by Max Barry

Latest Forum Topics

Advertisement

2

DispatchFactbookHistory

by North and south rhodesia. . 25 reads.

The Republic of Rhodesia and the Bush War (1965-1979)

Although prepared to grant formal independence to Southern Rhodesia (now Rhodesia), the British government had adopted a policy of no independence before majority rule, dictating that colonies with a substantial population of European settlers would not receive independence except under conditions of majority rule. Rhodesian colonials initially balked at the suggestion; some felt they had a right to absolute political control, at least for the time being, despite their relatively small numbers. The authorities were also disturbed by the post-independence chaos which was plaguing other African nations at the time. However, once Rhodesia had been introduced as a topic for discussion in international bodies, extension of the status quo became a matter of concern to the world community and a serious embarrassment to the United Kingdom.

After the federal break-up in 1963, then-Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home insisted that preconditions on independence talks hinge what he termed the "five principles" – unimpeded progress to majority rule, assurance against any future legislation decidedly detrimental to black interests, "improvement in the political status" of local Africans, moves towards ending racial discrimination, and agreement on a settlement which could be "acceptable to the whole population". Harold Wilson and his incoming Labour government took an even harder line on demanding that these points be legitimately addressed before an independence agenda could be set.

By 1964, growing dissatisfaction with the ongoing negotiations ousted Salisbury's incumbent Winston Field, replacing him with Ian Smith, deputy chairman of the conservative Rhodesian Front party. Smith, the colony's first Rhodesian-born leader, soon came to personify resistance to liberals in British government and those agitating for change at home. He ruled out acceptance for all five of the proposed principles as they stood, implying instead that Rhodesia was already legally entitled to independence—a claim which was overwhelmingly endorsed by registered voters in a referendum.

Emboldened by the results of this referendum and the subsequent general election, Rhodesia now threatened to assume her own sovereignty without British consent. Harold Wilson countered by warning that such an irregular procedure would be considered treasonous, although he specifically rejected using armed force against the English "kith and kin" in Africa. Wilson's refusal to consider a military option encouraged Smith to proceed with his plans. Talks quickly broke down, and final efforts in October to achieve a settlement floundered; the Rhodesian Front remained unwilling to accept what were regarded as unacceptably drastic terms and the British would settle for nothing less – it was a formula doomed to failure.

On 11 November 1965, following a brief but solemn consensus, Rhodesia's leading statesmen issued their country's unilateral declaration of independence (UDI). This was immediately denounced as an "act of rebellion against the Crown" in the United Kingdom, and Wilson promised that the illegal action would be short-lived. However, few seemed to initially realise that Rhodesia was no longer within the Commonwealth's direct sphere of influence and British rule was now a constitutional fiction; Salisbury remained virtually immune to credible metropolitan leverage.

In October 1965, the United Nations Security Council had warned Whitehall about the possibility of UDI, urging Wilson to use all means at his disposal (including military pressure) to prevent the Rhodesian Front from asserting independence. After UDI was proclaimed, UN officials branded Ian Smith's government as an "illegal racist minority regime" and called on member states to sever economic ties with Rhodesia, recommending sanctions on petroleum products and military hardware. In December 1966, these measures became mandatory, extending to bar the purchase of Rhodesian tobacco, chrome, copper, asbestos, sugar, meat, and hides.

Britain, having already adopted extensive sanctions of its own, dispatched a Royal Navy squadron to monitor oil deliveries in the port of Beira, from which a strategic pipeline ran to Umtali. The warships were to deter "by force, if necessary, vessels reasonably believed to be carrying oil destined for (Southern) Rhodesia".

Some nations, such as Switzerland, and West Germany, which were not UN members, conducted business legally with Rhodesia – the latter remained the Smith government's largest trading partner in Western Europe until 1973, when West Germany joined the UN. Japan continued to accept more Rhodesian exports than any other nation, and Iran provided oil. The Portuguese government marketed Rhodesian products as its own, via false certificates of origin and disguised trade channels. South Africa openly refused to observe the UN sanctions. A 1971 amendment passed in the United States permitted American firms to go on importing Rhodesian chromium and nickel as normal.

Despite the poor showing of sanctions, Rhodesia found it nearly impossible to obtain diplomatic recognition abroad. In 1970, the US government had made it clear that the UDI would not be recognised "under [any] circumstances". Even Smith's ideological allies in Pretoria, although sympathetic, failed to recognise the new country on an equal level.

Initially, the state retained its pledged loyalty to Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, but not to her colonial representative, Governor Sir Humphrey Gibbs, whose constitutional duties were exercised instead by an "Officer Administering the Government", Clifford Dupont. Gibbs was ordered to dismiss Smith, but was unable to enact any concrete actions to foster a return to legality. Government ministers simply ignored his notices, pointing out that UDI made his office obsolete. Even so, Gibbs continued to occupy his residence in Salisbury until 1970, when he vacated the premises and left Rhodesia following the declaration of a republic.

In September 1968, the Appellate Division of the Rhodesian High Court ruled that Ian Smith's administration had become the de jure government of the country, not merely the de facto one. To support his decision, Chief Justice Sir Hugh Beadle used several statements made by Hugo Grotius, who maintained that there was no way in which a nation could rightly claim to be governing a particular territory – if it was waging a war against that territory. Beadle argued that due to Britain's economic war against Rhodesia, she could not be described as governing Rhodesia. Resulting court decisions held that the rebel government "could lawfully do anything its predecessors could lawfully have done".

A Salisbury commission chaired by prominent lawyer W.R. Waley was appointed to study constitutional options open to the Rhodesian authorities as of April 1968, but reaching a further settlement with the British was ruled out early on. Waley, although insistent that "Europeans must surrender any belief in permanent European domination", also testified that majority rule was not immediately desirable and conceded that the government ought to remain in responsible hands for the near future.

Talks aimed at easing the differences between Rhodesia and the United Kingdom were carried out aboard Royal Navy vessels once in December 1966 and again in October 1968. Both efforts failed to achieve agreement, although Harold Wilson added a sixth principle to the five he had previously enunciated: "it would be necessary to ensure that, regardless of race, there was no oppression of the majority by the minority or of any minority by the majority." Rhodesian resolve stiffened following a failure to reach a new settlement, with more radical elements of the Rhodesian Front calling for a republican constitution.

During a two-proposition referendum held in 1969, the proposal for severing all remaining ties to the British Crown passed by a majority of 61,130 votes to 14,327. Rhodesia declared itself a republic on 2 March 1970 – under the new constitution, prime ministers nominally reported to presidents, who were regarded as ceremonial figureheads. Some in Rhodesian government had vainly hoped that the declaration of a republic would finally prompt other nations to grant recognition.

Impact of UDI
The years following Rhodesia's UDI saw an unfolding series of economic, military, and political pressures placed on the country which eventually brought about majority rule, a totality of these factors rather than any one the reason for introducing change. In 2005, a conference at the London School of Economics which discussed Rhodesia's independence concluded that UDI was sparked by an existing racial conflict complicated by Cold War intrigues.

Critics of UDI sought to maintain that Ian Smith intended only to safeguard the privileges of an entrenched colonial elite at the expense of the impoverished African community. According to this logic, UDI created a vacuum of oppression which was eventually filled by Robert Mugabe's present dictatorship. Smith and his supporters continued to defend their actions, however, by claiming that the Rhodesian majority was too inexperienced at the time to manage effectively a developed nation.

At large, the European population's emerging attitude to UDI was tense. Many white Rhodesians had seen themselves as nothing less than fully fledged members of the British Empire, carrying on the same rugged values and frontier spirit of the early Englishmen who had settled in 1890. But such confidence was rudely shaken by Whitehall's refusal to grant independence on their terms. After 1965, there were those who continued to claim that they were collectively upholders of principle and defenders of such values against the twin threats of communism, manifested through the militant black nationalists, and – ironically – the decadence of Britain herself. Often repeated appeals to the Christian heritage of their pioneer ancestors in "defending the free world" reflected these beliefs.

African parties displayed initial horror at Smith's declaration, with one ZANU official stating, "...for all those who cherish freedom and a meaningful life, UDI has set a collision course which cannot be altered. 11 November 1965 marked the turning point of the struggle for freedom in that land from a constitutional and political one to primarily a military struggle." It would, however, be several years before even the most radical nationalists chose to develop a coherent strategy revolving around armed resistance, preferring instead to create opportunities for external intervention.

Because Rhodesian exports were generally competitive and had previously been entitled to preferential treatment on the British market, the former colony did not recognise the need for escalating the pace of diversification before independence. Following the UDI, however, Rhodesia began to demonstrate that she had the potential to develop a greater degree of economic self-sufficiency. After the Rhodesian Front began introducing incentives accorded to domestic production, industrial output expanded dramatically. A rigid system of countermeasures enacted to combat sanctions succeeded in blunting their impact for at least a decade. Over the next nine years Rhodesian companies, spiting the freezing of their assets and blocking of overseas accounts, also perfected cunning techniques of sanctions evasion through both local and foreign subsidiaries, which operated on a clandestine trade network.

From 1968 until 1970, there was virtually no further dialogue between Rhodesia and the UK. This altered immediately after the ascension of Edward Heath, who reopened negotiations. Smith remained optimistic that Heath would do his utmost to remedy Anglo-Rhodesian relations, although disappointed that he continued to adhere publicly to the original "five principles" proposed by Alec Douglas-Home, now foreign secretary. In November 1971, Douglas-Home renewed contacts with Salisbury and announced a proposed agreement which would be satisfactory to both sides – it recognised Rhodesia's 1969 constitution as the legal frame of government, while agreeing that gradual legislative representation was an acceptable formula for unhindered advance to majority rule. Nevertheless, the new settlement, if approved, would also implement an immediate improvement in black political status, offer a means to terminate racial discrimination, and provide a solid guarantee against retrogressive constitutional amendments.

Implementation of the proposed settlement hinged on popular acceptance, but the Rhodesian government consistently refused to submit it to a universal referendum. A twenty four-member commission headed by an eminent jurist, Lord Pearce, was therefore tasked with ascertaining public opinion on the subject. In 1972, the commission began interviewing interest groups and sampling opinions – although concern was expressed over the widespread apathy encountered. According to every published finding, whites were in favour of the settlement, and Rhodesians of mixed or Asian background generally pleased, while black reaction was resoundingly negative. As many as thirty African chiefs and politicians voiced their opposition, prompting Britain to withdraw from the proposals on the grounds of the commission's report.

The Bush War

As early as 1960, minority rule in Southern Rhodesia was already being challenged by a rising tide of political violence led by African nationalists such as Joshua Nkomo and Ndabaningi Sithole. After their public campaigns were initially suppressed, many believed that negotiation was completely incapable of meeting their aspirations. Petrol bombings by radicals became increasingly common, with the Zimbabwe Review observing in 1961, "for the first time home-made petrol bombs were used by freedom fighters in Salisbury against settler establishments." It was officially noted that between January and September 1962 alone, 33 bombings were carried out, in addition to 27 acts of attempted sabotage on communications. In that same period, nationalists were implicated in arson targeting 18 schools and 10 churches. Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) subsequently disclosed that it had formed a military wing (Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army, ZIPRA), and 'the decision to start bringing in arms and ammunition and to send young men away for sabotage training' had already been made. The Rhodesian authorities responded by banning ZAPU and driving its supporters underground. Frustrated by their repeated failures, nationalists also conducted a campaign of terror against black Africans, murdering those who had either identified with the colonial administration or had simply failed to demonstrate their allegiance to the cause. To protect civilians, emergency laws were imposed, broadening the legal definition of unlawful gatherings and giving the police greater powers to crack down on agitators or subversives. The death sentence was also introduced for terrorism involving explosives and arson.

A crisis of confidence soon resulted across ZAPU, which was already suffering from poor morale, compounded by tribal and ideological factionalism. In 1963, party dissidents rejected Joshua Nkomo's authority to form their own organisation, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) – which worked out its own strategy for impressing international opinion, undermining white assurance, and achieving a complete breakdown of order. By August 1964, ZANU, which had brutally intimidated neutrals and opponents alike, was outlawed by authorities as well.

ZANU's agenda was inward-looking, leftist, and pan-Africanist in nature. Ndabaningi Sithole and avowed Marxist Robert Mugabe, its most prominent leaders, demanded a one party Zimbabwean state with total black rule and a public monopoly on land. After being forced from Rhodesia, they continued to operate in exile, creating occupation groups representing urban workers, miners, and peasant farmers. ZANU also attracted professionals, students, and feminists to its ranks. While ZAPU theoretically continued to command the allegiance of most Ndebele and Shona activists, Sithole and Mugabe drew their support from the Mashonaland countryside.

After the UDI, ZANU officials mapped an elaborate plan for the "liberation of Zimbabwe" which called for attacks on white farmers, destruction of cash crops, disrupting electricity in urban areas, and petrol bombings.[40] Sithole and Nkomo both insisted on the need for armed struggle, but disagreed on the means to go about it. For example, ZAPU tended to follow Soviet thinking, placing an emphasis on sophisticated weaponry in the hopes of winning a conventional battle like the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu. ZANU preferred to politicise populations in areas which they intended to seize. Neither force, however, had acquired basic knowledge of guerrilla warfare. Debate on political theory and insurgent tactics became the obsession of nationalists at this stage.

In April 1966, two Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA – the military wing of ZANU) units, having received prior training at Nanjing Military College, crossed into Rhodesia from Zambia. They were armed with SKS carbines, Chinese hand grenades, explosives, and communist pamphlets, having been issued vague instructions to sabotage important installations before killing white persons indiscriminately. At least five guerrillas were simply arrested before getting very far. Another seven hoped to destroy a pylon carrying electricity to Sinoia in the northwest. Their faulty demolitions were uncovered by the Rhodesian Security Forces and the men easily tracked to a nearby ranch on 28 April, where they were shot resisting capture. This event is considered to be the first engagement of what came to be known as the "Bush War" in Rhodesia and the "Second Chimurenga" (or rebellion in Shona) by supporters of the guerrillas.

The campaign proper is generally considered to have started in 1972 with scattered attacks on isolated white-owned farms, despite the minor threat already represented by the nationalist movements in the 1960s.

After unsuccessful appeals to Britain and the United States for military assistance to liberate Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, who was based in Mozambique after that country's independence from Portugal in 1975, led ZANU to seek support from the People's Republic of China and countries of the Soviet Bloc. Joshua Nkomo, based in Zambia and also supported by the Soviet Union, led ZAPU. ZANU and ZAPU together formed 'the Patriotic Front'. Broadly, ZANLA recruited mainly from Mashonaland and Manicaland provinces, whilst the ZIPRA recruited from Mashonaland West, Midlands and Matabeleland provinces of Zimbabwe.

After the collapse of Portuguese rule in Mozambique in 1974–75, it was no longer viable for the Smith regime to sustain white minority rule indefinitely. Even the South African Apartheid regime considered sustaining white minority rule in a nation in which blacks outnumbered whites by 22:1 as untenable. In 1978 there were 270,000 Rhodesians of European descent and more than six million Africans.

International business groups involved in the country (e.g. Lonrho) transferred their support from the Rhodesian government to black nationalist parties. Business leaders and politicians feted Nkomo on his visits to Europe. ZANU also attracted business supporters who saw the course that future events were likely to take.[83] Funding and arms support provided by supporters, particularly from the Soviet Union and its allies in the latter 1970s, allowed both ZIPRA and the ZANLA to acquire more sophisticated weaponry, thereby increasing the military pressure that the guerrillas were able to place on Rhodesia.

Until 1972, containing the guerrillas was little more than a police action. Even as late as August 1975 when Rhodesian government and black nationalist leaders met at Victoria Falls for negotiations brokered by South Africa and Zambia, the talks never got beyond the procedural phase. Rhodesian representatives made it clear they were prepared to fight an all out war to prevent majority rule. However, the situation changed dramatically after the end of Portuguese colonial rule in Mozambique in 1975. Rhodesia now found itself almost entirely surrounded by hostile states and even South Africa, its only real ally, pressed for a settlement.

At this point, ZANU's alliance with FRELIMO (the Liberation Front of Mozambique) and the porous border between Mozambique and eastern Rhodesia enabled large-scale training and infiltration of ZANU/ZANLA fighters. The governments of Zambia and Botswana were also emboldened sufficiently to allow resistance movement bases to be set up in their territories. Guerrillas began to launch operations deep inside Rhodesia, attacking roads, railways, economic targets and isolated security force positions, in 1976.

The government adopted a 'strategic hamlets' policy of the kind used in Malaya and Vietnam to restrict the influence of insurgents over the population of rural areas. Local people were forced to relocate to protected villages (PVs) which were strictly controlled and guarded by the government against rebel atrocities. The protected villages were compared by the guerrillas to concentration camps. Some contemporary accounts claim that this interference in the lives of local residents induced many of them who had previously been neutral to support the guerrillas.

The war degenerated into rounds of increasing brutality from all three parties involved (ZANU and ZAPU, and the Rhodesian Army fighting off their attacks). Mike Subritzky, a former NZ Army ceasefire monitor in Rhodesia, in 1980 described the war as "both bloody and brutal and brought out the very worst in the opposing combatants on all three sides."

End of the Bush War

The geographical situation in 1965 (left, on independence) and 1975 (right, after the independence of Mozambique and Angola from Portugal). Green: Rhodesia; blue: friendly nations; red: hostile states.
Rhodesia began to lose vital economic and military support from South Africa, which, while sympathetic to the white minority government, never accorded it diplomatic recognition. The South African government placed limits on the fuel and munitions they supplied to the Rhodesian military. They also withdrew the personnel and equipment that they had previously provided to aid the war effort, though covert military support continued.

In 1976, the South African government and United States governments worked together to place pressure on Smith to agree to a form of majority rule. In response to the initiative of US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, in September 1976 Ian Smith accepted the principle of black majority rule within two years. The Rhodesians now offered more concessions, but those concessions, focused on reaching an "internal settlement" with moderate black leaders, were insufficient to end the war.

At the time, some Rhodesians said the still embittered history between the British-dominated Rhodesia and the Afrikaner-dominated South Africa partly led South African government to withdraw its aid to Rhodesia. Ian Smith said in his memoirs that even though many white South Africans supported Rhodesia, South African Prime Minister John Vorster's policy of détente with the Black African states ended up with Rhodesia being offered as the "sacrificial lamb" to buy more time for South Africa. Other observers perceived South Africa's distancing itself from Rhodesia as being an early move in the process that led to majority rule in South Africa itself.

The Umniati was downed by ZIPRA insurgents using a SA-7 Grail surface-to-air missile on 12 February 1979. All 59 passengers and crew aboard were killed.
In the latter 1970s, the militants had successfully put the economy of Rhodesia under significant pressure while the numbers of guerrillas in the country were steadily increasing. The government abandoned its early strategy of trying to defend the borders in favour of trying to defend key economic areas and lines of communication with South Africa, while the rest of the countryside became a patchwork of "no-go areas".

Late 1970s
By the late 1970s, Rhodesia's front-line forces contained about 25,000 regular troops and police – backed up by relatively strong army and police reserves. Its armoured vehicles largely consisted of light armoured cars, complemented by eight tanks (Polish built T-55LD tanks), delivered in the last year of the war. The Rhodesian air force, in turn, operated an assortment of both Canberra light bombers, Hawker Hunter fighter bombers, older de Havilland Vampire jets as well as a somewhat antiquated, but still potent, helicopter arm. These forces, including highly trained special operations units, were capable of launching devastating raids on resistance movement camps outside the country, as in Operation Dingo in 1977 and other similar operations.

Nevertheless, guerrilla pressure inside the country itself was steadily increasing in the latter 1970s. By 1978–79, the war had become a contest between the guerrilla warfare placing ever increasing pressure on the Rhodesian regime and civil population and the Rhodesian government's strategy of trying to hold off the militants until external recognition for a compromise political settlement with moderate black leaders could be secured.

By this time, the need to cut a deal was apparent to most Rhodesians, but not to all. Ian Smith had dismissed his intransigent Defence Minister, P. K. van der Byl, as early as 1976. "PK" had been a hard-line opponent of any form of compromise with domestic opposition or the international community since before UDI.

Van der Byl eventually retired to his country estate outside Cape Town, but there were elements in Rhodesia, mainly embittered former security force personnel, who forcibly opposed majority rule up to and well beyond independence. New white immigrants continued to arrive in Rhodesia right up to the eve of independence.

Alleged biological attacks had little impact on the fighting capability of ZANLA, but caused considerable distress to the local population. Some former officers of the Rhodesian Security Forces stated that anthrax was covertly used by Rhodesian psy-ops units during the late 1970s, though not produced in Rhodesia; they stressed that Rhodesia did not have the capacity to produce such weapons, and that the cholera and anthrax had come from the South African government's top-secret chemical and biological weapons programme, Project Coast, which was using Rhodesia as a "laboratory".

The work of journalists such as Lord Richard Cecil, son of the Marquess of Salisbury, stiffened the morale of Rhodesians and their overseas supporters. Lord Richard produced regular news reports such as the Thames TV 'Frontline Rhodesia' features. These reports typically contrasted the incompetent insurgents with the "superbly professional" government troops. A group of ZANLA fighters killed Lord Richard on 20 April 1978 when he was accompanying Rhodesian airborne unit employed in Fire Force Operations.

The shooting down on 3 September 1978 of the civilian Vickers Viscount airliner Hunyani, Air Rhodesia Flight RH825, in the Kariba area by ZIPRA fighters using a surface-to-air missile, with the subsequent massacre of its survivors, is widely considered to be the event that finally destroyed the Rhodesians' will to continue the war. Although militarily insignificant, the loss of this aircraft (and a second Viscount, the Umniati, in 1979) demonstrated the reach of resistance movements extended to Rhodesian civil society.

The Rhodesians' means to continue the war were also eroding fast. In December 1978, a ZANLA unit penetrated the outskirts of Salisbury and fired a volley of rockets and incendiary device rounds into the main oil storage depot – the most heavily defended economic asset in the country. The storage tanks burned for five days, giving off a column of smoke that could be seen 80 miles (130 km) away. Half a million barrels of petroleum product (comprising Rhodesia's strategic oil reserve) were lost.

The government's defence spending increased from R$30 million, 8.5% of the national budget in 1971 to 1972, to R$400 m in 1978 to 1979, 47% of the national budget. In 1980, the post-independence government of Zimbabwe inherited a US$500 million national debt.

End of UDI (1979)
The Rhodesian army continued its "mobile counter-offensive" strategy of holding key positions ("vital asset ground") while carrying out raids into the no-go areas and into neighbouring countries. While often extraordinarily successful in inflicting heavy guerrilla casualties, such raids also on occasion failed to achieve their objectives. In April 1979 special forces carried out a raid on Joshua Nkomo's residence in Lusaka (Zambia) with the stated intention of assassinating him. Nkomo and his family left hastily a few hours before the raid – having clearly been warned that the raid was coming. Rumours of treachery circulated within Rhodesia. It was variously suggested that the army command had been penetrated by British MI6 or that people in the Rhodesian establishment were positioning themselves for life after independence. The loyalty of the country's Central Intelligence Organization became suspect.

In 1979, some special forces units were accused of using counterinsurgent operations as cover for ivory poaching and smuggling. Colonel Reid-Daly (commander of the Selous Scouts) discovered that his phone was bugged and after challenging a superior officer on this issue was court martialled for insubordination. He received the lightest sentence possible, a caution, but he continued to fight his conviction and eventually resigned his commission and left the Army.

By 1978–79, up to 70% of the regular army was composed of black soldiers (though both the army and police reserves remained overwhelmingly white). By 1979 there were also 30 black commissioned officers in the regular army. While there was never any suggestion of disloyalty among the soldiers from predominantly black units (in particular within the Selous Scouts or the Rhodesian African Rifles – RAR), some argue that, by the time of the 1980 election, many of the RAR soldiers voted for Robert Mugabe.

As the result of an internal settlement between the Rhodesian government and some urban-based African nationalist parties, which were not in exile and not involved in the war, elections were held in April 1979. The United African National Council (UANC) party won a majority in this election, and its leader, Abel Muzorewa (a United Methodist Church bishop), became the country's prime minister on 1 June 1979. The country's name was changed to Zimbabwe Rhodesia. The internal settlement left control of the country's police, security forces, civil service and judiciary in white hands, for the moment. It assured whites of about one third of the seats in parliament. It was essentially a power-sharing arrangement between whites and blacks which, in the eyes of many, particularly the insurgents, did not amount to majority rule. However, the United States Senate voted to end economic sanctions against Zimbabwe Rhodesia on 12 June.

While the 1979 election was described by the Rhodesian government as non-racial and democratic, it did not include the main nationalist parties ZANU and ZAPU. In spite of offers from Ian Smith, the latter parties declined to participate in an election in which their political position would be insecure and under a proposed constitution which they had played no part in drafting and which was perceived as retaining strong white minority privilege.

Bishop Muzorewa's government did not receive international recognition. The Bush War continued unabated and sanctions were not lifted. The international community refused to accept the validity of any agreement which did not incorporate the main nationalist parties. The British Government (then led by the recently elected Margaret Thatcher) issued invitations to all parties to attend a peace conference at Lancaster House. These negotiations took place in London in late 1979. The three-month-long conference almost failed to reach conclusion, due to disagreements on land reform, but resulted in the Lancaster House Agreement. UDI ended, and Rhodesia temporarily reverted to the status of a British colony ('The British Dependency of Southern Rhodesia').

The outcome was an internationally supervised general election in early 1980. ZANU (PF) led by Robert Mugabe won this election, some alleged, by terrorising opposition to ZANU, including supporters of ZAPU, through elements of ZANU that had not confined themselves to the designated guerrilla assembly points, as stipulated by the Lancaster House Agreement. The observers and the newly installed governor Lord Soames were accused of looking the other way, and Mugabe's victory was certified. Nevertheless, few could doubt that Mugabe's support within his majority Shona tribal group was extremely strong. The Rhodesian military seriously considered mounting a coup against a perceived stolen election ("Operation Quartz") to prevent ZANU from taking over the country. The alleged coup was to include the assassination of Mugabe and coordinated assaults on guerrilla assembly points throughout the country. The plan was eventually scuttled, as it was obvious that Mugabe enjoyed widespread support from the black majority despite voter intimidation, as well as the fact that the coup would gain no external support, and a conflagration which would engulf the country was seen as inevitable.

North and south rhodesia

RawReport