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IB10059

10-17-01

government, led by Ian Smith of the Rhodesia Front party, issued a Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Britain in November 1965, naming the secessionist country Rhodesia.

Britain imposed stringent economic sanctions against Rhodesia, and United Nations sanctions followed, but neither Britain nor other countries were prepared to intervene

militarily to

end

the

rebellion.

Economic

sanctions

had limited impact, trade freely with its Africa. There were

since Rhodesia was able to neighbor, white-ruled South outbreaks of armed African

Zimbabwe

opposition to the white regime as early as 1966, but it seemed at the time that white minority rule might last indefinitely. In 1972, however, a full scale guerrilla war began as troops of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) crossed into Rhodesia from bases in parts of Mozambique that Mozambican revolutionaries had freed of Portuguese control. In 1974, African nationalist Robert Mugabe, who had been imprisoned in Rhodesia for a decade, was released; and he slipped

out of 1975.

the country, taking command of ZANU Mozambique became fully independent

in of

Portugal

in

1975,

strengthening

ZANU’s

position,

while

to

the

west,

guerrillas

of

the

rival

Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), based in Zambia, were also attacks into Rhodesia. ZAPU was largely an Ndebele movement, and Nkomo, now deceased, was himself Ndebele.

launching armed its head, Joshua

Early Congressional Involvement. During the late 1960s and in the 1970s, U.S. participation in the UN sanctions against Rhodesia became a significant issue in Congress, where some Members saw the white-ruled country as a bastion against communism. These Members were concerned that ZANU leader Mugabe identified himself as a Marxist and that ZAPU, ZANU’s rival, was supported by the Soviet Union. Under the “Byrd Amendment,” named for Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia, U.S. enforcement in the United States of the UN sanctions against Rhodesia was suspended with respect to imports of critical and strategic materials. (Section 503 of the Armed Forces Appropriation Authorization of 1971, P.L. 92- 156.) These included chromium, used in the manufacture of high-quality steels, as well as titanium and nickel. In 1977, however, after a long legislative battle, the view that the Byrd amendment was damaging the United States in Africa and undermining efforts to promote democracy prevailed, and the amendment was essentially repealed. (House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Congress and Foreign Policy Series, Executive-Legislative Consultation on Foreign Policy: Sanctions Against Rhodesia, September 1982.)

The Carter Administration, which came into office just before the Byrd amendment was repealed, strongly supported majority rule in Rhodesia, and backed British diplomatic efforts to bring about this result. Controversy over U.S. policy continued, but on December 21, 1979, at Lancaster House in London, a Rhodesian peace agreement was finally concluded. The agreement provided for a brief transition period under a British governor, elections under a constitution establishing a parliamentary form of government, and constitutional guarantees of minority rights. Mugabe’s party, renamed as the ZANU-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), won

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