THE RHODESIANS RALLYDuring the ten days preceding the Declaration, signs were not lacking that something momentous was in the wind. The Government declared a state of emergency, on the ground that saboteurs from outside the country's borders were becoming active and the national security was threatened. All public meetings were banned, no large gatherings were permitted, swift action could be taken against any hint of subversion. At about the same time import controls were introduced to safeguard Rhodesia's foreign exchange and economic well-being. Immediately after Ian Smith made his declaration, the Government issued its UDI Proclamation.
Public reaction on the whole was restrained. There was some celebration, but the business men of Salisbury and Bulawayo, Gwelo and Umtali, did not celebrate. They took the threat of sanctions seriously and feared for their future. They could not understand why this step should have been taken just as they were climbing out of the trough following the break-up of the Federation. Now they would have to tighten their belts against the prospects of shrinking markets. The markets they were worried about were those immediately to the north - Zambia and Malawi, which since the dissolution of the Federation had imposed tariffs on goods manufactured in Rhodesia. It was only to be expected that they would seize on Rhodesia's illegal act to raise those barriers still further.
The initial reaction of dismay on the part of many Rhodesians was swiftly followed by another. The step had been taken. The die had been cast. Every patriotic Rhodesian agreed that the country was entitled to her independence, far more so than the black states to the north who had had it thrust upon them with such indecent haste. They might not agree with the way it had been achieved, but now that we had it we would have to see that we retained it. Because the alternative was too awful to contemplate. If Rhodesia collapsed, if she had to beg for clemency from an outraged British Government, there could be no doubt what sort of government world be imposed. It would be black majority government almost right away.
Therefore, there could be no question of actively opposing the Government's decision, of organizing a political opposition. Rhodesia and her future came first. Ian Smith could be assured of their loyalty and support in facing the challenge, in meeting the dangers ahead.
The African population took the declaration calmly. A planned outbreak of violence was expected, but there were only a few instances of attempted rioting and intimidation, mostly in Bulawayo, and these were promptly stamped out by the police. An attempt to organize a general strike, again mostly at Bulawayo, produced little or no response. As long as the tenor of their daily lives was undisturbed, the mass of the Africans was unconcerned.
The Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, was in an agonizing position. As a highly respected Rhodesian of long standing, and the first Rhodesian to hold the office of Governor, he must have agreed that Rhodesia was entitled to her independence. But he could not possibly agree with the manner in which it had been obtained. At the same time as Ian Smith issued his Proclamation of Independence, Sir Humphrey issued his own proclamation declaring the Government illegal and removing Mr. Smith and his Ministers from office.
But censorship had been introduced that morning, and the Governor's proclamation was neither published nor broadcast within Rhodesia. But, since the censorship did not apply to outgoing messages, it was published in the Press in South Africa and Britain and it was broadcast by the BBC, so that a number of Rhodesians knew about it. Ian Smith was quick to take action.
He issued a statement on November l 5 describing his meeting with Sir Humphrey on the morning of November 11 when he had told him of his intention to broadcast his Declaration of Independence at lunch-time. Sir Humphrey, he said, had been expecting this.
He said he believed my decision was wrong in that if we were not able to negotiate with the British Government we should maintain the status quo. He acknowledged that it was not possible to convince me of his way of thinking, and added that although he was opposed to my decision, once UDI was a fait accompli all good Rhodesians should stand together in the interests of Rhodesia. He assured me that he was a good Rhodesian.Following Sir Humphrey's proclamation, he had paid him another visit.
l found that he had changed his stand and had obviously received instructions from London. I pointed out to him that his constitutional position was quite untenable, and I suggested that he should ask Her Majesty to relieve him of his position. This he was not prepared to do.The Prime Minister went on to explain that the message purporting to have come from the Queen dismissing him and his Ministers had, in fact, emanated from the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. It was clear that Sir Humphrey was not representing the Queen so much as the British Prime Minister. When Sir Humphrey refused either to resign or to leave Government House, the Government withdrew the trappings of office, such as the Police Guard, and refused to pay the salaries of members of the staff who remained with him. Sir Humphrey was permitted to go on living at Government House, but as a private citizen at a rental of £250 a month.
Simultaneously with the Independence Proclamation, a new Constitution was given the country to supersede that of 1961. One of its provisions was the appointment of a Governor- General by the Queen on the advice of "her Rhodesian Ministers". Since this was not possible, it was necessary to appoint an Officer Administering the Government to carry out his functions, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Clifford Dupont, was appointed to the office.
Mr. Dupont was M.P. for the Salisbury constituency of Arundel, and when he resigned his seat to take up his new post there was speculation about a possible by-election. There was none. So solid was public opinion behind the Government on the independence issue that a contest would have been a waste of time, and the Rhodesian Front candidate was returned unopposed.
Any discussion about the new Constitution in the Press was effectively stifled by the censorship regulations. The Rhodesian Front had all along made no secret of its detestation of the Rhodesian Printing and Publishing Company's newspapers, particularly the two dailies, which were opposed to the Government's policies, and the regulations were severely applied.
The editors retaliated by leaving blank spaces where reports and leaders had been censored, and most issues carried large white spaces on the main pages. A censorship aimed at preventing the leakage of information on Rhodesian moves to counter sanctions was understandable, but critical opinion and information on other aspects of Rhodesian affairs also came under the censor's pencil, and the system aroused widespread resentment. When the regulations were withdrawn in April, 1968, both Press and public were relieved.
In an attempt to counter the censorship, the British Government erected a radio transmitting station at Francistown, close to the Rhodesian border in Botswana. Its object was to put over a "peace aims" offensive which the British hoped would topple the "Smith regime". Its presence was resented in Francistown and British troops were posted to guard it. It was a costly undertaking - and it was completely ineffective. Its broadcasts were jammed, it created no stir of interest in Rhodesia and the few messages that did get through were largely ignored. It was an expensive failure, and when it was closed down in March, 1968, there were no regrets.
The only real trouble in Rhodesia occurred in the only place where the emergency regulations could not be promptly applied - the campus of the University College in Salisbury. In the beginning discontent over UDI was confined to the campus itself, but on March 17, 1966, it erupted into noisy demonstrations by a large group of African students who treated the Principal, Dr. Walter Adams, and other faculty members with gross disrespect. Not all the African students took part, and some of those who did alleged that they had been intimidated into doing so.
As the trouble mounted on the third day the police intervened to prevent further demonstrations and meetings were banned. This led to 25 lecturers going on strike and walking out of a combined faculty meeting addressed by Dr. Adams because "we feel our freedom has been infringed upon and the university's charter violated by the imposition of police control."
The trouble died down temporarily on March 23, when the executive committee of the college council recommended that Dr. R. Birley, a visiting professor at the Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, should investigate the causes of the disturbances and also the machinery for liaison between the administration, the staff and the students. The lecturers returned to their duties, the striking students went back to their classes and the police were withdrawn.
But the trouble flared up again, this time due to an act by Dr. Adams himself. An African student who had been restricted for his subversive activities arrived on the campus and frankly admitted that he had walked out of the restriction area at Gonakudzingwa. Dr. Adams decided not to inform the police or to allow them to arrest him as long as he remained on the campus.
This caused such public indignation that the Principal offered to resign, and later, when he was appointed Director of the London School of Economics, he did so. Other members of the staff also resigned, most of them from the faculties of Arts and Social Studies.
The climax came at the graduation ceremony on Saturday, July 16. A crowd of about 50 African students deliberately insulted the guest of honour, Dr. J. P. Duminy, Principal of Cape Town University, calling him a "Boer" and urging him to "go back to Verwoerd". The venerable Rhodesian statesman, Lord Malvern, was jostled in spite of his 83 years, and two Cabinet Ministers were jeered at. The main speeches were delivered against a constant uproar and the ceremony was carried out only with the greatest difficulty. Some of the white students linked arms to keep the demonstrators away from the platform, and the police were called in.
The left-wingers had overstepped the mark. At dawn on July 28 the police arrested nine Arts and Social Studies lecturers and an Asian student under detention orders. The lecturers were five British, one Canadian, an Italian, a Norwegian and a Rhodesian. Nine students were placed in restriction - five Africans, three Europeans and one Asian. A couple of days later it was announced that the eight non-Rhodesian lecturers were to be deported.
Parliament was told that they had been actively engaged in subversion. Some of them had been open about their Communist affiliations. Their plan had been to create conditions
which would lead to the closure of the university and result in a state of affairs which might, in their minds, justify intervention by Britain.Justification for these allegations came when one of the lecturers was charged with contravening the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act. He was found guilty of possessing Russian hand grenades and other "offensive materials" for use against the European community, and of having kept in contact with terrorists who had infiltrated into the country. He was sent to prison for 20 years after pleading guilty to six counts of conspiring to commit terrorist acts. With the removal of the trouble-makers, U.C.R. settled down to its job of educating Rhodesia's youth of all races. Dr. Adams was succeeded as Principal by Professor T. G. Miller, of Reading University, who took up his duties in November, 1967. His liberal views, however, soon brought him into conflict with the authorities and less than two years later he resigned and left the country.