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was approved in a referendum of enfran-
chised (largely white) Rhodesians in Decem-
ber 1961. The Crown's powers to reject con-
stitutional amendments were limited to acts
affecting the position of the sovereign or the
governor, international obligations, and obli-
gations taken under certain Southern Rho-
desian Government loans. In addition, the
Crown could reject under certain procedures
any changes in the several "entrenched" pro-
visions of the constitution, which were de-
signed primarily to protect the rights of
Africans. They included a lengthy Declara-
tion of Rights and a Constitutional Council to
safeguard those rights.

Negotiations for Independence

Soon after the fall of the Federation, white
Rhodesians began to pressure Great Britain
for complete independence. Long and strenu-
ous negotiations took place over a period of
2 years, with the Conservative government
headed by Sir Alec Douglas-Home insisting
that independence could come only with firm
guarantees of progress toward majority rule.

Within 2 weeks of coming to power at the
head of a new Labor government, Prime
Minister Harold Wilson made clear that
Britain's position remained unchanged. In
a statement to Parliament on October 27,
1964, Wilson said:

The decision to grant independence rests entirely
with the British Government and Parliament and
they have a solemn duty to be satisfied that before
granting independence it would be acceptable to the
people of the country as a whole.

The only way Southern Rhodesia can become a
sovereign state is by an act of the British Parlia-
ment. A declaration of independence would be an
open act of defiance and rebellion and it would be
treasonable to take steps to give effect to it.

The British set forth five principles in their
negotiations with the Rhodesians which
"would need to be satisfied before we were
able to contemplate the grant of independ-
ence." A sixth principle was added by Prime
Minister Wilson in a statement to Parliament
on January 26, 1966. The principles are:

1. The principle and intention of unim-
peded progress to majority rule, already en-
shrined in the 1961 constitution, would have
to be maintained and guaranteed.

2. Guarantees against retrogressive amend-
ment of the constitution.

3. Immediate improvement in the political
status of the African population.

4. Progress toward ending racial discrimi-

5. The British Government would need to
be satisfied that any basis proposed for inde-
pendence was acceptable to the people of Rho-
desia as a whole.

6. The need to insure that, regardless of
race, there is no oppression of majority by
minority or of minority by majority.

The negotiations finally broke down in
October 1965, after Southern Rhodesia's
Prime Minister, Ian Smith, had gone to
London for talks and Prime Minister Wilson
had paid a visit to Salisbury. Mr. Smith de-
manded that the Southern Rhodesian white
regime have the right to determine and con-
trol the pace of transition to majority rule.
He insisted, at the same time, that Rhodesia's
1961 constitution already incorporated the
essence of the five principles.

Unilateral Declaration of Independence

During this time the United States re-
peatedly asserted its determination to oppose
vigorously a unilateral declaration of inde-
pendence (UDI) by Southern Rhodesia. On
October 5, President Johnson asked Prime
Minister Wilson to inform the Rhodesian
Prime Minister of the American position.
Three days later the U.S. Charge d' Affaires
in London delivered a message to Mr. Smith
stating that the United States could not con-
done any settlement unresponsive to the in-



terests and rig^hts of the vast majority of the
Rhodesian population.

On October 29, President Johnson sent a
personal message to Prime Minister Smith
in Salisbury once again stressing American
support for a solution satisfactory to the
entire population. The President said that
while grave and difficult issues remained to
be worked out, a unilateral declaration of
independence would be a "tragic mistake"
serving no one's true interests.

The position of Southern Rhodesia's gov-
ernment had, however, hardened following
Prime Minister Wilson's return to London.
On November 11, 1965, in defiance of strong
feelings and opinions in most of the world,
the Smith government unilaterally declared
Southern Rhodesia independent. It was, as
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Arthur Goldberg told an emergency meeting
of the Security Council the following day, a
"shocking" event "fraught with the gravest
of consequences." ^

The U.N. Response

Shocking thought it was, Southern Rho-
desia's unilateral declaration of independence
hardly came as a surprise at the United
Nations. U.N. bodies had been calling for a
solution to the Rhodesian problem since 1962.
In the months preceding the unilateral decla-
ration of independence both the General
Assembly and the Security Council had ex-
plicitly asked the British to take all neces-
sary action to prevent it. As late as November
5, 1965, the General Assembly adopted a reso-
lution calling on Great Britain to suspend the
1961 constitution and convene a new consti-
tutional convention to arrange independence
based on universal suffrage.^

With the unilateral declaration of inde-
pendence now a reality, the General Assembly
on November 11 ^ and the Security Council
on November 12 '' passed resolutions con-

■ Bulletin, Dec. 6, 1965, p. 912.
' Ibid., p. 910.
' Ibid., p. 912.
* Ibid., p. 915.

demning the action. On November 20, the
Security Council — all members voting affirm-
atively except France, which abstained — fol-
lowed up its condemnation with more im-
portant action. Terming the declaration "an
act of rebellion" the continuance of which
"constitutes a threat to international peace
and security" the Council called on all states
to refrain from recognizing the illegal re-
gime, to avoid any action assisting and en-
couraging it, and "in particular, to desist
from providing it with arms, equipment and
military material, and to do their utmost in
order to break all economic relations with
Southern Rhodesia, including an embargo on
oil and petroleum products." ^

The action taken against Southern Rho-
desia and its support by the United States
and other nations rested on a continuing
recognition of British sovereignty and legal
authority over the territory. In seeking U.N.
assistance in dealing with the rebellion, the
United Kingdom stressed its intention to re-
tain special responsibility for Southern Rho-
desian affairs. It has maintained this posi-
tion consistently throughout the rebellion.
Southern Rhodesia has not become an inde-
pendent state and has not been recognized as
such by a single government. The measures
directed against it were thus not measures
against an independent nation but against an
illegal regime which had usurped power. As
Ambassador Goldberg told the Security Coun-
cil on November 12: *

A small, stubborn, and sadly mistaken minority
has seized sole power in an effort to dominate the
lives of the vast and unwilling majority of the popu-
lation of Southern Rhodesia. Defying the stern warn-
ings of the sovereign authority, the United Kingdom,
this white minority regime, in a desperate and what
will certainly prove to be a futile gesture, has
unilaterally declared the independence of Southern
Rhodesia, not in the interests of a majority of the
people upon which a genuine declaration of inde-
pendence might depend but in the interests of a
privileged minority, making this a spurious declara-
tion of independence.

= For text of Security Council Resolution 217, see
ibid., p. 916.
« Ibid., p. 912.

MARCH 6, 1967


UMited States Measures

The United States, feeling keenly that the
Southern Rhodesian rebellion could result in
a serious threat to peace on the African Con-
tinent and to its own interests, moved quickly
in support of the British action. The follow-
ing measures were instituted the day after
the independence declaration:

— The U.S. consul general in Salisbury was
recalled, and the consulate staff was re-

— Diplomatic status was withdrawn from
the Minister for Southern Rhodesian Affairs
in the British Embassy in Washington and
from his staff.

— A comprehensive embargo was placed on
the shipment of all arms and military equip-
ment to Southern Rhodesia.

— American private travel to Southern
Rhodesia was discouraged. Americans were
advised they could no longer be assured of
normal protective services and that they must
have British, not Southern Rhodesian, visas.

— U.S. sugar quotas for the importation of
Southern Rhodesian sugar for 1965 and 1966
were suspended.

— Action on all applications for U.S. Gov-
ernment loans and credit and investment
guarantees to Southern Rhodesia was sus-

Further action followed those initial steps:

— The United States recognized the British
action appointing a new board of directors
in London for the Reserve Bank of Rhode-
sia.' The new board was recognized as the
legal authority over official Southern Rho-
desian accounts in the United States.

— American importers of Southern Rho-
desian asbestos and lithium agreed to find
other sources.

— American companies were informed that
the United States recognized the legal author-
ity of the British Order-in-Council prohibit-
ing the export of tobacco and chromite from
Southern Rhodesia and were requested to

— Controls were instituted on exports to
Southern Rhodesia, cutting off all exports of
significance to its economy.^

— With the cooperation of American oil
companies, a total embargo was placed on
shipment of all U.S. petroleum and petroleum
products to Southern Rhodesia.

In addition to these direct measures the
United States joined the British and
Canadians in airlifting oil to Zambia.^" Cut
off from its supply of refined oil products,
which had been supplied largely by the
Southern Rhodesian refinery at Umtali,
Zambia desperately needed petroleum to
maintain its economy. The American contri-
bution to the airlift, which began on January
4 and ended on April 30, 1966, carried over
3.6 million gallons of petroleum products.
The American airlift ended as other supply
routes, by road, rail, and lake, plus a con-
tinuing British airlift, were sufficiently de-
veloped to meet Zambia's emergency needs.
The United States also assisted in emergency
repairs and maintenance of the Great North
Road from Tanzania to Zambia.

As a result of the economic sanctions
against Southern Rhodesia, major U.S. ex-
ports to Rhodesia (mainly foodstuffs, petro-
leum products, chemicals, manufactured
goods, machinery, and transport equipment)
were reduced from a total of $23 million in
1965 to $6.51 million in the first 10 months
of 1966. American imports from Rhodesia
also suffered.

Repression and Censorship

At the time of the illegal declaration of in-
dependence, the British officially dismissed
the Smith government and announced that
Governor Sir Humphrey Gibbs was the sole
representative of the Queen in Salisbury.
The British High Commissioner was with-
drawn, and Rhodesian passports were not
recognized as valid by the United Kingdom.
Great Britain, however, made clear that it
would not use force to end the rebellion.

' For an announcement, see ibid., Dec. 27, 1965,
p. 1028.

° For a Department statement, see ibid., Feb. 21,
1966, p. 267.

' For a Department of Commerce announcement,
see ibid.. Mar. 21, 1966, p. 466.

" For background, see ibid., Jan. 31, 1966, p. 157.



For their part, the Rhodesians placed Gov-
ernor Gibbs under restrictions and promul-
gated a new constitution. Although generally
following the lines of the 1961 constitution, it
deleted references to Rhodesia's colonial
status and made several other important
changes. On the theory that the governorship
was vacant, a Rhodesian was illegally ap-
pointed Officer Administering the Govern-
ment and Commander in Chief of the Armed
Forces. The amendment of "entrenched"
clauses protecting the rights of Africans was
also made easier.

Shortly before its unilateral declaration of
independence, the Smith government had de-
clared a "state of emergency" as a means of
instituting various repressive measures
against African opponents of the regime.

Censorship powers, affecting printing, pub-
lishing, radio broadcasts, and cable traffic,
were invoked on the day of the unilateral
declaration of independence. Regulations in-
stituted on December 7, 1965, also provided
fines for persons permitting "subversive and
seditious" broadcasts from other countries to
be heard in public. Newspapers reacted by
leaving blank spaces to show where they had
been censored. On February 8, 1966, the press
was further curtailed with regulations
making it an offense for newspapers to indi-
cate when they are being subjected to cen-
sorship. Censors were given powers to order
any printed material removed or altered.

Until 1959, when the original black na-
tionalist group in Southern Rhodesia, the
African National Congress (ANC), was
banned by the government and its leaders
placed in detention, there had been little
specifically antiwhite feeling in the territory.
Few Africans thought of getting the white
man out of Southern Rhodesia or challenged
his right to be there. With the outlawing of
African political organizations and the enact-
ment of increasingly drastic security laws,
African grievances against the white man
mounted rapidly.

The system of land allocation and control
has been another source of bitterness. Almost
as much acreage is owned by whites as is
allocated for Tribal Trust Lands. In addition,

the land allocated to African use is relatively
poor while much land owned by whites lies
rich and unused.

African nationalists have vowed to over-
throw the government by force if necessary.
The two major nationalist organizations, both
of which evolved from the ANC, are now
based in exile. They are the Zimbabwe
African Peoples Union (ZAPU), led by
Joshua Nkomo, and the rival Zimbabwe
African National Union (ZANU), led by
Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole. ZAPU was banned
in 1962 and ZANU, formed by ZAPU mem-
bers dissatisfied with Mr. Nkomo's leadership,
was banned the year following. The leaders of
both organizations have been in detention in
Rhodesia since before the independence decla-

In an attempt to counter the African na-
tionalist groups, the regime has made a
major effort to bolster the position of the
tribal chiefs. The chiefs' traditional position
has eroded, but successive white-controlled
governments and the present regime have at-
tempted to use them as a bridge between the
African and white communities. They often
act as local administrators on behalf of the
government. The Africans expect the chiefs
to resist measures against their interests, and
the chiefs are often squeezed between oppos-
ing sides. Recently the regime has sought to
build up the prestige of the chiefs by in-
creasing their salaries and allowances and
providing technical training and overseas
tours. The nationalists regard the chiefs paid
by the regime as dupes or stooges.

Halting of Tankers at Beira

A new crisis arose in early April 1966. A
tanker arriving in the Portuguese Mozam-
bique port of Beira with crude oil for
Southern Rhodesia and another heading in
that direction thi'eatened to breach the U.N.-
approved oil sanctions The British immedi-
ately requested a meeting of the Security
Council to empower them to halt the vessels.

On April 9 the Security Council adopted a
resolution ^^ which, expressing concern "that

" For text, see ibid., May 2, 1966, p. 718.

MARCH 6, 1967


substantial supplies of oil may reach Rho-
desia" and determining "that the resulting
situation constitutes a threat to the peace,"
called upon Britain "to prevent by the use
of force if necessary the arrival at Beira of
vessels reasonably believed to be carrying oil
destined for Rhodesia."

With the backing of this resolution the
British were able to prevent any other such
vessels from entering Beira. The tanker
already in the port subsequently left without
being permitted to discharge its cargo. How-
ever, petroleum continued to flow to Southern
Rhodesia from neighboring countries, the
bulk of it passing through Mozambique by
rail from South Africa.

The African Attitude

With voluntary economic sanctions show-
ing no signs of bringing an early end to the
rebel regime, impatience mounted in most of
the independent African countries. Even the
more moderate African governments, con-
tending that Great Britain's refusal to use
force to end the rebellion weakened its capac-
ity to deal effectively with the problem, ex-
hibited an increasing distrust of its policy.

The Smith regime's success in defying
legality and international opinion also
threatened to stimulate latent racial tensions
in Zambia's copperbelt. Zambia's position
was especially difficult. Southern Rhodesia's
political philosophy was inimical to its most
basic beliefs, yet Zambia remained extremely
vulnerable to economic measures directed
against the rebel regime of its neighbor. The
moderate Zambian leadership, frustrated by
this dilemma, came under great pressure to
join in further action against the Southern
Rhodesian regime.

In early May 1966, Mali, Nigeria, and
Uganda introduced a resolution in the Secu-
rity Council which, among other things,
called upon "the United Kingdom govern-
ment to take all necessary measures includ-
ing the use of force, to abolish the racist
minority regime in Southern Rhodesia." The
United States and Britain, believing the

move premature and the use of force, in any
case, too extreme, refrained from supporting
the resolution. In the vote, which came on
May 23, the resolution failed to get the re-
quired majority of nine votes. The vote was ""
6 in favor (Bulgaria, Jordan, Mali, Nigeria,
Uganda, U.S.S.R.) and 1 opposed (New Zea-
land), with 8 abstentions (United States,
United Kingdom, Argentina, China, France,
Japan, Netherlands, Uruguay).

During May, talks resumed in London be-
tween Great Britain and the Smith govern-
ment and were continued there the following
month, and again in August in Salisbury.
The summer also brought disturbances, dis-
sident activity, and the continuing infiltra-
tion of militant nationalists who had pre-
viously been forced to leave the country. On
July 16, Africans demonstrating at Salis-
bury's university clashed with police, result-
ing in the arrest 10 days later of 10 students,
the deportation of 9 lecturers, and the tem-
porary closing of the university.

Commonwealth Conference

In September the Commonwealth Prime
Ministers Conference in London added to
the mounting pressures on Great Britain to
end the Southern Rhodesian rebellion. Most
of the heads of government in attendance,
according to the official communique issued
on September 14, "expressed their firm opin-
ion that force was the only sure means of
bringing down the illegal regime in Rho-
desia." Faced by these intense feelings, the
British agreed that if the illegal regime did
not take steps to restore executive authority
to the Governor the following related con-
sequences would ensue:

(a) The British Government will withdraw all
previous proposals for a constitutional settlement
which have been made; in particular they will not
thereafter be prepared to submit to the British Par-
liament any settlement which involves independence
before majority nile.

(b) Given the full support of Commonwealth rep-
resentatives at the United Nations, the British Gov-
ernment will be prepared to join in sponsoring in the
Security Council of the United Nations before the



end of this year a resolution providing for effective
and selective mandatory economic sanctions against

A Lost Opportunity

British Commonwealth Secretary Herbert
Bowden visited Salisbury in September, be-
ginning another round of negotiations be-
tween the two Governments. On October 13,
Britain sent "final proposals" for a settle-
ment to Mr. Smith.

Southern Rhodesia was, of course, a major
issue before the General Assembly as it con-
vened in September. The Assembly adopted
two resolutions, on October 22 and Novem-
ber 17, the United States abstaining on both.
The earlier resolution condemned "any ar-
rangement reached between the administer-
ing Power and the illegal racist minority
regime which will not recognize the inalien-
able rights of the people of Zimbabwe [the
African name for Southern Rhodesia] to
self-determination and independence." The
other resolution again called on Britain to
"take all necessary measures, including in
particular the use of force" to end the il-
legal regime.

The United States did not support these
resolutions because of their immoderate lan-
guage and because they impugned Great
Britain's motives in holding talks with the
Smith regime. The resolution of November
17, in calling for the use of force, also ex-
ceeded the carefully measured response to
the rebellion regarded as desirable.

Mr. Bowden traveled to Salisbury again
in November. The intensive negotiations
reached a climax on December 2 in a face-
to-face meeting between Prime Minister
Wilson and Mr. Smith aboard the British
cruiser Tiger in the Mediterranean. During
the 2-day encounter, the leaders worked out
a draft document which they agreed to sub-
mit to their respective Cabinets. It called for
measures which would give the African
majority and moderate whites at least some
representation in a broadened government
under Mr. Smith as Prime Minister. It also

called for constitutional changes which,
though preserving white rule for a number
of years, would assure progress to majority
rule. The Rhodesian Parliament would be dis-
solved, with the British Governor exercising
authority with Mr. Smith and his broadened
interim government until a new election was
held within a period of 4 months.

The British Cabinet quickly approved the
draft document. In Salisbury, however, as in
November of the previous year, opinions had
hardened. On December 5 Mr. Smith's Cabi-
net, under the influence of its extreme right
wing, rejected the document.

"Never in my lifetime," Prime Minister
Wilson told the British people over television,
"has Britain been prepared to offer inde-
pendence to a country before it had reached
the stage of majority rule. In the long his-
tory of lost opportunities, I find it hard to
discover one more tragic than that which
Mr. Smith rejected."

Mandatory Sanctions

After the Smith regime's final rejection
of a settlement, the United Kingdom found
no alternative but to press for yet harder
measures to end illegal minority rule. On
December 8 Foreign Secretary George
Brown asked the Security Council to invoke
mandatory economic sanctions. The Security
Council complied on December 16, by a mar-
gin of 11 to (the Soviet Union, France,
Bulgaria, and Mali abstaining). i^ It was the
first vote for such mandatory sanctions in
United Nations history.

The resolution, after determining that "the
present situation in Southern Rhodesia con-
stitutes a threat to international peace and
security," says that all states shall prevent
the following:

(a) the import into their territories of asbestos,
iron ore, chrome, pig-iron, sugar, tobacco, copper,
meat and meat products and hides, skins and leather
originating in Southern Rhodesia and exported there-
from after the date of this resolution ;

MARCH 6, 1967

" For a U.S. statement and text of Security Coun-
cil Resolution 232, see ibid., Jan. 9, 1967, p. 73.


(b) any activities by their nationals or in their
territories which promote or are calculated to pro-
mote the export of these commodities from Southern
Rhodesia and any dealings by their nationals or in
their territories in any of these commodities originat-
ing in Southern Rhodesia and exported therefrom
after the date of this resolution, including in partic-
ular any transfer of funds to Southern Rhodesia for
the purposes of such activities or dealings;

(c) shipment in vessels or aircraft of their regis-
tration of any of these commodities originating in
Southern Rhodesia and exported therefrom after the
date of this resolution ;

(d) any activities by their nationals or in their

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of State. Office of Public CoDepartment of State bulletin (Volume v. 56, Jan- Mar 1967) → online text (page 65 of 90)