In Rhodesia, British Governor Lord Soames signed a proclamation on Thursday (20 March) lifting martial law in the country less than a month before it becomes independent as Zimbabwe.
GV Terminal Three at London's Heathrow Airport (2 shots)
CU INTERIOR General John Acland speaking to reporter
TRANSCRIPT: WAIN: "So what was it that led to such an outstanding success?"
SEQ. 2: ACLAND: "I think it was two things, the first was a stroke of luck in that the original deployment timetable would have meant that I would only have arrived there four or five days before the soldiers started to come. As it was, because lancaster House dragged on and Lord Soames went early before the end, I was there for ten days and I was able to get right round the country and with my staff we were able to make the most detailed plan and a philosophy for how people should actually behave in the rendezvous and assembly points so that the Patriotic Front guerrillas wouldn't ever think that they were Rhodesian. They would realise that they were something different, but they were still able to defend themselves. The second thing of course -- and this was the key to the whole operation -- was the extraordinary courage, self-discipline and judgement of the people who went out on the ground. In those early days if there had been one sign of fear, or one false step, we would immediately have suffered casualties. The world would have spread round the RVs (rendezvous) and the assembly points and the whole thing might well have been a disaster."
WAIN: "As far as you were concerned, General, what was the worst moment?"
ACLAND: "Taken individually, having to take the decision to deploy in the light of information, which, perhaps, would have been described normally, as militarily inadequate. My biggest worry was, I think, round about the 20th of February, when I hadn't managed to get the Rhodesians to face up to the problem of filling the vacuum in the assembly points and I therefore believed at that point, only fourteen days before the announcement of the election result, that I either would have to fight my way out with my solders or that if I got them out, all the guerrillas would manage to go into the bush again because there would be nobody else there and so the whole operation would have failed."
REPORTER: CHRISTOPHER WAIN
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: In Rhodesia, British Governor Lord Soames signed a proclamation on Thursday (20 March) lifting martial law in the country less than a month before it becomes independent as Zimbabwe. Martial law was first imposed in January 1978, during the war against the Patriotic Front guerrillas, and before the ceasefire which preceded last month's general election martial law covered more than ninety percent of the country. Another sign of a return to normalisation in Rhodesia has been the withdrawal of the Commonwealth monitoring force sent to observe the elections.
SYNOPSIS: The head of the monitoring force, Major General John Acland, returned to Britain on Friday (21 March) and Christopher Wain asked him about the success of the operation.