellor, Lord Gardiner, to gauge public opinion and meet political and commercial figures. Bottomley and Gardiner visited Rhodesia from 22 February to 3 March, collected a wide cross-section of opinions, including some from black nationalists, and on returning to Britain reported to the House of Commons that they were "not without hope of finding a way towards a solution that will win the support of all communities and lead to independence and prosperity for all Rhodesians". Bottomley also condemned black-on-black political violence, and ruled out introducing majority rule by force.
The RF called a new general election for May 1965 and, campaigning on an election promise of independence, won all 50 "A"-roll seats.[n 13] Josiah Gondo, leader of the United People's Party, became Rhodesia's first black Leader of the Opposition. Opening parliament on 9 June, Gibbs told the House of Assembly that the RF's strengthened majority amounted to "a mandate to lead the country to its full independence", and announced that the government intended to open its own diplomatic mission in Lisbon, separate from the British embassy there. The British and Rhodesians argued about this unilateral act by Salisbury, described by historian J. R. T. Wood as the "veritable straw in the wind", alongside the independence issue until Portugal accepted the mission in late September, much to Britain's fury and Rhodesia's delight. Hoping to bring Smith to heel by stonewalling him, Wilson's ministers deliberately delayed and frustrated the Rhodesian government in negotiations. Rhodesia was again excluded from the Commonwealth Prime Minister's Conference in 1965, and growing discontentment over the UK's refusal of aid, the Lisbon mission, the informal arms embargo and other issues combined with this to cause the Rhodesian government's sense of alienation from Britain and the Commonwealth to deepen. Wilson, meanwhile, became exasperated by what he saw as Rhodesian unworkability, saying that the gap between the two governments was "between different worlds and different centuries".
Final steps to UDI
With rumours of UDI again abounding at the start of October 1965, Smith travelled to meet Wilson personally in London, saying he intended to resolve the independence issue once and for all. Both the British and the Rhodesians were surprised by the large numbers of Britons who came out to support Smith during his visit. Smith accepted an invitation from the BBC to appear on its Twenty-Four Hours evening news and current affairs programme, but Downing Street blocked this at the last minute. Following largely abortive talks with Wilson, the Rhodesian Prime Minister flew home on 12 October. Desperate to avert UDI, Wilson travelled to Salisbury two weeks later to continue the talks.
During these discussions, Smith referred to the last resort of a UDI on many occasions, though he said he hoped to find another way out of the quandary. He offered to increase black legislative representation by expanding the electorate along the lines of "one taxpayer, one vote"—which would enfranchise about half a million, but still leave most of the nation voteless—in return for a grant of independence. Wilson said this was insufficient, and countered that future black representation might be better safeguarded by Britain's withdrawal from the colonial government of the power it had held since 1923 to determine the size and makeup of its parliament. The Rhodesians were horrified by this prospect, particularly as Wilson's suggestion of it seemed to them to have removed the failsafe alternative of keeping the status quo. Before the British Prime Minister left Rhodesia on 30 October 1965, he proposed a Royal Commission to gauge public opinion in the colony regarding independence under the 1961 constitution, which would report its findings to both the British and Rhodesian Cabinets. He confirmed to the Commons two days later that he intented to introduce direct British control over the Rhodesian parliamentary structure to ensure that progress was made towards majority rule.
This effectively completed the Anglo-Rhodesian stalemate as the Rhodesian Cabinet resolved that since Wilson had ruled out maintenance of the status quo, its only remaining options were to trust in the Royal Commission or declare independence. When the terms for the commission's visit were presented to Smith, he found that contrary to what had been discussed during the British Prime Minister's visit, the Royal Commission would operate on the basis that the 1961 constitution was unacceptable to the British government, and that Britain would not commit itself to accepting the final report. Smith said these conditions amounted to a "vote of no confidence in [the Commission] before they commenced", and therefore rejected them. "The impression you left with us of a determined effort to resolve our constitutional problem has been utterly dissipated," he wrote to Wilson on 5 November. "It would seem that you have now finally closed the door which you publicly claimed to have opened."
Amid frantic efforts by officials on both sides to revive the Royal Commission, the Rhodesian government had Gibbs announce a state of emergency the same day on the grounds that black nationalist insurgents were reportedly entering the country. Smith denied that this foreshadowed a declaration of independence, but the publishing of his letter to Wilson in the press provoked a worldwide storm of speculation that UDI was imminent. Smith wrote again to Wilson on 8 November, asking him to appoint the Royal Commission under the terms they had agreed in Salisbury and to commit the British government to accepting its ruling, but Wilson did not immediately reply. On 9 November, the Rhodesian Cabinet sent a letter to Queen Elizabeth II, assuring her that Rhodesia would remain loyal to her personally "whatever happens".
Draft, adoption and signing
The Rhodesian Minister for Justice and Law and Order, Desmond Lardner-Burke, presented the rest of the Cabinet with a draft for the declaration of independence on 5 November 1965. When Jack Howman, Minister of Tourism and Information, said that he was also preparing a draft, the Cabinet decided to wait to see his version too. The ministers agreed that if an independence proclamation were issued, they would all sign it. On 9 November, the Cabinet jointly devised an outline for the proclamation document and the accompanying statement to be made by Smith. The final version of the declaration of independence was prepared by a subcommitee of civil servants headed by Gerald Clarke, the Cabinet Secretary, with the United States Declaration of Independence of 1776, the only other unilateral split from Britain in history, used as a model. Strongly alluding to Thomas Jefferson's text throughout, the Rhodesians used one phrase verbatim—"a respect for the opinions of mankind"—but no reference was made to the assertion that "all men are created equal", nor to the "consent of the governed", two omissions later stressed by a number of commentators.
Attached to the declaration of independence was a version of the 1961 constitution slightly amended for the circumstances, which became called the 1965 constitution. In the eyes of the Smith administration, this document removed all remaining ties to Whitehall, created the concept of allegiance to the "Constitution of Rhodesia", formed a separate Rhodesian monarchy (making Elizabeth II "Queen of Rhodesia"), and introduced the post of Officer Administering the Government, a figure empowered to sign passed legislation into law on behalf of the monarch if she did not appoint a Governor-General.
The Rhodesian Cabinet waited in vain for Wilson's reply for the rest of 9 November and the next day. After briefly meeting Smith late on 10 November, Johnston warned Wilson that evening that the Rhodesians seemed poised to declare independence in the morning. The British Prime Minister tried repeatedly to call Smith, but did not get through until Smith was already chairing a Cabinet meeting on the independence issue around 08:00 Central Africa Time on 11 November. Apparently forgetting his Commons statement of ten days before, Wilson attempted to talk Smith out of unilateral action by telling him that there was no reason the status quo could not continue, and the two argued inconclusively about the proposed Royal Commission. Returning to his Cabinet meeting, Smith reported the conversation to his ministers, and, after debating for a while, the Cabinet came to the conclusion that Wilson was simply attempting to buy more time and that there no sign that actual progress was being made. Smith then asked if Rhodesia should declare its independence, and had each Cabinet minister answer in turn. According to Smith's account, "each one, quietly but firmly, without hesitation, said: 'Yes'."
At 11:00 local time on 11 November 1965, Armistice Day, during the traditional two minutes' silence to remember the fallen of the two World Wars, Smith declared Rhodesia independent and signed the proclamation document. His ministers followed. As Ken Flower later said, "the rebellion was made to appear as though it was not a rebellion". Queen Elizabeth II's official portrait hung prominently behind Smith and his ministers as they signed, and the Cabinet still pledged allegiance to her; the declaration even ended "God Save The Queen". The UDI document was signed by Smith, Dupont and the other 10 members of the Rhodesian Cabinet. Four deputy ministers who were present—Lance Smith, Ian Dillon, Andrew Dunlop and P. K. van der Byl—did not sign, but were included in the official photograph.
Text of the declaration
Whereas in the course of human affairs history has shown that it may become necessary for a people to resolve the political affiliations which have connected them with another people and to assume amongst other nations the separate and equal status to which they are entitled:
And Whereas in such event a respect for the opinions of mankind requires them to declare to other nations the causes which impel them to assume full responsibility for their own affairs:
Now Therefore, We, The Government of Rhodesia, Do Hereby Declare:
That it is an indisputable and accepted historic fact that since 1923 the Government of Rhodesia have exercised the powers of self-government and have been responsible for the progress, development and welfare of their people;
That the people of Rhodesia having demonstrated their loyalty to the Crown and to their kith and kin in the United Kingdom and elsewhere through two world wars, and having been prepared to shed their blood and give of their substance in what they believed to be the mutual interests of freedom-loving people, now see all that they have cherished about to be shattered on the rocks of expediency;
That the people of Rhodesia have witnessed a process which is destructive of those very precepts upon which civilization in a primitive country has been built, they have seen the principles of Western democracy, responsible government and moral standards crumble elsewhere, nevertheless they have remained steadfast;
That the people of Rhodesia fully support the requests of their government for sovereign independence but have witnessed the consistent refusal of the Government of the United Kingdom to accede to their entreaties;
That the Government of the United Kingdom have thus demonstrated that they are not prepared to grant sovereign independence to Rhodesia on terms acceptable to the people of Rhodesia, thereby persisting in maintaining an unwarrantable jurisdiction over Rhodesia, obstructing laws and treaties with other states and the conduct of affairs with other nations and refusing assent to laws necessary for the public good, all this to the detriment of the future peace, prosperity and good government of Rhodesia;
That the Government of Rhodesia have for a long period patiently and in good faith negotiated with the Government of the United Kingdom for the removal of the remaining limitations placed upon them and for the grant of sovereign independence;
That in the belief that procrastination and delay strike at and injure the very life of the nation, the Government of Rhodesia consider it essential that Rhodesia should attain, without delay, sovereign independence, the justice of which is beyond question;
Now Therefore, We The Government of Rhodesia, in humble submission to Almighty God who controls the destinies of nations, conscious that the people of Rhodesia have always shown unswerving loyalty and devotion to Her Majesty the Queen and earnestly praying that we and the people of Rhodesia will not be hindered in our determination to continue exercising our undoubted right to demonstrate the same loyalty and devotion, and seeking to promote the common good so that the dignity and freedom of all men may be assured, Do, By This Proclamation, adopt, enact and give to the people of Rhodesia the Constitution annexed hereto;God Save The Queen
Given under Our Hand at Salisbury this eleventh day of November in the Year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and sixty-five.
Announcement and reactions
The Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation told the public to stand by for an important announcement from the Prime Minister at 13:15 local time. Smith went first to Government House to inform Gibbs that his Cabinet had declared independence, then to Pockets Hill Studios in east Salisbury to announce UDI to the nation. He read the proclamation aloud, then said that independence had been declared because it had become "abundantly clear that it is the policy of the British government to play us along with no real intention of arriving at a solution which we could possibly accept ... I promised the people of this country that I would continue to negotiate to the bitter end and that I would leave no stone unturned in my endeavours to secure an honourable and mutually accepted settlement; it now falls to me to tell you that negotiations have come to an end".
Smith said that he believed that he would be remiss in his duty if he allowed Rhodesia to continue to "drift in its present paralysing state of uncertainty", and that following Britain's effectively unilateral dismantling of the Federation his government was determined that "the same will never be allowed to happen here". He claimed that UDI did not mark "a diminuation in the opportunities which our African people have to advance and prosper in Rhodesia", and that his government was committed to upholding the idea of "racial harmony in Africa". He argued that there could be no solution to racial tensions "while African nationalists believe that provided they stirred up sufficient trouble they will be able to blackmail the British government into ... handing the country over to irresponsible rule". He then attempted to assuage fears that economic sanctions might destroy the economy, and asked Rhodesians to stand firm: "The mantle of the pioneers has fallen on our shoulders ... In the lives of most nations there comes a moment when a stand has to be made for principles, whatever the consequences. This moment has come to Rhodesia."
He finally called upon the nation to support him and the government in this "historic hour". "I believe that we are a courageous people and history has cast us in a historic role," he concluded. "To us has been given the privilege of being the first Western nation in the last two decades to say: so far and no further. We may be a small country, but we are a determined people who have been called upon to play a role of worldwide significance. We Rhodesians have rejected the doctrinated philosophy of appeasement and surrender. The decision which we have taken today is a refusal by Rhodesians to sell their birthright. And, even if we were to surrender, does anyone believe that Rhodesia would be the last target of the communists in the Afro–Asian bloc? We have struck a blow for the preservation of justice, civilisation and Christianity and in the spirit of this belief have thus assumed our sovereign independence. God bless you all."
Under instructions from Whitehall, Gibbs formally dismissed Smith and his Cabinet, saying they had committed an act of treason. Smith and his ministers ignored this, saying that the new 1965 constitution made Gibbs' office as colonial governor obsolete, so he no longer had the right, in their view, to sack them. The Rhodesian government hoped that Gibbs might obligingly resign in light of his impotent situation, but he did not; he remained at Government House, believing that it was his duty to do so, and also because he felt that he might have to mediate between the British and Rhodesian governments later. He told the Rhodesian military's senior officers, some of whom were troubled by the perceived choice between Queen and country, to remain at their posts to maintain law and order. Wilson briefly flirted with the idea of sending Lord Mountbatten to Rhodesia to support Gibbs as a direct representative of the Queen, but this was dropped after Gibbs asked for somebody "higher up" in the royal family instead. "Not likely," Wilson retorted.
The Rhodesian government accompanied UDI with emergency measures that it said were intended to prevent alarm, unrest and the flight of people and capital. Press censorship and petrol rationing were imposed, import licences were cancelled and emigrant's allowances were cut to £100. News of UDI was generally received calmly by the local citizenry, apart from some isolated incidents of passing cars being stoned in the black townships outside Bulawayo. A few expected dissenters were arrested, most prominently Leo Baron, Nkomo's German-born lawyer, whose links with black nationalists and communists were seen by authorities as "subversive". Baron, the younger brother of scientist Jacob Bronowski, was arrested nine minutes after UDI was made.
Welensky, who had opposed UDI, stated that he felt it was nevertheless "the duty of every responsible Rhodesian to support the revolutionary government" as the only alternative was a descent into anarchy. A black nationalist view of the declaration came from Davis M'Gabe of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU): "For all those who cherish freedom and a meaningful life, UDI has set a collision course which cannot be altered. 11 November 1965 [has] marked the turning point of the struggle for freedom in that land from a constitutional and political one to primarily a military struggle." João de Freitas Cruz, the Portuguese consul-general to Rhodesia, reacted to the declaration with wild excitement; visiting the Smith residence later in the day, he declared "Only Rhodesians could do this!" Phillippa Berlyn, a Rhodesian journalist, described the public mood immediately following UDI as showing "no sign of jubilation, no hysteria. No one complained, wept or rioted. Rhodesians were well aware of the step their government had taken that day. Afterwards, I drove through Salisbury, and wherever I went, it was the same ..."
A week after UDI, Smith's government announced that Dupont, the Deputy Prime Minister, had resigned from the Cabinet and would effectively take Gibbs' place as Officer Administering the Government. No attempt was made to forcibly remove Gibbs from Government House, however; the government statement said that Dupont would live at Governor's Lodge instead "until Government House, at present temporarily occupied by Sir Humphrey Gibbs in a private capacity, becomes available". Gibbs received threatening letters from the Rhodesian public, and on 26 November Smith's government cut off the telephones at Government House, and removed the ceremonial guard, the official cars "and even the typewriters", Wood records. Gibbs nevertheless refused to step down or to leave Government House, issuing a statement that he would remain there "as the lawful Governor of Rhodesia until such time as constitutional government is restored, which I hope will be soon." He stayed at his post, ignored by the post-UDI government, until the declaration of a republic in 1970.
British and international responses
Wilson was flabbergasted by Smith's actions, and found the timing of the declaration to coincide with the Armistice Day silence deeply insulting. Describing Salisbury as "hell-bent on illegal self-destroying", the British Prime Minister called on Rhodesians to ignore Smith's government, and arranged British sanctions against it. Within hours of UDI, the UN General Assembly passed a condemnatory resolution, by 107-to-two—South Africa and Portugal voted against, and France abstained—decrying Rhodesia's actions and calling on Britain to end "the rebellion by the unlawful authorities in Salisbury". The UN Security Council the next day adopted Resolution 216, which denounced the declaration of independence as illegal and racist, and called on all states to refuse recognition and assistance to the Rhodesian government. Security Council Resolution 217, following on 20 November, condemned UDI as an illegitimate "usurpation of power by a racist settler minority", and called on nations neither to recognise what it deemed "this illegal authority" nor to entertain diplomatic or economic relations with it. Both of these measures were adopted by ten votes to none with France abstaining.
Black nationalists and their overseas supporters, prominently the Organisation of African Unity, clamoured for Britain to remove Smith's government with a military invasion, but Britain dismissed this option because of various logistical issues, the risk of provoking a pre-emptive Rhodesian strike on Zambia, and the psychological problems that were likely to accompany any confrontation between British and Rhodesian troops in what Smith said would be a "fratricidal war". Wilson instead resolved to end the Rhodesian rebellion through economic sanctions; these principally comprised the expulsion of Rhodesia from the Sterling area, a ban on the import of Rhodesian sugar and tobacco and an oil boycott of Rhodesia. When the Rhodesians continued to receive oil, Wilson attempted to directly cut off their main supply lines, namely the Portuguese Mozambican ports at Beira and Lourenço Marques, by posting a Royal Navy squadron to the Mozambique Channel in March 1966. This blockade, the Beira Patrol, was endorsed the following month by UN Security Council Resolution 221. The United Nations proceeded to institute the first mandatory trade sanctions in its history with Security Council Resolutions 232 (December 1966) and 253 (April 1968), which required member states to cease all trade and economic links with Rhodesia.
Wilson predicted in January 1966 that the various boycotts would force Smith to give in "within a matter of weeks rather than months", but the British and UN sanctions had little effect on Rhodesia, largely because both South Africa and Portugal went on trading with the breakaway colony, providing it with oil and other key resources. Clandestine trade with other nations also continued, initially at a reduced level (in what Salisbury referred to as "sanction-busting"), and the removal of foreign competitors helped domestic industries to slowly mature and expand. Rhodesia thus avoided the economic collapse predicted by Wilson and, with the assistance of its allies, gradually became more self-sufficient.
Official diplomatic recognition by other countries was key for Rhodesia as it was the only way it could regain the international legitimacy it had lost through UDI. Considering their country a potentially important player in the African theatre of the Cold War, the Rhodesians presumed that at least some countries would recognise them as independent—they took recognition by South Africa and Portugal for granted, and also expected France to recognise UDI to annoy Britain and create a precedent for an independent Quebec. But although South Africa and Portugal both gave economic, military and limited political support to the post-UDI government (as did France and other nations, to a lesser extent), neither they nor any other country ever officially recognised Rhodesia as a de jure independent state.
Britain withdrew most of its High Commission staff from Salisbury in the days following UDI, leaving a small skeleton staff to man a "residual mission" intended to help Gibbs keep the British government informed of local happenings. Several countries followed Britain's lead and closed their consulates in Salisbury, with one prominent exception to this being the United States, which retained its consulate-general in post-UDI Rhodesia, albeit as a "US Contacts Office" to show the official American attitude of non-recognition of the government.[n 14] South Africa and Portugal maintained "Accredited Diplomatic Representative" offices in Salisbury, which were embassies in all but name, while Rhodesia kept its pre-UDI overseas missions in Pretoria, Lisbon and Lourenço Marques. Unofficial representative offices of the Rhodesian government also existed in Washington, Bonn and Tokyo, while a citizen of Belgium was employed to represent Rhodesian interests there. The Rhodesian High Commission in London, located at Rhodesia House on the Strand, remained, but lost its diplomatic status and became a simple representative office of the post-UDI government.
Because UDI claimed to make Rhodesia independent under the Queen as an effective Commonwealth realm, many countries justified their retention of missions in Rhodesia concurrently with their non-recognition of the state by pointing out that the envoys' accredition was to the Queen and not to Smith's government per se. But Rhodesia moved away from its original line of independence under the Queen and towards republicanism during the late 1960s, hoping to end ambiguity regarding its constitutional status and elicit official foreign recognition. In March 1970, after the electorate voted "yes" in a referendum both to a new constitution and to the abandoning of symbolic ties to the Queen, Smith's government declared Rhodesia a republic. Far from prompting recognition, this led all countries apart from Portugal and South Africa to withdraw their consulates and missions, as the justification of royal accredition could no longer be used. After Portugal's Carnation Revolution in 1974, the Rhodesian mission in Lisbon was closed in May 1975, with its counterpart in Lourenço Marques following a month later on Mozambican independence. Portugal also withdrew its own remaining officials from Rhodesia, leaving South Africa as the only country with links to Salisbury. Rhodesia's diplomatic activities were thereafter greatly diminished.
The Rhodesian High Court's nine Appellate and General Division judges initially neither rejected UDI nor openly supported it. Chief Justice Sir Hugh Beadle, of the High Court's Appellate Division, said simply that the judges would go on carrying out their duties "according to the law". This originally noncommittal stance evolved over time, largely pivoting around legal cases argued at the High Court in Salisbury between 1966 and 1968. The first of these, Madzimbamuto v. Lardner-Burke N. O. and Others, concerned Daniel Madzimbamuto, a black nationalist who was detained without trial by the Rhodesian government on 6 November 1965, the day after the declaration of a state of emergency and five days before UDI, on the grounds that he might pose a danger to the public. Desmond Lardner-Burke, the Rhodesian Minister of Justice and Law and Order, prolonged the state of emergency in February 1966, prompting Madzimbamuto's wife to appeal for his release, arguing that since the United Kingdom had declared UDI illegal and outlawed the Rhodesian government, the 1965 constitution under which the Rhodesian legislature operated was unlawful. The General Division of the Rhodesian High Court ruled on 9 September 1966 that legal sovereignty lay with the British government, but that to "avoid chaos and a vacuum in the law" the Rhodesian government should be considered to be in control of law and order to the same extent as before UDI. Beadle concluded that the Smith administration would be recognised by the local judiciary as the de facto government by virtue of its "effective control over the state's territory", but that de jure recognition would be withheld as this control was not "firmly established". On this basis, three nationalist guerrilla fighters, sentenced to death before UDI, were executed by Smith's government in February 1968.
A succession of Rhodesian High Court decisions between February and September 1968 led to de jure recognition of Smith's government and the UDI constitution by the Rhodesian judiciary. The court ruled in March that year that since the de facto Rhodesian government had made clear that it would ignore any decisions by the British Privy Council and government, the right of appeal to Britain contained in the 1961 constitution was ineffective and meaningless. Following this decision, Salisbury carried out its first post-UDI death sentences, executing five black men convicted of murder.
The case Archion Ndhlovu and Others v. The Queen, which convicted 32 black nationalists of terrorist offences and sentenced them to death on 13 September 1968, also contained the High Court's grant to the post-UDI government of full de jure recognition. Justice Hector MacDonald, a member of Beadle's ruling panel, argued that since UDI, the British government had acted unconstitutionally and illegally regarding Rhodesia by involving the United Nations in what should have been legally considered a domestic problem, and had concurrently abdicated its right to the allegiance of the Rhodesian people by waging economic war against the country and encouraging other nations to do the same. To support this argument, MacDonald referred to the assertion by the 17th-century Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius that "the purpose of governing and the purpose of destroying cannot subsist together"; since Britain was in a state of economic war against Rhodesia, the court concluded, it could not at the same time be regarded as governing it. UDI, the associated 1965 constitution and the government were thereafter considered de jure by the Rhodesian legal system. This recognition carried over to the 1969 republican constitution, adopted in 1970.
Removal of British vestiges
Vestiges of British ties were removed piecemeal by the government over the decade following UDI, and replaced with symbols and terminology intended to be more Rhodesian. A silver "Liberty Bell", based on the bell of the same name in Philadelphia, was cast during 1966 and rung by the Prime Minister each year on Independence Day (the anniversary of UDI), the number of chimes signifying the number of years since the declaration of independence. The Union Jack and Rhodesia's Commonwealth-style national flag—a defaced Sky Blue Ensign with the Union Jack in the canton—continued to fly over government buildings, military bases and other official locations until 11 November 1968, the third anniversary of UDI, when they were superseded by a new national flag: a green-white-green horizontal triband, charged centrally with the Rhodesian coat of arms.
Since Elizabeth II was still the Rhodesian head of state in the eyes of Smith's administration, "God Save the Queen" remained the Rhodesian national anthem, and continued to accompany official occasions such as the opening of the Rhodesian parliament. This was intended to demonstrate Rhodesia's continued loyalty to the Queen, but the use of the unmistakably British song at Rhodesian state occasions soon seemed "fairly ironic", as the London Times put it. Salisbury started looking for a replacement anthem around the same time as its introduction of the new flag, and in 1974, after four years without an anthem ("God Save the Queen" was formally dropped in 1970), republican Rhodesia adopted "Rise, O Voices of Rhodesia", an anthem coupling original lyrics with the tune of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".
Decimalisation occurred on 17 February 1970, two weeks before Rhodesia's reconstitution as a republic, with the new Rhodesian dollar replacing the pound at a rate of two dollars to each pound. Following the republic's formal declaration the next month, the Rhodesian military removed nomenclatural and symbolic references to the Crown—the Royal Rhodesian Air Force and Royal Rhodesia Regiment dropped their "Royal" prefixes, new branch and regimental flags were designed, and the St Edward's Crown surmounting many regimental emblems was expunged in favour of the traditional Rhodesian "lion and tusk", a motif from the coat of arms of the British South Africa Company that had been used in Rhodesian military symbolism since white settlement began in the 1890s. The air force's new roundel was a green ring with the lion and tusk on a white centre. Later that year, a system of new Rhodesian honours and decorations was created to replace the old British honours.
Wilson told the British House of Commons in January 1966 that he would not enter any kind of dialogue with the post-UDI Rhodesian government (which he called "the illegal regime") until it gave up its claim of independence, but by mid-1966 British and Rhodesian civil servants were holding "talks about talks" in London and Salisbury. By November that year, Wilson had agreed to negotiate personally with Smith. The two Prime Ministers unsuccessfully attempted to settle aboard HMS Tiger in December 1966 and HMS Fearless in October 1968. In November 1971, provisional agreement was reached between the Rhodesian government and a British team headed by Douglas-Home (who was Foreign Secretary under Prime Minister Edward Heath), and in early 1972 a Royal Commission chaired by a senior British judge, Lord Pearce, travelled to Rhodesia to investigate how acceptable the proposals were to majority opinion. After extensive consultation, the commission reported that although whites were largely in favour of the presented terms, most blacks rejected them. The deal was therefore shelved by the British government.
The Rhodesian Bush War, a guerrilla conflict pitting the Rhodesian Security Forces against the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) and the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), the respective armed wings of ZANU and ZAPU,[n 3] began in earnest in December 1972, when ZANLA attacked Altena and Whistlefield Farms in north-eastern Rhodesia. The 1974 Carnation Revolution in Lisbon, which over the next year replaced Portugal's key support for Smith with an independent, Marxist–Leninist Mozambique on Rhodesia's eastern frontier, greatly swung the war's momentum in favour of the nationalists, particularly ZANU, which was allied with Mozambique's governing FRELIMO party, and caused the international trade sanctions on Rhodesia to finally begin having a noticeable effect. Diplomatic isolation, the sanctions, guerrilla activities and pressure from South Africa to find a settlement led the Rhodesian government to hold talks with the various black nationalist groups. Unsuccessful conferences were held at Victoria Falls (in 1975) and Geneva (1976).
Smith announced his acceptance in principle of one man, one vote during Henry Kissinger's Anglo-American initiative in September 1976, and in March 1978 agreed the Internal Settlement with moderate nationalists headed by Bishop Abel Muzorewa and the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole. This settlement, rejected internationally, led to multiracial elections and Rhodesia's reconstitution under majority rule as Zimbabwe Rhodesia in June 1979. Muzorewa, the electoral victor, took office as the country's first black Prime Minister at the head of a coalition Cabinet comprising 12 blacks and five whites, including Smith as minister without portfolio. Dismissing Muzorewa as a "neocolonial puppet", ZANLA and ZIPRA continued their armed struggle until December 1979, when Whitehall, the Zimbabwe Rhodesian government and the revolutionary nationalists settled at Lancaster House. Muzorewa's government revoked UDI, thereby ending the country's claim to be independent after 14 years, and dissolved itself. The UK suspended the constitution and vested full executive and legislative powers in a new Governor, Lord Soames, who oversaw a ceasefire and fresh elections during February and March 1980. These were won by ZANU, whose leader Robert Mugabe became Prime Minister when Britain granted independence to Zimbabwe within the Commonwealth in April 1980.
Notes and references
- Renamed Zimbabwe in 1980. The official name of the colony under British law was Southern Rhodesia, but the colonial government in Salisbury switched to using the name Rhodesia in October 1964, when Northern Rhodesia changed its name to Zambia concurrently with its independence from Britain. In the absence of a "Northern" Rhodesia, Salisbury felt the geographical qualifier "Southern" had become superfluous, and so passed legislation to formally become simply Rhodesia. Britain refused to approve this on the grounds that it was ultra vires for the colonial government to attempt to alter the laws naming the country, which were British acts passed at Westminster, and therefore under the purview of Whitehall. Salisbury went on using the shortened name in an official manner despite the fact that it had not been changed in law, while the British government, the United Nations and other overseas bodies continued referring to the country as Southern Rhodesia right up to 1980.
- Powers reserved to the British government at Whitehall under the 1923 constitution concerned foreign affairs, alterations to the constitution, the British-appointed Governor's salary, and bills regarding native administration, mining revenues and railways. Laws relevant to these subjects had to receive assent from the Governor (and, by extension, from Whitehall), but all other bills could be passed by Salisbury without interference.
- Zimbabwe, derived from the name applied by the Shona people to the ancient ruined city today referred to as Great Zimbabwe, was adopted by the black nationalist movement between 1960 and 1962 as their preferred name for a majority-ruled Southern Rhodesia. ZAPU was banned by the Whitehead administration in September 1962 because of its violent activities, but it continued operating nevertheless, publicly calling itself the People's Caretaker Council (PCC). It split in July 1963, with many prominent members leaving to form the rival Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). ZAPU was aligned with the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, while ZANU was backed by the People's Republic of China and its allies. The black nationalist movement was largely fragmented along ethnic and political lines, with the mostly Shona ZANU adopting Chinese Maoism as opposed to the Soviet-style Marxism–Leninism of the predominantly Ndebele ZAPU. Following an escalation in internecine political violence between the two movements, a spate of industrial sabotage and civil disobedience by both parties and the politically motivated killing of a white factory foreman, Pieter Oberholzer, by ZANU insurgents, both PCC and ZANU were banned by Smith's government in August 1964, with most of each party's leaders concurrently jailed for criminal offences or otherwise restricted. Both movements thereafter based themselves overseas.
- Welensky was so shaken by Sandys' statement that he suffered a migraine. Lord Alport, the British-appointed High Commissioner to the Federation, reportedly left the meeting and vomited.
- In particular, Field and Smith claimed that Butler told them at Victoria Falls on 27 June 1963 that in return for their help in winding up the Federation, Southern Rhodesia would be granted "independence no later than, if not before, the other two territories ... in view of your country's wonderful record of Responsible Government over the past forty years ... and above all the great loyalty you have always given to Britain in time of war".
- Douglas-Home was only a few days into his premiership following Harold MacMillan's resignation on grounds of ill health. At one point during the meeting on 31 October 1964 he told Smith that though he opposed unilateral action, he felt Southern Rhodesia could "declare herself independent, [and] would be within her rights to do so"—scandalised, British civil servants withheld record of this comment from their Southern Rhodesian counterparts.
- The Lardner-Burke bill proposed that a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Assembly would prompt automatic consent for alterations from the Governor, who would then sign them into law on behalf of the Queen. William Harper, the Minister of Water Development and Roads, posited that if this passed, Salisbury would be able to proclaim an independent republic outside the Commonwealth with a two-thirds majority in parliament.
- Roy Welensky, who held the Federal premiership from 1956 to dissolution, was also Southern Rhodesian-born. Before Smith, Southern Rhodesia had had seven Prime Ministers, three of whom (including Field) had been born in Britain. The country's first two Prime Ministers, Charles Coghlan (1923–27) and Howard Moffat (1927–33), were respectively born in South Africa and Bechuanaland, while Garfield Todd, Prime Minister from 1953 to 1958, was originally from New Zealand. Edgar Whitehead was born in Germany, the son of a British diplomat.
- Britain told Southern Rhodesia that this was because the British economy was in trouble. When Salisbury pointed out that the UK was still giving aid to other countries, Whitehall implied that financial assistance might resume if progress was made towards an independence settlement acceptable to Britain.
- Salisbury attended under the Federal flag from 1953 to 1963.
- Official observers came from Australia, Austria, France, Greece, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa and Sweden.
- Turnout was 61% of the 105,444 registered voters (89,886 whites, 12,729 blacks and 2,829 Coloureds and Asians). There were 58,091 ballots in favour, 6,096 against and 944 spoilt papers. Most eligible non-whites abstained, making the referendum essentially a test of white opinion only.
- The electoral system devised in the 1961 constitution replaced the common voters' roll with two rolls, the "A" roll and the "B" roll, the latter of which had lower qualifications intended to make it easier for prospective voters to enter the political system. There were 50 "A"-roll constituencies and 15 larger "B"-roll districts; a complicated mechanism of "cross-voting" allowed "B"-roll voters to slightly influence "A"-roll elections and vice versa. This system was theoretically non-racial, but in practice the "A" roll was largely white and the "B" roll was almost all black.
- Australia and Canada shut down their trade missions in Salisbury, while Finland, Sweden and Turkey closed their honorary consulates. Denmark, France, Italy, Japan and the United States withdrew their heads of missions, but kept their offices open. Austria, Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Switzerland retained their representative missions in Salisbury at the same levels as before UDI.
- This overall design dated back to 1923, but a darker blue was used until 1964, when the shade was lightened to make the Rhodesian flag more recognisable.
- Smith 1997, pp. 100, 103
- Wessels 2010, p. 273
- Palley 1966, pp. 742–743
- Rowland 1978, p. 251
- Rowland 1978, pp. 247–248
- Rowland 1978, pp. 245–246
- Palley 1966, p. 230
- Gowlland-Debbas 1990, pp. 48–53
- St Brides 1980
- Berlyn 1978, pp. 134–142
- Smith 1997, p. 32
- Wood 2005, p. 279
- Wood 2005, p. 123
- Smith 1997, p. 33
- Wood 2005, pp. 25, 135, 140
- Wood 2005, p. 11
- Blake 1977, p. 331; Welensky 1964, p. 64
- Jackson 1990, pp. 96–97; Wood 2005, p. 20
- Wood 2005, pp. 15–16
- Wood 2008, p. 3
- Rowland 1978, pp. 249–250
- Wood 2005, pp. 74–75
- Wood 2005, p. 89
- Wood 2005, p. 92
- Wood 2005, p. 93
- Wood 2005, pp. 95–96, 111–120
- Wood 2005, p. 95–96
- Fontein 2006, pp. 119–120; Ndlovu-Gatsheni 2009, pp. 113–114
- Wood 2005, pp. 116–117
- Wood 2005, pp. 173–175
- Cilliers 1984, p. 5; Martin & Johnson 1981, pp. 70–71; Ranger 1997, p. 237; Wessels 2010, pp. 102–103
- Wood 2005, p. 228
- Wood 2005, p. 98
- Rowe 2001, p. 52
- Wood 2005, pp. 97–101
- Wood 2005, pp. 119–122
- Schwarz 2011, p. 370; Wood 2005, p. 99
- Meredith 1984, p. 131
- Wood 2005, p. 99
- Schwartz 2011, pp. 379–380
- Wood 2005, pp. 133–135
- Wood 2005, pp. 138–140, 167; Berlyn 1978, p. 135; Smith 1997, p. 51–52
- Wood 2005, p. 167
- Wood 2005, pp. 169–172
- Wood 2005, pp. 176–181
- Wood 2005, pp. 186–190
- Olson & Shadle 1996, pp. 1029–1030; Wood 2005, pp. 20, 135, 140; Di Perna 1978, p. 189
- Wood 2005, p. 371
- Olson & Shadle 1996, pp. 1029–1030; Moorcraft 1990; Wood 2005, pp. 20, 135, 140; Di Perna 1978, p. 189
- Mazrui 1993, p. 495
- Petter-Bowyer 2005, p. 75; Schwarz 2011, p. 371; Wood 2005, p. 120
- Wood 2005, pp. 392–393
- Olson & Shadle 1996, pp. 1029–1030
- Moorcraft 1990
- Wood 2005, p. 190
- Wood 2005, pp. 193–194, 198
- Wood 2005, pp. 200–202
- Wood 2005, pp. 204–207
- Smith 1997, p. 63
- Young 1969, p. 205
- Berlyn 1978, pp. 131–132; Caute 1983, p. 89; Wessels 2010, pp. 102–104
- Baxter & Burke 1970, pp. 125, 340
- Wood 2005, p. 12
- Schwarz 2011, p. 411
- Wilson 1974, p. 48
- Wood 2005, p. 208
- Hall 1966, p. 30
- Hall 1966, p. 22
- Hall 1966, p. 26
- Wood 2005, p. 319
- Wood 2005, p. 335
- Welensky 1965
- Smith 1997, p. 70
- Berlyn 1978, pp. 140, 143
- Wood 2005, pp. 231–233
- Wood 2005, pp. 239–240; Windrich 1978, p. 25
- Blake 1977, p. 366
- Berlyn 1978, p. 157
- Wood 2005, p. 241
- Wood 2005, pp. 242–243, 246
- Wood 2005, pp. 243–246
- Wood 2005, p. 250
- Wood 2005, p. 247
- Wood 2005, p. 249
- Wilson 1974, p. 51
- Wood 2005, p. 251
- Wood 2005, pp. 257–258
- Smith 1997, p. 85
- Wood 2005, pp. 270–275
- Wood 2005, p. 286
- Palley 1966, pp. 414–416
- Wood 2005, p. 319
- Fedorowich & Thomas 2001, pp. 185–186
- Wood 2005, p. 344
- Wood 2005, p. 335
- Wood 2008, p. 5
- Wood 2005, p. 5
- Wood 2005, pp. 360–363, 367
- Wood 2005, pp. 381–383
- Wood 2005, pp. 387–388
- Wood 2005, pp. 411–414
- Young 1969, p. 271
- Wood 2005, p. 440
- Wood 2005, pp. 441–442
- Wood 2005, p. 445
- Wood 2005, p. 443
- Smith 1997, p. 98
- Wood 2005, p. 453
- Wood 2005, p. 463
- Wood 2005, pp. 460–461
- Wood 2005, p. 453
- Wood 2005, p. 471
- St Petersburg Times 1965
- Hillier 1998, p. 207; Palley 1966, p. 750; Gowlland-Debbas 1990, p. 71
- Wood 2005, pp. 465–467
- Wood 2005, pp. 468–470
- White 1978, p. 45
- Wood 2005, p. 472
- Wood 2005, pp. 472–475
- Wood 2008, pp. 3–4
- Wood 1999
- Berlyn 1967, p. 9
- Davidson, Slovo & Wilkinson 1976, p. 230
- Berlyn 1978, p. 171
- Wood 2008, p. 7
- Gowlland-Debbas 1990, pp. 183–185
- Wood 2008, p. 6; Smith 1997, p. 110
- Mobley 2002, pp. 66, 71–76, 83
- Gowlland-Debbas 1990, pp. 18, 701
- Wood 2008, p. 47
- Gowlland-Debbas 1990, p. 442
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- Nel & McGowan 1999, p. 246
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