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1979: Rhodesia reverts to British rule

VIDEO : Leader, Joshua Nkomo: "Fighting goes on I'm afraid"

The Zimbabwe-Rhodesian Parliament has voted itself out of office and handed power back to the British until democratic elections can take place.

Both the House of Assembly and the Senate unanimously approved the Constitution of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia Bill.

The country will be renamed Zimbabwe after the elections.

The new law effectively revokes the illegal 1965 unilateral declaration of independence, or UDI, which led to 14 years of white minority rule under the former Prime Minister Ian Smith.

The British Governor-Designate, Lord Soames, will arrive in the capital, Salisbury, tomorrow to take over from the current president, Josiah Gumede.

One of his most pressing tasks will be to control the violence between the black opposition group, the Patriotic Front, and the Rhodesian military.

"No viable alternative"

Last year an "internal settlement" was signed by Mr Smith and Bishop Abel Muzorewa, the leader of the only recognised black party, the United African National Council,

A whites-only referendum in January this year approved a new constitution for Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

In April's elections for transitional legislature - boycotted by the Patriotic Front made up of Zanu and Zapu - Bishop Muzorewa and his UANC won.

He took office as prime minister in June but the Government of National Unity fell short of international and opposition parties' demands for black majority rule, leading to continued sanctions and violent rebellion.

Now the former white rulers have had to accept that the 14-year rebellion against the British Crown has ended and a new chapter in the nation's history is about to begin.

Introducing the bill in parliament, the Minister of Justice, Chris Anderson told both black and white MPs that there was no point in being negative about the changes.

He said: "I believe there would be far more profit in concentrating on what has been won."

And even Paddy Milton, a member of the white supremacist Rhodesian Front party, said he supported the bill because there was "no viable alternative" but to return to British rule until elections were held.

In what some have described as a final act of defiance, Mr Smith will not attend Lord Soame's official welcome party at Salisbury airport tomorrow afternoon.

His spokesman says he will be unable to attend because he will be away.

In Context
The following day the country reverted to being the British Dependency of Southern Rhodesia on the arrival of the new Governor, Lord Soames.

The British government then formally advised the UN Security Council that sanctions could be lifted.

On 21 December, Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, the exiled Patriotic Front leaders, together with the former Prime Minister Bishop Muzorewa, signed a peace deal at Lancaster House in London.

Lord Soames governed for four months until elections were held.

In March 1980, Robert Mugabe leader of Zanu PF was elected to power. Zimbabwe became independent and a member of the Commonwealth.

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