46. British South Rhodesia (1964-1980)

 

Pre-Crisis Phase (January 1, 1964-November 10, 1965):  On January 1, 1964, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was dissolved.  British South Rhodesia had previously joined British North Rhodesia (Zambia) and British Nyasaland (Malawi) to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland on August 1, 1953.  On April 13, 1964, Ian Smith succeeded Winston Field as prime minister of British South Rhodesia and leader of the Rhodesian Front (RF).  African nationalists (the "Crocodile Gang") ambushed and killed Pieter Johan Andries Oberholzer, a foreman at the Silverstreams Wattle Company, on July 4, 1964.  Prime Minister Ian Smith ordered the arrest and detention of the leaders of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), including the Reverend Ndabaningi and Robert Mbellarmine Mugabe, on August 26, 1964.  Prime Minister Smith Ian requested independence for South Rhodesia during meetings in London on September 7-10, 1964.  Prime Minister Harold Wilson of Britain warned against a unilateral declaration of independence by South Rhodesia on October 27, 1964.  White residents of British South Rhodesia voted overwhelmingly for independence from Britain in a referendum on November 5, 1964.  The Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), the military wing of the ZAPU, was established by Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo in Zambia 1964.  Parliamentary elections were held on May 7, 1965, and the RF won 50 out of 65 seats in the House of Assembly.  The National People's Party (NPP) won ten seats in the House of Assembly.  Prime Minister Smith demanded independence from Britain during meetings in London on October 4-8, 1965, but the British government refused the demand for independence.

Crisis Phase (November 11, 1965-April 27, 1966):  Prime Minister Ian Smith unilaterally declared Rhodesia’s independence from Britain on November 11, 1965.  The United Nations (UN) General Assembly condemned the Rhodesian government on November 11, 1965. The U.S. government condemned the Rhodesian government, and imposed diplomatic sanctions (non-recognition) against the Rhodesian government on November 11, 1965.  The Canadian government refused to recognize the independence of Rhodesia on November 11, 1965.  The Zambian government mobilized troops near the border with Rhodesia on November 12-24, 1965.  The governments of India and Ceylon imposed diplomatic sanctions (non-recognition) against the Rhodesian government on November 12, 1965.  The governments of West Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Israel, Japan, and Turkey imposed diplomatic sanctions (non-recognition) against the Rhodesian government.  The UN Security Council condemned the Rhodesian government on November 12 and November 19, 1965.  The Australian government imposed diplomatic sanctions (non-recognition) against the Rhodesian government on November 16, 1965. The UN Security Council imposed voluntary military sanctions (arms embargo) and economic sanctions (oil embargo) against the Rhodesian government on November 19, 1965.  The Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), the military wing of the ZANU, was established in Tanzania in 1965.  The government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) provided military assistance (military training) to ZANU (beginning in September 1963), while the government of the Soviet Union provided military assistance (military training) to ZAPU.  The U.S. government imposed economic sanctions against the Rhodesian government on March 18, 1966.

Conflict Phase (April 28, 1966-December 5, 1979):  Rhodesian government troops attacked Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) rebels in Sinoia (Chinhoyi) on April 28, 1966, resulting in the deaths of seven ZANLA rebels.  ZANLA rebels killed two white Rhodesian farmers near Hartley (Chegutu) on May 16, 1966.  On December 1-3, 1966, Prime Minister Wilson of Britain and Prime Minister Ian Smith met on a warship off Gibraltar to discuss the matter of Rhodesian independence, but the parties failed to come to an agreement. The UN Security Council imposed mandatory military sanctions and economic sanctions against the Rhodesian government on December 16, 1966. ZIPRA rebels, along with South African African National Congress (ANC) insurgents, clashed with Rhodesian government troops near Wankie (Hwange) in northwestern Rhodesia from August 13 to mid-September 1967, resulting in the deaths of some 25 ZIPRA rebels, 25 ANC insurgents, and eight Rhodesian military personnel.  The South African government deployed 2,000 paramilitary police in support of the Rhodesian government beginning in August 1967.  ZIPRA rebels, along with South African African National Congress (ANC) insurgents, clashed with Rhodesian government troops in Sipolilo District from March 18 to April 10, 1968, resulting in the deaths of 55 ZIPRA rebels, 23 ANC insurgents, and eight Rhodesian military personnel.  ZAPU rebels clashed with Rhodesian government troops (as well as South African paramilitary policemen) on July 12-13, 1968, resulting in the deaths of at least 39 rebels and one South African paramilitary personnel.  Prime Minister Wilson and Prime Minister Smith met again on a warship off Gibraltar from October 9 to October 13, 1968, but again failed to come to an agreement.  A draft constitution for Rhodesia was approved in a referendum held on June 20, 1969, and the constitution went into effect on September 11, 1969.  Prime Minister Smith proclaimed the Rhodesian Republic on March 1, 1970, and Clifford Dupont was chosen as interim president. The Soviet Union government condemned the Rhodesian government on March 7, 1970.  On March 17, 1970, the U.S. and British governments vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council that would have imposed mandatory sanctions against the Rhodesian government.  Parliamentary elections were held on April 10, 1970, and the Rhodesian Front (RF) won 50 out of 66 seats in the House of Assembly.  The Rhodesia Electoral Union (REU) won eight seats in the House of Assembly.  Clifford Dupont was elected as president by the House of Assembly on April 14, 1970.  The Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (FROLIZI) was established by dissident members of the ZAPU and ZANU on October 1, 1970.  The African National Council (ANC) led by Bishop Abel Muzorewa was established on December 16, 1971.  After three Zambians were killed by landmines near the border with Rhodesia on January 11, 1973, the Zambian government mobilized troops along the border on January 12, 1973.  The Kenyan government condemned the Rhodesian government on January 12, 1973.  The Egyptian government condemned the Rhodesian government on January 23, 1973.  Three more Zambians were killed by landmines near the border on January 26, 1973, and the UN Security Council condemned the Rhodesian government on February 2, 1973.  On May 22, 1973, the U.S. and British governments vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council to extend sanctions against the Rhodesian government. Some 179 rebels, 44 Rhodesian military personnel, and twelve white civilians were killed in clashes in Rhodesia in 1973.  Parliamentary elections were held on July 30, 1974, and the RF won 50 out of 66 seats in the House of Assembly.  Prime Minister John Vorster of South Africa and President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia attempted to mediate between the parties from December 1974 to August 1975.  The Zambian government hosted negotiations involving representatives of the Rhodesian government, ZAPU, ZANU, FROLIZI, and ANC in Lusaka, Zambia on December 8-9,1974.  On December 9, 1974, the leaders of the four African nationalist groups (ZAPU, ZANU, FROLIZI, and ANC) signed the Lusaka Declaration, providing for the establishment of the Rhodesian political party United African National Council (UANC) headed by Bishop Abel Muzorewa.  Niall MacDermot, secretary-general of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), conducted a fact-finding mission in Rhodesia on October 17-23, 1975. The ICJ isued a report on December 17, 1975.  John Wrathall was inaugurated as president on January 14, 1976.  U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attempted to mediate negotiations between the parties from April 25, 1976 to September 24, 1976, when Prime Minister Ian Smith announced that he accepted Henry Kissinger's proposal for majority rule in Rhodesia within two years.  Rhodesian government troops attacked a ZANLA rebel base near Nyadzonya, Mozambique on August 9, 1976, resulting in the deaths of 1,028 individuals.  ZANU and ZAPU rebel military units merged to form the Patriotic Front (PF) on October 9, 1976.  Britain mediated negotiations involving representatives of the Rhodesian government, ZANU, ZAPU, FROLIZI, and ANC in Geneva, Switzerland from October 28 to December 14, 1976.  The Organization of Front Line States (OFLS) decided to provide military assistance to PF rebels on January 9, 1977. Rhodesian troops and PF rebels clashed near Chiredzi in southeast Rhodesia on May 9, 1977, resulting in the deaths of 35 civilians and one rebel.  On May 30, 1977, Rhodesia government troops attacked ZANLA rebels in Mapai, Mozambique, resulting in the deaths of 32 ZANLA rebels and one Rhodesian military personnel.  The UN secretary-general and the governments of the U.S. Britain, and the Soviet Union condemned the Rhodesian government on June 1, 1977. The UN Security Council condemned the Rhodesian government on June 30, 1977.  Rhodesian military aircraft attacked ZAPU rebels near Feira, Zambia on August 31, 1977.  Parliamentary elections were held on August 31, 1977, and the RF won 50 out of 66 seats in the House of Assembly. On September 29, 1977, the UN Security Council approved a resolution calling upon the UN secretary-general to appoint a UN Special Representative to assist in "the transition to majority rule in Southern Rhodesia."  On October 3, 1977, Lt. General Dewan Prem Chand of India was appointed as UN Special Representative to Rhodesia.  Rhodesian government troops attacked ZANLA rebels near Chimoio and Tembue, Mozambique on November 23-25, 1977, resulting in the deaths of more than 3,000 ZANLA rebels and two Rhodesian military personnel.  Rhodesian government troops attacked ZAPU rebels in Gwembe Valley in Zambia on January 30-31, 1978, resulting in the deaths of some 50 individuals.  Rhodesian government troops attacked ZAPU rebels in Gwembe Valley in Zambia on February 7, 1978, resulting in the deaths of some 50 rebels and eight Zambian government soldiers.  On March 3, 1978, Prime Minister Ian Smith and Bishop Abel Muzorewa of the United African National Council (UANC) signed an agreement providing for African majority rule.  Rhodesian government troops attacked a ZAPU base in Luangwa District in Zambia on March 6-8, 1978, resulting in the deaths of 42 ZAPU rebels, ten Zambian government soldiers, and one Rhodesian government soldier.  The UN secretary-general and the Kenyan government condemned the Rhodesian government on March 8, 1978.  On March 17, 1978, the UN Security Council condemned Rhodesia's recent attacks against ZAPU rebel bases in Zambia.  A three-member Executive Council consisting of Prime Minister Smith, Bishop Muzorewa, Chief Jeremiah Chirau, and Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole was established on March 21, 1978.  The government lifted the ban on the ZAPU and ZANU on May 2, 1978.  Three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) personnel were killed by PF rebels on May 18, 1978.  Rhodesian government troops and PF rebels clashed near Dombashawa on June 10, 1978, resulting in the deaths of 22 civilians. OAU foreign ministers expressed support for PF rebels on July 18, 1978, and OAU heads-of-state expressed support for PF rebels on July 22, 1978. Rhodesian government troops attacked ZAPU rebels in Zambia on July 23, 1978, resulting in the deaths of some 150 individuals.  The WCC provided humanitarian assistance to the PF on August 10, 1978.  President John Wrathall died on August 31, 1978, and Lt. Colonel Henry Everard became acting-president on September 1, 1978.  The government imposed martial law in parts of the country beginning on September 10, 1978.  Rhodesian government troops and military aircraft attacked several ZAPU bases near Lusaka, Zambia on October 19-21, 1978, resulting in the deaths of at least 226 ZAPU rebels, 37 Zambian soldiers, and one Rhodesian military personnel.  The government of India condemned the Rhodesian government on October 24, 1978, and the government of Angola condemned the Rhodesian government on October 26, 1978.  President Wrathall resigned on November 1, 1978, and Jack Pithey became acting-president on November 2, 1978.  The Swedish government decided to provide additional humanitarian assistance to ZANU and ZAPU on November 10, 1978.  A new constitution was approved by the National Assembly on January 20, 1979, and the constitution was approved in a referendum on January 30, 1979.  Rhodesian military aircraft attacked ZAPU rebels near Livingstone and Lusaka, Zambia on February 17-23, 1979, resulting in the deaths of 18 individuals.  The OAU foreign ministers condemned the Rhodesian government on March 1, 1979, and the UN Security Council condemned the Rhodesian government on March 8, 1979.  Rhodesian government troops and military aircraft attacked ZAPU rebels near Lusaka and Mulungushi, Zambia on April 10-14, 1979, resulting in the deaths of twelve individuals.  The Cuban government condemned the Rhodesian government on April 14, 1979.  The OAU and the British government condemned the Rhodesian government on April 15, 1979.  Parliamentary elections were held on April 10-20, 1979, and the United African National Council (UANC) won 51 out of 100 seats in the House of Assembly,  The Rhodesian Front (RF) won 28 seats in the House of Assembly.  The Patriotic Front (PF) boycotted the parliamentary elections. The UN Security Council condemned the Rhodesian elections on April 30, 1979.  The Rhodesian parliament elected Josiah Gumede as president on May 28, 1979, and Bishop Abel Muzorewa of the UANC formed a government as prime minister on May 29, 1979.  The Organization of African Unity (OAU) had announced its refusal to recognize the government of Prime Minister Muzorewa on May 26, 1979.  Rhodesian government troops attacked ZAPU rebels near Lusaka, Zambia on June 26-July 1, 1979, resulting in the deaths of some 50 individuals and one Rhodesian military personnel.  Rhodesian government troops attacked PF rebel bases in Mozambique on September 6-8, 1979, resulting in the deaths of 300 PF rebels and 15 Rhodesian soldiers. Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) heads of state expressed support for PF rebels on September 8, 1979. Lord Carrington of Britain, representing the Commonwealth of Nations (CoN), mediated negotiations between representatives of the Rhodesian government and PF in London beginning on September 10, 1979.  Rhodesia government troops attacked ZAPU rebels near Lusaka, Zambia on November 2-3, 1979, resulting in the deaths of some 50 ZAPU rebels and 22 Rhodesian military personnel.  The UN Security Council condemned the Rhodesian government on November 23, 1979.  Rhodesian military aircraft bombed a ZAPU base near Lusaka, Zambia on November 25, 1979.  Representatives of the Rhodesian government and Patriotic Front (PF) signed a ceasefire agreement in London on December 5, 1979.  More than 20,000 individuals, including some 1,361 Rhodesian military personnel and more than 10,000 rebels, were killed during the conflict.  Some one million Rhodesians were internally-displaced, and 100,000 Rhodesians fled as refugees to Botswana, Mozambique, and Zambia during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (December 6, 1979-April 18, 1980):  On December 12, 1979, the Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) established the Commonwealth Monitoring Force (CMF), which consisted of 1,250 British troops, 150 Australian troops, 24 Fijian troops, 50 Kenyan troops and 74 New Zealand troops commanded by Major General John Acland of Britain, to monitor the ceasefire agreement and demobilization of combatants.  Lord Soames of Britain was appointed as colonial governor in Rhodesia on December 7, 1979.  The U.S. government lifted economic sanctions against Rhodesia on December 16, 1979, and the UN Security Council lifted economic sanctions and military sanctions against Rhodesia on December 21, 1979. South African personnel were withdrawn from Rhodesia on January 30, 1980.  Parliamentary elections were held on February 14-29, 1980, and the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) won 57 out of 100 seats in the House of Assembly.  The Zimbabwe African People's Union - Patriotic Front (ZAPU-PF) and the Rhodesian Front (RF) each won 20 seats in the House of Assembly.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) sent 63 observers from Australia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka headed by Rajeshwar Dayal of India to monitor the parliamentary elections beginning on January 25, 1980. The Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) mission issued a report on March 2, 1980.  The governments of Australia, Denmark, Ireland, and West Germany sent personnel to monitor the parliamentary elections (the Irish mission issue a report on March 2, 1980). The government lifted martial law on March 20, 1980. The CMF was withdrawn from the country on March 16, 1980.  Zimbabwe formally achieved its independence from Britain, and Robert Mugabe formed a government as prime minister on April 18, 1980.

[Sources: Africa Contemporary Record (ACR), 1978-1979, 1979-1980; Africa Diary, November 28-December 4, 1964, November 6-12, 1965, January 3-9, 1966, January 24-30, 1966, April 18-24, 1966, May 9-15, 1966, May 23-29, 1966, July 11-17, 1966, October 10-16, 1966, November 14-20, 1966, December 29, 1966-January 4, 1967, November 19-25, 1967, December 10-16, 1967, January 14-20, 1968, June 23-29, 1968, December 8-14, 1968, March 26-April 1, 1970, April 16-22, 1970, June 25-July 1, 1977, May 7-13, 1978, October 22-28, 1978, July 2-8, 1979; Africa Research Bulletin (ARB), January 1-31, 1980, March 1980; Banks and Muller, 1998, 1041-1047; Beigbeder, 1994, 242; Bercovitch and Jackson, 1997, 132-133; Cervenka, 1969, 170-191; Clodfelter, 1992, 1021-1023; Donelan and Grieve, 1973, 194-202; Facts on File, August 25, 1978; Keesing's Record of World Events, November 27-December 4, 1965, December 18-25, 1965, January 15-22, 1966, November 11-17, 1974, February 27, 1976, April 28, 1978, September 1, 1978, February 9, 1979, April 27, 1979; Langer, 1972, 1083-1085, 1274-1275; Tillema, 1991, 123-124; Weisburd, 1997, 89-92.]

 

Selected Bibliography

Cefkin, J. Leo. 1968. "The Rhodesian Question at the United Nations." International Organization 22 (Summer): 649-669.

Cilliers, J. K. 1985. Counter-Insurgency in Rhodesia, London and Sydney: Croom Helm.

Rothchild, Donald. 1996. "Successful Mediation: Lord Carrington and the Rhodesian Settlement." In Chester A. Crocker and Fen Osler Hampson, ed. Managing Global Chaos: Sources of and Responses to International Conflict. Washington DC: US Institute of Peace Press, 475-486.