HARARE, Zimbabwe — Former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian D. Smith today was formally suspended from Zimbabwe's Parliament for a year because of a speech he made in South Africa.
Backbenchers thumped their seats and shouted "bye-bye" as the 67-year-old Smith walked out of the National Assembly where he served for 14 years as prime minister.
"In one sense I am happy to be leaving a scene I have disapproved of for so long," Smith told reporters outside.
Smith sat grim-faced through the debate on a speech he made in Johannesburg in February in which he told businessmen that economic sanctions against South Africa would hurt Zimbabwe more than South Africa. He also said South Africa could weather sanctions if the people remained united.
May Go to Court
By a vote of 38 to 10, legislators approved a motion condemning Smith for making statements "calculated to give encouragement and succor to a foreign power that is so hostile to Zimbabwe" and ordered his suspension from the Assembly.
Smith told reporters that the Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe, an all-white party he has led since white-governed Rhodesia was transformed into black-ruled Zimbabwe on its independence from Britain in 1980, might fight the decision in the courts.
The former prime minister ignored a barrage of heckling today during a 40-minute address in which he called allegations that he supported South Africa's racial segregation policies "a complete distortion of the truth."
During the debate, Health Minister Sydney Sekeramayi said Smith was "basically a racist who despises the African people in general and African people in Zimbabwe in particular."
"His whole life has been dedicated to oppressing and suppressing us," Sekeramayi said. "It does not pay to reconcile with a madman."