1. ^ The government recognised Queen Elizabeth II as the official Head of State from 1965 to 1970. The highest official of Rhodesia held the title "Officer Administering the Government" (OAtG) as he acted in lieu of the official Governor, who remained at his post but was ignored. After Rhodesia became a republic in March 1970, the President replaced the OAtG as the highest official and the Governor returned to London.

Rhodesia (/roʊˈdiːʒə/, /roʊˈdiːʃə/[1]) was a country in southern Africa from 1965 to 1979, equivalent in territory to modern Zimbabwe. Rhodesia was the de facto successor state to the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, which had been self-governing since achieving responsible government in 1923. A landlocked nation, Rhodesia was bordered by South Africa to the south, Bechuanaland (later Botswana) to the southwest, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique (a Portuguese province until 1975) to the east.

In the late 19th century, the territory north of the Transvaal was chartered to the British South Africa Company, led by Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes and his Pioneer Column marched north in 1890, acquiring a huge block of territory that the company would rule until the early 1920s. In 1923, the company's charter was revoked, and Southern Rhodesia attained self government and established a legislature. Between 1953 and 1963, Southern Rhodesia was joined with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

The decolonisation of Africa in the early 1960s alarmed a significant proportion of Rhodesia's white population. In an effort to delay the transition to black majority rule, Rhodesia's predominantly white government issued its own Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965. (The government of the United Kingdom supported Rhodesia's transition to a multiracial democracy.) The UDI administration initially sought recognition as an autonomous realm within the Commonwealth of Nations, but reconstituted itself as a republic in 1970. The Rhodesian Bush War, which pitted the government against two African nationalist organisations, ZANU and ZAPU, intensified in the 1970s, prompting Rhodesian premier Ian Smith to concede to multiracial democracy in 1978. However, a provisional government subsequently headed by Smith and his moderate colleague Abel Muzorewa failed in appeasing international critics or halting the bloodshed. By December 1979, Muzorewa had replaced Smith as Prime Minister and secured an agreement with the militant nationalists, allowing Rhodesia to briefly revert to colonial status pending elections under a universal franchise. It finally achieved internationally recognised independence in April 1980 as the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Rhodesia's largest cities were its capital, Salisbury, and Bulawayo. The white population, which grew to nearly 300,000, dominated the country's politics and economy, though they never made up more than 8% of the total population. Rhodesia developed an economy largely dependent on agriculture, manufacturing, and mining. Its largest exports were chromium, tobacco, and steel. International sanctions put increasing pressure on the country as time went on. The Parliament of Rhodesia, which included the lower House of Assembly and later a senate, was predominantly white, with minority of seats reserved for blacks. After 1970, the country used a semi-presidential system, with a president, prime minister, and cabinet.


Motto: Sit Nomine Digna
"May she be worthy of the name"
Anthem: "Rise, O Voices of Rhodesia"


Location of Rhodesia
StatusUnrecognised state
and largest city
GovernmentParliamentary republic
• 1965–1970
Elizabeth II
• 1970–1975
Clifford Dupont
• 1976–1978
John Wrathall
• 1979
Henry Everard (acting)
Prime Minister 
• 1965–1979
Ian Smith
House of Assembly
Independence from the United Kingdom
• Declared
11 November 1965
• Republic
2 March 1970
3 March 1978
1 June 1979
• Established
• Disestablished
• Total
390,580 km2 (150,800 sq mi)
• 1978 census
Time zoneUTC+2 (CAT)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Southern Rhodesia
Zimbabwe Rhodesia
Today part of Zimbabwe
  1. ^ The government recognised Queen Elizabeth II as the official Head of State from 1965 to 1970. The highest official of Rhodesia held the title "Officer Administering the Government" (OAtG) as he acted in lieu of the official Governor, who remained at his post but was ignored. After Rhodesia became a republic in March 1970, the President replaced the OAtG as the highest official and the Governor returned to London.


The official name of the country, according to the constitution adopted concurrently with the UDI in 1965, was Rhodesia. This was not the case under British law, however, which considered the territory's legal name to be Southern Rhodesia, the name given to the country in 1898 during the British South Africa Company's administration of the Rhodesias, and retained by the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia after the end of company rule in 1923.[2]

This naming dispute dated back to October 1964, when Northern Rhodesia became independent from the UK and concurrently changed its name to Zambia. The Southern Rhodesian colonial government in Salisbury felt that in the absence of a "Northern" Rhodesia, the continued use of "Southern" was superfluous. It passed legislation to become simply Rhodesia, but the British government refused to approve this on the grounds that the country's name was defined by British legislation, so could not be altered by the colonial government. Salisbury went on using the shortened name in an official manner nevertheless,[3] while the British government continued referring to the country as Southern Rhodesia. This situation continued throughout the UDI period.[2] The shortened name was used by many people including the British government in the House of Commons.

The British government maintained this stance regarding the June–December 1979 successor state of Zimbabwe Rhodesia, and when Zimbabwe Rhodesia returned to colonial status from December 1979 to April 1980, it was as Southern Rhodesia. Southern Rhodesia subsequently achieved internationally recognised independence in April 1980, when it became the Republic of Zimbabwe.



Until after World War II, the landlocked British possession of Southern Rhodesia was not developed as an indigenous African territory, but rather as a unique state that reflected its multiracial character.[4] This situation certainly made it very different from other lands that existed under colonial rule, as many Europeans had arrived to make permanent homes, populating the towns as traders or settling to farm the most productive soils.[5][6] In 1922, faced with the decision to join the Union of South Africa as a fifth province or accept nearly full internal autonomy, the electorate cast its vote against South African integration.[7][8][9]

In view of the outcome of the referendum, the territory was annexed by the United Kingdom on 12 September 1923.[10][11][12][13] Shortly after annexation, on 1 October 1923, the first constitution for the new Colony of Southern Rhodesia came into force.[12][14] Under this constitution, Southern Rhodesia was given the right to elect its own thirty-member legislature, premier, and cabinet—although the British Crown retained a formal veto over measures affecting natives and dominated foreign policy.[15][16][17]

Over the course of the next three decades, Southern Rhodesia experienced a degree of economic expansion and industrialisation almost unrivaled in sub-Saharan Africa.[18] Its natural abundance of mineral wealth—including large deposits of chromium and manganese—contributed to the high rate of conventional economic growth.[18] However, most colonies in Africa, even those rich in natural resources, experienced difficulty in achieving similar rates of development due to a shortage of technical and managerial skills.[18] Small, rotating cadres of colonial civil servants who possessed little incentive to invest their skills in the local economy were insufficient to compensate for this disadvantage.[18] Southern Rhodesia had negated the issue by importing a skilled workforce directly from abroad in the form of its disproportionately large European immigrant and expatriate population.[18] For example, in 1951 over 90% of white Southern Rhodesians were engaged in what the British government classified as "skilled occupations", or professional and technical trades.[18] This resulted in the establishment of a diversified economy with a strong manufacturing sector and iron and steel industries.[4][19] As the white population increased, so too did capital imports, especially in the wake of World War II.[18] The considerable investment made by European residents in the economy financed the development of Southern Rhodesia's export industries as well as the infrastructure necessary to integrate it further with international markets.[18]

In 1953, Southern Rhodesia merged with the two other British Central African states to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland – a loose association that placed defence and economic direction under a central government but left many domestic affairs under the control of its constituent territories.[20] As it began to appear that decolonisation was inevitable and indigenous black populations were pressing heavily for change,[4] the federation was dissolved in 1963.[21][22][23]

Unilateral Declaration of Independence (1965)

Although prepared to grant formal independence to Southern Rhodesia (now Rhodesia), the British government had adopted a policy of no independence before majority rule, dictating that colonies with a substantial population of European settlers would not receive independence except under conditions of majority rule.[24][25][26] White Rhodesians initially balked at the suggestion; some felt they had a right to absolute political control, at least for the time being, despite their relatively small numbers.[20][27] The Rhodesian authorities were also disturbed by the post-independence chaos that was plaguing other African nations at the time.[28] However, once Rhodesia had been introduced as a topic for discussion in international bodies, extension of the status quo became a matter of concern to the world community and a serious embarrassment to the United Kingdom.[5]

After the federal break-up in 1963, then-Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home insisted that preconditions on independence talks hinge on what he termed the "five principles" – unimpeded progress to majority rule, assurance against any future legislation decidedly detrimental to black interests, "improvement in the political status" of local Africans, moves towards ending racial discrimination, and agreement on a settlement that could be "acceptable to the whole population".[29][30][31] Harold Wilson and his incoming Labour government took an even harder line on demanding that these points be legitimately addressed before an independence agenda could be set.[5]

By 1964, growing dissatisfaction with the ongoing negotiations ousted Salisbury's incumbent Winston Field, replacing him with Ian Smith, deputy chairman of the conservative Rhodesian Front party.[32][33][34] Smith, the colony's first Rhodesian-born leader, soon came to personify resistance to liberals in British government and those agitating for change at home.[5] In September 1964, Smith visited Lisbon, where Portuguese prime minister António de Oliveira Salazar promised him "maximum support" if he should declare independence.[35] Aside from a common interest in maintaining security ties in southern Africa, Salazar expressed a great deal of anger at Britain's refusal to support Portugal when India seized Goa in 1961, admonishing Smith not to trust the British government.[35] A Rhodesian Trade Office was opened in Lisbon in order to co-ordinate breaking the anticipated sanctions in the event of a unilateral declaration of independence later that year, which encouraged Smith not to compromise.[35] In its turn, the Rhodesian Trade Office in Lisbon functioned as a de facto embassy and caused tension with London, which objected to Rhodesia conducting its own foreign policy.[35] As land-locked Rhodesia bordered on the Portuguese colony of Mozambique, Salazar's promise of "maximum support" from Portugal in breaking the anticipated sanctions gave Smith more grounds for self-confidence in his talks with London.[35] Smith ruled out acceptance for all five of the proposed principles as they stood,[36] implying instead that Rhodesia was already legally entitled to independence—a claim that was overwhelmingly endorsed by registered voters in a referendum.[37][38][39]

Emboldened by the results of this referendum and the subsequent general election, Rhodesia now threatened to assume her own sovereignty without British consent. Harold Wilson countered by warning that such an irregular procedure would be considered treasonous, although he specifically rejected using armed force against the English "kith and kin" in Africa.[40][41] Wilson's refusal to consider a military option encouraged Smith to proceed with his plans. Talks quickly broke down, and final efforts in October to achieve a settlement floundered; the Rhodesian Front remained unwilling to accept what were regarded as unacceptably drastic terms and the British would settle for nothing less – it was a formula doomed to failure.[5]

Ian Smith signs the Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

The mantle of the pioneers has fallen on our shoulders to sustain civilisation in a primitive country.

— Ian Smith, 11 November 1965, upon the announcement of UDI[42]

On 11 November 1965, following a brief but solemn consensus, Rhodesia's leading statesmen issued a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI).[4][43][44] This was immediately denounced as an "act of rebellion against the Crown" in the United Kingdom, and Wilson promised that the illegal action would be short-lived.[45][46] However, few seemed to initially realise that Rhodesia was no longer within the Commonwealth's direct sphere of influence and British rule was now a constitutional fiction; Salisbury remained virtually immune to credible metropolitan leverage.[20]

On 12 October 1965, the United Nations General Assembly had noted the repeated threats of the Rhodesian authorities "to declare unilaterally the independence of Southern Rhodesia, in order to perpetuate minority rule", and called upon Wilson to use all means at his disposal (including military force) to prevent the Rhodesian Front from asserting independence.[47] After UDI was proclaimed, UN officials branded Ian Smith's government as an "illegal racist minority regime"[48] and called on member states to sever economic ties with Rhodesia, recommending sanctions on petroleum products and military hardware.[5] In December 1966, these measures became mandatory, extending to bar the purchase of Rhodesian tobacco, chrome, copper, asbestos, sugar, meat, and hides.[5]

The UK, having already adopted extensive sanctions of its own, dispatched a Royal Navy squadron to monitor oil deliveries in the port of Beira in Mozambique, from which a strategic pipeline ran to Umtali in Rhodesia. The warships were to deter "by force, if necessary, vessels reasonably believed to be carrying oil destined for (Southern) Rhodesia".[49][50]

Some nations, such as Switzerland, and West Germany, which were not UN members, conducted business legally with Rhodesia – the latter remained the Smith government's largest trading partner in Western Europe until 1973, when Bonn joined the UN.[5] Japan continued to accept more Rhodesian exports than any other nation, and Iran provided oil.[51] The Portuguese government marketed Rhodesian products as its own, via false certificates of origin and disguised trade channels.[52] South Africa openly refused to observe the UN sanctions.[53][54] A 1971 amendment passed in the United States permitted American firms to go on importing Rhodesian chromium and nickel as normal.[55]

Despite the poor showing of sanctions, Rhodesia found it nearly impossible to obtain diplomatic recognition abroad. In 1970, the US government had made it clear that the UDI would not be recognised "under [any] circumstances".[56] Even the National Party government in South Africa, although sympathetic, did not recognise Rhodesia as an independent state, maintaining only an Accredited Diplomatic Representative in Salisbury.[57] This allowed Pretoria to continue to recognise British sovereignty as well as to deal with the de facto authority of the Smith government[58]

Initially, the state retained its pledged loyalty to Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, recognising her as Queen of Rhodesia.[5] When Smith and Deputy Prime Minister Clifford Dupont called on colonial Governor Sir Humphrey Gibbs to formally notify him of the UDI, Gibbs condemned the UDI as an act of treason. After Smith formally announced the UDI on the radio, Gibbs used his reserve power to dismiss Smith and his entire cabinet from office on orders from Whitehall. However, Gibbs was unable to enact any concrete actions to foster a return to legality. Government ministers simply ignored his notices, contending that UDI made his office obsolete. Even so, Gibbs continued to occupy his residence in Salisbury until 1970, when he vacated the premises and left Rhodesia following the declaration of a republic.[59] He had effectively been superseded before then; the Smith government stated that if the Queen did not appoint a Governor-General, it would name Dupont as "Officer Administering the Government".[60] Smith had intended to have Dupont named Governor-General, but Elizabeth would not even consider this advice. With few exceptions, the international community backed Whitehall's assertion that Gibbs was the Queen's only legitimate representative, and hence the only lawful authority in what it still maintained was Southern Rhodesia.

In September 1968, the Appellate Division of the Rhodesian High Court ruled that Ian Smith's administration had become the de jure government of the country, not merely the de facto one.[61] To support his decision, Chief Justice Sir Hugh Beadle used several statements made by Hugo Grotius, who maintained that there was no way that a nation could rightly claim to be governing a particular territory – if it was waging a war against that territory. Beadle argued that due to Britain's economic war against Rhodesia, she could not (at the same point) be described as governing Rhodesia.[62][63] Resulting court decisions held that the Smith government "could lawfully do anything its predecessors could lawfully have done".[64]

A Salisbury commission chaired by prominent lawyer W.R. Waley was appointed to study constitutional options open to the Rhodesian authorities as of April 1968, but reaching a further settlement with the British was ruled out early on.[20][65] Waley, although insistent that "Europeans must surrender any belief in permanent European domination", also testified that majority rule was not desirable immediately.[5]

Talks aimed at easing the differences between Rhodesia and the United Kingdom were carried out aboard Royal Navy vessels once in December 1966 and again in October 1968.[66][67][68] Both efforts failed to achieve agreement, although Harold Wilson added a sixth principle to the five he had previously enunciated: "it would be necessary to ensure that, regardless of race, there was no oppression of the majority by the minority or of [any] minority by the majority." Rhodesian resolve stiffened following a failure to reach a new settlement, with more radical elements of the Rhodesian Front calling for a republican constitution.[5]

During a two-proposition referendum held in 1969, the proposal for severing all remaining ties to the British Crown passed by a majority of 61,130 votes to 14,327.[5] Rhodesia declared itself a republic on 2 March 1970. Under the new constitution, a president served as ceremonial head of state, with the prime minister nominally reporting to him.[69] Some in Rhodesian government had hoped in vain that the declaration of a republic would finally prompt other nations to grant recognition.[70]

Impact of UDI

The years following Rhodesia's UDI saw an unfolding series of economic, military, and political pressures placed on the country that eventually brought about majority rule, a totality of these factors rather than any one the reason for introducing change.[71] In 2005, a conference at the London School of Economics that discussed Rhodesia's independence concluded that UDI was sparked by an existing racial conflict complicated by Cold War intrigues.[72]

Critics of UDI sought to maintain that Ian Smith intended only to safeguard the privileges of an entrenched colonial elite at the expense of the impoverished African community. According to this logic, UDI created a vacuum of oppression that was eventually filled by Robert Mugabe's dictatorship.[73] Smith and his supporters continued to defend their actions, however, by claiming that the Rhodesian majority was too inexperienced at the time to manage what was, by contemporary African standards, a reasonably industrialised nation.[28]

At large, the European population's emerging attitude to UDI was tense. Many white Rhodesians had seen themselves as nothing less than fully fledged members of the British Empire, carrying on the same rugged values and frontier spirit of the early Englishmen who had settled in 1890.[43] But such confidence was rudely shaken by Whitehall's refusal to grant independence on their terms. After 1965, there were those who continued to claim that they were collectively upholders of principle and defenders of such values against the twin threats of communism, manifested through the militant black nationalists, and – ironically – the decadence of Britain herself.[43] Often repeated appeals to the Christian heritage of their pioneer ancestors in "defending the free world" reflected these beliefs.[43]

African parties displayed initial horror at Smith's declaration, with one ZANU official stating, "...for all those who cherish freedom and a meaningful life, UDI has set a collision course that cannot be altered. 11 November 1965 [has] marked the turning point of the struggle for freedom in that land from a constitutional and political one to primarily a military struggle."[44] It would, however, be several years before even the most radical nationalists chose to develop a coherent strategy revolving around armed resistance, preferring instead to create opportunities for external intervention.[44]

Because Rhodesian exports were generally competitive and had previously been entitled to preferential treatment on the British market, the former colony did not recognise the need for escalating the pace of diversification before independence. Following the UDI, however, Rhodesia began to demonstrate that it had the potential to develop a greater degree of economic self-sufficiency.[28][74] After the Rhodesian Front began introducing incentives accorded to domestic production, industrial output expanded dramatically. A rigid system of countermeasures enacted to combat sanctions succeeded in blunting their impact for at least a decade.[5] Over the next nine years Rhodesian companies, spiting the freezing of their assets and blocking of overseas accounts, also perfected cunning techniques of sanctions evasion through both local and foreign subsidiaries, which operated on a clandestine trade network.[5]

From 1968 until 1970, there was virtually no further dialogue between Rhodesia and the UK. In a referendum in 1969, white voters approved a new constitution and the establishment of a republic, thereby severing Rhodesia's last links with the British Crown, duly declared in March 1970. This changed immediately after the election of Edward Heath, who reopened negotiations.[75] Smith remained optimistic that Heath would do his utmost to remedy Anglo-Rhodesian relations, although disappointed that he continued to adhere publicly to the original "five principles" proposed by Alec Douglas-Home, now foreign secretary. In November 1971, Douglas-Home renewed contacts with Salisbury and announced a proposed agreement that would be satisfactory to both sides – it recognised Rhodesia's 1969 constitution as the legal frame of government, while agreeing that gradual legislative representation was an acceptable formula for unhindered advance to majority rule.[5] Nevertheless, the new settlement, if approved, would also implement an immediate improvement in black political status, offer a means to terminate racial discrimination, and provide a solid guarantee against retrogressive constitutional amendments.[76]

Implementation of the proposed settlement hinged on popular acceptance, but the Rhodesian government consistently refused to submit it to a universal referendum.[5] A twenty four-member commission headed by an eminent jurist, Lord Pearce, was therefore tasked with ascertaining public opinion on the subject.[77] In 1972, the commission began interviewing interest groups and sampling opinions – although concern was expressed over the widespread apathy encountered.[28] According to the commission, whites were in favour of the settlement, and Rhodesians of Coloured or Asian ancestry generally pleased, while the black response to the settlement's terms was resoundingly negative.[75][78] As many as thirty black Rhodesian chiefs and politicians voiced their opposition, prompting Britain to withdraw from the proposals on the grounds of the commission's report.[77]

The Bush War

As early as 1960, minority rule in Southern Rhodesia was already being challenged by a rising tide of political violence led by African nationalists such as Joshua Nkomo and Ndabaningi Sithole. After their public campaigns were initially suppressed, many believed that negotiation was completely incapable of meeting their aspirations. Petrol bombings by radicals became increasingly common, with the Zimbabwe Review observing in 1961, "for the first time home-made petrol bombs were used by freedom fighters in Salisbury against settler establishments."[79] It was officially noted that between January and September 1962 alone, 33 bombings were carried out, in addition to 27 acts of attempted sabotage on communications. In that same period, nationalists were implicated in arson targeting 18 schools and 10 churches.[44] Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) subsequently disclosed that it had formed a military wing, the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), and 'the decision to start bringing in arms and ammunition and to send young men away for sabotage training' had already been made. The Rhodesian authorities responded by banning ZAPU and driving its supporters underground.[80] Frustrated by their repeated failures, nationalists also conducted a campaign of terror against black Africans, murdering those who had either identified with the colonial administration or had simply failed to demonstrate their allegiance to the cause.[44] To protect civilians, emergency laws were imposed, broadening the legal definition of unlawful gatherings and giving the police greater powers to crack down on agitators or subversives.[81] The death sentence was also introduced for terrorism involving explosives and arson.[5]

A crisis of confidence soon resulted across ZAPU, which was already suffering from poor morale, compounded by tribal and ideological factionalism. In 1963, party dissidents rejected Joshua Nkomo's authority and formed their own organisation, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) – which worked out its own strategy for impressing international opinion, undermining white assurance, and achieving a complete breakdown of order. By August 1964, ZANU was banned by the Rhodesian government as well, which cited widespread intimidation by that party.[82]

ZANU's agenda was inward-looking, leftist, and pan-Africanist in nature. Ndabaningi Sithole and avowed Marxist Robert Mugabe, its most prominent leaders, demanded a one party Zimbabwean state with majority rule and a public monopoly on land.[5] After being forced from Rhodesia, they continued to operate in exile, creating occupation groups representing urban workers, miners, and peasant farmers. ZANU also attracted professionals, students, and feminists to its ranks. While ZAPU theoretically continued to command the allegiance of most Ndebele and Shona activists, Sithole and Mugabe drew their support base from the rural peasantry in the Mashonaland countryside.[5]

After the UDI, ZANU officials mapped an elaborate plan for the "liberation of Zimbabwe" which called for attacks on white farmers, destruction of cash crops, disrupting electricity in urban areas, and petrol bombings.[44] They also formed an armed wing of their own, the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA).[71]

Sithole and Nkomo both insisted on the need for armed struggle, but disagreed on the means to go about it. For example, ZIPRA tended to follow Soviet thinking, placing an emphasis on sophisticated weaponry in the hopes of winning a conventional battle like the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu. ZANLA militants preferred to politicise populations in areas which they intended to seize.[71] Neither force, however, had acquired basic knowledge of guerrilla warfare. Debate on political theory and insurgent tactics became the obsession of nationalists at this stage.[44]

A Rhodesian soldier interrogates villagers in late 1977 at gunpoint. This photograph would become one of the most enduring images of the bush war.

In April 1966, two ZANLA units, having received prior training at Nanjing Military College, crossed into Rhodesia from Zambia. They were armed with SKS carbines, hand grenades, explosives, and communist pamphlets, having been issued vague instructions to sabotage important installations before killing white persons indiscriminately.[44] At least five guerrillas were simply arrested before getting very far. Another seven hoped to destroy a pylon carrying electricity to Sinoia in the northwest. Their faulty demolitions were uncovered by the Rhodesian Security Forces and the men easily tracked to a nearby ranch on 28 April, where they were shot resisting capture.[71][83][84] This event is considered to have been the first engagement of what came to be known as the "Bush War" in Rhodesia and the "Second Chimurenga" (or rebellion in Shona) by supporters of the guerrillas.[85]

The campaign proper is generally considered to have started in 1972 with the Attack on Altena Farm, despite the minor threat already represented by the nationalist movements in the 1960s.

After unsuccessful appeals to Britain and the United States for military assistance, Robert Mugabe, who was based in Mozambique after that country's independence from Portugal in 1975, led ZANU to seek support from the People's Republic of China and countries of the Soviet Bloc. Joshua Nkomo, based in Zambia and also supported by the Soviet Union, led ZAPU.[86] ZANU and ZAPU together formed 'the Patriotic Front'. Broadly, ZANLA recruited mainly from Mashonaland and Manicaland provinces, whilst the ZIPRA recruited from Mashonaland West, Midlands and Matabeleland provinces of Zimbabwe. As Mugabe had described himself in an interview as a "Marxist-Leninist of Maoist Thought", which enraged the Kremlin, Soviet support went exclusively to ZAPU while China supported ZANU.[87] Soviet arms went to the ZAPU via Zambia and Mozambique, and Nkomo was in regular contact with Vasili Grigoryevich Solodovnikov, the Soviet ambassador to Zambia who was also known to be associated with the KGB.[87] Nkomo, who depended heavily on Soviet arms, had what he called an "extensive correspondence" with Yuri Andropov, the KGB chief, while officers from the Cuban DGI provided training for the ZAPU.[87]

After the collapse of Portuguese rule in Mozambique in 1974–75, it was no longer viable for the Smith regime to sustain white minority rule indefinitely. By this time, even South Africa's Vorster had come to this view. While Vorster was unwilling to make concessions to his own country's blacks, he concluded that white minority rule was not sustainable in a country where blacks outnumbered whites 22:1.[86] In 1978, there were 270,000 Rhodesians of European descent and more than six million Africans.[88]

International business groups involved in the country (e.g. Lonrho) transferred their support from the Rhodesian government to black nationalist parties. Business leaders and politicians feted Nkomo on his visits to Europe. ZANU also attracted business supporters who saw the course that future events were likely to take.[89] Funding and arms support provided by supporters, particularly from the Soviet Union and its allies in the latter 1970s, allowed both ZIPRA and the ZANLA to acquire more sophisticated weaponry, thereby increasing the military pressure that the guerrillas were able to place on Rhodesia.

Until 1972, containing the guerrillas was little more than a police action. Even as late as August 1975 when Rhodesian government and black nationalist leaders met at Victoria Falls for negotiations brokered by South Africa and Zambia, the talks never got beyond the procedural phase.[90] Rhodesian representatives made it clear they were prepared to fight an all out war to prevent majority rule.[91] However, the situation changed dramatically after the end of Portuguese colonial rule in Mozambique in 1975. Rhodesia now found itself almost entirely surrounded by hostile states and even South Africa, its only real ally, pressed for a settlement.

Having let slip one chance after another of reaching an accommodation with more moderate black leaders, Rhodesia's whites seem to have made the tragic choice of facing black nationalism over the barrel of a gun rather than the conference table. The downhill road toward a race war in Rhodesia is becoming increasingly slippery with blood.

— Rand Daily Mail editorial, May 1976[92]

At this point, ZANU's alliance with FRELIMO (the Liberation Front of Mozambique) and the porous border between Mozambique and eastern Rhodesia enabled large-scale training and infiltration of ZANU/ZANLA fighters. The governments of Zambia and Botswana were also emboldened sufficiently to allow resistance movement bases to be set up in their territories. Guerrillas began to launch operations deep inside Rhodesia, attacking roads, railways, economic targets and isolated security force positions, in 1976.[93]

Rhodesian Army recruitment Bush War 1976
Rhodesian servicewoman takes aim with her Browning Hi-Power 9×19mm semi-automatic pistol; from a 1976 army recruitment poster

The government adopted a strategic hamlets policy of the kind used in Malaya and Vietnam to restrict the influence of insurgents over the population of rural areas. Local people were forced to relocate to protected villages (PVs) which were strictly controlled and guarded by the government against rebel atrocities. The protected villages were compared by the guerrillas to concentration camps. Some contemporary accounts claim that this interference in the lives of local residents induced many of them who had previously been neutral to support the guerrillas.[94]

The war degenerated into rounds of increasing brutality from all three parties involved (ZANU and ZAPU, and the Rhodesian Army). Mike Subritzky, a former NZ Army ceasefire monitor in Rhodesia, in 1980 described the war as "both bloody and brutal and brought out the very worst in the opposing combatants on all three sides."[95]

A major problem for the Rhodesian state in fighting the Bush War was always a shortage of manpower.[96] Of the 3,000 white men liable for conscription in 1973, only about 1,000 reported when called-up.[96] In February 1978, the Rhodesian Army stated it needed a minimum of 1,041 men to continue combat operations, and of those called up, only 570 reported for duty while the rest chose to move to South Africa.[96] The Rhodesian Army consistently out-fought the ZANU and ZAPU guerillas. However, white emigration caused a shortage of military manpower. White emigration increased as the state called up more and more men to fight in the war, creating a vicious circle, which gradually limited the capacity of the Rhodesian state to continue the war.[97] In order to stop white emigration, the Smith government brought in a law in 1975 forbidding Rhodesian citizens from holding foreign currency, but the law was widely flouted.[98] In order to encourage white emigration, the guerrillas of ZANU and ZAPU followed a strategy of attacking anything and everything that was of economic value across the country in order to force the state to call up more men, and of killing white civilians.[99] Killing Rhodesian white citizens tended to have an "echo effect" as the ZANU and ZAPU had each estimated that for one white citizen killed, it caused about 20 to leave Rhodesia.[99]

End of the Bush War

The geographical situation in 1965 (left, on UDI) and 1975 (right, after the independence of Mozambique and Angola from Portugal). Green: Rhodesia; purple: friendly nations; orange: hostile states; grey: neutral countries.


Rhodesia began to lose vital economic and military support from South Africa, which, while sympathetic to the white minority government, never accorded it diplomatic recognition. The South African government placed limits on the fuel and munitions they supplied to the Rhodesian military. They also withdrew the personnel and equipment that they had previously provided to aid the war effort, though covert military support continued.[100]

In 1976, the South African government and United States governments worked together to place pressure on Smith to agree to a form of majority rule. In response to the initiative of US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, in 1976 Ian Smith accepted the principle of black majority rule within two years.[100] The Rhodesians now offered more concessions, but those concessions, focused on reaching an "internal settlement" with moderate black leaders, were insufficient to end the war.

At the time, some Rhodesians said the still embittered history between the British-dominated Rhodesia and the Afrikaner-dominated South Africa partly led the South African government to withdraw its aid to Rhodesia. Ian Smith said in his memoirs that even though many white South Africans supported Rhodesia, South African Prime Minister John Vorster's policy of détente with the Black African states ended up with Rhodesia being offered as the "sacrificial lamb" to buy more time for South Africa. Other observers perceived South Africa's distancing itself from Rhodesia as being an early move in the process that led to majority rule in South Africa itself.[101]

In 1976 South Africa saw settlement of the Rhodesian question as vital on several fronts: to cauterise the wound of the psychological blow … caused by her defeat in the Angolan conflict; to pre-empt possible Cuban intervention in Rhodesia and the possibility of South Africa being sucked into another Cold War regional conflict without the support and endorsement of the western powers

— Dr Sue Onslow, South Africa and UDI[102]

In the latter 1970s, the militants had successfully put the economy of Rhodesia under significant pressure while the numbers of guerrillas in the country were steadily increasing.[103][104] The government abandoned its early strategy of trying to defend the borders in favour of trying to defend key economic areas and lines of communication with South Africa, while the rest of the countryside became a patchwork of "no-go areas".

Late 1970s

By the late 1970s, Rhodesia's front-line forces contained about 25,000 regular troops and police – backed up by relatively strong army and police reserves.[105] Its mechanised contingent consisted of light armoured cars and improvised mine-protected armoured personnel carriers, complemented by eight tanks (Polish built T-55LD tanks), delivered in the last year of the war. The Rhodesian Air Force operated an assortment of both Canberra light bombers, Hawker Hunter fighter bombers, older de Havilland Vampire jets as well as a somewhat antiquated, but still potent, helicopter arm. These forces, including highly trained special operations units, were capable of launching devastating raids on resistance movement camps outside the country, as in Operation Dingo in 1977 and other similar operations.

Nevertheless, guerrilla pressure inside the country itself was steadily increasing in the latter 1970s. By 1978–79, the war had become a contest between the guerrilla warfare placing ever increasing pressure on the Rhodesian regime and civil population, and the Rhodesian government's strategy of trying to hold off the militants until external recognition for a compromise political settlement with moderate black leaders could be secured.

By this time, the need to cut a deal was apparent to most Rhodesians, but not to all. Ian Smith had dismissed his intransigent Defence Minister, P. K. van der Byl, as early as 1976.[106] Van der Byl was a hard-line opponent of any form of compromise with domestic opposition or the international community since before UDI.

...it is better to fight to the last man and the last cartridge and die with some honour. Because, what is being presented to us here is a degree of humiliation...

— P. K. van der Byl in 1977, commenting on a British peace plan.[107]

Van der Byl eventually retired to his country estate outside Cape Town, but there were elements in Rhodesia, mainly embittered former security force personnel, who forcibly opposed majority rule up to and well beyond the establishment of majority rule.[108] New white immigrants continued to arrive in Rhodesia right up to the eve of majority rule.[109]

Intensification of the Bush War

The work of journalists such as Lord Richard Cecil, son of the Marquess of Salisbury, stiffened the morale of Rhodesians and their overseas supporters.[110] Lord Richard produced regular news reports such as the Thames TV 'Frontline Rhodesia' features. These reports typically contrasted the incompetent insurgents with the "superbly professional" government troops.[111] A group of ZANLA fighters killed Lord Richard on 20 April 1978 when he was accompanying a Rhodesian airborne unit employed in Fire Force Operations.[112]

The shooting down on 3 September 1978 of the civilian Vickers Viscount airliner Hunyani, Air Rhodesia Flight RH825, in the Kariba area by ZIPRA fighters using a surface-to-air missile, with the subsequent massacre of its survivors, is widely considered to be the event that finally destroyed the Rhodesians' will to continue the war. Although militarily insignificant, the loss of this aircraft (and a second Viscount, the Umniati, in 1979) demonstrated the reach of resistance movements extended to Rhodesian civil society.[113]

The Rhodesians' means to continue the war were also eroding fast. In December 1978, a ZANLA unit penetrated the outskirts of Salisbury and fired a volley of rockets and incendiary device rounds into the main oil storage depot – the most heavily defended economic asset in the country. The storage tanks burned for five days, giving off a column of smoke that could be seen 130 kilometres (80 mi) away. Five hundred thousand barrels (79,000 m3) of petroleum product (comprising Rhodesia's strategic oil reserve) were lost.[114]

The government's defence spending increased from R$30 million, 8.5% of the national budget in 1971 to 1972, to R$400 m in 1978 to 1979, 47% of the national budget. In 1980, the post-independence government of Zimbabwe inherited a US$500 million national debt.[115]

End of UDI (1979)

Internal Settlement
Signing the Rhodesian Internal Settlement (from left: Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Ian Smith, Jeremiah Chirau and Ndabaningi Sithole)

The Rhodesian army continued its "mobile counter-offensive" strategy of holding key positions ("vital asset ground") while carrying out raids into the no-go areas and into neighbouring countries. While often extraordinarily successful in inflicting heavy guerrilla casualties, such raids also on occasion failed to achieve their objectives. In April 1979 special forces carried out a raid on Joshua Nkomo's residence in Lusaka (Zambia) with the stated intention of assassinating him.[116] Nkomo and his family left hastily a few hours before the raid – having clearly been warned that the raid was coming.

In 1979, some special forces units were accused of using counterinsurgent operations as cover for ivory poaching and smuggling. Colonel Reid-Daly (commander of the Selous Scouts) discovered that his phone was bugged and after challenging a superior officer on this issue was court martialled for insubordination. He received the lightest sentence possible, a caution, but he continued to fight his conviction and eventually resigned his commission and left the Army.

By 1978–79, up to 70% of the regular army was composed of black soldiers (though both the army and police reserves remained overwhelmingly white). By 1979 there were also 30 black commissioned officers in the regular army. While there was never any suggestion of disloyalty among the soldiers from predominantly black units (in particular within the Selous Scouts or the Rhodesian African Rifles – RAR), some argue that, by the time of the 1980 election, many of the RAR soldiers voted for Robert Mugabe.[117]

As the result of an Internal Settlement signed on 3 March 1978 between the Rhodesian government and the moderate African nationalist parties, which were not in exile and not involved in the war, elections were held in April 1979. The United African National Council (UANC) party won a majority in this election, and its leader, Abel Muzorewa (a United Methodist Church bishop), became the country's first black prime minister on 1 June 1979. The country's name was changed to Zimbabwe Rhodesia. The internal settlement left control of the country's police, security forces, civil service and judiciary in white hands, for the moment. It assured whites of about one-third of the seats in parliament. It was essentially a power-sharing arrangement between whites and blacks which, in the eyes of many, particularly the insurgents, did not amount to majority rule.[118] However, the United States Senate voted to end economic sanctions against Zimbabwe Rhodesia on 12 June.[119]

While the 1979 election was described by the Rhodesian government as non-racial and democratic, it did not include the main nationalist parties ZANU and ZAPU. In spite of offers from Ian Smith, the latter parties declined to participate in an election in which their political position would be insecure and under a proposed constitution which they had played no part in drafting and which was perceived as retaining strong white minority privilege.

Bishop Muzorewa's government did not receive international recognition. The Bush War continued unabated and sanctions were not lifted. The international community refused to accept the validity of any agreement which did not incorporate the main nationalist parties. The British Government (then led by the recently elected Margaret Thatcher) issued invitations to all parties to attend a peace conference at Lancaster House. These negotiations took place in London in late 1979. The three-month-long conference almost failed to reach conclusion, due to disagreements on land reform, but resulted in the Lancaster House Agreement. UDI ended, and Rhodesia temporarily reverted to the status of a British colony (the 'Colony of Southern Rhodesia').[120] As per the agreement, Lord Soames became Governor with full legislative and executive powers.

The Lancaster House Agreement further provided for a ceasefire which was followed by an internationally supervised general election, held on February 1980. ZANU led by Robert Mugabe won this election, some alleged, by terrorising its political opposition, including supporters of ZAPU, through former insurgents that had not confined themselves to the designated guerrilla assembly points, as stipulated by the Lancaster House Agreement. The observers and Soames were accused of looking the other way, and Mugabe's victory was certified. Nevertheless, few could doubt that Mugabe's support within his majority Shona tribal group was extremely strong. The Rhodesian military seriously considered mounting a coup against a perceived stolen election ("Operation Quartz") to prevent ZANU from taking over the country.[121] The alleged coup was to include the assassination of Mugabe and coordinated assaults on guerrilla assembly points throughout the country. The plan was eventually scuttled, as it was obvious that Mugabe enjoyed widespread support from the black majority despite voter intimidation, as well as the fact that the coup would gain no external support, and a conflagration which would engulf the country was seen as inevitable.

Republic of Zimbabwe (1980)

Mugabe (and nationalists who supported his rule) were rather less concerned by Operation Quartz than by the possibility that there might be a mass exodus of the white community of the kind that had caused chaos in Mozambique five years earlier. Such an exodus had been prepared for by the South African government. With the agreement of the British Governor of Rhodesia, South African troops had entered the country to secure the road approaches to the Beit Bridge border crossing point. Refugee camps had been prepared in the Transvaal. On the day the election results became known, most white families had prepared contingency plans for flight, including the packing of cars and suitcases.

However, after a meeting with Robert Mugabe and the central committee of ZANU (PF), Ian Smith was reassured that whites could and should stay in the new Zimbabwe. Mugabe promised that he would abide strictly by the terms of the Lancaster House Agreement and that changes in Zimbabwe would be made gradually and by a proper legal process. In a CBS news interview, Mugabe claimed that Rhodesian whites "...are still in control of the economy, the majority being commercial farmers."[122] Mugabe, however, would reverse his commitment to these agreements some years later; the regime began confiscating white-owned farmlands. This is widely blamed for leading to the deterioration of the Zimbabwean economy, which plagues the country today.[123]

On 18 April 1980 the country became independent within the Commonwealth of Nations as the Republic of Zimbabwe, and its capital, Salisbury, was renamed Harare two years later.


Rhodesia is equivalent in territory to modern Zimbabwe. It was a landlocked country in southern Africa, lying between latitudes 15° and 23°S, and longitudes 25° and 34°E. It was bordered by South Africa to the south, the Bechuanaland Protectorate (later Botswana) to the west and southwest, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique to the east and northeast. Its northwest corner is roughly 0.15 kilometres (150 metres; 15,000 centimetres; 0.093 miles; 490 feet; 160 yards; 5,900 inches) from South West Africa (present-day Namibia), South Africa, nearly forming a four-nation quadripoint. Most of the country is elevated, consisting of a central plateau (high veld) stretching from the southwest northwards with altitudes between 1,000 and 1,600 m (3,300 and 5,200 ft). The country's extreme east is mountainous, this area being known as the Eastern Highlands, with Mount Inyangani as the highest point at 2,592 m (8,504 ft).


Rhodesia had a tropical climate with many local variations. The southern areas are known for their heat and aridity, parts of the central plateau receive frost in winter, the Zambezi valley is also known for its extreme heat and the Eastern Highlands usually experience cool temperatures and the highest rainfall in the country. The country's rainy season was from late October to March and the hot climate is moderated by increasing altitude. The country was faced with recurring droughts, and severe storms are rare.[124]


The country was mostly savannah, although the moist and mountainous eastern highlands support areas of tropical evergreen and hardwood forests. Trees found in these Eastern Highlands included teak, mahogany, enormous specimens of strangling fig, forest newtonia, big leaf, white stinkwood, chirinda stinkwood, knobthorn and many others.

In the low-lying parts of the country fever trees, mopane, combretum and baobabs abound. Much of the country is covered by miombo woodland, dominated by brachystegia species and others. Among the numerous flowers and shrubs are hibiscus, flame lily, snake lily, spider lily, leonotus, cassia, tree wisteria and dombeya. There are around 350 species of mammals that can be found in Rhodesia. There are also many snakes and lizards, over 500 bird species, and 131 fish species.

Government and politics

Flag of the President of Rhodesia (1970–1979)
The Presidential flag of Rhodesia

Although Southern Rhodesia never gained full dominion status within the Commonwealth of Nations, Southern Rhodesians ruled themselves from the attainment of 'Responsible Government' in 1923. Its electoral register had property and education qualifications. Over the years various electoral arrangements made at a national and municipal level upheld these standards. For example, the franchise for the first Southern Rhodesian Legislative Council election in 1899 contained the following requirement:

voters to be British subjects, male, 21 years of age and older, able to write their address and occupation, and then to fulfil the following financial requirements: (a) ownership of a registered mining claim in Southern Rhodesia, or (b) occupying immovable property worth £75, or (c) receiving wages or salary of £50 per annum in Southern Rhodesia. Six months' continuous residence was also required for qualifications (b) and (c).

Following Cecil Rhodes's dictum of "equal rights for all civilised men", there was no overt racial component to the franchise. However, the requirement excluded a majority of native blacks from the electorate.

Up until the 1950s, Southern Rhodesia had a vibrant political life with right and left wing parties competing for power. The Rhodesian Labour Party held seats in the Assembly and in municipal councils throughout the 1920s and 1930s. From 1953 to 1958, the prime minister was Garfield Todd, a liberal who did much to promote the development of the Black community through investment in education, housing and healthcare. However, the government forced Todd from office because his proposed reforms were seen by many whites as too radical.

From 1958 onwards, white settler politics consolidated and ossified around resistance to majority rule, setting the stage for UDI. The 1961 Constitution governed Southern Rhodesia and independent Rhodesia up until 1969, using the Westminster Parliamentary System modified by a system of separate voter rolls with differing property and education qualifications, without regard to race. Whites ended up with the majority of Assembly seats.

The 1969 republican constitution established a bicameral Parliament consisting of an indirectly elected Senate and a directly elected House of Assembly, effectively reserving the majority of seats for whites. The office of President had only ceremonial significance with the Prime Minister holding executive power.

The Constitution of the short-lived Zimbabwe Rhodesia, which saw a black-led government elected for the first time, reserved 28 of the 100 parliamentary seats for whites. The independence constitution agreed at Lancaster House watered those provisions down and reserved 20 out of 100 seats for whites in the House of Assembly and 8 out of 40 seats in the Senate. The constitution prohibited Zimbabwe authorities from altering the Constitution for seven years without unanimous consent and required a three-quarters vote in Parliament for a further three years. The government amended the Constitution in 1987 to abolish the seats reserved for whites, and replace the office of Prime Minister with an executive President. In 1990, the government abolished the Senate.


Rhodesian Eland and T-55
Troops of the Rhodesian Armoured Corps in 1979.

Southern Rhodesia had long been distinctive among British dependencies in that it had financed and developed its own security forces and command structure.[125] After UDI, this posed a particular dilemma for the British government, which considered and rejected various proposals aimed at ending Rhodesia's state of rebellion by force.[125] Harold Wilson once remarked that bringing an end to Rhodesian independence "would not be a case of arresting a subversive individual. It would mean a bloody war, and probably a bloody war turning into a bloody civil war."[125] The formidable nature of the Rhodesian security forces, as well as British fears of a direct South African intervention on behalf of the rogue colony, preempted the further consideration of military options.[125]

For much of its history Rhodesia had a small professional standing army of 3,400 troops, about a third of whom were black volunteers.[125] The troops were organised into light infantry battalions optimised for counter-insurgency and unconventional warfare,[126] and they possessed little artillery or armour.[125] The Royal Rhodesian Air Force had 1,000 personnel and six squadrons of aircraft, including forty to fifty Hawker Hunter and de Havilland Vampire strike aircraft and English Electric Canberra light bombers.[125] It also possessed a helicopter squadron, a transport squadron, and a light reconnaissance squadron.[125] The Rhodesian military was backed by the British South Africa Police (BSAP), a well-equipped police force whose title was derived from the law enforcement division of the British South Africa Company.[125] The BSAP had armoured vehicles of its own and a potent paramilitary capability.[125] Domestic and external intelligence gathering were vested in the Central Intelligence Organisation.[127]

As a result of the escalating rural insurgency, the Rhodesian Security Forces began to depend more heavily on white conscripts and reservists of the Territorial Force and Territorial reserves.[126] Regular units remained small throughout the Rhodesian Bush War but became increasingly specialised and were often able to have an effect utterly disproportionate to their size.[128] The security forces included a disproportionate number of personnel who had seen action during the First Malayan Emergency as well as the Aden Emergency, and their experience gave Rhodesia's defence establishment a solid grounding in counter-insurgency warfare and small unit tactics in particular.[127] Nevertheless, the vastness of the operational area and Rhodesia's limited manpower pool left the army, air force, and BSAP constantly overstretched.[127] Budgetary and resource restraints, coupled with manpower shortages, meant the security forces could not expand quickly enough to match the guerrilla movements, and were almost always outnumbered.[127] Rhodesian units compensated for their disadvantage in this regard by pursuing an aggressive preemptive and counterstrike strategy, raiding neighbouring states to destroy guerrilla forces in their external sanctuaries.[127]

All male Rhodesian citizens aged eighteen to twenty-three, except blacks, were obligated to fulfill four and a half months (later extended to nine months) of full-time national service.[125] This was followed by a three-year reservist obligation.[125] By 1974 the national service intakes had been doubled, and whites over twenty-three were also conscripted.[126] In 1978 the Rhodesian Army had about 14,000 white national servicemen, but continued manpower shortages forced it to recruit black volunteers in larger numbers and extend compulsory military service to all white males up to sixty years of age.[126] By the end of the Rhodesian Bush War virtually all male white Rhodesians were either serving in the military or police in a full-time or part-time capacity.[126] The size of the Rhodesian Army had swelled to about 20,000 personnel, and the BSAP to over 40,000, including reservists.[126]

Biological and chemical warfare

From 1975 to 1980 the Rhodesian government made several attempts to weaponise chemical and biological agents.[129] Members of the security forces contaminated supplies before replacing them in guerrilla caches or planted them in rural stores to be stolen by the guerrillas during raids.[130] They also poisoned water sources along known infiltration routes along the Rhodesian border, forcing their opponents to travel through more arid regions or carry more water during their treks.[131]

The chemical agents most used in the Rhodesian chemical and biological warfare (CBW) programme were parathion (an organophosphate insecticide) and thallium (a heavy metal commonly found in rodenticide).[132] The weapons the Rhodesians selected for use also included Vibrio cholerae (causative agent of cholera) and possibly Bacillus anthracis (causative agent of anthrax). They also looked at using Rickettsia prowazekii (causative agent of epidemic typhus), and Salmonella typhi (causative agent of typhoid fever), and toxins—such as ricin and botulinum toxin.[129]

Biological agents, namely Vibrio cholerae (causative agent of cholera), had some impact on the fighting capability of ZANLA.[133] Some former officers of the Rhodesian Security Forces alleged that anthrax was used covertly during the late 1970s, but this has been disputed.[129] Use of anthracis, ricin, or botulinum toxin was favoured during assassination attempts of prominent guerrilla commanders.[129]


Economically, Southern Rhodesia developed an economy that was narrowly based on production of a few primary products, notably, chrome and tobacco. It was therefore vulnerable to the economic cycle. The deep recession of the 1930s gave way to a post-war boom. This boom prompted the immigration of about 200,000 whites between 1945 and 1970, taking the white population up to 307,000. A large number of these immigrants were of British working-class origin, with others coming from the Belgian Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, and later Angola and Mozambique. They established a relatively balanced economy, transforming what was once a primary producer dependent on backwoods farming into an industrial giant which spawned a strong manufacturing sector, iron and steel industries, and modern mining ventures. These economic successes owed little to foreign aid.

The economy of the state of Rhodesia sustained international sanctions for a decade following the declaration of its independence, a resistance which waned as more southern African states declared independence and majority rule as well as the destruction of the Rhodesian Bush War.



A central feature of the white community in Rhodesia was its transience, as white settlers were just as likely to leave Rhodesia after a few years rather than permanently settle; for example, of the 700 British settlers who were the first white settlers, arriving in 1890, only 15 were still living in Rhodesia in 1924.[134] As the white population of Rhodesia had a low birth rate (18 per 1,000 compared to the African rate of 48 per 1,000[135]), to maintain white population growth was largely dependent upon taking in new white immigrants with immigration accounting for 60% of the growth of the white Rhodesian population between 1955–72.[136] However, the American historian Josiah Brownell noted that the turnover rate for white residents in Rhodesia was very high, as Rhodesia took in a total of 255,692 white immigrants between 1955–79 while the same period a total of 246,583 whites emigrated.[136] Even during the boom years of the late 1950s, when Rhodesia took in an average of 13,666 white immigrants per year, mostly from the United Kingdom and South Africa, an average of about 7,666 whites emigrated annually.[136] Between 1961–65, Rhodesia took in an average of 8,225 white immigrants per year while also having an average white emigration of 12, 912 per year.[136] Many prospective white immigrants in Rhodesia arrived seeking economic opportunities and departed with fluctuations in the security situation as the Bush War intensified.[136] A substantial number were uninterested in settling there permanently and did not apply for Rhodesian citizenship, despite a much-publicised 1967 campaign urging them to do so.[136] Brownell asserted that patriotism in the white community was "shallow" due to its essentially expatriate character.[136] Brownell also claimed that the majority of white immigrants in the late 1960s and early 1970s were unskilled laborers who competed with the country's black African workforce and did not contribute badly needed technical or professional skills to the country.[136] He argued that this was due to a government policy aimed at making white immigration as "unselective as possible" and guaranteeing every white immigrant a job.[136]

The population of Rhodesia boomed during the late 1960s due to immigration and an exceptional rate of natural increase among its black citizens, the highest in sub-Saharan Africa at the time.[136]

Numbers of white and black inhabitants before and during the Central African Federation[137]
Year Southern Rhodesia Northern Rhodesia Nyasaland Total
White Black White Black White Black White Black
1927 38,200 (3.98%) 922,000 (96.02%) 4,000 (0.4%) 1,000,000 (99.6%) 1,700 (0.13%) 1,350,000 (99.87%) 43,900 (1.32%) 3,272,000 (98.68%)
1946 80,500 (4.79%) 1,600,000 (95.21%) 21,919 (1.32%) 1,634,980 (97.68%) 2,300 (0.10%) 2,340,000 (99.90%) 104,719 (1.84%) 5,574,980 (98.16%)
1955 150,000 (5.88%) 2,400,000 (94.12%) 65,000 (3.02%) 2,085,000 (96.98%) 6,300 (0.25%) 2,550,000 (99.75%) 221,300 (3.05%) 7,035,000 (96.95%)
1960 223,000 (7.30%) 2,830,000 (92.70%) 76,000 (3.14%) 2,340,000 (96.85%) 9,300 (0.33%) 2,810,000 (99.66%) 308,300 (3.72%) 7,980,000 (96.28%)
Population of White, African, Asian and Coloured inhabitants of Southern Rhodesia from 1911–1969[135]>
Year White African (Est.) Asiatic & Coloured Total Population (Est.)
1911 23,606 (3.06%) 744,559 (96.56%) 2,912 (0.38%) 771,077
1921 33,620 (3.73%) 862,319 (95.90%) 3,248 (0.36%) 899,187
1931 49,910 (4.42%) 1,076,000 (95.22%) 4,102 (0.36%) 1,130,000
1941 68,954 (4.66%) 1,404,000 (94.93%) 6,521 (0.44%) 1,479,000
1951 135,596 (5.84%) 2,170,000 (93.53%) 10,283 (0.44%) 2,320,000
1961 221,504 (5.74%) 3,618,150 (93.80%) 17,812 (0.46%) 3,857,466
1969 228,580 (4.49%) 4,840,000 (95.09%) 23,870 (0.47%) 5,090,000
White Rhodesian vital statistics 1963–1969[135]
Year Births Deaths Marriages Immigrants
1963 4,457 1,449 2,008 5,093
1964 4,017 1,306 2,046 7,000
1965 3,863 1,369 2,071 11,128
1966 3,782 1,460 2,035 6,418
1967 4,031 1,512 ---- 9,618
1968 4,004 1,646 ---- 11,864
1969 4,089 1,633 ---- 10,929
Population of the main urban areas in 1969[135]
City Whites Africans Others Total
Salisbury 96,420 (25.07%) 280,090 (72.84%) 8,020 (2.09%) 384,530
Bulawayo 50,090 (20.40%) 187,590 (76.38%) 7,910 (3.22%) 245,590
Umtali 8,340 (17.93%) 36,220 (77.88%) 1,950 (4.20%) 46,510
Gwelo 8,390 (18.23%) 36,880 (80.12%) 760 (1.65%) 46,030
Que Que 3,160 (9.62%) 29,250 (89.01%) 450 (1.37%) 32,860
Gatooma 1,880 (8.97%) 18,770 (89.55%) 310 (1.48%) 20,960
Wankie 2,160 (10.72%) 17,980 (89.28%) ---- 20,140
Shabani 1,560 (9.87%) 14,170 (89.63%) 80 (0.51%) 15,810
Fort Victoria 2,530 (22.29%) 8,470 (74.63%) 350 (3.08%) 11,350


White Rhodesians mostly spoke English, with a minority that spoke Afrikaans. Approximately 70% of black Rhodesians spoke Shona, and around 20% are Ndebele and spoke isiNdebele.[138]


Rhodesia was a predominantly Christian country.

Foreign relations

Throughout the period of its Unilateral Declaration of Independence (1965 to 1979), Rhodesia pursued a foreign policy of attempting to secure recognition as an independent country, and insisting that its political system would include 'gradual steps to majority rule.' Ardently anti-communist, Rhodesia tried to present itself to the West as a front-line state against communist expansion in Africa, to little avail.[139] Rhodesia received little international recognition during its existence; recognition only occurred after elections in 1980 and a transition to majority rule.

Rhodesia wished to retain its economic prosperity and also feared communist elements in the rebel forces, and thus felt their policy of a gradual progression to black majority rule was justified. However, the international community refused to accept this rationale, believing that their policies were perpetuating racism. This attitude was part of the larger decolonisation context, during which Western powers such as the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium hastened to grant independence to their colonies in Africa.

The UK and the UDI

Rhodesia was originally a British colony. Although decolonisation in Africa had begun after World War II, it began accelerating in the early 1960s, causing Britain to negotiate independence rapidly with several of its colonies. During this period, it adopted a foreign policy called NIBMAR, or No Independence Before Majority African Rule, mandating democratic reforms that placed governance in the hands of the majority black Africans. The governing white minority of Rhodesia, led by Ian Smith, opposed the policy and its implications. On 11 November 1965, Rhodesia's minority white government made a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom, as it became apparent that negotiations would not lead to independence under the white regime.

The United Kingdom government immediately brought in legislation (Southern Rhodesia Act 1965) which formally abolished all Rhodesian government institutions. This move made life difficult for Rhodesian citizens who wished to travel internationally as passports issued by Rhodesia's UDI administration were not recognised as valid;[140] in January 1966, the British issued a statement accepting as valid any passport issued before the declaration of independence and allowing six-month United Kingdom passports to be granted when they expired – provided that the bearer declared they did not intend to aid the UDI Rhodesian government.[141]

Until late 1969, Rhodesia still recognised Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, even though it opposed the British government itself for hindering its goals of independence. The Queen, however, refused to accept the title Queen of Rhodesia. Eventually, the Smith government abandoned attempts to remain loyal to the British Crown, and in 1969, a majority of the electorate voted in referendum to declare Rhodesia a republic. They hoped that this move would facilitate recognition as an independent state by the international community, but the issues of white minority control remained and hindered this effort, and like the UDI before it, the proclamation of a republic lacked international recognition.


After the declaration of independence, and indeed for the entire duration of its existence, Rhodesia did not receive official recognition from any state, although it did maintain diplomatic relations with South Africa, which was then under apartheid. South Africa did not recognise Rhodesia to preserve its fragile positions with other nations, but frequently assisted the Rhodesian state. Portugal maintained informal relations until the Carnation Revolution of 1974. The day following the declaration of independence, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution (S/RES/216) calling upon all states not to accord Rhodesia recognition, and to refrain from any assistance. The Security Council also imposed selective mandatory economic sanctions, which were later made comprehensive.

Malawi,[142] Israel, South Africa, Portugal, and Iran did not comply with economic sanctions against Rhodesia.[143] The US, despite voting in favor of the sanctions at the UNSC, violated them to buy chrome ore from Rhodesia.[144] Kenneth Kaunda, president of Zambia, also accused western oil companies of violating the sanctions and selling oil to Rhodesia.[145]

International perspective

Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965 was promptly condemned by the international community. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 216 of 12 November 1965 called "upon all States not to recognise this illegal racist minority regime in Southern Rhodesia."[146]

Rhodesia campaigned for international acceptance and invoked the doctrine of non-intervention in internal affairs as justification for rebuking external criticism of its internal policies. However, the emerging doctrine of self-determination in colonial situations meant that most nations regarded Rhodesia's self-declared independence as illegitimate.

Zambia, formerly Northern Rhodesia, took a pragmatic approach towards Rhodesia. Kenneth Kaunda, heavily dependent on access through Rhodesia for his nation's copper ore exports, fuel, and power imports unofficially worked with the Rhodesian government. Rhodesia still allowed Zambia to export and import its goods through its territory to Mozambique ports, despite the Zambian government's official policy of hostility and non-recognition of the post-UDI Smith Administration.

The United States, like all other Western nations, refused to recognise Rhodesia, but unlike others allowed its Consulate-General to function as a communications conduit between the US government in Washington, DC and the Rhodesian government in Salisbury. When Rhodesia set up an information office in Washington, DC, OAS nations loudly protested. The US government responded by saying the Rhodesian mission and its staff had no official diplomatic status and violated no US laws.

Portugal pursued a middle path with Rhodesia. While not officially recognising Rhodesia under Ian Smith, the government of António Salazar did permit Rhodesia to establish a representative mission in Lisbon, and permitted Rhodesian exports and imports through their colony of Mozambique. The Portuguese government in power at that time, authoritarian and ardently anti-communist, gave active behind-the-scenes support in Rhodesia's fight against the guerrilla groups.

South Africa, itself under international pressure as a white minority government, pursued a policy of détente with the black African states at the time. These states wanted South Africa to pressure Ian Smith to accept a faster transition to majority rule in Rhodesia, in return for pledges of non-interference in South Africa's internal affairs. Prime Minister John Vorster, believing majority rule in Rhodesia would lead to international acceptance for South Africa, used a number of tactics to pressure Smith. The South African government held up shipments of fuel and ammunition and pulled out friendly South African forces from Rhodesia. The combined loss of Mozambique and the loss of support from South Africa dealt critical blows to the Rhodesian government.

Diplomatic relations

After the UDI, Rhodesia maintained several overseas missions, including Pretoria,[147] and until 1975, Lisbon in Portugal and Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) in Mozambique.[148]

Since 1961, Rhodesia had an "Accredited Diplomatic Representative" with South Africa, heading a "Rhodesian Diplomatic Mission" or de facto embassy.[149] Before South Africa left the Commonwealth that year, the then Southern Rhodesia had exchanged High Commissioners with the then Union of South Africa, but following the change in status, the Republic now had a "South African Diplomatic Mission" in Salisbury.[150]

During 1965, the government of Rhodesia made moves to establish a mission in Lisbon separate from the British Embassy, with its own accredited representative, having previously been able to establish its own consulate in Lourenço Marques, capital of Portuguese Mozambique.[151] This prompted protests from the British government, which was determined that the representative, Harry Reedman, should be a nominal member of the British Ambassador's staff.[152] For their part, the Portuguese authorities sought a compromise whereby they would accept Reedman as an independent representative but deny him diplomatic status.[153]

The Rhodesian Information Office in Washington remained open following UDI, but its director, Ken Towsey, and his staff were deprived of their diplomatic status.[154] Previously, there had been a "Minister for Rhodesian Affairs" operating under the aegis of the British Embassy in Washington,[155] as well representatives in Tokyo and Bonn.[156] Following the country's independence as Zimbabwe, Towsey became chargé d'affaires at the new Embassy.[157]

The High Commission in London, known as Rhodesia House, continued to function until it was closed in 1969 following the decision by white Rhodesians in a referendum to make the country a republic, along with the "British Residual Mission" in Salisbury.[158] Prior to its closure, the mission flew the newly adopted Flag of Rhodesia, considered illegal by the Foreign Office, prompting calls by Labour MP Willie Hamilton for its removal.[159]

In Australia, the federal government in Canberra sought to close the Rhodesian Information Centre in Sydney,[160] but it remained open, operating under the jurisdiction of the state of New South Wales.[161] In 1973, the Labor government of Gough Whitlam cut post and telephone links to the Centre, but this was ruled illegal by the High Court.[162] An office was also established in Paris, but this was closed down by the French government in 1977.[163]

Similarly, the United States recalled its consul-general from Salisbury, and reduced consular staff,[164] but did not move to close its consulate until the declaration of a republic in 1970.[165] South Africa, however, retained its "Accredited Diplomatic Representative" after UDI,[57] which allowed it to continue to recognise British sovereignty as well as to deal with the de facto authority of the government of Ian Smith.[58]

The South African Diplomatic Mission in Salisbury became the only such mission remaining in the country after 1975,[166] when Portugal downgraded its mission to consul level,[167] having recalled its consul-general in Salisbury in May 1970.[168] After Zimbabwe's independence, the new government closed its missions in Pretoria and Cape Town, only maintaining a trade mission in Johannesburg,[169] while the South African Diplomatic Mission in Salisbury was also closed.[170]


Continuing civil war and a lack of international support eventually led the Rhodesian government to submit to an agreement with the UK in 1979. This led to internationally supervised elections, won by Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front and Robert Mugabe, establishing the internationally recognised Zimbabwe.


In the ten years after independence, around 60% of the white population of Zimbabwe emigrated, most to South Africa and to other mainly white, English speaking countries where they formed expatriate communities. Politically within Zimbabwe, the consolidation of power by Robert Mugabe continued through the 1980s. Following amendments to the country's constitution in 1987, parliamentary seats reserved for whites were abolished, and an executive presidency was created, held by Mugabe. Many expatriates and some of the whites who stayed in Zimbabwe became deeply nostalgic for Rhodesia. These individuals are known as "Rhodies." Native whites who are more accepting of the new order are known as "Zimbos."

While as Rhodesia, the country was once considered the breadbasket of Africa. Today, Zimbabwe is a net importer of foodstuffs, with the European Union and United States providing emergency food relief as humanitarian aid on a regular basis.[171] The nation has suffered profound economic and social decline in the past twenty years. Recently the agriculture sector has started to do well since the availability of expertise and machines has improved supported mainly by China.[172][173]

Zimbabwe also suffered from a crippling inflation rate, as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had a policy of printing money to satisfy government debt. This policy caused the inflation rate to increase from 32% in 1998 to 11,200,000% in 2007. Monetary aid by the International Monetary Fund was suspended due to the Zimbabwe government's defaulting on past loans, its inability to stabilise its own economy, its inability to stem corruption and its failure to advance human rights.[171] In 2009, Zimbabwe abandoned its currency, relying instead on foreign currencies.[174]

In the 2008 elections, Mugabe garnered 41%, Simba Makoni 10% and Morgan Tsvangirai 48% of the votes cast for president, forcing a runoff election called by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). In the months leading to the run-off, instances of extreme violence between the two major parties (ZANU PF and MDC) led Tsvangirai to withdraw from the election. In February 2009, a power-sharing accord was reached which resulted in the Zimbabwe Government of National Unity of 2009. The accord was, essentially, to create the position of "Prime Minister" for Tsvangirai, who served in that role from 2009 to 2013. Mugabe retained the title of President.



The main newspapers were the Rhodesia Herald in Salisbury and The Chronicle in Bulawayo. Following UDI, in 1976, the state-run Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation (RBC) took over the privately owned Rhodesian Television (RTV) service, in which it had previously acquired a 51 per cent stake.[175] Among the news magazines published in Rhodesia under UDI were the Illustrated Life Rhodesia, while The Valiant Years by Beryl Salt told the history of Rhodesia from 1890 to 1978 entirely through the medium of facsimile reproduction of articles and headlines from Rhodesian newspapers.[176]


Since Rhodesia was a former colony of the United Kingdom, all of the sports that were born in the United Kingdom enjoyed considerable popularity in Rhodesia; especially cricket, rugby, football (soccer), netball, golf, tennis, lawn bowls, field hockey, etc. Just like neighbouring South Africa, Rhodesia was barred from both competing against and participating with Commonwealth member countries.


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  160. ^ Rhodesia Office Will Be Closed Archived 8 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The Age, 3 April 1972
  161. ^ Paul Davey (2006). The Nationals: The Progressive, Country, and National Party in New South Wales 1919–2006. Federation Press. p. 223. ISBN 978-1-86287-526-5.
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  165. ^ Zaki Laïdi (1990). The Superpowers and Africa: The Constraints of a Rivalry, 1960–1990. University of Chicago Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-226-46782-5.
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Further reading

  • Law, Kate. "Pattern, Puzzle, and Peculiarity: Rhodesia's UDI and Decolonisation in Southern Africa." Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 45.5 (2017): 721–728.
  • Nyamunda, Tinashe. "'More a Cause than a Country': Historiography, UDI and the Crisis of Decolonisation in Rhodesia." Journal of Southern African Studies 42.5 (2016): 1005–1019.
  • Nyamunda, Tinashe. "Money, Banking and Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence." Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 45.5 (2017): 746–776.
  • Waddy, Nicholas. "The Strange Death of 'Zimbabwe-Rhodesia': The Question of British Recognition of the Muzorewa Regime in Rhodesian Public Opinion, 1979." South African Historical Journal 66#2 (2014): 227–248.
  • Waddy, Nicholas L. "Free and Fair? Rhodesians Reflect on the Elections of 1979 and 1980." African Historical Review 49#1 (2017): 68–90.
  • Watts, Carl Peter. Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence: An International History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

External links

Audio and video

British South Africa Company

The British South Africa Company (BSAC or BSACo) was established following the amalgamation of Cecil Rhodes' Central Search Association and the London-based Exploring Company Ltd which had originally competed to exploit the expected mineral wealth of Mashonaland but united because of common economic interests and to secure British government backing. The company received a Royal Charter in 1889 modelled on that of the British East India Company. Its first directors included the Duke of Abercorn, Rhodes himself and the South African financier Alfred Beit. Rhodes hoped BSAC would promote colonisation and economic exploitation across much of south-central Africa, as part of the "Scramble for Africa". However, his main focus was south of the Zambezi, in Mashonaland and the coastal areas to its east, from which he believed the Portuguese could be removed by payment or force, and in the Transvaal, which he hoped would return to British control.It has been suggested that Rhodes' ambition was to create a zone of British commercial and political influence from "Cape to Cairo", but this was far beyond the resources of any commercial company to achieve and would not have given investors the financial returns they expected. The BSAC was created in the expectation that the gold fields of Mashonaland would provide funds for the development of other areas of Central Africa, including the mineral wealth of Katanga. When the expected wealth of Mashonaland did not materialise and Katanga was acquired by the Congo Free State, the company had little money left for significant development after building railways, particularly in areas north of the Zambezi. BSAC regarded its lands north of the Zambezi as territory to be held as cheaply as possible for future, rather than immediate, exploitation.As part of administering Southern Rhodesia until 1923 and Northern Rhodesia until 1924, the BSAC formed what were originally paramilitary forces, but which later included more normal police functions. In addition to the administration of Southern and Northern Rhodesia, the BSAC claimed extensive landholdings and mineral rights in both the Rhodesias and, although its land claims in Southern Rhodesia were nullified in 1918, its land rights in Northern Rhodesia and its mineral rights in Southern Rhodesia had to be bought out in 1924 and 1933 respectively, and its mineral rights in Northern Rhodesia lasted until 1964. The BSAC also created the Rhodesian railway system and owned the railways there until 1947.

Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland

The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (also known as the Central African Federation, CAF) was a federal semi-Dominion that consisted of three southern African territories—the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia and the British protectorates of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—between 1953 and 1963.

The Federation was established on 1 August 1953. The Federation was established with a Governor-General as the Queen's representative at the centre. An interesting and novel feature was the African Affairs Board, set up to safeguard the interests of Africans and endowed with statutory powers for that purpose, particularly in regard to discriminatory legislation. The constitutional status of the three territories – a self-governing Colony and two Protectorates – was not affected, though certain enactments applied to the Federation as a whole as if it were part of Her Majesty's dominions and a Colony. The economic advantages to the Federation were never seriously called into question, and the causes of the Federation's failure were purely political: the strong and growing opposition of the African inhabitants.The rulers of the new black African states were united in wanting to end colonialism in Africa. With most of the world moving away from colonialism during the late 1950s and early 1960s, the United Kingdom was subjected to pressure to de-colonize from both the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU). These groups supported the aspirations of the black African nationalists and accepted their claims to speak on behalf of the people.

The federation officially ended on 31 December 1963. In 1964, shortly after the dissolution, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland became independent under the names Zambia and Malawi, respectively. In 1965, Southern Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence from the United Kingdom as the state of Rhodesia.


Harare (; officially Salisbury until 1982) is the capital and most populous city of Zimbabwe. The city proper has an area of 960.6 km2 (371 mi2) and an estimated population of 1,606,000 in 2009, with 2,800,000 in its metropolitan area in 2006. Situated in north-eastern Zimbabwe in the country's Mashonaland region, Harare is a metropolitan province, which also incorporates the municipalities of Chitungwiza and Epworth. The city sits on a plateau at an elevation of 1,483 metres (4,865 feet) above sea level and its climate falls into the subtropical highland category.

The city was founded in 1890 by the Pioneer Column, a small military force of the British South Africa Company, and named Fort Salisbury after the British prime minister Lord Salisbury. Company administrators demarcated the city and ran it until Southern Rhodesia achieved responsible government in 1923. Salisbury was thereafter the seat of the Southern Rhodesian (later Rhodesian) government and, between 1953 and 1963, the capital of the Central African Federation. It retained the name Salisbury until 1982, when it was renamed Harare on the second anniversary of Zimbabwean independence.

Harare is Zimbabwe's leading political, financial, commercial, and communications centre, as well as a trade centre for tobacco, maize, cotton, and citrus fruits. Manufacturing, including textiles, steel, and chemicals, are also economically significant, as is local gold mining. The University of Zimbabwe, the country's oldest university, is located in Harare, as are several other colleges and universities. The city is home to Harare Sports Club, the country's main Test cricket ground, as well as Dynamos F.C., the country's most successful association football team. Harare's infrastructure and government services have worsened in recent years, and the city has been ranked as one of the least livable cities out of 140 assessed.

Ian Smith

Ian Douglas Smith (8 April 1919 – 20 November 2007) was a politician, farmer, and fighter pilot who served as Prime Minister of Rhodesia (or Southern Rhodesia; today Zimbabwe) from 1964 to 1979. As the country's first premier not born abroad, he led the predominantly white government that unilaterally declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1965, following prolonged dispute over the terms. He remained Prime Minister for almost all of the 14 years of international isolation that followed, and oversaw Rhodesia's security forces during most of the Bush War, which pitted the unrecognised administration against communist-backed black nationalist guerrilla groups. Smith, who has been described as personifying white Rhodesia, remains a highly controversial figure—supporters venerate him as a man of integrity and vision "who understood the uncomfortable truths of Africa", while critics describe an unrepentant racist whose policies and actions caused the deaths of thousands and contributed to Zimbabwe's later crises.

Smith was born to British immigrants in Selukwe, a small town in the Southern Rhodesian Midlands, four years before the colony became self-governing in 1923. During the Second World War, he served as a Royal Air Force fighter pilot. A crash in Egypt caused debilitating facial and bodily wounds that remained conspicuous for the rest of his life; following rehabilitation, he served in Europe, where he was shot down and fought alongside Italian partisans. He set up a farm in his home town in 1948, and the same year, became Member of Parliament for Selukwe—at 29 years old, the country's youngest ever MP. Originally a Liberal, he defected to the United Federal Party in 1953, and served as Chief Whip from 1958 onwards. He left that party in 1961 in protest at the territory's new constitution, and in the following year helped Winston Field to form the all-white, firmly conservative Rhodesian Front, which called for independence without an immediate shift to majority rule.

Smith became Deputy Prime Minister following the Rhodesian Front's December 1962 election victory, and stepped up to the premiership after Field resigned in April 1964. With the UK government refusing to grant independence while Rhodesia did not devise a set timetable for the introduction of majority rule, talks with the UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson repeatedly broke down, leading Smith and his Cabinet to declare independence on 11 November 1965. His government endured in the face of United Nations economic sanctions with the assistance of South Africa and, until 1974, Portugal. Talks with the UK in 1966, 1968 and 1971 came to nothing. Smith declared Rhodesia a republic in 1970 and led the RF to three more decisive election victories over the next seven years. After the Bush War began in earnest in 1972, he negotiated with the non-militant nationalist leader Bishop Abel Muzorewa and the rival guerrilla movements headed by Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe.

In 1978, Smith and non-militant nationalists including Muzorewa signed the Internal Settlement, under which the country became Zimbabwe Rhodesia in 1979. Mugabe and Nkomo continued fighting; no country recognised the settlement. Smith was part of Muzorewa's delegation that settled with the UK and the revolutionary guerrillas at Lancaster House, and, following Zimbabwe's recognised independence in 1980, he was Leader of the Opposition during Mugabe's first seven years in power. Smith was a stridently vocal critic of the Mugabe government both before and after his retirement from frontline politics in 1987; he dedicated much of his 1997 memoirs, The Great Betrayal, to condemning Mugabe and several UK politicians. As Mugabe's reputation thereafter plummeted amid Zimbabwe's economic ruin, reckoning of Smith and his legacy improved. Zimbabwean opposition supporters lauded the elderly Smith as an immovable symbol of resistance. He remained in Zimbabwe until 2005, when he moved to Cape Town, South Africa, for medical reasons. After his death two years later, at the age of 88, his ashes were repatriated and scattered at his farm.

Lancaster House Agreement

The Lancaster House Agreement, signed on 21 December 1979, declared a ceasefire, ending the Rhodesian Bush War; and directly led to the creation and recognition of the Republic of Zimbabwe. It required the imposition of direct British rule, nullifying Rhodesia’s 1965 Unilateral Declaration of Independence. British governance would be strictly proscribed to the duration of a proposed election period; after which independence would follow. Crucially, the political wings of the black nationalist groups ZANU and ZAPU, who had been waging the escalating, and increasingly violent insurgency, would be permitted to stand candidates in the forthcoming elections. This was however conditional to compliance with the ceasefire and the verified absence of voter intimidation.

The Agreement would lead to the dissolution of the unrecognised state of Zimbabwe Rhodesia, created months earlier by the Internal Settlement; an agreement forged between moderate black nationalists and Prime Minister Ian Smith's Government. While Zimbabwe-Rhodesia remained unrecognised, the Internal Settlement enfranchised the majority of blacks (hitherto the key British demand) and resulted in the election of the country's first black Prime Minister.

Lancaster House covered the Independence Constitution, pre-independence arrangements and the terms of ceasefire. The Agreement is named after Lancaster House in London, where the parties interested to the settlement attended the conference on independence from 10 September to 15 December 1979.

The parties represented during the conference were: the British Government, the Patriotic Front led by Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, ZAPU (Zimbabwe African Peoples Union) and ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union) and the Zimbabwe Rhodesia Government, represented by Prime Minister, Bishop Abel Muzorewa and Minister Without Portfolio, Ian Smith.

Northern Rhodesia

Northern Rhodesia was a protectorate in south central Africa, formed in 1911 by amalgamating the two earlier protectorates of Barotziland-North-Western Rhodesia and North-Eastern Rhodesia. It was initially administered, as were the two earlier protectorates, by the British South Africa Company (BSAC), a chartered company on behalf of the British Government. From 1924 it was administered by the British Government as a protectorate under similar conditions to other British-administered protectorates, and the special provisions required when it was administered by BSAC were terminated.

Although under the BSAC charter it had features of a charter colony, the BSAC's treaties with local rulers and British legislation gave it the status of a protectorate. The territory attracted a relatively small number of European settlers, but from the time these first secured political representation, they agitated for white minority rule, either as a separate entity or associated with Southern Rhodesia and possibly Nyasaland. The mineral wealth of Northern Rhodesia made full amalgamation attractive to Southern Rhodesian politicians, but the British Government preferred a looser association to include Nyasaland. This was intended to protect Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland from discriminatory Southern Rhodesian laws. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland formed in 1953 was intensely unpopular among the vast African majority and its formation hastened calls for majority rule. As a result of this pressure, the country became independent in 1964 as Zambia.The geographical, as opposed to political, term "Rhodesia" referred to a region generally comprising the areas that are today Zambia and Zimbabwe. From 1964, it only referred to the former Southern Rhodesia.

Politics of Rhodesia

This article relates to Southern Rhodesia up to 1964 and Rhodesia thereafter. For other uses of the name, see Rhodesia (disambiguation)Rhodesia had limited democracy in the sense that it had the Westminster parliamentary system with multiple political parties contesting the seats in parliament, but as the voting was dominated by the White settler minority, and Black Africans only had a minority level of representation at that time, it was regarded internationally as a racist country.

The political party that held sway in the years after the unilateral declaration of independence was the Rhodesian Front, later known as the Republican Front. Ian Smith remained as Prime Minister until the country became Zimbabwe Rhodesia in 1979.

President of Zimbabwe

The President of Zimbabwe is the head of state of Zimbabwe, elected by direct universal suffrage using a two-round system.

The President is also the head of government, as the office of Prime Minister was abolished in 1987. The office was restored as a result of the 2008–09 political negotiations, but abolished again following the 2013 constitutional referendum.

Under the rules adopted by the same referendum, the president serves a maximum of two five-year terms. This did not have a retroactive effect on past terms of office already served or currently being served as of 2013.

Prime Minister of Rhodesia

The Prime Minister of Rhodesia (before 1964, of Southern Rhodesia) was the head of government in Rhodesia. Rhodesia, which became a self-governing colony of Britain in 1923, unilaterally declared independence on 11 November 1965, and was thereafter an unrecognized state in practice until 1979. In December 1979, the country came under temporary British control, and in April 1980 the country gained recognized independence as Zimbabwe.

Rhodesia's political system was modeled on the Westminster system, and the Prime Minister's role was similar to that of the same position in other countries with similar constitutional histories – Canada, for example, or Australia.

Prime Minister of Zimbabwe

The Prime Minister of Zimbabwe was a political office in the government of Zimbabwe that existed on two separate occasions. The first person to hold the position was Robert Mugabe from 1980 to 1987 following independence from the United Kingdom. He took office when Southern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980. This position was abolished when the constitution was amended in 1987 and Mugabe became President of Zimbabwe, replacing Canaan Banana as the head of state while also remaining the head of government. The office of Prime Minister was restored in 2009 and held by Morgan Tsvangirai until the position was again abolished by the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is the central bank of Zimbabwe headquartered in the capital city of Zimbabwe, Harare.

Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence

The Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) was a statement adopted by the Cabinet of Rhodesia on 11 November 1965, announcing that Rhodesia, a British territory in southern Africa that had governed itself since 1923, now regarded itself as an independent sovereign state. The culmination of a protracted dispute between the British and Rhodesian governments regarding the terms under which the latter could become fully independent, it was the first unilateral break from the United Kingdom by one of its colonies since the United States Declaration of Independence nearly two centuries before. The UK, the Commonwealth and the United Nations all deemed Rhodesia's UDI illegal, and economic sanctions, the first in the UN's history, were imposed on the breakaway colony. Amid near-complete international isolation, Rhodesia continued as an unrecognised state with the assistance of South Africa and Portugal.

The Rhodesian government, which mostly comprised members of the country's white minority of about 5%, was indignant when, amid decolonisation and the Wind of Change, less developed African colonies to the north without comparable experience of self-rule quickly advanced to independence during the early 1960s while Rhodesia was refused sovereignty under the newly ascendant principle of "no independence before majority rule" ("NIBMAR"). Most white Rhodesians felt that they were due independence following four decades' self-government, and that the British government was betraying them by withholding it. This combined with the colonial government's acute reluctance to hand over power to black Rhodesians—the manifestation of racial tensions, Cold War anti-communism and the fear that a dystopian Congo-style situation might result—to create the impression that if the UK did not grant independence, Rhodesia might be justified in taking it unilaterally.

A stalemate developed between the British and Rhodesian prime ministers, Harold Wilson and Ian Smith respectively, between 1964 and 1965. Dispute largely surrounded the British condition that the terms for independence had to be acceptable "to the people of the country as a whole"; Smith contended that this was met, while the UK and black Rhodesian leaders held that it was not. After Wilson proposed in late October 1965 that the UK might safeguard future black representation in the Rhodesian parliament by withdrawing some of the colonial government's devolved powers, then presented terms for an investigatory Royal Commission that the Rhodesians found unacceptable, Smith and his Cabinet declared independence. Calling this treasonous, the British colonial governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, formally dismissed Smith and his government, but they ignored him and appointed an "Officer Administering the Government" to take his place.

While no country recognised the UDI, the Rhodesian High Court deemed the post-UDI government legal and de jure in 1968. The Smith administration initially professed continued loyalty to Queen Elizabeth II, but abandoned this in 1970 when it declared a republic in an unsuccessful attempt to win foreign recognition. The Rhodesian Bush War, a guerrilla conflict between the government and two rival communist-backed black Rhodesian groups, began in earnest two years later, and after several attempts to end the war Smith concluded the Internal Settlement with non-militant nationalists in 1978. Under these terms the country was reconstituted under black rule as Zimbabwe Rhodesia in June 1979, but this new order was rejected by the guerrillas and the international community. The Bush War continued until Zimbabwe Rhodesia revoked its UDI as part of the Lancaster House Agreement in December 1979. Following a brief period of direct British rule, the country was granted internationally recognised independence under the name Zimbabwe in 1980.

Rhodesia (region)

Rhodesia is a historical region in southern Africa whose formal boundaries evolved between the 1890s and 1980. Demarcated and named by the British South Africa Company (BSAC), which governed it until the 1920s, it thereafter saw administration by various authorities. It was bisected by a natural border, the Zambezi. The territory to the north of the Zambezi was officially designated Northern Rhodesia by the Company, and has been Zambia since 1964; that to the south, which the Company dubbed Southern Rhodesia, became Zimbabwe in 1980. Northern and Southern Rhodesia were sometimes informally called "the Rhodesias".

The term "Rhodesia" was first used to refer to the region by white settlers in the 1890s who informally named their new home after Cecil Rhodes, the Company's founder and managing director. It was used in newspapers from 1891 and was made official by the Company in 1895.

To confuse matters, Southern Rhodesia, which became a self-governing colony of the United Kingdom in 1923, referred to itself simply as "Rhodesia" from 1964 to 1979, and in 1965 unilaterally declared independence under that name. It thereafter briefly renamed itself "Zimbabwe Rhodesia" in 1979.

The usage of the term Rhodesia to refer to the historical region fell from prominence after Northern Rhodesia became Zambia in 1964. From then until 1980, "Rhodesia" commonly referred to Southern Rhodesia alone. Since 1980 the term has not been in general use, aside from in a historical context.

Rhodesian Bush War

The Rhodesian Bush War—also called the Second Chimurenga and the Zimbabwe War of Liberation—was a civil conflict from July 1964 to December 1979 in the unrecognised country of Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe-Rhodesia).

The conflict pitted three forces against one another: the Rhodesian government, led by Ian Smith (later the Zimbabwe-Rhodesian government of Bishop Abel Muzorewa); the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army, the military wing of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union; and the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army of Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union.

The war and its subsequent Internal Settlement, signed in 1978 by Smith and Muzorewa, led to the implementation of universal suffrage in June 1979 and the end of white minority rule in Rhodesia, which was renamed Zimbabwe Rhodesia under a black majority government. However, this new order failed to win international recognition and the war continued. Neither side achieved a military victory and a compromise was later reached.Negotiations between the government of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, the UK Government and Mugabe and Nkomo's united "Patriotic Front" took place at Lancaster House, London in December 1979, and the Lancaster House Agreement was signed. The country returned temporarily to British control and new elections were held under British and Commonwealth supervision in March 1980. ZANU won the election and Mugabe became the first Prime Minister of Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980, when the country achieved internationally recognised independence.

Southern Rhodesia

The Colony of Southern Rhodesia was a self-governing British Crown colony in southern Africa. It was the predecessor state of what is now Zimbabwe.

The colony was established in 1923, having earlier been administered by the British South Africa Company. In 1953, it was merged into the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which lasted until 1963. Southern Rhodesia then remained a de jure British colony until 1980. However, the white-minority government issued a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in 1965 and established Rhodesia, an unrecognised state. In 1979, it reconstituted itself under indigenous African rule as Zimbabwe Rhodesia, which also failed to win overseas recognition. After a period of interim British control following the Lancaster House Agreement in December 1979, the country achieved internationally recognised independence as Zimbabwe in April 1980.


Zambia (), officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in south-central Africa (although some sources consider it part of East Africa). It neighbours the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the southeast, Zimbabwe and Botswana to the south, Namibia to the southwest, and Angola to the west. The capital city is Lusaka, located in the south-central part of Zambia. The population is concentrated mainly around Lusaka in the south and the Copperbelt Province to the northwest, the core economic hubs of the country.

Originally inhabited by Khoisan peoples, the region was affected by the Bantu expansion of the thirteenth century. After visits by European explorers in the eighteenth century, the region became the British protectorates of Barotziland-North-Western Rhodesia and North-Eastern Rhodesia towards the end of the nineteenth century. These were merged in 1911 to form Northern Rhodesia. For most of the colonial period, Zambia was governed by an administration appointed from London with the advice of the British South Africa Company.

On 24 October 1964, Zambia became independent of the United Kingdom and prime minister Kenneth Kaunda became the inaugural president. Kaunda's socialist United National Independence Party (UNIP) maintained power from 1964 until 1991. Kaunda played a key role in regional diplomacy, cooperating closely with the United States in search of solutions to conflicts in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Angola, and Namibia. From 1972 to 1991 Zambia was a one-party state with the UNIP as the sole legal political party under the motto "One Zambia, One Nation". Kaunda was succeeded by Frederick Chiluba of the social-democratic Movement for Multi-Party Democracy in 1991, beginning a period of social-economic growth and government decentralisation. Levy Mwanawasa, Chiluba's chosen successor, presided over Zambia from January 2002 until his death in August 2008, and is credited with campaigns to reduce corruption and increase the standard of living. After Mwanawasa's death, Rupiah Banda presided as Acting President before being elected President in 2008. Holding office for only three years, Banda stepped down after his defeat in the 2011 elections by Patriotic Front party leader Michael Sata. Sata died on 28 October 2014, making him the second Zambian president to die in office. Guy Scott served briefly as interim president until new elections were held on 20 January 2015, in which Edgar Lungu was elected as the sixth President.

In 2010, the World Bank named Zambia one of the world's fastest economically reformed countries. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is headquartered in Lusaka.


Zimbabwe (), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country located in southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. The capital and largest city is Harare. A country of roughly 16 million people, Zimbabwe has 16 official languages, with English, Shona, and Ndebele the most commonly used.

Since the 11th century, present-day Zimbabwe has been the site of several organised states and kingdoms as well as a major route for migration and trade. The British South Africa Company of Cecil Rhodes first demarcated the present territory during the 1890s; it became the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1923. In 1965, the conservative white minority government unilaterally declared independence as Rhodesia. The state endured international isolation and a 15-year guerrilla war with black nationalist forces; this culminated in a peace agreement that established universal enfranchisement and de jure sovereignty as Zimbabwe in April 1980. Zimbabwe then joined the Commonwealth of Nations, from which it was suspended in 2002 for breaches of international law by its then-government, and from which it withdrew in December 2003. The sovereign state is a member of the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It was once known as the "Jewel of Africa" for its prosperity.Robert Mugabe became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in 1980, when his ZANU-PF party won the elections following the end of white minority rule; he was the President of Zimbabwe from 1987 until his resignation in 2017. Under Mugabe's authoritarian regime, the state security apparatus dominated the country and was responsible for widespread human rights violations. Mugabe maintained the revolutionary socialist rhetoric of the Cold War era, blaming Zimbabwe's economic woes on conspiring Western capitalist countries. Contemporary African political leaders were reluctant to criticise Mugabe, who was burnished by his anti-imperialist credentials, though Archbishop Desmond Tutu called him "a cartoon figure of an archetypal African dictator". The country has been in economic decline since the 1990s, experiencing several crashes and hyperinflation along the way.On 15 November 2017, in the wake of over a year of protests against his government as well as Zimbabwe's rapidly declining economy, Mugabe was placed under house arrest by the country's national army in a coup d'état. On 19 November 2017, ZANU-PF sacked Robert Mugabe as party leader and appointed former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in his place. On 21 November 2017, Mugabe tendered his resignation prior to impeachment proceedings being completed. On 30 July 2018 Zimbabwe held its general elections, which was won by the ZANU-PF party led by Emmerson Mnangagwa. Nelson Chamisa who was leading the main opposition party MDC Alliance contested the election results and filed a petition to the Constitution Court of Zimbabwe. The court confirmed Mnangagwa's victory, making him the newly elected president after Mugabe.

Zimbabwe Rhodesia

Zimbabwe Rhodesia was an unrecognised state that existed from 1 June 1979 to 12 December 1979. Zimbabwe Rhodesia was preceded by an unrecognised republic named Rhodesia and was briefly followed by the re-established British colony of Southern Rhodesia, which according to British constitutional theory had remained the proper government after Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in 1965. About three months later, the re-established colony of Southern Rhodesia was granted internationally recognised independence as the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Under pressure from the international community to satisfy the civil rights movement by blacks in Rhodesia, an "Internal Settlement" was drawn up between the Smith administration of Rhodesia and moderate African nationalist parties not involved in armed resistance. Meanwhile, the government continued to battle armed resistance from both Soviet and Chinese backed Marxist liberation movements it referred to as "terrorists"- the Rhodesian Bush War was an extension of the Cold War, being a proxy conflict between the West and East, similar to those in Vietnam and Korea.

The "Internal Settlement" agreement led to relaxation of education, property and income qualifications for voter rolls, resulting in the first ever black-majority electorate. The country's civil service, judiciary, police and armed forces continued to be administered by the same officials as before, of whom most were whites, due to the composition of the upper-middle class of the period.Despite these changes, the new state did not gain international recognition, with the Commonwealth claiming that the "so-called 'Constitution of Zimbabwe Rhodesia'" would be "no more legal and valid" than the UDI constitution it replaced.

Zimbabwe national football team

The Zimbabwe national football team is the national team of Zimbabwe and is controlled by the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA), formerly known as the Football Association of Rhodesia. The team has never qualified for the World Cup finals, and qualified for their first Africa Cup of Nations in 2004.

Southern Rhodesia / Rhodesia articles

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