THE UNITED STATES SHOULD NOT LIFT SANCTIONS AGAINST RHODESIA
by American Committee on Africa
New York, New York, United States
May 4, 1979
A statement by the American Committee on Africa. The statement says with the conclusion of the highly publicized elections in Rhodesia, there is a predictable effort by some members of Congress to end sanctions and to have the United States officially recognize the new government, to be headed by Bishop Abel Muzorewa. This would be a grievous error. Lifting sanctions would not be in the best interest of the United States in its relationships throughout Africa, and further may serve only to escalate the war in that divided country. The facts are: that only whites, who are less than 4 percent of the population, were allowed, through referendum, to approve the Constitution under which the election took place; that the elections took place under conditions of martial law in about 90 percent of the country; that the presence of 100,000 troops scattered around the country created an atmosphere of unmistakable pressure on the people; that the banning of the political movements which form the Patriotic Front prevented people from fully exercising their right to free choice. One thing is certain, if a new government in Britain does lift sanctions it is doubtful if the Commonwealth, due to meet in Zambia in August, will survive the strains. Key African members of the Commonwealth - such as Tanzania, Nigeria, Zambia - will not be able to remain in the body, and this will affect other Asian and African members. The statement says if the U.S. lifts sanctions it will be aligned with only one other country in the world in quickly endorsing the new government and ending sanctions -- the Republic of South Africa. The African states and the Organization of African Unity will overwhelmingly reject the government of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia. With this rejection, there is no way the United Nations can vote to lift sanctions. Furthermore, the tensions within the country will not go away. The guerilla war led by ZAPU and ZANU (representing the Patriotic Front) can be expected to escalate. Precipitous action by the U.S. in Rhodesia would be a major calamity. If the initiatives of the Carter administration have had some small effect in giving U.S. credibility in Africa, all this would go down the drain.
Used by permission of Africa Action (successor to the American Committee on Africa).
Collection: Africa Action Archive