Ian Douglas Smith, who was 60 last Sunday (8 April) will complete fifteen years as Prime Minister of Rhodesia on April the 14th.
Ian Douglas Smith, who was 60 last Sunday (8 April) will complete fifteen years as Prime Minister of Rhodesia on April the 14th. Much of his term of office has been spent in charge of a regime that is regarded by most of the world as illegal and was never expected to survive so long. Now, with the elections in Rhodesia about to lead to black majority rule in Rhodesia, Mr. Smith's premiership is due to come to an end.
SYNOPSIS: Each November the 11th since 1965. White Rhodesians have celebrated the anniversary of the unilateral declaration of independence (U.D.I.) with a ball, at which MR. Smith has rung the Liberty Bell.
Rhodesia was technologically a British colony when Mr. Smith became Prime Minister in April 1964. His efforts to negotiate independence with the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, foundered because Britain insisted on majority rule. After U.D.A., the United Nations imposed sanctions against the illegal regime. Twice Mr. Smith and Mr. Wilson met on British warships -- Tiger and then Fearless -- in the Mediterranean to try to reach a settlement, but failed.
Mr. Smith on a visit to John Vorster, then South Africa's Prime Minister. His regime depended on South Africa for its survival. The meeting in a railway train over victoria Falls in August 1975 was brought about by the joint efforts of President Kaunda of Zambia and Mr. Vorster. But the talks, between Mr. Smith and Rhodesia's black leaders, broke down in mutual recriminations.
The dramatic change came in March 1978, when Mr. Smith reached agreement with three black Rhodesian leaders. The man who once said that black majority rule would not come in his lifetime put his signature to a document designed to bring it about within a year. But the question that remained was whether the black leaders who joined him really represented the black population of Rhodesia.
He could see for himself the evidence that they did not. Guerrillas of the Patriotic Front stepped up their pressure. An attack on a petrol storage depot near Salisbury cost Rhodesia several weeks' supply of fuel. Raids on farms and mission stations steadily increased the toll of Rhodesian lives.
Until recently, Mr. Smith had always enjoyed the solid support of the white population. But some former supporters began asking why they must endure mounting casualties and onerous army service, and still find that majority rule was coming after all.
Mr. Smith has come to terms with Rhodesia's realities;
Ian Smith has made his last Parliamentary speech as Prime Minister, but he will be a member of the new Parliament after the elections. He has already been returned unopposed for one of the "white" seats.