Interview with Ian Smith
TOM McDERMOTT visited Rhodesia a few months ago. The following is a transcriptof a T.V. interview he did with Premier Ian Smith, which we publish without comment
T. McD.: Mr. P.M. you declared independence on November 1965-do you intend to remain independent?
P.M.: Yes, certainly we are very happy with our present state. Not only are we happier than we were before, I think the country is getting along better-the economy is beginning to expand now and we are doing far better than we were doing just before declaring our independence-so I have no hesitation in saying yes to your question.
T. McD.: The Rhodesian whites are in a minority why should the world allow you to impose your rule on the black majority?
P.M.: I don't think we asked the world to do this-we are not imposing our rule on anybody in Rhodesia. We are doing this with the concurrency of the people and of the black people and I think that anybody who takes the trouble to inquire into this question will agree with me. This is a free country and I don't see black people standing up on soap boxes anywhere complaining about what ~s happening in fact quite the reverse-they are satisfied to be governed under our civilised system of government.
T. McD.: Most of the world's criticism of Rhodesia seems to hinge on the point that the black man is merely a hewer of wood and a drawer of water in his own country. Indeed a visitor such as myself soon comes to the conclusion that the whites are much better off than the blacks. Is this just or democratic?
P.M.: Yes, I think it is. I think these are the circumstances that you will find in most countries in Africa. For instance, I would say if you went to some countries to the north of us, although they have African rule you will find that the Europeans live at a far higher standard of living than do the black people. This is because in the main the Europeans are the people with the greatest know-how, best education-they are the professional people and this doesn't apply only in Rhodesia. This is the reason in Rhodesia that the European is the man who came here with his capital and know-how and best education. I would further say to you that while the African has a long way to go I think any reasonable man will understand this because he was so backward when he came here. I would say to you that in Rhodesia we are doing more for the African than in any other country to the north of us. I think the standard of education which we give to them is far better and the standard of living is far better here. Finally thert~ are many Africans who are very wealthy here. I can certainly point some to you who think this is a very fair system.
T. McD.: What was your reaction to the refusal of the House of Commons to go along with further sanctions?
P.M.: I was very pleased, I think all Rhodesians were pleased as we are a any indication from Britain that they are opposed to sanctions-that they are opposed to this stupid position tha exists between two countries which have been friendly for so long-coun tries which have had very close relations. Yet for some ~nexplicable reason we find ourselves in this position. So we welcome this whether it comes from the House of Lords or the Institute of Directors or the Chambers of Commerce or whoever it isthis is something which we welcome.
T. McD.: Your economy has been under some considerable pressure. Can Rhodesia survive a total sanctions war?
P.M.: Yes, I believe we can and I don't think this is a wild guess in the dark. You know we have had a lot of experience over the last couple of years of sanctions and we have done fairly well-I think it is fair to say that. I think any impartial observer would agree with me when I say that I think we are learning to combat sanctions better as each day passes. There is no doubt that our overall economy is stronger now than it was a year agoin fact the economy is showing tremendous resilience and powers of expansion. So I am confident as the time goes on we will deal with sanctions even better than we have in the past.
T. McD.: To turn for a moment to the military aspect, are your forces sufficient to withstand the possibility of an ever growing assault by heavily armed freedom fighters?
P.M.: Well, of course, we don't have to fight freedom fighters-that is the first point I would make to you. The freedom fighters are on our side. We do, of course, have the odd skirmish with communist indoctrinated armed terrorists who come into our country. I would say to you that we have dealt with these people very adequately in the past and again I think we are improving as the time goes on and in the future I think we will deal with them even more effectively than we have in the past. In fact, I think these and friend people give our army chaps a bit of very good exercise now and again. This is one of the things that help to remove some of the boredom that is always associated with soldiering.
T. McD.: Do you look forward to a Conservative return to power in Britain?
P.M.: Yes-I would say I do and I think I am expressing the view of most of Rhodesia when I say we believe that if the Conservatives were ~n power we would get a little more sense out of them than we are getting out of the present government, and I think there might be a chance of re!tolving the present impasse between our two countries. However, I would like to make it clear that come what may we've, made up our minds where we're goingwe've dedicated ourselves' and we have set our course-we are not going to deviate. I can assure you of that-so the advent of a Conservative government in Britain won't affect that issue. It could of course affect the relations that now exist between our two countries and for this reason I think a Conservative government would be an improvement.
T. McD.: Thank you.