Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith surprised newsmen at a press conference in Salisbury on Sunday (29 October).
GV Newsmen sitting near Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith
CU Ian Smith listens question, then speaks in English
GV and SV Newsmen seated (4 shots)
CU Ian Smith speaking in English
REPORTER: "Can you meet the target date, and if not, what steps will you then take to maintain your position in the outside world, that the hand-over is well and truly underway?"
SMITH: "I'm able to tell you that this was a question that was frequently asked and we were able to explain the position to the complete satisfaction of our audience. We were absolutely straight forward and honest and told them that there had been rumblings from the people who are concerned with the preparation of the new constitution that they were behind schedule, that we had, in view of that, had asked for a reassessment of the time. But at the time we had left, we had not yet received that. I hope it will be available in the coming week. Again, some of us, and I was certainly one of those who said I had to state unequivocally that my belief that we would not be able to comply, purely for mechanical reasons, and that if we didn't comply it would just mean the exercises would spill over a few months, and the exact assessment we would be able to give them once we had had the report from our constitutional people. We pointed out to them that in their Anglo-american proposals they, the British and Americans, had set aside a time of two years to do this exercise and we were trying to concertina this into nine months, and that in view of that, it shouldn't surprise anybody if we were unable to do it in the nine months. It was an ambitious target."
SMITH: "I think they must have a guilty conscience as far as Zambia is concerned and what is taking place there. But I think it indicates certain duplicity in what they are doing, they should have done the same to Mozambique shouldn't they, a few years ago, because in the main they are responsible for the situation here? And of course they should long ago have brought mercy flights and that kind of thing into Rhodesia for the poor innocent Rhodesians, who are on the receiving end of the world today, for the first time now it looks as though they are acknowledging this, admitting their guilt, and coming forward to give some help to Zambia. I suppose they can better explain away Zambia to their electorate and their tax-payers than they could have with Mozambique, for example. I think it indicates the double standards by which these people operate. I'm not surprise at them doing this, I think there's a bit of showmanship attached to it as well of course, because I don't believe it is really going to be of any consequence."
One of the members of Rhodesia's multi-racial executive that from the transitional government, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, has commented upon Mr. Smith's statement on the changing of the date for the hand-over to majority rule. The Bishop, speaking in London on Monday (30 October) predicated there would be "a disastrous situation" if eventually Mr. Smith backed down on the agreement to hold elections. He added that he thought the announcement had been a personal statement by Mr. Smith and was not on behalf of the interim government since such a decision could only be made by the entire executive council. Britain has sent the first aircraft load of military supplies to Zambia. The equipment is expected to include ground-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft guns. The British government has provided the arms on condition that they are only used for defence purposes, and in particular, the defence of the Zambian capital Lusaka.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith surprised newsmen at a press conference in Salisbury on Sunday (29 October). Mr. Smith ruled out the possibility of a national ballot in time to transfer power to the black Rhodesian majority on december the thirty-first. This was the date set by Mr. Smith and the other members of the transitional government on March the third. After outlining the reasons for his decision, Mr. smith went on to comment on the British government's plan to supply Zambia with defensive arms, but began by explaining he had discussed the setting-back of the deadline during his recent visit to the United States.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Smith met newsmen in the headquarters of the Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation.
Mr. Smith was then asked about Britain's decision to sell arms to Zambia following Rhodesia's recent raid on Patriotic Front guerrilla bases within Zambia's borders.