199. Memorandum of Conversation1
16, 1976, 2:25–2:55 p.m.
- Amb. R.F. Botha,
Ambassador of South Africa
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger,
Secretary of State
- Amb. William E. Schaufele,
Jr., Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
Frank G. Wisner, Country
Director for South Africa
Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
Kissinger: Two things. You
expressed some doubts about meeting in Europe.
Botha: That’s correct, sir.
Kissinger: Let me express my
view. I agree with you the thing won’t be settled unless I talked to the
top people there. But it also won’t get settled if the blacks think they
can drive me crazy. If I go to Africa and go to Pretoria first, then
they’ve got me, because—if it fails—they’ll have me in the position of
having put myself at the mercy of the racist Vorster. That’s what they’ll say. If I
meet you elsewhere, and then go to black Africa, and then Pretoria—that
way it is in the course of negotiations. And if it’s going to fail, I
can send Schaufele. You will
have put forward a good proposal.
As for where to meet. Maybe Switzerland, Berne. Geneva. Geneva doesn’t
have particularly good meeting places.
Botha: Zurich is very nice.
Kissinger: Some mountains.
Botha: The Matterhorn!
Kissinger: That’s a little high.
[Laughter.] Maybe Rio.
I don’t know what the Brazilians would think.
Botha: The climate is always
Kissinger: This is winter. It
would be pleasant. It’s a little frivolous for Afrikaners.
Botha: Mr. Secretary, I think my
Prime Minister was a bit upset. The ball is starting to roll. He is
worried about the time. He thought you could go directly to the
Kissinger: I don’t exclude it;
it depends on whether they are accommodating to Bill. If they say, “For
God’s sakes, let’s do it.”
Botha: That’s all the Prime
Minister wanted to know.
Kissinger: But it puts you at a
disadvantage. If they make demands you can’t meet, you are put in the
position of breaking up the negotiations.
Botha: We wonder whether you are
putting too much stock in what the black Africans are saying. It’s a lot
of bluff with these fellows usually.
Kissinger: Just don’t lose your
cool. I can’t understand nervous Afrikaners. The meaner you are, the
Botha: Can I show you this? [He
shows the Secretary a summary of a Le Monde
interview with Machel, Tab
Kissinger: We got a message too
from Machel.3 He too is worried about this Rhodesian
and wants us to get the negotiations mov-ing. Not bad.
Botha: You told us not to convey
to the British anything. It’s been done [answer conveyed to the
British], but in words that we have to study it first.
Kissinger: Good. Here [Tab B] is
the paper we are thinking of. They [the British] have the idea the white
minority should have a veto over constitutional changes. We shouldn’t
get so precise when we are in exploratory negotiations. We won’t show
this to the blacks, because they will start bargaining from it. I can’t
exclude that the British won’t. Bill will be instructed to say that if
there is a discrepancy between what the British say and what we say,
ours is governing.
Botha: It is not good if you and
the British are selling different things.
Kissinger: I’m worried about the
Botha: You must pardon my
emphasizing this, Mr. Secretary, but if the British try to sell the
Africans something different, it is bad.
Kissinger: I agree.
Botha: It won’t work, Mr.
Kissinger: This paper will be
the same. This is agreed. But the British may tell them more of the
details than we do.
Botha: As for the possibility of
our exerting pressure on Machel,
the answer is yes, we have leverage but it is a two-edged sword. If we
use it, we forfeit it. So we shouldn’t use it easily. That is something
for you to discuss with my Prime Minister.
Kissinger: Yes, and Bill may see
Botha: It would be good if you
see Kenyatta. Your relations are
Kissinger: Excellent. I saw a
report he likes me better than any Westerner since Duncan Sandys.
[Laughter.] Maybe Bill can see Kenyatta.
Botha: If it prolongs his trip .
Kissinger: I want him back.
Wisner [to Schaufele:] You’re going through
Kissinger: But it is senseless
to see that half-witted Foreign Minister.
Schaufele: Our Ambassador is
Kissinger: All right, we’ll send
a letter from me.
Botha: If they think Dr.
Kissinger is coming, that
Kissinger: For a practitioner of
apartheid, you are throwing me in with a lot of blacks. [Laughter.] I’ll
have to go to the Ivory Coast, Nigeria.
Botha: Nigeria. In the middle of
Angola, the previous head of Nigeria sent a man to us and asked for a
document from us. We stuck to our deal, and they didn’t.
Kissinger: What was the
Botha: If we would consider
withdrawing our troops, they would exert a strong influence to get the
Cubans out. We were prepared, but they did nothing. They just hammered
Kissinger: This document—you
should let us know in a day or two whether you think it’s a reasonable
basis for proceeding. It won’t be communicated to anyone else.
Then the two Bills will go to Tanzania, Zambia, and maybe Mozambique.
Then I’ll trigger the whole thing. I’ll meet your Prime Minister. If they
react favorably to Bill, I may go directly to black Africa.
Botha: Right, sir.
[Secretary Kissinger and Amb.
Botha conferred alone from
2:45 to 2:55 p.m.]
SUMMARY OF THE RHODESIAN PLAN
- —The plan which has been developed for Rhodesia spells out a
comprehensive strategy to bring an end to the crisis and lead
that country to majority rule. It provides political and
economic incentives to the European minority sufficiently
persuasive to encourage that minority to stay in post-majority
rule Rhodesia. The plan aims at establishing under the most
propitious conditions a moderate black African government. It
sets forth those steps necessary to launch an independent
Rhodesia on a course of political stability and economic
progress, thereby removing the causes of Soviet
- —Although, in the interest of flexibility, some points of
detail remain to be worked out, the plan proceeds from the
participation of and a commitment to its success by the British
government, the strong and determined backing of the United
States, most reasonable prospects for generous international
support in developed countries and the understanding and likely
acceptance of those of black Africa’s leaders most directly
involved as well as Rhodesia’s moderate nationalist
- —In addition to the promise of independence under majority
rule, the plan provides Rhodesia’s black population a real
economic stake in the future and spells out mechanisms for
bringing development assistance to Rhodesia, which would be
directed into ways most likely to rapidly improve black incomes.
The plan addresses those conditions which are most likely to
encourage Rhodesia’s white minority to stay. In this regard:
- The plan addresses compensation for those who may wish
to or be forced to leave as well as economic incentives
for those Europeans who choose to remain.
- It calls for the formation of a Rhodesian Parliament
in which the European minority would have a sufficiently
strong force [voice]5 to make sure unacceptable
constitutional changes do not occur.
- It foresees the organization of a moderate black
government, preferably with Joshua Nkomo as the Chief Minister,
which could hold European support and confidence.
- It predicates an orderly transfer of power so that the
discipline of Rhodesia’s security forces and civil
service is maintained.
- British political representation in Salisbury is
provided for in order to add stability to the process of
transition. Britain’s political presence would remain
long enough—eighteen months to two years—[Page 517]to give white
Rhodesians a chance to make a reasonable estimate of
their future and prospects.
- Finally, the plan foresees the lifting of economic
sanctions and the active encouragement of private
—The plan for bringing Rhodesia to majority rule spells out those
steps which will lead up to independence. In summary, these steps
- The present regime would accept the principle of majority
rule and give way to a caretaker government. The Rhodesian
Legislative Assembly would be dissolved.
- The caretaker government would begin negotiations with
black Rhodesians and the governments of African states would
declare their support for the process.
- The Parliament of the United Kingdom would pass enabling
legislation and appoint representation.
- The caretaker government would give way to an interim
administration in which Joshua
Nkomo would serve as Chief Minister. At this
point, economic sanctions would be raised and the insurgency
brought to an end.
Political Assurances. The assurances
contained in the plan are general and are designed to provide the
basis for further negotiations. Once a caretaker government and
Rhodesia’s black nationalists, with British representatives present,
sit down at the bargaining table, the details will be negotiated in
a manner which meets the realities of the present situation.
- —Whatever the precise outcome, the political understandings
would be based on a constitutional declaration of rights
protecting every individual regardless of color, race or
- —Loss of property without compensation would be
- —An independent judiciary would be established; its
authorities would be protected under the constitution.
- —An independent electoral commission would draw electoral
boundaries but the precise form of the franchise would have to
- —In organizing the legislature, it is understood that European
Rhodesians would have a sufficiently strong voice to make sure
that unacceptable constitutional changes do not occur.
Interim Government. The transitional
administration would be legalized by Britain and would be formed
with British cooperation.
- —Britain would appoint a representative in Salisbury and
Parliament would pass a new act which would give the British
government the powers it needs to carry out its
- —The act would contain provisions to protect officers of the
present government from prosecution or civil suit for acts
retrospectively determined illegal.
- —The precise form of interim government remains to be worked
out; to an important degree it will have to be negotiated
between the present regime and the African nationalists.
However, it is understood that Britain will play a role in the
government; the interim regime would include both blacks and
Economic Incentives and Assurances
The economic section of the plan defines the undertakings of the
international community as well as those of the future Rhodesian
government. The plan, moreover, addresses the country’s future
economic development, public and private investment, and the
economic security of the European community.
- —It is understood that no third country contributing resources
to the Rhodesian economic program would do so until those
resources had been approved under normal constitutional
- —The system of economic assurances as it relates to the future
of European community is designed to maximize incentives for
white Rhodesians to stay rather than leave, to improve prospects
that the new government will honor its commitments, and to
guarantee the security of new investments, both foreign and
domestic. The assurances are based on the fundamental principle
that the new government will be committed to the respect of
private property or fair value compensation, should property be
- —The plan spells out a program of special arrangements for the
European community in four important areas:
Pensions. The existing terms of
public service with respect to pensions and severance
pay would be maintained for all pensionable officials,
police and members of the armed forces.
Household Property. To maintain
the value of household property, stand-by purchase
arrangements would be made which would provide 30
percent of the 1975 value of a house if it were sold in
the first year of Rhodesian independence and 75 percent
if it were sold in the fifth. To guard against
inflation, house values would be index-linked.
Transactions could be carried out under a special
residential property holding corporation.
Farm Lands. A new agricultural
land commission would be established to repurchase
agricultural properties being vacated by Euro[Page 519]peans. Compensation
would take place along the lines similar to that
designed for the repurchase of houses. However, payments
would be spread over a longer period of time.
Transfer of Assets. The new
government would permit a reasonable flow of
remittances. A European deciding to leave immediately
could convert and remit 10 percent of his liquid assets
or a lump sum of, for example, RH $5000 in the first year and an
additional 10 percent in each year thereafter.
Incentives would be designed to encourage Europeans to
keep earnings, savings and profits within Rhodesia by
providing for larger remittances in future years.
- —The international community would be organized to underwrite
the special assurances of the new government to its European
community and a mechanism in the form of an internationally
managed trust fund would be set up. While acquisition of lands,
homes and pension payments would be financed from internal
Rhodesian sources, the trust fund would back up government
commitments and provide seed capital. The fund would also
provide the Rhodesian government with the foreign exchange
necessary to enable it to maintain remittances.
- —The British Government would assume responsibility for
bringing together the international trust fund. The United
States Government would assist the British Government in this
regard. The size of the fund is yet to be decided.
- —Special attention is given in the plan to the generation of
foreign investment resources for Rhodesia’s
development—particularly in the most promising sectors of the
nation’s economic activity, national [natural?]6 resources and agriculture.
Development could be a cooperative, international, public and
private sector undertaking. The IBRD would be asked to sponsor an international
consortium of private resources firms which would encourage and
guide the flow of investment.
- —The independent government would be eligible to adhere to the
Lome Convention7 and benefit from the
European Development Fund.
- —Finally, the plan addresses the question of foreign economic
assistance to improve the situation of Rhodesia’s black
majority. International consultative arrangements would be made
under World Bank supervision to coordinate government to
government aid. In the first instance, aid would be directed on
a priority basis to the development of black skills and