Rhodesia was a former unrecognized state in Africa that is now known today as Zimbabwe.
Rhodesia declared independence on November 11th, 1965. It was the first unilateral break from the United Kingdom by one of its colonies since the Declaration of Independence from the United States. Rhodesia was denied sovereignty by the United Nations and most of the world for refusing to allow a universal voting franchise. Registered voters at the time were mostly white because of the qualified franchise, under which only those who met certain financial, educational and property standards were eligible to vote. Suffrage was not denied on a basis of race, as blacks were able to vote, had representation in parliament, and thousands of them even fought for the Rhodesian Security Forces. Blacks in Rhodesia had one of the highest standards of living in Africa at the time, however having a white minority rule the country was deemed too controversial and Rhodesia received very little outside support and had an embargo placed on it.
In July 1964 communist backed political faction ZANLA assassinated a Rhodesian Front official and began a military conflict. The two primary factions opposing the Rhodesian government were ZANLA (Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army), backed by China and ZIPRA (Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army) backed by the U.S.S.R, which launched guerilla warfare attacks against Rhodesia, operating out of bases in Zambia and later Mozambique. The conflict escalated after the declaration of independence, and sanctions were imposed on Rhodesia by Britain, which hampered Rhodesian Forces, due to the lack of modern equipment and supplies, however Rhodesia received its war supplies through South Africa.
When the entire western world looked away, Rhodesia held its own battling on more than one front against the communist backed forces for 15 years while having logistical problems throughout the entire conflict due to the embargo. Former Commander in Chief of NATO, General Sir Walter Walker, described the Rhodesian soldiers as “the toughest counterinsurgency force in the world.” In a letter to the London Times newspaper he stated, “the Rhodesian Army will never be defeated in the field by terrorists or even a much more sophisticated enemy.” Rhodesian Security Forces were considered among the world’s finest fighting units, as reported by Time magazine in 1977 and military historians.
Eventually to pursue peace, Prime Minister Ian Smith gave into expanding the franchise and strongman Robert Mugabee of the communist military faction was elected, where he remains in power to this day. 52 years later, Zimbabwe is now considered a failed state by many standards and its becoming more acceptable to have sympathy for the Rhodesian cause. However most people have never heard of this nation and its story is a fascinating case-study of giving a functioning nation over to a universal voting franchise.
Co-authored by Mr. Worthington and Mr. Foy
Rhodesian Constitution and Voting System
Rhodesian Declaration of Independence
Robert Mugabee (strongman who replaced Ian Smith and remains in power to this day):
Seized land of white farmers and then considered to invite them back:
Zimbabwe government will not prosecute people who murdered white farmers:
New York Times articles acknowledging Mugabee hurt the black population way more than the ruling whites:
How Mugabee destroyed Zimbabwe in 10 steps:
Decrease in the Zimbabwean Standard of Living:
Interview at the end of his life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_x9jRYU1JU
Article on him being vindicated:
Military History overview of Rhodesian Bush War: