206. Telegram From Secretary of State Kissinger to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

Hakto 22. Deliver in sealed envelope; retain no file copies; destroy all tapes.

[Page 574]
Please pass following report to the President on my Sunday talks in Pretoria.
Begin text: After seven painful hours of meetings with Ian Smith and his senior colleagues,2 they have substantially accepted our proposals. They have agreed to:
  • —Majority rule within two years (i.e., the Callaghan plan);
  • —Immediate negotiations with black representatives to create an interim government for the two-year transition;
  • —A structure for the interim government that shares power, giving blacks a majority of the Cabinet but giving whites the safeguard of a 50–50 split on a key executive body, the Council of State. The Council of State will supervise the drafting of the new constitution.
  • —The British Parliment will enact enabling legislation, reasserting their authority, and the Rhodesians will then pass necessary legislation effecting the changes.
  • —The Rhodesians will insist that when the interim government is formed, UN sanctions and guerrilla warfare will end. The US and UK will support this position diplomatically.
Smith is returning to Salisbury, to push this through his Cabinet on Tuesday3 and his party caucus on Wednesday and Thursday. If all goes well, he pledged to me to announce the program, as a Rhodesian offer to the blacks, in a radio-television speech on Friday.
In the meantime, I will show it to the blacks and insist upon their acceptance. The delicacy of the next phase makes it vital that we prevent leaks until it is finished. If it comes out in an uncontrolled way, we could be beaten to death, particularly by the radicals and Soviets who now have definite interest in derailing it.
The Rhodesians have also accepted in outline the economic guarantee scheme drawn up by us and the British. This is now for negotiation with the blacks, but the blacks have all told us they have no objection to it.
Smith and Vorster are fully aware of the disastrous consequences—to them above all—if Smith fails to fulfill his commitment. The international pressures will become massive—on both of them—and the United States, appearing to have been double-crossed, will [Page 575] have no choice but to join the pressures or at best let nature take its course, as they are both engulfed by widening violence.
Vorster understands this completely, and I must say both he and Smith have behaved honorably with me thus far. Smith and his colleagues asked many questions, groped for alternatives, but came around inevitably to understand the necessity of what we proposed. Smith, too, wants a rapid solution (A) which boosts the chances for moderates like Nkomo to take charge of the black government, and (B) which insures conditions that will give the 270,000 whites decent future and incentive to stay. He and his colleagues acted with dignity and intelligence—contrary to all the predictions given to me.
This outcome gives me no pleasure. It is extremely painful for me to be the instrument of their fate—which could turn out to be disastrous. That they have accepted with good grace only makes it harder. I believe we must do all we can to see it through with care and make it work, for the sake of both communities.
After my seven hours with Smith (four hours in mid-morning and three hours in the afternoon), I spent two hours with Vorster.4 We had dinner, and went over the finishing touches on the Namibia program. We have obtained from the South Africans what I would think is enough to conclude this issue too. A Geneva conference including SWAPO and some South African plus UN presence should take the Namibia issue off the international agenda. But this is Africa, and one can never count on anything until it is completed. End text.
Warm regards.
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Trip Files, Box 29, South Africa/London, Hakto (1). Secret; Exclusively Eyes Only. Kissinger was presumably en route to Lusaka (see footnote 2, Document 207).
  2. Kissinger held two meetings in Pretoria with Ian Smith, September 19. The first meeting with Smith and his delegation was held at Ambassador Bowdler’s residence, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. The second meeting included the South African Prime Minister in addition to the Rhodesian delegation, and was held at the Prime Minister’s residence, 5:55–8:46 p.m. Memoranda of conversation are in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 345, Department of State, Memoranda, Memoranda of Conversations, External, September 18–19, 1976.
  3. September 21.
  4. Kissinger met with Vorster on September 19 at the Prime Minister’s residence, 9:20–11:10 p.m. A memorandum of conversation is in the National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–1977, Lot 91D414, Classified External Memoranda of Conversations, September 1976.