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233. Memorandum of Conversation?
London, December 10, 1976, 4:10–5:30 p.m.
Conference on Rhodesia
Crosland: I thank you very much for coming, and if you agree, the first thing is to ask Ivor to explain what has changed at Geneva in the last three weeks.
Richard: The main thing since the argument on the date, which was a marathon confrontation, is that since then the Africans have conducted themselves in a rational way.
Two things are very clear. One is that Annex C2 as such is not a starter. It is very hard to see how if it was tabled as conference document, or if Smith tabled it, it could bridge the gap. Basically the nationalists all say there can be no Council of State or anything that smacks of it.
Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 346, Department of State, Memoranda, Memoranda of Conversations, External, November 1976-January 1977. Secret; Nodis. Initialed by Rodman. The meeting took place in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
2 See Document 219.
There have been a number of hints out of Salisbury which seem to indicate that Smith's objective in this exercise is to buy time for himself and that he's not serious about the transfer of power.
We have to bridge that gap. One way is if we can get Smith himself to agree to a date for independence and to produce a definition of majority rule. I raised this with him and he agreed to do this, but his proposals were ludicrous. His position now is he's not prepared to discuss the composition of the Council of State or the definition of it. Before he sits again, he wants me and the African delegates to agree the purpose of the conference is to appoint the Council of State. Second, Smith believes it's all the Chairman's fault. He feels I should have made all the delegations start with five points. He's in an angry mood.
. On the other hand, there was something very hopeful. He said if the British Government were to call an adjournment and come up with some new proposal, he would consider it and consider it very seriously.
The Africans want an adjournment too. Sithole says the ZIPA leaders are approaching him in Geneva. Mugabe wants it. Joshua Nkomo is quite happy to have an adjournment; he wants to get back to Rhodesia and organize his support. The Bishop (Muzorewa) is already back there.
Kissinger: How long a recess?
Kissinger: The only trouble is all the world press on that date would be filled with a picture of me being carried out in my chair. I think you should choose a date either before or after, not January 20.
Richard: But it is clear that Annex C is not a starter. We will need a new package.
Crosland: Ted, give them our ideas on the adjournment.
Rowlands: First, when we announce the adjournment, it should be on a positive note.
Kissinger: I agree.
Rowlands: Seeing it as a hopeful moment in the conference. Ivor and Dennis would put together a new shuttle to work out a new package which would have a broad measure of agreement. We want the agreement of the four Presidents to the definition of the British role.
3 See Document 217.
We would hope to get at least the acquiescence of Smith that Annex C isn't going to work.
Kissinger: My understanding is that Smith was going to put forward Annex C but we urged him not to do it.
Wisner: His staff proposed it to him but he didn't want to do it.
Crosland: He should because it would be embarrassing if the conference broke up without anyone putting forward Annex C.
Wisner: He is convinced that in the present mood it would be shot down. He was very categorical. Kissinger: I wonder if Smith should do it and if we should pay the
I price for it. If he were eager to do it, I'd let him do it.
Rowlands: It's water under the bridge now.
Richard: (Reads from own notes) “He felt in his view it would only create an explosion."
Kissinger: Then we'd better leave it as it is, because if we urged it we would be committed to back it.
Richard: He'll blame me for not putting it forward and would have blamed me for not having the opportunity. He can't say he had no opportunity, but he will say we didn't try to sell it.
Crosland: We now seem to have a very detailed Cabinet agreement.
Kissinger: The question is whether it is really Cabinet agreement. (Laughter)
Crosland: Although there is a gap, it seems the gap is no longer unbridgeable between what we can do and what the more reasonable of them are willing to take.
Where should we go from here?
Armstrong: May I ask a question about the semantics of recess and adjournment?
Richard: I gather there is a difference in America.
Kissinger: Recess implies a certainty of reconvening; adjournment does not.
Kissinger: A purely tactical point: I don't think I can get my letters to them until Sunday or Monday. How do we ensure to have it end on a slightly upbeat note?
Richard: We hoped to do that by announcing at the same time that Dennis Grennan and I would begin the shuttle.
Kissinger: Secondly, if you have a new proposal, you will need us to put it over with the South Africans and Rhodesians. Therefore, the date of reassembly should be before we leave office, otherwise we have no weight at all. So a date like January 16.
Richard: The 17th is a Monday.
Kissinger: Fine. Just so it doesn't break up before January 20. (Laughter)
Richard: My original instructions were not to break it up before November 2. (Laughter)
Rowlands: We would make clear we were optimistic.
Kissinger: We can brief the press that this is a process that will go on.
Palliser: You will be asked point blank today whether there is an adjournment.
Crosland: I will say Ivor is going back for consultation and I will speak to it on Tuesday.
Kissinger: However we phrase it, and particularly in light of these exchanges, it doesn't look like it's breaking up.
Second, on substance, what sort of proposal do you have in mind?
Rowlands: We would substitute for the Council of State a British Resident Commissioner. Below it will be a Council of Ministers chaired by the Resident Commissioner. Each of the five delegations will choose five members and the Resident Commissioner will choose five. So there will be 30 ministers.
Kissinger: Ten will be white?
Rowlands: Ten will be white. The Rhodesians' five and the five chosen by the Resident Commissioner. The advantage is to avoid having to choose a Prime Minister, because that could be one of the biggest bustups ever. The Council would have legislative and executive authority. The Heads of the delegations would be a Privy Council.
Kissinger: You replace the Council of State with a British Resident Commissioner. The heads of delegations form a privy council around him.
The letters to Kaunda and Nyerere were delivered on December 11. The texts were transmitted in Secto 32060 from London to Lusaka and Secto 32061 from London to Dar es Salaam, both December 11. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
Rowlands: An advisory privy council around him.
Crosland: Just to clarify something. I've approved none of this. I just saw it an hour ago. But it is a promising approach.
Rowlands: Then the portfolios—we'll have a National Security Commission of the five Privy Council ministers and one Minister chosen by the Resident Commissioner, and the Chiefs of Staff of the police chosen by the Resident Commissioner.
Kissinger: Nyerere says he can live with a white defense minister.
Rowlands: The concept of the National Security Commission was mooted when we discussed Annex C.
Crosland: I don't think it is inconsistent.
Rowlands: Powers will be vested in the Resident Chief Commissioner.
Crosland: We have that agreed.
Rowland: It's agreed by the Cabinet. A ten-man National Security Commission.
Kissinger: How many will be whites?
Rowland: The Resident Commissioner is white. There are four blacks in the Privy Council and one white. One non-white minister that he has appointed would be on the National Security Commission. And three chiefs of staff.
Kissinger: What would they be?
Rowland: We see them chosen from outside Rhodesia. They could be Commonwealth.
Grennan: For presentational purposes, we might want the Chief of Police white and the Chief of Law and Order black from the Commonwealth.
Crosland: I think the notion of inserting Commonwealth people will be a very important point.
Kissinger: How do you propose proceeding with your shuttle? How will you sell this plan?
Crosland: Ivor will do the shuttling.
Richard: We would start with the Presidents. We would start with Kaunda because he seems the most reasonable. Then Nyerere. We'll explore it with the Nationalists simultaneously.
Presumably a reference to the letter transmitted in Document 230.