Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia, is an awful country in all respects. It is under the rule of a Marxist dictatorship fronted by Robert Mugabe, their economy ruined beyond repair with only 1 in 5 in employment, their currency practically worthless, and crime, disease and famine a norm of life.
But this wasn’t always the case. Once upon a time, when the country was known as Rhodesia, she was prosperous, her people happy and her government fair and accountable. The best years of Rhodesia were under Ian Smith and his Rhodesian Front party, even when faced with international sanctions, blackmail and contemptible foul play, from 1964 until 1979 when anarchy ensued.
History has often been unkind to Ian Smith, with many wishing to smear his good name to push the globalist anti-colonialist narrative. These people are generally the Marxists, the real deniers of history who will bend and twist and lie to trick the people. In reality, Ian Smith was a great man who did great – if sometimes outlandish – things with his time in power.
Ian Douglas Smith was born in Selukwe, rural Rhodesia in 1919. His father, John Douglas Smith was a Scottish immigrant and his mother, Agnes Hodgson, an English one. Incidentally, Ian Smith was the only Rhodesian Prime Minister in the country’s short history to actually be born there – the rest were mainly from the British Isles.
Smith was educated at Chaplin High School in Gwelo, where he was a keen sportsman, playing Rugby in the winter and Cricket in the summer. His best subjects in academic terms were maths and the sciences whilst at school. He later went on to study for a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Rhodes University, South Africa, where by chance he also found his sporting speciality in rowing, thanks in no small part to a knee injury whilst playing Rugby. He excelled at rowing, with the Rhodes University team being the best in all of Africa.
When war broke out in 1939, the young Ian Smith was eager to join up to serve the British Empire – whilst the establishment did mislead the people as to the aims of the war, Smith should be commended, as a Rhodesian, for his unquestioning loyalty to the empire. Whilst the rules in Rhodesia were that university students were to complete their courses before being considered for military action, Smith’s dream was to fly a spitfire and on a visit to Salisbury in the 1940 Christmas holidays he met with a Major Walker at the Air Force Administration to enquire about joining up. He evaded the issue of his education and duly began training as a pilot.
Ian Smith fought with the 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron, seeing action in first, North Africa, and then in the Mediterranean, predominantly flying sorties over Italy attacking ground targets. Smith was an accomplished pilot and was invited to return home to Rhodesia as an instructor, but he resisted these advances. This proved to be a bad choice in hindsight, as he had to bail out from an exploding spitfire over the western coast of Italy, landing behind enemy lines in June of 1944. Smith spent 3 months in Italy with pro-allied partisans, committing sabotage raids on the German armed forces, before setting off to join the invasion of occupied France.
Smith again resisted invitations to take up training roles back in Rhodesia and instead joined up with 130 Squadron for the invasion of Germany. After seeing action right up until the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, Smith went to Norway with his squadron then onto Britain, before heading back to Rhodesia at the end of the year. Upon his return to Africa, Smith completed his final year at Rhodes University in South Africa.
Entry Into Politics
In 1947, the freshly graduated Smith met Janet Duvenage (nee Watt) whom he married the following year. That same year, 1948, also saw Smith enter parliament for the first time.
After unexpectedly losing a vote in the Rhodesian parliament, the ruling United Party called a general election and the young Ian Smith was persuaded by the Liberal Party to stand for election in his local constituency of Selukwe. He did stand and was duly elected, but the Liberal Party actually lost 6 of their 11 seats in the election which came as a surprise to many.
Smith was something of a nationalist from the beginning of his political career, with a strong belief in self-determination and great loyalty to the British empire and its motherland, Britain herself – loyalty to the empire and commitment to self-determination are not mutually exclusive. It may come as a surprise therefore, that he later lamented the decision of the Rhodesian people not to choose to enter the Union of South Africa in the 1922 referendum which he claimed would have benefited Rhodesia and prevented the National Party winning power in South Africa in 1948.
Smith’s career in politics was sound and stable between 1948 and 1962, but there is nothing of note or controversy and the real aspects of interest come after the elections of 1962.
Deputy PM, 1962-64
In 1962, Ian Smith stood for election not as a Liberal Party candidate, but as a high profile member of the Rhodesian Front, a party born out of the merger of the Dominion Party and the Rhodesian Reform Party, the latter of which Smith lead.
The Rhodesian Front was led into the election by Winston Field, promising a more open-minded view on independence from Great Britain than the other mainstream parties who were more cautious in their attempts to gain self-determination. Against the predictions of most pundits, the Rhodesian Front won a decisive victory in the elections of 1962, winning 35 of the 50 ‘A roll’ seats available in the Rhodesian parliament – the ‘B roll’ made up the remaining 15 seats of the parliament and was predominantly made up of black Africans.
By his own account, Smith was happy to take a seat on the backbenches once in government, but the newly elected Prime Minister Winston Field made Smith his deputy PM and also Minister of Finance. Smith was “too talented no to have” in a position of prominence.
This period of Rhodesian politics coincided with the beginning of the decline in relations with the British government, with the latter starting a subtle international propaganda campaign against the Rhodesian Front in particular, branding them as extremists in an attempt to destabilise the country and damage their case for independence. It also marked a shameful period of British deception towards Rhodesia concerning the negotiations on independence. The first such incident came in 1963 when the British government reneged on a promise of independence for Rhodesia should the federation with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland break up – independence was promised based on the 1961 constitution, yet when this break up occurred the British government insisted the constitution must change in order to gain independence.
In 1964, the pressure was on Prime Minister Winston Field. The rank and file membership of the Rhodesian Front, along with most of the country and parliament, were agitated with the slow progress of independence talks so when Field backed down on plans to pass legislation to keep the British government out of Rhodesian internal affairs, the party demanded a change.
Ian Smith was elected as party leader and therefore Prime Minister, with overwhelming support from his party as a patriot and a strong advocate of independence. The Rhodesian people and even the Rhodesian Front were not anti-British in any way – quite the contrary – they simply desired the right to self-determination given to most other colonies of the empire and became increasingly frustrated with the growing interference in Rhodesia’s internal affairs.
Smith was keen to gain a mandate from the Rhodesian people to show the British government that they were serious about independence, as well as gaining the two-thirds majority in parliament needed to pass constitutional changes. To this effect, a general election was called for May 1965. Once again, the British government painted Smith and his Rhodesian Front party as extremists and ‘throwbacks’, with suggestions that they funded anti-RF campaigns in the Rhodesian media. Despite all the attempts to derail them, the Rhodesian Front won all 50 A-roll seats in the Rhodesian parliament, a clear mandate from the people and a strong majority for constitutional changes to be made.
White Minority Rule
Too often the name of Ian Smith is associated with Apartheid or white supremacy – these are total falsehoods that anybody with a reasonable appreciation of history should reject out of hand. Racial equality was entrenched in Rhodesia’s constitution in 1923, which allowed all colours and creeds to vote. Apartheid was never a Rhodesian policy, despite its close proximity to South Africa and despite what many still believe. Quite the contrary, all public ameniaties were open to all colours, and there were even areas of Rhodesia specifically reserved for black Africans only. Blacks could go to white areas but not visa versa – where is the “white supremacy” in that?
In fact, when reviewing the history of Rhodesia, one could be forgiven for coming to conclusion that the Rhodesians of British/European descent would have faired better in the long run if they had in fact adopted a policy of Apartheid, but Ian Smith explicitly refused to do this despite pressure from then South African PM and one-time ally John Vorster.
The issue that the British government (and the rest of the Marxist-infested west it seems) took with Rhodesia regarding racial equality related to the non-racial qualifications for electoral participation. The 1923 constitution made provisions for full enfranchisement, on the condition that anybody wishing to vote met certain educational and social standards – i.e they could read and write, and were not criminals. It is true that this prevented many blacks from being able to vote, but if all races are equal as the Marxists tell us, why is it the white man’s fault if the black man cannot maintain the same standards despite unhindered access to the same educational institutions and all other public provisions?
As Ian Smith declared, “we’re not racist, but we have standards”. Amen, brother.
Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI)
In October 1965, a British delegation lead by Harold Wilson went to Rhodesia to investigate the opinions of black people on the current constitution. The British government had once again changed the goalposts and altered the conditions Rhodesia had to meet for independence. After Smith and his cabinet committed to working towards majority rule, the British government insisted that a majority of Africans must express their support for a continuation of the current constitution.
Wilson and his delegation found general positivity on the question of the constitution from all tribes and sections of the black community, apart from the terrorist factions. Suspiciously, this was still not enough for them and they floated the idea of setting up a Royal Commission to conduct a thorough opinion poll of blacks – Smith suspected at the time that the Labour government were working to appease the Marxist dictatorships of the Commonwealth, a suspicion which later turned out to be true.
When Smith and his government readily agreed to this suggestion, the British government began moving the goalposts yet again, attempting to insert new conditions after colluding with the terrorist factions and the African dictatorships in the Commonwealth. After much deliberation, Ian Smith decided it was time to act in order to secure the future of Rhodesia.
On 11th November 1965, Smith held a cabinet meeting after a day-long session the previous day. The topic was independence – do they declare independence, or do they hold out hope that the British government will surprise them and come to an acceptable compromise? After all, the British government had done nothing other than spoil and sabotage any attempt at a compromise up until now.
The decision was unanimous – as Smith himself recalls, he went around the cabinet table asking each member for their opinion and each one of them said calmly and firmly but without hesitation, yes, we declare independence.
At 1.15pm, Smith, after informing the British representative in Rhodesia of their decision, made the following broadcast, a proclamation of independence:
Whereas in the course of human affairs history has shown that it may become necessary for a people to resolve the political affiliations which have connected them with another people and to assume amongst other nations the separate and equal status to which they are entitled:
And Whereas in such event a respect for the opinions of mankind requires them to declare to other nations the causes which impel them to assume full responsibility for their own affairs:
Now Therefore, We, The Government of Rhodesia, Do Hereby Declare:
That it is an indisputable and accepted historic fact that since 1923 the Government of Rhodesia have exercised the powers of self-government and have been responsible for the progress, development and welfare of their people;
That the people of Rhodesia having demonstrated their loyalty to the Crown and to their kith and kin in the United Kingdom and elsewhere through two world wars, and having been prepared to shed their blood and give of their substance in what they believed to be the mutual interests of freedom-loving people, now see all that they have cherished about to be shattered on the rocks of expediency;
That the people of Rhodesia have witnessed a process which is destructive of those very precepts upon which civilization in a primitive country has been built, they have seen the principles of Western democracy, responsible government and moral standards crumble elsewhere, nevertheless they have remained steadfast;
That the people of Rhodesia fully support the requests of their government for sovereign independence but have witnessed the consistent refusal of the Government of the United Kingdom to accede to their entreaties;
That the Government of the United Kingdom have thus demonstrated that they are not prepared to grant sovereign independence to Rhodesia on terms acceptable to the people of Rhodesia, thereby persisting in maintaining an unwarrantable jurisdiction over Rhodesia, obstructing laws and treaties with other states and the conduct of affairs with other nations and refusing assent to laws necessary for the public good, all this to the detriment of the future peace, prosperity and good government of Rhodesia;
That the Government of Rhodesia have for a long period patiently and in good faith negotiated with the Government of the United Kingdom for the removal of the remaining limitations placed upon them and for the grant of sovereign independence;
That in the belief that procrastination and delay strike at and injure the very life of the nation, the Government of Rhodesia consider it essential that Rhodesia should attain, without delay, sovereign independence, the justice of which is beyond question;
Now Therefore, We The Government of Rhodesia, in humble submission to Almighty God who controls the destinies of nations, conscious that the people of Rhodesia have always shown unswerving loyalty and devotion to Her Majesty the Queen and earnestly praying that we and the people of Rhodesia will not be hindered in our determination to continue exercising our undoubted right to demonstrate the same loyalty and devotion, and seeking to promote the common good so that the dignity and freedom of all men may be assured, Do, By This Proclamation, adopt, enact and give to the people of Rhodesia the Constitution annexed hereto;God Save The Queen