http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7104552.stm Spoiler : The former prime minister of Rhodesia, Ian Smith, has died aged 88. The cause of his death is unknown but he had been ill for some time at a residential home in South Africa. He illegally declared independence from Britain in 1965 and his white minority government led the country for 14 years amid international scorn and sanctions. Following a bitter bush war with black nationalists, his government was overthrown by Robert Mugabe in 1979, leading to the creation of Zimbabwe. The BBC's James Robbins says that to the end of his days Ian Smith was convinced that Rhodesians, black and white, would have fared better under his leadership than in the Zimbabwe of Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party. Steeped in the colonial values of his Scottish immigrant father, our correspondent says Mr Smith was a born leader with a distinguished war record as an RAF fighter pilot. He helped to found the right-wing Rhodesian Front, which came to power in 1962, and when the-then prime minister, Winston Field, baulked at the prospect of seizing independence, the party turned to Mr Smith, who gave them what they wanted. Sidelined Years of civil war followed the declaration of independence. Ian Smith denied this was caused by the actions of his regime and insisted there was nothing wrong with five million blacks being ruled by 200,000 whites. In the end, Mr Smith maintained, it was not his enemies who beat him, but apartheid South Africa's threat to cut Rhodesia's lifeline. Margaret Thatcher's UK government brokered a peace deal in the Lancaster House talks in 1979 and a black-majority government took over Zimbabwe. Ian Smith remained a key player in Zimbabwean politics until seats reserved for whites were abolished in 1987. When in retirement, he failed to create a united opposition to Robert Mugabe, and Mr Smith was finally relegated to the sidelines. Good riddance to white supremacists? Mugabe his natural heir?