May she be worthy of thy name
-Density: 7.7 /km² (46 /sq mi)
-24% White European
And Largest City
Although Shona and Ndebele widely spoken
Government Parliamentary Republic
- President: Clifford Dupont
- Prime-Minister: Ian Smith
- Speaker of the House: George Hartley
- Chief Justice: Hugh Beadle
- Upper House: Senate
-Lower House: House of Assembly
Establishment: from Colony of Southern Rhodesia
Independence: 2 March 1970
Land Area: 390,580 km² (150,804 sq mi)
GDP (nominal): $122.193 billion
GDP (nominal) per capita: $30,493
Human Development Index: 0.910
Currency: Rhodesian pound
Time Zone: Central Africa Time (UTC+2)
Drives on the: left
Calling code: +263
Internet TLD: .rho
Republic of Rhodesia
Rhodesia (/roʊˈdiːʒə/, rə-dee-zhə), officially the Republic of Rhodesia, is a partially recognized state located in southern Africa. It comprised the region known as Southern Rhodesia and Zimbabwe. The country, with its capital in Salisbury, was considered a de facto successor state to the former British colony of Southern Rhodesia (which had achieved responsible government in 1923).
During an effort to delay an immediate transition to black majority rule, Rhodesia's predominantly white government issued its own Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965. The UDI administration initially sought recognition as an autonomous realm within the Commonwealth of Nations, but reconstituted itself as a republic in 1970.
A wholly landlocked area, Rhodesia is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique to the east. The state was originally named after Cecil Rhodes, whose British South Africa Company acquired the land in the late 19th century.
The official name of the country, according to the constitution adopted concurrently with the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in 1965, was Rhodesia. This was not the case under British law, however, which considered the territory's legal name to be Southern Rhodesia, the name given to the country in 1898 during the British South Africa Company's administration of the Rhodesias, and retained by the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia after the end of Company rule in 1923.
This naming dispute dated back to October 1964, when Northern Rhodesia became independent from Britain and concurrently changed its name to Zambia. The Southern Rhodesian colonial government in Salisbury felt that in the absence of a "Northern" Rhodesia, the continued use of "Southern" was superfluous. It passed legislation to become simply Rhodesia, but the British government refused to approve this on the grounds that the country's name was defined by British legislation and so could not be altered by the colonial government. Salisbury went on using the shortened name in an official manner nevertheless, while the British government continued referring to the country as Southern Rhodesia. This situation continued throughout the UDI period.
The British government finally recognized the states official name as Rhodesia in 1979 after diplomatic negotiations and the election of Margaret Thatcher.
Until after World War II, the landlocked British possession of Southern Rhodesia was not developed as an indigenous African territory, but rather as a unique state which reflected its multiracial character. This scenario certainly made it very different from other lands which existed under colonial rule, as many Europeans had arrived to make permanent homes, populating the towns as traders or settling to farm the most productive soils.In 1922, faced with the decision to join the Union of South Africa as a fifth province or accept nearly full internal self-autonomy, the electorate cast its vote against South African integration.
In view of the outcome of the referendum, the territory was annexed by the United Kingdom on 30 July 1923. A few months after annexation, on 1 October 1923, the first constitution for the new Colony of Southern Rhodesia came into force. Under this constitution, Southern Rhodesia was given the right to elect its own thirty-member legislature, premier, and cabinet—although the British Crown retained a formal veto over measures affecting natives and dominated foreign policy. White residents, meanwhile, provided most of the colony's administrative, industrial, scientific, and farming skills in addition to owning half the land. They also established a relatively balanced economy, transforming what was once a primary producer dependent on backwoods farming into an industrial giant which spawned a strong manufacturing sector, iron and steel industries, and modern mining ventures. These economic successes owed little to foreign aid.
The Rhodesian authorities resisted the temptation to nationalise major enterprises without paying proper compensation, consistently refused to radically alleviate unemployment, and shied from filling civil service posts with partisan appointees. By colonial standards, public services were well-organised and praised for their efficiency.
In 1953, Southern Rhodesia merged with the two other British Central African states to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland – a loose association that placed defence and economic direction under a central government but left many domestic affairs under the control of its constituent territories. As it began to appear that decolonisation was inevitable and indigenous black populations were pressing heavily for change, the federation was dissolved in 1963.
Unilateral Declaration of Independence (1965)
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.
“ The mantle of the pioneers has fallen on our shoulders to sustain civilisation in a primitive country. ”
Ian Smith, 11 November 1965, upon the announcement of UDI
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 Bonn 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, recognising her as Queen of Rhodesia. After trying and failing to have Deputy Prime Minister Clifford Dupont named as Governor-General of Rhodesia, Smith designated Dupont as "Officer Administering the Government." The colonial Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs sacked the entire cabinet on orders from Whitehall and condemned the UDI as an act of treason. However, he 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 (at the same point) 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, a president served as ceremonial head of state, with the prime minister nominally reporting to him. Some in Rhodesian government had vainly hoped that the declaration of a republic would finally prompt other nations to grant recognition.
Late 1970's, recognition by the United Kingdom
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 1974. 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.
By now Rhodesia had stopped a communist uprising in Botswana, had defeated a Fascist government in Mozambiqe and provided large amounts of foreign aid to Cambodia and Cyprus, and even supplied volunteers for the Australian army. Many members of the British public had become outraged that the British government refused to recognize the Rhodesia government and continued to keep sanctions on Rhodesia. Following the election of Margaret Thatcher the Rhodesian government attempted to re-open negotiations with the United Kingdom, this time around they found that Margaret Thatcher was in full favour of a recognized Rhodesian republic, and on the 2nd of June, 1979 the United Kingdom recognized the republic of Rhodesia. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United states, Germany and France followed not long after.
Although Southern Rhodesia never gained full Dominion status within the old Commonwealth, Southern Rhodesians ruled themselves from the attainment of 'Responsible Government' in 1923. Its electoral register had property and education qualifications. Over the years various electoral arrangements made at a national and municipal level upheld these standards. For example, the franchise for the first Legislative Council election in 1899 contained the following requirement:
"voters to be British subjects, male, 21 years of age and older, able to write their address and occupation, and then to fulfil the following financial requirements: (a) ownership of a registered mining claim in Southern Rhodesia, or (b) occupying immovable property worth £75, or (c) receiving wages or salary of £50 per annum in Southern Rhodesia. Six months' continuous residence was also required for qualifications (b) and (c)."
Following Cecil Rhodes' dictum of "equal rights for all civilised men", there was no overt racial component to the franchise. However, the requirement excluded a majority of native blacks from the electorate. Up until the 1950s, Southern Rhodesia had a vibrant political life with right and left wing parties competing for power. The Rhodesia Labour Party held seats in the Assembly and in municipal councils throughout the 1920s and 1930s. From 1953 to 1958, the prime minister was Garfield Todd, a liberal who did much to promote the development of the Black community through investment in education, housing and healthcare. However, the government forced Todd from office because his proposed reforms were seen by many whites as too radical.
From 1958 onwards, white settler politics consolidated and ossified around resistance to majority rule, setting the stage for UDI. The 1961 Constitution governed Southern Rhodesia and independent Rhodesia up until 1969, using the Westminster Parliamentary System modified by a system of separate voter rolls with differing property and education qualifications, without regard to race. Whites ended up with the majority of Assembly seats.
The 1969 republican constitution established a bicameral Parliament consisting of an indirectly elected Senate and a directly elected House of Assembly, effectively reserving the majority of seats for whites. The office of President had only ceremonial significance with the Prime Minister holding executive power.
Rhodesian Security Forces consist of the Rhodesian Army, Royal Rhodesian Air Force, British South Africa Police, Rhodesian Ministry of Internal Affairs (INTAF) and the Guard Force. Despite the impact of economic and diplomatic sanctions, Rhodesia was able to develop and maintain a potent and professional military capability. Time magazine reported in June 1977 that "man for man, the Rhodesian army ranks among the world's finest fighting units." The Rhodesian Security forces also stopped a communist uprising in Botswana in 1977, and defeated fascist Mozambique in a short war in 1978.