Clarke placed the document in storage in the Rhodesian Parliament building until the morning of November 11, when Smith and his cabinet colleagues — after a last-minute appeal by the British Government failed to convince them not to follow this course of action — voted unanimously to declare their independence. Clarke was then directed by Smith to prepare the signing ceremony. The document was placed in an adjoining conference room to where the cabinet had convened to take their vote. With a photographer to record the historic moment, Smith, Deputy Prime Minister Clifford Dupont, and the other cabinet members signed the declaration. Later that day, Smith read it out on national radio, along with a speech giving justification for the action, and giving warning about probable negative reactions by the international community.
The timing of Smith's telegram to the British Prime Minister (Harold Wilson) announcing the UDI was sent precisely at 1 pm local time (11 am in London) at the precise moment that the United Kingdom started its Remembrance Day tradition (two minutes of silence to mark the end of World War I and honour its war dead). The not-so-hidden message in this timing was to recall the fact that Rhodesia had helped the UK in its time of need in both World Wars and that the British should not forget that.
Twelve members of the Cabinet signed the Proclamation:
The following junior members of the Cabinet were present, but did not sign:
All the Cabinet members present at the signing of the Declaration were awarded the Independence Decoration in 1970 in honour of the event.
Under instructions from the British Government, the Governor of Southern Rhodesia, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, formally dismissed Smith and his cabinet for what was deemed "an act of treason against the United Kingdom". This action, not the UDI, was the only internationally recognised action by an official in Rhodesia at the time. Smith's government however ignored the dismissal, stating that as Rhodesia was no longer a colony and governed under a new constitution that made Gibbs' office obsolete, the dismissal no longer had (in their view) any legality. Gibbs remained ensconced in Government House for the next four years, resigning his office only after the republic referendum passed in late 1969.
Even after the United Nations followed Britain's lead in imposing sanctions, the apartheid regime in South Africa continued to give economic support to Rhodesia, but did not extend official recognition to the new state, sending only an 'Accredited Diplomatic Representative' to Salisbury. Portugal, then the colonial power in neighbouring Mozambique, gave economic support, including access to Mozambique's sea ports; but following the change of regime in Lisbon, Mozambique became independent under the Marxist Frelimo regime of Samora Machel. This was a severe blow to the Smith regime, militarily as well as economically, as Machel was an ally of Robert Mugabe and allowed ZANU a base there to mount incursions into Rhodesia.
Eventually, the Smith government abandoned attempts to remain loyal to the Crown, and in 1969, a majority of whites voted in referendum to declare Rhodesia a republic, which was declared in 1970, with Dupont as President. Sir Humphrey resigned at that point and left Government House.
The government hoped that severing constitutional links with the United Kingdom would end any ambiguity about Rhodesia's status, gain diplomatic recognition, and bring an end to economic sanctions. However, the issues of white minority control remained and hindered this effort, and like UDI before it, the republic was unrecognised internationally.
The 1969 republican constitution created a bicameral parliament, with a Senate and a House of Assembly, both of which had white majorities. The President was a ceremonial head of state, with executive power remaining with the Prime Minister as head of government.
In April 1979 the first multiracial elections were held in Rhodesia, which saw Abel Muzorewa become the first black Prime Minister of what was now called Zimbabwe Rhodesia. However, under the Internal Settlement, whites retained control of the country's judiciary, civil service, police and armed forces, as well as having a quarter of the seats in parliament reserved for them.
In December 1979 following multi-party talks at Lancaster House in London, Britain resumed control of Rhodesia, and with the help of observers from other Commonwealth countries, saw the first full participatory elections. During the four month period that the country was restored to the status of a British colony it was known officially as "the British Dependency of Southern Rhodesia". The Republic of Zimbabwe came into being on April 18 1980.
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