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1979: End of white rule in Rhodesia

VIDEO : Celebrations and confrontation in Zimbabwe

Rhodesia has formally ended nearly 90 years of white minority rule and declared it will now be known as Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

In the absence of any official ceremony crowds of revellers, mainly black, gathered in the streets of Salisbury and surrounding townships at midnight to mark the change.

But although the name may have changed and there are 12 black faces in the cabinet under a new, black prime minister - Bishop Muzorewa - much will stay the same.

The man in overall command of the military will remain in his post, as will those in charge of the army, air force and police.

The jobs of top civil servants - all white - are protected under the new constitution.


"Pushing people forward simply because of their colour would be most unfortunate"

Ian Smith

Ian Smith, although no longer prime minister, will remain in government.

At his final news conference in the top job Mr Smith said the less change there was the better, setting himself at odds with new Prime Minister Muzorewa, who said he hoped changes would be "very fast" in coming.

Mr Smith warned that "pushing people forward simply because of their colour, irrespective of merit, would be most unfortunate and would of course lead to disaster".

He continued: "It would mean that Rhodesia would then develop into a kind of banana republic where the country would in no time be bankrupt."

Mr Smith, who has moved from his official residency to a more humble abode, said he would be asleep during the changeover.

The new government has yet to be officially recognised by Britain and the United States.

In Context
The interim state of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia lasted little more than six months, before the country became a British colony once again.

Zimbabwe's independence on 18 April 1980 was internationally recognised.

A violent campaign supported by President Mugabe to seize white-owned farms began in 2000.

The European Union imposed sanctions on the country in 2002 and Mr Mugabe's re-election was condemned as seriously flawed by international observers.


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