103. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Kenneth D. Kaunda, President of the Republic of Zambia
  • Mr. Vernon Mwaanga, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Zambia
  • Mr. Mark Chona, Presidential Advisor
  • Siteke Mwale, Ambassador to the United States from Zambia
  • President Ford
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Nathaniel Davis, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
  • Jean M. Wilkowski, United States Ambassador to Zambia


  • Office call on the President

Secretary Kissinger: I told the President that the Zambians seem to come at times of crisis. Foreign Minister Mwaanga came here last August during the Cyprus affair and now President Kaunda is here when we have problems in Southeast Asia.

President Ford: I am delighted to have you here. I have been looking forward to this chat and to seeing you this evening. I would be grateful if you would give us your comments and views on the situation in southern Africa. It is an area which I have not personally visited. At some time I hope to be able to pay a visit.

President Kaunda: May I express to you my own personal gratitude and that of my colleagues and Mrs. Kaunda for the wonderful way in which you have received us. Fortunately, we have no bilateral problems and for this we have to thank our two ambassadors. I think our bilateral relations are very good indeed.

President Ford: I would agree. They are in excellent condition.

President Kaunda: The only problems are in southern Africa.

President Ford: I understand you have been working with Vorster and others to resolve the situation.

President Kaunda: As I told Secretary Kissinger, we need your help and I say this not in any critical way. I want to draw your attention to future prospects in the area. For a long time, in fact ever since 1966, we have been trying to urge greater attention to the area. I believe the [Page 237] U.S. and others in the West should examine the problems in a search for solutions. Otherwise, events may overtake you and the U.S. could find itself even fighting on the side of the racists.

We in Africa fought for independence against colonialism. We did not allow ourselves to be taken over. There was a buffer between us and the communists. I have discussed this with your representative in Zambia before the coup in Portugal. At that time I urged your country to support the liberation movements in the Portuguese territories. I said Portugal was your ally in NATO and an ally against communism. But I believe you must examine the motivations of liberation movements. They counted on the support of the anti-colonials. This is an underlying and historical factor. I am not apportioning blame. But I hope that you can see the right thing has been done in southern Africa.

As regards the leaders in Mozambique: The Secretary of State has just now asked us in Zambia to speak to FRELIMO. We will do this. I can tell you from our experience that these Mozambicans want to be independent. They have been helped by China and Russia, but they are no-one’s puppets.

President Ford: I understand they want to be independent.

President Kaunda: Other countries supplied arms but FRELIMO fought and achieved its independence. Angola gives us problems. I am authorized by President Nyerere and my other neighbors . . .

Secretary Kissinger: Does Mobutu also agree?

President Kaunda: (laughing) Yes, this time he does.

President Nyerere and I agreed to seek the suggestions of President Mobutu on Angola. We went to Kananga in Zaire. After all the issues were laid out, we asked Mobutu to brief us. He said he did not arm Roberto to kill Angolans, but to defeat colonial power and to bring peace to Angola. How do you see the situation now, we asked Mobutu. What means exist for a practical solution? I was straightforward.

President Ford: Are there three major contending forces in Angola?

President Kaunda: Yes, FNLA, MPLA, and UNITA. UNITA was more or less on its own. We did not support it, but we did not ignore it.

Secretary Kissinger: Where did it find its support?

President Kaunda: (rather vague) On the outside. We almost ignored Jonas Savimbi, the president of UNITA. Our colleagues had ignored Savimbi in the past, but this time he emerged as someone who could save the situation. Mobutu said that Neto of MPLA would not accept Roberto as president of a free Angola. Holden Roberto of FLNA would not accept Neto. The only chance we had of putting someone forward to the OAU with the possibility of acceptance was to suggest [Page 238] that Neto and Roberto should each lead his party and Savimbi would be the compromise leader of all three.

Secretary Kissinger: Do we know Savimbi personally?

Ambassador Wilkowski: Yes, I have met twice with him for long talks.

Secretary Kissinger: What do you think of him?

Ambassador Wilkowski: He is a very impressive leader and quite solid and does not strike me as being self-serving or a loner.

President Kaunda: It was thought that Neto could be the Prime Minister or head the National Assembly. Or, for that matter, that Roberto could be one or the other. At least this is the way Mobutu proposed it. We had ignored Savimbi while he was fighting in the bush, although he had made pleas to Zambia to recognize him. He said if Zambia did not recognize him, the OAU would not recognize him either. He came out of Angola last year and we changed our minds. We concluded that if we did not bring him into the picture, he could cause trouble. Therefore, Zambia sponsored his membership in the OAU and then we asked him to come and talk with us. All of us in UNIP were impressed with Savimbi’s sincerity and his honesty of purpose. This changed us overnight. We asked President Nyerere to see him and also Mobutu. Both were impressed.

The new Portuguese Foreign Minister Melo Antunes was in Dar es Salaam. Samora Machel of FRELIMO asked us to see Melo Antunes. He came to Zambia and told us he too was impressed with Savimbi. Melo Antunes said without Savimbi we would not have reached an accord with the liberation movements for the transition of Angola to independence. Savimbi is a man of humility and good qualities. All of us in southern Africa, including Machel, are impressed with him. This is our finding. He speaks freely and frankly and together we are working for a solution in Angola. We realize it is not for us to choose a leader of that emerging country. That is for the people themselves to do. But Africa and its friends have no choice but to be interested in Angola’s future. If not, the situation there is as South African Prime Minister Vorster said, “too ghastly to contemplate.”

President Ford: It would be a disaster.

President Kaunda: In the future the people themselves can choose their leader.

President Ford: Are there substantial ideological differences in the area?

President Kaunda: MPLA and its leader Neto follow the Moscow line.

Secretary Kissinger: And they are financed by Moscow.

[Page 239]

President Kaunda: MPLA is financed by Moscow. But, Mr. President, perhaps I am taking too much of your time.

President Ford: I am very interested. Please take the time.

President Kaunda: This whole question is linked with Portugal. Angola cannot cut off its links with the metropole. It is important for Angola. We would like to speak our minds freely as Zambians, Zaireans and Tanzanians. I have been authorized to speak for them and for Mozambique. We would like the U.S. to understand Portugal. I will give you my own analysis for what it is worth.

I first met Melo Antunes when he was Minister without portfolio. When I recently met with him as the new Foreign Minister I asked how he looked at Savimbi. Melo Antunes said he was worried about Neto who was supported by the Communist Party in Portugal, and because of this he could not support him. Melo Antunes further said the Portuguese could not support Neto because he had repeatedly embarrassed them. He said he would tell us he approved certain issues only to change his mind and follow the communist line. For this reason, Melo Antunes said he would rather support Savimbi. I told Melo Antunes that we Zambians had the same problem with Neto. Then Melo Antunes said that Portugal had a problem with NATO, which did not seem to understand the new Portugal, but in time he hoped NATO would. Melo Antunes said Portugal was not chasing the Russians away—they would have an embassy. He said Portugal could not follow a non-aligned course. At any rate, he anticipated that Portugal would approach the U.S. to explain itself. I bring this up now because of the tie-in with Angola.

President Ford: Most of us did not approve the tactics or the methods of the previous Portuguese government, but now we do not want to see a big swing from the extreme right to the extreme left. Frankly, it is difficult at this stage to see where Portugal fits in. How soon do you think it will be before the situation in Angola comes to a head?

President Kaunda: We must wait for the general elections. It is difficult to say. We must see if the scheme of a compromise candidate is accepted.

Secretary Kissinger: Is Savimbi strong enough to govern? Or will a situation develop where Neto and Roberto are fighting for power?

President Kaunda: Savimbi does not even know of the compromise proposal for having him be President although it may have leaked. We have not yet told Savimbi. We must convince him of the rightness of it.

President Ford: How old is Savimbi?

Minister Mwaanga: In his 40’s I believe.

[Page 240]

President Ford: As regards our foreign aid legislation, I believe there is a provision for approximately $25 million for the former Portuguese territories, part of which, at least $10 million I believe, is for Angola and Mozambique.

Secretary Kissinger: How do you propose to contact Savimbi?

President Kaunda: I think we may be given this task by the OAU.

Secretary Kissinger: Will you report back in favor of UNITA?

President Kaunda: We have noted that when the two opposing factions of MPLA and FLNA attack, the people run toward UNITA forces. This is a good development.

President Ford: Do these groups hold defined areas?

President Kaunda: Yes, each of the armed forces of these movements has definite areas. We are trying to discourage this so as to unify them more.

Minister Mwaanga: Savimbi is not a political lightweight. He has grass roots support. He put forward a formula for bringing the three parties together. Under the Albarge [Alvor]accord, each liberation movement or political party was to put forward 8000 troops for a total of 24,000. The Portuguese were to match this with another 24,000 troops. If there is an election, there is a danger of 8,000 loyal troops and 16,000 not loyal. The President (assumed reference to Kaunda) is emphasizing the need for some formula to deal with this before the election.

Secretary Kissinger: If the OAU supports UNITA, does that eliminate the other two in the elections?

President Kaunda: Regardless of the outcome of the elections, Savimbi would be the President.

Secretary Kissinger: Would the other two groups accept this? Would they disarm if UNITA takes over?

President Kaunda: There is need for some ideas on how to form a national army.

President Ford: Does Angola have enough raw materials to be self-sufficient?

President Kaunda: It is a very rich country.

Secretary Kissinger: It is rich in oil deposits in Cabinda. In fact some of its neighbors are keeping their eyes on this. I am not suggesting you, Mr. President. If this is an offense (humorously) our Ambassador will apologize to you.

President Kaunda: There are two liberation movements in Cabinda, called FLEC, one supported by Zaire and one by Congo Brazzaville.

[Page 241]

Secretary Kissinger: It is going to be one hell of an election. There are a lot of refugees in Zaire who have got to get back to vote.

Minister Mwaanga: We have a few Angola refugees in Zambia. Cabinda is a problem that has created real difficulties. All three liberation movements in Angola are agreed that Cabinda is an integral part of Angola. We in Zambia support that position.

President Ford: Will they elect members of Parliament also or just a president? It sounds like a terribly complicated situation.

Secretary Kissinger: Will you keep in touch with Savimbi?

President Kaunda: He was in Paris recently and he agreed to disagree with the French authorities who are supporting FLEC.

Secretary Kissinger: Because of oil interests in Cabinda.

President Kaunda: Savimbi also had discussions with the British.

Now I should like to talk about Rhodesia. Four countries (Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia) have all been pursuing a consistent line in the OAU in support of the Lusaka Manifesto which favors peaceful negotiations. But if these are not possible to achieve a free people, then there will be a resort to arms. It is not that we are going to fight; we want the opportunity to negotiate. It is only if we fail in this regard. So far we have met with some success and some disappointments. On the success side we have met with South Africa Prime Minister Vorster and other top leaders and with Rhodesian liberation groups. Much depends on what outside pressure can be brought to bear. We would like the memorandum which Foreign Minister Mwaanga left with Secretary Kissinger last August to be followed up by the U.S.2 We have done some of the work. We hope that when your pressing issues in other parts of the world are resolved, you could have time to pay some attention to southern Africa. We believe Vorster will do what he has promised; that is pull out his troops from Rhodesia by the end of May as he has said publicly, or by the end of April as he said privately. This is a necessity. Once that happens, we hope Smith will understand we are serious about negotiations and a settlement, but we need pressure from those countries who also say they want a peaceful solution.

Regarding Namibia, we have told you we are grateful for the positions you have taken in the UN in 1966 and in 1972. We have told you this, but we want you to do something practical. Vorster needs pres[Page 242]sure to move forward or else he will do too little too late. Vorster is planning Namibia’s future along the lines of Bantustans.

President Ford: What is that?

Ambassador Davis: That is, he would like to isolate the blacks from the whites in specific areas for separate development.

President Ford: Are there many tribes in Namibia?

President Kaunda: Sufficient for Vorster to create the Bantustans. We hope you can pressurize him.

Regarding South Africa itself, the OAU position is clear. We have said that 3 million whites are Africans. If they are not prepared to recognize this, then we must throw them into the sea. We do not want to create an OAU army, but this year Uganda President Amin will be Chairman of the OAU.

Secretary Kissinger: (Jokingly) If he had kept his Foreign Minister I would have negotiated with him.

President Kaunda: These whites in South Africa are Africans. They have to accept the challenge of being Africans. They are not doing this. If there is an explosion it could mean civil war.

Secretary Kissinger: It would be bloody. The South Africans are tough. It would be a disaster, which all of us would rather avoid. There are Boers you know who fought hard against the British.

President Kaunda: It would not be confined to South Africa alone. South Africa has the ability to strike all of Africa.

Secretary Kissinger: We should all try to avoid this.

President Kaunda: I hope you give these issues your attention and study the implications. My task has been to analyze the situation. We look for leadership on the question of southern Africa.

President Ford: Your survey for us has been extremely helpful, and there will be personal attention given to it. We will try to be constructive. We hope to get rid of the Byrd Amendment.3 We hope Congress will rescind it. I promise personal attention.

President Kaunda: (Turning to Minister Mwaanga) What issues have I left out?

Minister Mwaanga: President Kaunda is not an advocate of armed struggle, but peaceful change. Our whole position would be weakened if the West and the U.S. do not support our stand. Change is bound to occur in southern Africa but it will not be automatic. It needs to be worked for to be achieved. A joint effort for peaceful change is needed. In Rhodesia talks have been going on aimed at a constitutional settlement. It would help if the U.S. said something about these negotiations.

[Page 243]

Regarding Namibia, UN Security Council resolution of last December put a deadline at the end of this May for action for South Africa.4

Secretary Kissinger: The U.S. supported this.

Minister Mwaanga: May is just around the corner. What do we do if South Africa fails to act?

Secretary Kissinger: We are making some representations to South Africa at this moment.

Minister Mwaanga: Our President’s position will be weakened if it is not supported.

Mr. Chona: The OAU at Dar gave us an important gate or opening for a compromise solution on Namibia. The African members of the Council on Namibia have been tasked with making contact with South Africa.

Ambassador Mwale: Timing is important.

Secretary Kissinger: We can give better attention the first week in June.

President Ford: I look forward to seeing you this evening. I have just come from Concord where we began the first of a series of celebrations of the 200th anniversary of our revolution. We have great sympathy for others who have followed along the same footsteps toward freedom and liberty.

President Kaunda: We hope you will come to Africa and visit us.

President Ford: I have never been there, but after I get re-elected . . .

Minister Mwaanga: We hope Secretary Kissinger will take up the long-standing invitation to visit Zambia.

Secretary Kissinger: I will try to come to Africa within the next year and if I do, I will come to Zambia.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 102, Geopolitical File, Angola Chronological File. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Oval Office. The time listed on the memorandum is 3 p.m.; however, the President’s Daily Diary records the meeting starting at 3:22 p.m. and ending at 4:20 p.m. (Ford Library, Staff Secretary’s Office) Kaunda visited Washington April 18–21.
  2. Kissinger met with Mwaanga on August 14, 1974. The two discussed greater U.S. involvement in southern Africa and the need to repeal the Byrd Amendment. Mwaanga’s memorandum is not attached to the memorandum of conversation. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Memoranda of Conversations, Box CL 272, Chronological File, August–September 1974)
  3. See Document 56.
  4. Security Council Resolution 366, December 17, 1974. (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1974, pp. 166–167)