Thursday, November 22, 2007

Smith brought great suffering - Harrison

Smith brought great suffering - Harrison
By Masuzyo Chakwe in Lusaka and Kingsley Kaswende in Harare, Zi
Thursday November 22, 2007 [03:00]

BRITISH High Commissioner to Zambia Alistair Harrison has said the late former Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith brought great suffering to the people of Zimbabwe and Zambia. Commenting on the death of Smith who died in South Africa on Tuesday, High Commissioner Harrison said it would be difficult to be positive about his legacy. High Commissioner Harrison said Smith failed to see when the world was changing.

"First of all, I would send condolences to the family of Ian Smith but I would have to say that it is very difficult to be positive about his legacy.

I think the problem with Ian Smith and his government in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the 1960s was that they simply failed to see when the world was changing and when Africa was changing. Many people in Zambia, or Northern Rhodesia as it was called then, realised very quickly that white minority rule could not continue," High Commissioner Harrison said.

He said the British government eventually realised and made a statement in South Africa about the winds of change that were blowing throughout the African continent.

"But people like Ian Smith did not realise that and as a result brought great suffering to the people of Rhodesia and Zimbabwe and also great suffering, we should not forget, to the people of Zambia who in the early years of independence were absolutely strong in supporting the liberation struggles in Rhodesia, Mozambique, Angola and I can say the apartheid regime in South Africa," he said.

High Commissioner Harrison said the positive thing one could say was that Smith's vision of white minority rule did not happen.

"Fortunately, eventually but rather late, Zimbabwe did get independence with free and fair elections and majority rule in 1980 and apartheid came to an end. Mozambique and Angola were also liberated but the actions of Ian Smith and the like delayed that process and brought great suffering to this region," he said.

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Services reported yesterday that Smith would be remembered for his racism and for the deaths of many Zimbabweans.

The Zimbabwean government said it would remain silent "for now" over Smith’s death.
Smith was the former prime minister who led the white-ruled Rhodesia, and whose attempts to resist black rule in the present day Zimbabwe plunged the country into isolation and civil war.

He died on Tuesday in Cape Town at the age of 88, having been ailing for some time and suffering a stroke last week.

President Robert Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba said the government would rather not comment on the death of Smith, whose rule many black Zimbabweans say symbolised the worst racial oppression.

"Silence is the best we can give him for now. We are not in a hurry to comment about it," said Charamba in an interview.

Smith imprisoned Mugabe for 11 years in 1964, calling him a terrorist who was keen on ushering sole dictatorship in the country.

To many white Zimbabweans, however, Smith is regarded as a hero.
Smith, the son of a farmer was born in the small Southern Rhodesian mining town of Selukwe on April 8, 1919.

Smith was educated in Zimbabwe and at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, where he obtained a bachelor of commerce degree.

He defied the world in 1965 when he led 270,000 white Rhodesians in a unilateral declaration of independence from Britain rather than accept moves to black-majority rule.

became prime minister of white-ruled Rhodesia in 1964 and remained in office until a guerrilla war forced him to accept a ceasefire and political settlement in 1979.

Elections were held the following year, when Rhodesia became the black-ruled Republic of Zimbabwe, with Robert Mugabe as prime minister.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home