Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd August 1978.

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Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Kingston upon Hull West 12:00 am, 2nd August 1978

The quicker Ian Smith goes, the better. In visits to East Africa I met no former white settler leader who does not think that Smith is to blame, of course with many others, for much of what is happening.

I know that there are no Marxists on the Opposition Benches. Therefore, they will accept the Churchillian thesis of men making history. In Ian Smith we have a man who, when history is written, will be blamed for UDI in 1965 and for the dangerous sickness which, if the present position continues, will engulf Rhodesia and include all its people. He has procrastinated for years on anything that would lead to peace and prosperity for a future independent Zimbabwe.

All other white leaders looked ahead to independence, when they would have a black majority Government and they would build up the country and live together in decency with black leaders. That is not so in Rhodesia. This man Smith concedes an interim Government with the black Africans, but every Labour speaker has told us that although he concedes an interim Government, he has no intention of making it work in the genuine, decent, honest, democratic sense.

We have had examples time after time. What about Mr. Hove, who was a joint Minister? When he wished to democratise and Africanise the civil service and the police, he was simply told that it could not be done. He is no longer a Minister.

Who here imagines that there will be elections before the end of this year? This is a very serious question. We have only to look at the conditions in the bush. Because of the disintegrating social, political and military position, we must ask who will collect the ballot boxes and make sure that they contain valid voting papers, whatever may be the constituency, whether it is near the Mozambique border, the Botswana border or any other border, or whether, indeed, it is in the African location in Salisbury?

Open elections must be held in Rhodesia, and this means that there will have to be supervision by an outside body, the United Nations. The Anglo-American agreement, not the internal settlement, must be put into force, with someone at the head of it who is above all the back dealing and petty backstairs work which Smith is carrying on with his fake constitution.

I am, I am afraid, not merely pessimistic but fatalistic about the future of Rhodesia. The hour is not only late; I believe that it is too late. It is very unusual for me to talk in this way, but 12 o'clock is approaching so fast that one can almost hear the clock chiming.