Smith, Ian Douglas

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Smith, Ian Douglas,

1919–2007, Rhodesian political leader. A cattle farmer who was the son of a Scottish immigrant, he served in the Southern Rhodesia legislative assembly from 1948 until 1953, when he was elected to the federal parliament of the Central African Federation, where he served until 1961. He helped establish the white supremacist Rhodesian Front (RF), which favored independence for Southern Rhodesia from Britain. In Dec., 1962, shortly before the breakup of the federation, the RF won in Southern Rhodesia, elevating Smith to deputy prime minister and treasury minister. Becoming prime minister of Rhodesia in 1964, he brutally suppressed black nationalist activities. Refusing to agree with Britain on eventual African majority rule, Smith unilaterally declared (Nov., 1965) Rhodesian independence from Great Britain.

Despite international economic sanctions against Rhodesia, Smith consolidated white rule and declared Rhodesia a republic in 1970. His government won elections overwhelmingly in 1970 and 1974, but a fierce guerrilla war began in 1972 and intensified with neighboring Mozambique's independence. In 1977 Smith negotiated a settlement for black majority rule in which power was shared with whites, and the country was renamed Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. The settlement allowed whites to continue control of the army, economy, and legislature and also excluded the Patriotic Front (PF), which continued fighting. In 1979 the Zimbabwe-Rhodesian government was forced to negotiate with the PF and, under a new constitution (1980), Robert MugabeMugabe, Robert Gabriel
, 1924–2019, president of Zimbabwe (1987–2017). A founder of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in 1963 and a guerrilla leader, he was imprisoned (1964–74) by the white Rhodesian government.
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, a PF leader, became prime minister of an independent Zimbabwe. Smith was relegated to leader of the opposition. His party disintegrated, and he retired in 1988, later living in self-imposed exile in South Africa.


See his memoir (1996).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Smith, Ian Douglas


Born Apr. 8, 1919, in Selukwe. Southern Rhodesian political figure.

Smith studied at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. From 1939 to 1946 he served in the British Royal Air Force. A farmer, he was elected to the Southern Rhodesian Legislative Assembly in 1948. In 1953 he became a member of the Parliament of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Smith founded the racist Rhodesian Front Party in 1961, and it came to power in Southern Rhodesia in the following year. He became president of the party in 1965. He was minister of the treasury from 1962 to 1964 and became prime minister in April 1964. In addition, he served as minister of defense until May 1965 and as minister of external affairs until August 1964.

Smith’s government was not recognized by the African population of the country and represented only the ruling European minority. In 1965 this government unilaterally declared the “independence” of Southern Rhodesia and the end of British authority. In March 1970, the racist regime proclaimed Southern Rhodesia a “republic” in accordance with the “constitution” of 1969. Under Smith, the Africans have been oppressed and kept without rights. He has been mercilessly suppressing the liberation movement in Southern Rhodesia.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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