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Rhodesia: Whites on Wheels

1 minute read

It hardly handled like the R.A.F. Spitfire he’d flown in World War II, but Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith was willing to give it a go-around anyway—”to epitomize the spirit of the moment.” Back and forth along a Salisbury thoroughfare he pedaled and puffed on his new bicycle. Then, with a wrenching left turn that resembled a sideways Immelmann, he braked to a halt. “My cook-boy has a better bike than this,” guffawed Ian. “Good old Smithy!” laughed the office workers who were watching.

Smith’s performance last week was in aid of gas rationing, which Britain’s oil embargo had at last forced on his white minority government. With crude oil running out at the Mozambique port of Beira (source for Rhodesia’s major pipeline), Smith announced that drivers would henceforth get only three to five gallons of gas per week, according to the size of their cars. His own black Wolseley went into the garage. The worst is yet to come: by the end of the month, ration coupons will replace the “honor system,” which last week allowed hundreds of white Rhodesians to top off their tanks by bribing black filling-station attendants.

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