201. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Bush to Secretary of State Kissinger1


  • [less than 1 line not declassified] Talks between Prime Ministers Vorster and Smith on 13 June 1976
[less than 1 line not declassified] a conversation between Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith and South African Prime Minister B.J. Vorster on 13 June. [4 lines not declassified]
[less than 1 line not declassified] shows Prime Minister Vorster [less than 1 line not declassified] trying to elicit from Prime Minister Smith some arguments in favor of the Rhodesian government’s position, arguments which Vorster presumably could use in his then projected meeting with Secretary Kissinger.2 [less than 1 line not declassified] does not show Vorster making any threat to cut off military supplies to Rhodesia, but [less than 1 line not declassified] does show Vorster encouraging Smith to take some steps to get negotiations started with the black Rhodesian leadership. In particular, Vorster pushes Smith on the issue of accepting black-white parity in a future Rhodesian parliament.
Among the more notable points of interest [less than 1 line not declassified]
  • —Smith’s first priority is to clearly establish authority in the security field as this is vital and basic to successful negotiations. In this regard, Rhodesian security depends a great deal on the concept of the [Page 524] “Fire Force” which utilizes helicopters both to track terrorists to their camps and to direct ground forces to seek out and destroy these camps.
  • —According to Smith, FRELIMO has been firing 122mm rockets against Rhodesian targets for some time, necessitating a Rhodesian offensive which knocked out the positions and destroyed ammunition in Mozambique.
  • FRELIMO has so many internal and factional problems that they are killing one another “by the day, by the dozen”, according to Rhodesian estimates.
  • —Smith believes that Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda and nationalist leader Joshua Nkomo are still Rhodesia’s best bet, not necessarily a good bet but the best bet. Nonetheless, Smith alleges that Nkomo has been acting “irresponsibly” and Smith is under pressure within his party to remove him. If there are ZAPU guerrilla attacks from Zambia, Smith will have no option but to “neutralize him”. In response to Prime Minister Vorster’s objections to such a course of action, Smith said he has withstood these pressures thus far, but with Nkomo consorting with the terrorists it is difficult to argue against the proponents of “neutralization”.
  • —Speaking of Nkomo’s standing with the blacks in Rhodesia, Smith said he is in the minority. Bishop Muzorewa, although out of the country, still has a surprising amount of support within Rhodesia. According to Smith, Muzorewa’s faction has indicated that if there are going to be more talks, they would like to be in, and not out, this time. Smith attributes this to the government’s efforts to convince the tribal chiefs and, through them, their followers that the best thing to do is to cooperate and work with the Rhodesian Government.
  • —Smith’s political objective is gradually to mobilize more support from the blacks, particularly urban blacks, in order to be in a position to say that he has the support of blacks, as well as whites. In response to Vorster’s query regarding Smith’s conception of ultimate majority rule, Smith said his aim is the best possible government, “irrespective of color”. “What we aim to do is to have certain standards”, but he did not “believe that the path to majority rule was something that could be measured in terms of the clock or the calendar”.
  • —In response to Vorster’s comment that American interest has introduced a new dimension into the Rhodesian situation, Smith said he believes this is an advantage—the more that countries like America, France and West Germany can be implicated, the better. “It can only strengthen our hands”. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) will oppose any solution to the situation, even a reasonable one, and the support of these Western countries will be valuable.
  • —Smith said communist terrorism in Rhodesia must be stopped and, in this regard, he sees a chance for a breakthrough in what he un[Page 525]derstood to be the American decision to suspend support for Mozambique as long as terrorists continue to operate from Mozambique.
  • Vorster noted that the West was frightened by the possibility of a communist or Marxist takeover in Rhodesia similar to that in Angola, but at the same time the West believed that to prevent such a takeover, the non-Marxist and even non-militant blacks must be advanced politically. The West, Vorster said, is wedded to the idea of one man, one vote—they don’t look upon Rhodesians as black and white; they look upon them as people.
  • Vorster feels certain that President Ford will not be reelected, and that Jimmy Carter is the next man with whom the South Africans will be dealing. Foreign Minister Muller said Secretary Kissinger was believed to be on his way out as well, but that if he could be given something (some evidence of progress), he might make a special final effort to be of assistance, not only to improve his image but to give the Ford administration something to show to the public before the election.
  • —In Smith’s view, the compelling argument to be used in discussions with the Americans or other Westerners should be that they do not want a repeat of Angola and Mozambique, that is, a communist takeover of Rhodesia. In Vorster’s view, should the Soviets and Cubans move into Rhodesia tomorrow in full force, apart from shouting to high heaven, nobody is going to lift a finger to stop them. Before the West will listen, Smith must offer some concrete evidence that he is prepared to move toward majority rule.
  • —In talking to the West, Vorster said South Africa has a similar weakness in the South West Africa issue—“you can’t talk [take?] the timetable question out of their heads, yet the question of a timetable is entirely in the hands of the South West African peoples. South Africa is not prepared to specify a schedule and will not allow the United Nations or anybody else to lay down a schedule.”
  • —Smith told Vorster that in pressing him for a firm statement about ultimate intentions, the South Africans are asking the Rhodesians to “sign our death warrant and to put a certain time limit on it. We are going to try to get the maximum time and we want to leave ourselves in the best possible position to maneuver and to negotiate. Smith would have to discuss any such statements with his colleagues in Salisbury, as he had during the negotiations with Nkomo. When the talks with Nkomo broke down, his colleagues in the Rhodesian Front heaved a sigh of relief and said well thank God, we worked through that one and we are now back to where we were.”
  • —Smith would make no promises regarding parity in Parliament, and said it would be a very difficult concept for him to persuade his colleagues to accept. Moreover, there is a hardening attitude in the Rhode[Page 526]sian Front Party against settlement, against compromise—many have told Smith that he has already gone too far in bringing so many blacks into the government.
  • —Then, all we can tell Secretary Kissinger now, said Vorster, is that you are more determined than ever to face the escalating terrorism; you are prepared to face the economic problems which are ahead; and you are no longer sure that you can agree even to parity. In response Smith said, “We must go on for majority rule but this must be evolutionary as opposed to revolution; I believe I’ve the majority of black support in this—not only white support.”
The overall impression is that Smith is dodging and hedging and shows little inclination to accept Vorster’s recommendations.
A copy of this memorandum and the attachment are being made available to the Honorable Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.
George Bush
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 91, Geopolitical File, Africa, Chronological File, August 16–20, 1976. Secret; Noforn; Not releasable to contractors or consultants. A copy was sent to Scowcroft.
  2. The meeting on June 24; see Document 196.