“We are indeed in the totalitarian grip of frightened men. Things were made worse by the non-intervention policy of the country’s commercial and industrial community. In their hearts these men must know that all is far from well in Government.”
(Pat Bashford – April 22nd, 1969)
24th April, 1969
Pat Bashford was the leader of the Center Party in Rhodesia. He died in 1987 in Harare at the age of 72.
The Rhodesian General Election of 1970 was the first under the revised, republican constitution of Rhodesia which provided for 66 members of the House of Assembly, with 50 seats reserved for voters of European descent, 8 seats for voters of African descent and 8 seats for “Tribal Chiefs”.
The ruling Rhodesia Front headed by Ian Smith won all 50 “European” seats. The Center Party gained 11% of the vote and zero seats.
My father ran as an independent candidate in the Salisbury City constituency. I was 9 years old at the time and recall his refusal (I’m sure due to limited funding) to plaster posters all over the Jacaranda trees that lined the streets of Salisbury. Instead, with the aid of my mother, he produced 8 or so hand painted wooden boards and tied them to a few trees. Still vivid in my mind is one of the boards in black and orange colours that had a picture of a dog with the slogan “Please leave some room for my dog, vote John Lentell”. He drove us kids into town one evening to show us his board posters on display.
He polled 24 votes.
I always remembered that number and now due to the wonders of the internet, amazingly, there it is documented on Wikipedia in the link above!
I’m sure there’ll be a ‘piece’ about it coming up – we’ll see, in about a year’s time…