Zimbabwe Rhodesia was an unrecognised state that existed from 1 June 1979 to 12 December 1979. Zimbabwe Rhodesia was preceded by an unrecognised republic named Rhodesia and was briefly followed by the re-established British colony of Southern Rhodesia, which according to British constitutional theory had remained the proper government after Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in 1965. About three months later, the re-established colony of Southern Rhodesia was granted internationally recognised independence as the Republic of Zimbabwe.
Under pressure from the international community to satisfy the civil rights movement by blacks in Rhodesia, an “Internal Settlement” was drawn up between the Ian Smith’s administration of Rhodesia and moderate African nationalist parties not involved in armed resistance. Meanwhile, the government continued to battle armed resistance from both Soviet and Chinese backed Marxist liberation movements it referred to as “terrorists”- the Bush War was an extension of the Cold War, being a proxy conflict between the West and East, similar to those in Vietnam and Korea.
The “Internal Settlement” agreement led to relaxation of education, property and income qualifications for voter rolls, resulting in the first ever black-majority electorate. The country’s civil service, judiciary, police and armed forces continued to be administered by the same officials as before, of whom most were whites, due to the composition of the upper-middle class of the period.
Despite these changes, the new state did not gain international recognition, with the Commonwealth claiming that the “so-called ‘Constitution of Zimbabwe Rhodesia'” would be “no more legal and valid” than the UDI constitution it replaced.