People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 08, 2006
40 YEARS AGO
Agony Of Zimbabwe
TO placate African opinion and under pressure from Washington, which with the Vietnam War on its hands, to create the impression that it understands African susceptibilities, British Premier Harold Wilson agreed to impose the embargo on the supply of oil to Rhodesia but not before the Rhodesian government had built up enough reserve for six months. The British premier, however, has counselled patience in response to the persistent demand of the African states for armed intervention to end the rebellion in Rhodesia.
Six months is time enough for the Ian Smith racist government to set his house in order and consolidate his white minority police state. Ian Smith knows that Wilson’s Labour government does not possess electoral backing to risk military action to oust from power a white government, and he is perhaps calculating that in six months time the Tories may return to Whitehall and call off the embargo.
The oil embargo has already split the Tory party and Edward Heath, the Tory leader, is under fire from a considerable section of party members for his support to the oil embargo. Heath has, however, made it clear that his party will oppose the use of force if it is necessary to make the sanctions real.
The Labour premier also has given hint of picking up the threads of negotiation snapped by Ian Smith’s act of rebellion. For Ian Smith, Wilson can be as patient as Job.
This move for revival of negotiation has been based upon a shrewd calculation of African disunity. The OAU (Organisation of African Unity) stand on Rhodesia has been that it is a British problem and Britain is primarily responsible for bringing the rebellion to end. To expect Britain to end the white racist regime and ensure African self-government in Rhodesia is the height of naivete. The British premier has never said there will be majority rule in the near future. Like all social-democrats he is for evolution, which is timeless process – in time the white racist regime in Rhodesia will evolve into its opposite – a government with an African majority.
The stand of the Labour Premier is nothing different basically.
The OAU ultimatum of 36 African states to sever diplomatic ties with Britain over the issue of Rhodesia was meant to create sufficient pressure on the British government to act tough with Ian Smith. Though the decision was unanimous, not all the African states felt equally committed to implement it.
There are African states with strong ties with western neo-colonialism. They view with embarrassment the prospect of a direct confrontation with imperialism and neo-colonialism. Their policies favour the continued existence of western imperialist and neo-colonialist interests in Africa. It was not surprising, therefore, that many of these African states started dragging their feet as zero hour approached.
Since December 15 – the threatened date of severance of ties – nine African states have broken off diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom as pledged in the OAU conference in Addis Ababa. They are Guinea, Tanzania, Sudan, Ghana, Mauritania, UAR, Mali, Congo (Brazzaville) and Algeria.
Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda which supported the OAU decisions on Rhodesia in Accra and Addis Ababa have proposed a new summit to discuss Rhodesia afresh in January. Nigeria has professed a Commonwealth Premier’ Conference with the same agenda.
Meanwhile, the agony of Rhodesia continues. Strikes and protests are being brutally suppressed. Smith is bringing in white mercenaries from the Congo to intensify race terror. With each day that passes the Smith government is gathering strength. It continues to receive support from South Africa, Spain, Portugal, West Germany and Japan. Despite sanctions, even some African states continue their trade with Rhodesia.
Rhodesia is an African responsibility. Britain will never undertake to liberate the people of Zimbabwe from white racist rule, nor will the UN intervene in their favour in disregard of the interests of the western powers. UN resolutions have buttered no parsnips so far. Unless the African states act, the agony of Rhodesia will not be ended.
--- People’s Democracy, January 9, 1966