Once again, Rhodesian leader Ian Smith is the focus of all eyes. Since, he ordered?
Once again, Rhodesian leader Ian Smith is the focus of all eyes. Since, he ordered the closure of the border between Rhodesia and Zambia early in January, nation after nation has had something to say about it. On Monday (29 January), the Untied Nations Security Council debated the issue, and on Friday (2 February), all appeared set for a Security Council mission to fly to the border to assess the crisis.
But that may not happen. Zambia's official compliant to the United Nations stated that the United Kingdom failed topple what it called 'The Rebel Rhodesian Regime', which unilaterally declared its independence in November 1965. The United Kingdom, however, may veto any resolution to send a team to the border.
At the moment though, the situation is unchanged. Mr. Smith says his decision to close the border is the right one; Zambia's President Kenneth Kaunda won't talk with Mr. Smith, and Britain is having no luck in her efforts in trying to bring the two leaders together.
For Ian Smith, this is one more moment of tension in his determined single-handed walk on the lonely road in international politics. As Prime Minster, he led the former British colony to independence without the consent of Britain, and without the blessing of Rhodesia's black majority. Since then, Mr. Smith has followed a path not unlike that of its powerful southern neighbour, South Africa, culminating in republican constitution which came into force 1970.
On November 11, 1965, Mr. Smith refused to accept Britain's constitutional plans for eventual African rule and unilaterally declared Rhodesia;s Independence. International political storms came in the wake of the declaration, but most White Rhodesians rode them out. In the late 1960's negotiations on a settlement between Mr. Smith and the Labour Government of British Prime Minister Harold Wilson ended in deadlock.
In June 1970, a Conservative Government came to power in Britain and brightened of an agreement between London and Salisbury. But Mr. Smith didn't commit himself. He said on television in May, 1971 that he was not the person to be knuckled down.
Just before Mr. Smith's illegal UDI, Parliament declared a State of Emergency in Rhodesia. In June 1971, that State of Emergency was renewed. The official reason.....it was necessary because of sanctions and a continuing threat of activity by African Nationalist guerrillas.
Britain sent the Pearce Commission to Rhodesia to sound out public opinion early in 1972, but Mr. Smith contested its findings.
When Mr. Smith closed Rhodesia's border with Zambia in January he again issued a warning to the guerrillas.