Ian Smith Dies
History; Posted on: 2007-11-21 18:55:45 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
RIP Ian Smith
News article filed by BNP news team
The man who gave a life of service to Africa and defied the liberal-left British political establishment passed away yesterday aged 88.
Ian Smith, former Prime Minister of Rhodesia and political visionary died in a Cape Town clinic after suffering a stroke.
To many white Rhodesians, Smith was a saviour who vowed to preserve white minority rule and protect their interests against rising African nationalist sentiment. They saw as heroic his unilateral declaration of independence from Britain in 1965, when Britain was pulling out of its African colonies.
To the effete liberal-leftists in the British establishment and the media he was a die-hard racist and imperialist.
In his latter years, Smith believed that he was more popular among black Zimbabweans than Mugabe, who has ruled since blacks won the right to vote in 1980.
With Zimbabwe now in severe economic decline, suffering the world's worst hyperinflation and one of the lowest rates of life expectancy, Smith liked to say that his government had offered blacks better education, housing and healthcare than Mugabe's.
"I was proud of Rhodesia. I have difficulty saying I'm proud of Zimbabwe," Smith said in 2000.
Ian Douglas Smith was born on April 8 1919 at Selukwe, Southern Rhodesia (now Shurugwi, Zimbabwe), the son of a Scottish-born butcher and cattle dealer who had emigrated in 1898.
Ian attended local schools at Selukwe and nearby Gwelo, then read Commerce at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. There he met and married Janet Watt, the widow of a South African rugby player.
During the Second World War he fought for five months with Italian partisans in the Ligurian Alps against the Axis Forces. He was shot down in combat, and the resulting injuries left his face badly scarred. He later had plastic surgery to repair the damage, but the operation left him with a stern and stiff expression.
Smith became active in politics at the 1948 general election when he was elected to the Legislative Assembly as a Liberal for Selukwe district. He was initially reluctant to stand due to his youth and the fact that he was establishing his farm. In 1953 his support for the federation of Southern Rhodesia with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland led him to join the Federal Party set up by Prime Minister Godfrey Huggins.
In the federal general election he was elected as Federal Party member for Midlands, and therefore stood down from his seat in the Southern Rhodesian legislature. From 1958 Smith served as Chief Whip for the UNFP in the Federal Assembly, but grew increasingly apart from the position of the United Federal Party and the new Prime Minister Sir Roy Welensky. In early 1962 he resigned the UFP whip and formed a breakaway party called the Rhodesia Reform Party. After a few months, this party merged with the Dominion Party to form the Rhodesian Front (RF).
Under Smith's leadership, white settlers, comprising only four per cent of the population, set out to guarantee their dominance. "I don't believe in black majority rule ever for Rhodesia, not in a thousand years," he declared.
The post-war British establishment wanted rid of its quarrelsome colonies in Africa and was ready to grant independence to those colonies but insisted that colonies with a substantial population of white settlers would not receive independence except under conditions of universal suffrage and majority rule.
The Rhodesia government defied this dictatorial rule and on the 11 November 1965 Ian Smith declared independence from Britain while retaining the Queen as the Head of State.
Britain, in an act of betrayal against the 300,000 white Rhodesians who were almost all of British stock, retaliated and imposed sanctions and ensured that Smith's Rhodesia was a renegade, pariah state.
A combination of an intense eight year long guerilla war backed by Marxists in surrounding countries armed with Soviet weaponry and external pressure from the “international community” led the Rhodesian government to handover power to independent Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe's leadership in 1980.
Under Mugabe’s rule the country which was once the bread basket of southern Africa has become a economic disaster with inflation in November 2007 reaching a mind boggling 15,000%, shops have nothing on their shelves and unemployment is over 70%. 3 million Zimbabweans have fled to neighbouring countries, particularly South Africa. 20% of the adult population is infected with AIDS and infant mortality has doubled since 1990.
In recent years Smith enjoyed a quiet retirement in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, and was free to attack Mugabe with impunity.
When he eventually left Zimbabwe in 2002, he did so voluntarily. Almost uniquely among white landowners, Smith kept most of his cattle ranch until his death.
Ian Smith should be remembered for the man he was: a man who stood up for the interests of the civilised world and did not pander to terrorism in any way.
Africa has lost one of its most civilised leaders. Unlike some, Ian Smith was not a terrorist, thug or corrupt. We must hold his memory in our hearts and minds. The time is now to lobby our politicians to do something positive to end Mugabe's despotic rule in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.
That would be a fitting tribute to a man who gave so much for his adopted continent.
Smith's wife and son both have died. He is survived by his stepchildren, Jean Tholet and Robert.
"Arise o voices of Rhodesia
God may we thy bounty share"
News Source: BNP news team