Rhodesians Never Die

53 years ago today in 1965, Rhodesia declares independence and becomes the second unilateral break from the United Kingdom by one of its colonies since the United States.

Have you ever heard of Rhodesia? Rhodesia was a former unrecognized state in Africa that is now known today as Zimbabwe. It 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 had an embargo placed on it receiving little outside support.

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. Both of these groups operating out of bases in Zambia and later Mozambique launched guerilla warfare attacks against Rhodesian civilians and military targets. The conflict escalated after the declaration of independence in 1965, and sanctions were imposed to hamper Rhodesian Security Forces fighting communist guerillas.

After talks with the UK government failed to reach an accord, Smith and the Rhodesian Front began the transformation of Rhodesia into a republic, and on March 2, 1970, Smith declared the Republic of Rhodesia. The new constitution introduced a president as the head of state, a multiracial senate, and an electoral mechanism in which the number of black MP’s would increase proportionate to the amount of income taxes paid by black citizens.

In 1972, the Rhodesian Bush War began to truly take off. Farm attacks and the brutal murder of civilians by the Black Nationalist communist movement ZANLA increased in intensity. The Rhodesian military responded with “Fireforce tactics” that proved highly effective with few casualties for the Rhodesian forces. However, the tide began to turn against the Rhodesians as the Estado Novo regime fell in Portugal and Rhodesia’s Eastern territories were now beset by terrorist forces working out of the new front.

While the entire western world looked away, Rhodesia held its own battling on more than one front against 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.

As the conflict escalated Smith saw a compromise as the only solution to halt the attacks and in 1979 an internal settlement won 85% of the white vote and Bishop Abel Muzorewa became the first black Prime minister of Rhodesia. Robert Mugabe, the leader of ZANLA communist forces declared the settlement a farce and the Rhodesian conflict continued until the Lancaster-House agreement with Britain. Under this agreement Rhodesia was temporarily reduced to a colonial power and a new election was held under British control. British election monitors reported mass intimidation by ZANLA forces at the polls. Therefore not surprisingly Robert Mugabe’s party the ZANU-PF won a majority 57 of 80 black seats with the RF winning all 20 of the white seats.

After the election, around 1,000 Rhodesian whites began to leave the country every week until barely any remained. Rhodesia was renamed Zimbabwe and the country decreased in economic growth and prosperity due to Mugabe’s Marxist policies. Formerly known as the Breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe cannot even feed its own population and is a net importer of food and according to the New Zimbabwean press, Robert Mugabe’s government has directly or indirectly caused the deaths of over 3 million Zimbabweans in 37 years and he remained in power until just last year. Zimbabwe is considered to be a failed state by every measure, and Rhodesia remains a politically incorrect and often unknown period of African history.

[Online References]

Rhodesian Constitution and Voting System


Rhodesian Declaration of Independence

Robert Mugabee (strongman who replaced Ian Smith and remained in power until last year):

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:

Ian Smith:
Interview at the end of his life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_x9jRYU1JU
Biography: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ian-Smith#ref99283
Article on him being vindicated:
Rebel History’s Page Note on Ian Smith:

(https://www.facebook.com/notes/rebel-history/ian-smith/2029135810668514/ )

Military History overview of Rhodesian Bush War:



Rhodesia Unafraid: Documentary made during the Bush War:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYL6aTK3k6Y (Part 1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7YV_0XEY8U (Part 2)

Authored by R.E. Foy, Kasper Dixon Worthington, and Louis William Botha