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An African VolkThe Apartheid Regime and Its Search for Survival$
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Jamie Miller

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190274832

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190274832.001.0001

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In Search of Détente

In Search of Détente

Negotiating a Transfer of Power in Rhodesia

Chapter:
(p.119) 4 In Search of Détente
Source:
An African Volk
Author(s):

Jamie Miller

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190274832.003.0005

Chapter 4 illuminates how the apartheid state responded to the pending withdrawal of the Portuguese Empire from Southern Africa. It shows how, contrary to expectations, John Vorster saw events as providing a unique opportunity to prove the regime’s ability to coexist peacefully and productively with independent African states. In particular, he committed to convincing Ian Smith’s minority regime in Rhodesia, a recent ally, to transfer power to a multiracial, black-majority government. The chapter shows how he manoeuvered behind the scenes with Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda to engineer such a transition, all while opposition materialized on two fronts at home: from the military establishment, which favored a more assertive posture based on rearmament, and from verkramptes, who reflexively opposed any distancing of the polity from the white Rhodesians. Ultimately, the analysis argues that Vorster failed to act promptly or decisively enough to overcome domestic opposition to the prospect of abandoning fellow whites.

Keywords:   Decolonization, détente, white redoubt, Portuguese Empire, Vorster Doctrine, Mozambique, Rhodesia, South-West Africa/Namibia

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