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This chapter examines the ways in which the Geneva conference of late 1976, as the culmination of American efforts to push forward with majority rule talks, failed to reach any meaningful results. Part of the failure had to do with the end of President Ford’s administration and the end of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s role in the Rhodesia crisis. Much of the chapter analyzes the diplomatic roles of Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, and how they interacted with American, British, and African diplomats and leaders during the conference. The Zairian leader Mobutu was also involved in assessing the African leaders, and his observations of Mugabe and Nkomo are discussed. The chapter shows how Mugabe managed to make the most of the otherwise failed Geneva talks to solidify his leadership role in ZANU, and how after the conference, he and ZANLA leader Tongogara removed the ZIPA leaders by having them imprisoned in Mozambique in early 1977. The chapter also examines British, American, South African, and Rhodesian views of the future prospects of the Zimbabwean nationalist leaders.
This chapter examines the diplomacy before, during, and after the 1980 majority rule elections in Zimbabwe. The pre-election diplomacy focused on ceasefire violations and the large number of unreported South African troops in Rhodesia before the election. The diplomacy of Lord Soames in dealing with this issue, and the issue of violence and intimidation by the different nationalist parties, especially from ZANU, meant that the elections were a tense situation. Lord Soames’ handling of the election observers is discussed, as is his meeting with Robert Mugabe once Mugabe’s overwhelming victory was known. The chapter then looks at Anglo-American relations with Zimbabwe in the first two years of independence. The focus is on the British and American responses to events in 1982, primarily the problems created in Britain among Conservatives over the reports of the torture of detained white officers, some of them British citizens, who were charged with sabotage against Zimbabwe’s Thornhill Air Force base. In addition, the firing of Joshua Nkomo from the government, and his exile to London is discussed.
This chapter sets the stage for the diplomatic history concerning the attainment of majority rule and independence in Zimbabwe. From the perspective of the early 1960s, many African nationalists believed that the British would assist them in the transition in ways similar to decolonization in Zambia and Nyasaland, but the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in November 1965 ended that possibility. The white minority government of Ian Smith imprisoned most of the African nationalist leaders in 1964, and it would not be another ten years until they were released to negotiate again. The ZANU–ZAPU split in 1963 was also a factor in the weakness of African nationalists, as was the continued animosity between the two parties as they tentatively commenced the armed struggle in the late 1960s. The rhetorical attacks flung back and forth in each party’s publications are examined, helping to demonstrate the historical animosities between the two factions.
This final chapter covers the events of 1983’s Gukurahundi operation, where Mugabe and his ruling party decided to launch the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade against dissidents in Matabeleland North and South provinces and the Midlands province. Reports of their activities started to be known by the British military and then Anglo-American diplomats by mid-February. The reception of reports, particularly of large numbers of civilian deaths by the Fifth Brigade, is discussed in terms of Anglo-American diplomats. Different diplomatic responses between the Americans and the British to the Gukurahundi are examined, although both agreed to avoid making an international issue out of the reports of large numbers of civilian deaths in a concerted effort. Diplomatic debates over how much Prime Minister Mugabe was responsible are also discussed, as is Mugabe’s attempts to rationalize his use of the Fifth Brigade against civilians. The final discussion revolves around the use of “tribalism” or ethnic conflict by Anglo-American diplomats to help justify their lack of protest to civilian killings by a government that was also receiving development aid funding and military training and aid during this period.
This chapter focuses mainly on the attempts by the British, Nigerians, and Zambians to set up the possibility of private negotiations between the Patriotic Front and Ian Smith in 1978. As the war grew increasingly costly and unwinnable from the Rhodesian perspective, Britain’s David Owen tried to work with the Zambians and Joe Garba of Nigeria to bring Ian Smith and Joshua Nkomo together for secret negotiations in Lusaka in August 1978. The diplomacy leading up to this meeting is explored, especially around Nkomo’s insistence and need to involve Mugabe as part of his promise not to break up the Patriotic Front. As numerous sources explain, Nkomo kept to his word not to negotiate a transfer of power from Smith without Mugabe, but Mugabe refused the pressures from the Nigerians to accept further negotiations, mostly because the offer would have required Mugabe to a take a secondary role to Nkomo. The fallout of the meeting is examined, as it led to the heightening of the war and increased accusations that Nkomo was ready to “sell-out” the Patriotic Front.
To step back and assess the entire period covered in this book it is possible to reflect on unintended consequences of this diplomatic history. First, the preoccupation with creating mechanisms to keep whites in Zimbabwe that began with the plans for the Geneva talks was of a much higher priority for Western powers than finding ways to avert a potential civil war between ZAPU and ZANU after independence.
This chapter continues to cover background context for the international diplomacy around Zimbabwe’s decolonization in the early 1970s. The emergence of Bishop Abel Muzorewa as a political leader is described. While Nkomo, Sithole, and Mugabe were still in detention, Muzorewa started a new political organization, the African National Council. Also discussed is the period of South African détente with the African nations of southern Africa, particularly Zambia. Failed Attempts to negotiate between Joshua Nkomo, Ndabaningi Sithole, and Ian Smith in 1974 are discussed, but the release of the nationalist leaders created new opportunities for political action. The attempt by the Frontline State presidents to create unity between ZANU, ZAPU, FROLIZI, and the African National Council was solidified under the Lusaka Agreement of November 1974. Unity was elusive, however, as leadership battles were accentuated by the real fighting within ZANU’s forces, ZANLA, during the Nhari rebellion in late 1974. The divisions in ZANU were exacerbated by the assassination of ZANU leader in exile, Herbert Chitepo, in April 1975. The impact of these events are discussed, as is the growing concern by the Americans that the Soviets and Cubans would soon be in a position to better support the Zimbabwean liberation movements.
This chapter examines the diplomacy of Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe in 1977, as they were now confronted with the development of an internal settlement plan between Ian Smith, Bishop Muzorewa and others in Salisbury. The chapter examines how Nkomo and Mugabe worked together on the diplomatic front to push back with British foreign secretary David Owen and US secretary of state Cyrus Vance, who had at first hoped to resume all-party negotiations. Nkomo and Mugabe insisted that they would only negotiate with the British and not with Smith at this stage. The Frontline State presidents, however, also pressured Nkomo and Mugabe to negotiate, arguing that time was running out if the international committee would eventually recognize the Internal Settlement government. That Internal Settlement was agreed upon in March 1978, which then put more pressure on the Patriotic Front to negotiate while also increasing the war efforts. The chapter discusses a challenge to Mugabe’s leadership from within ZANU in early 1978.
This chapter mainly concerns the shuttle diplomacy of the US secretary of state, Henry A. Kissinger, in 1976. Kissinger made two trips to Africa in 1976, hoping to influence Cold War conflicts in southern Africa. Kissinger succeeded, with South African help, to force the Rhodesian prime minister, Ian Smith, to concede to the concept of majority rule in two years. Plans were then put in motion for an all-parties conference in Geneva, run by the British. This chapter examines the pre-conference diplomacy, including attempts by Mugabe and Nkomo to have those military leaders from ZANLA who were accused of the murder of Herbert Chitepo released by the Zambians. This chapter includes coverage of discussions between Kissinger and the South Africans, the British, and with Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere. There is also discussion of a letter by Bishop Muzorewa charging Nyerere and Mozambique’s Samora Machel of keeping him and Reverend Sithole from reaching the liberation forces in Mozambique and Tanzania.
The history covered in this book focuses on the decolonization process that brought majority rule to the colony of Southern Rhodesia. The white minority settlers tried to delay decolonization, deciding to declare their own Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, forming a republic in 1970, and then trying to create a new hybrid state called Zimbabwe-Rhodesia in 1979. They finally relinquished control back to the British in 1979, temporarily returning to the official status of a British colony. The British governor oversaw the return of liberation war armies and the first real majority universal election in February 1980, which led to the lowering of the British flag and raising of the Zimbabwean flag on April 18, 1980.
This chapter examines the breakthrough in the Anglo-American diplomacy with the decision made at the July 1979 Lusaka Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting by the British to support Commonwealth proposals to not recognize the new Zimbabwe-Rhodesia government led by Bishop Muzorewa and to not lift sanctions. Instead, a declaration was made that committed the British to holding a constitutional conference in London and Lancaster House in late 1979. The chapter covers some details of the Lancaster House negotiations relating to the difficulties Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe had with some of the strong provisions to protect white Zimbabwean rights around land and pensions. The unilateral decision by Robert Mugabe and ZANU to run on a separate ticket in the 1980 elections is also discussed.
The 'Rhodesian crisis' of the 1960s and 1970s, and the early 1980s crisis of independent Zimbabwe, can be understood against the background of Cold War historical transformations brought on by, among other things, African decolonization in the 1960s; the failure of American power in Vietnam and the rise of Third World political power at the UN and elsewhere. In this African history of the diplomacy of decolonization in Zimbabwe, Timothy Lewis Scarnecchia examines the relationship and rivalry between Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe over many years of diplomacy, and how both leaders took advantage of Cold War racialized thinking about what Zimbabwe should be, including Anglo-American preoccupations with keeping whites from leaving after Independence. Based on a wealth of archival source materials, including materials that have recently become available through thirty-year rules in the UK and South Africa, it uncovers how foreign relations bureaucracies the US, UK, and SA created a Cold War 'race state' notion of Zimbabwe that permitted them to rationalize Mugabe's state crimes in return for Cold War loyalty to Western powers.
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