British and Rhodesian officials met in Salisbury on Wednesday (30 June) in another round of secret talks in an attempt to resolve the Rhodesian independence dispute.
British and Rhodesian officials met in Salisbury on Wednesday (30 June) in another round of secret talks in an attempt to resolve the Rhodesian independence dispute. Political and legal experts were searching for areas of agreement that could warrant the calling of a summit conference. Two previous summit meetings -- in 1966 and 1968 -- failed to settle the quarrel between Britain and its breakaway colony, now a Republic, with five million Africans ruled by 240,000 whites.
Although developments are being kept secret, it is thought that the British negotiators are trying to replace Rhodesia's independence constitution with one that could guarantee greater political involvement for the country's five million Africans. The first principle in the British settlement formula -- unimpeded progress toward majority rule --remains a sticking point in the talks and could be the key to any final settlement.
Although there are few outward signs that Rhodesia is suffering from sanctions imposed in 1965, the economy has suffered from a trade loss and foreign currency shortage. A settlement of the dispute with Britain, however, could confront Prime Minister Ian Smith with a rebellion on the far right of his Rhodesian Front Party -- especially if a settlement should provide for some kind of shared political control between the Africans and whites.
There is, therefore, a great deal at stake in the present talks, which could end either in a settlement of the old quarrel - or finally abandoment of further attempts as hopeless.
This compilation of VISNEWS library film traces the development of events in the independence dispute from Rhodesia's becoming a Republic in 1969 to the present.
SYNOPSIS: After seventy-three years of government under the British, Rhodesia declared itself a Republic in March of 1970. Prime Minister Ian Smith's declaration was a direct result of a vote on a referendum concerning the question in June of the previous year. The declaration had been fort coming, ever since Rhodesia broke from the British in 1965, in a unilateral declaration of independence U.D.I.
The move appeared to be the final break in relations between Britain and Rhodesia, after fruitless effort at a summit conference in 1966 and 1968. The British governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, was suspended by Prime Minister Smith, and left the country after the vote on the Republic referendum.
The result of the referendum was celebrated at a gala ball, with the Prime Minister ringing the Liberty Bell, despite severe economic sanctions imposed on his government following the U.D.I. in 1965.
In 1970, Mr Smith journeyed to South Africa for consultations with that country's leader, John Vorster, concerning renewed attempts to settle the dispute between Rhodesia and Britain.
In April of this year, a British Member of Parliament, Duncan Sandys paid an unofficial visit to Salisbury - meeting with former Federation of Rhodesia Prime Minister, Sir Roy Welensky, and later Prime Minister Ian Smith. Many observers saw the visit as an effort by Britain's newly-elected Conservative government to settle the Angle-Rhodesian dispute. Mr Smith had said that he no longer believed in the principle government as a condition of Rhodesia's legal independence.
Those principles were thought to be a prime topic for discussion at this year's session of the Rhodesian parliament. Rhodesia's five million Africans -- ruled by two-hundred and forty-thousand whites -- would benefit from Rhodesian acceptance of the first principle -- unimpeded progress toward majority rule.
In Salisbury on Monday, Prime Minister Ian Smith briefed the executive committee of the Rhodesian Front Party on recent secret talks between Rhodesia and Britain. Mr Smith has indicated that he may be willing to compromise Rhodesia's constitution in the talks -- a move staunchly opposed by far right elements in the party. British and Rhodesian negotiating teams are meeting in Salisbury. The secret discussion could lead to a new summit meeting.