209. Telegram From the Embassy in South Africa to Secretary of State Kissinger en Route to Washington1

4367. Subj: Smith’s Speech.

Following is text of Ian Smith’s speech as furnished by Harold Hawkins: Begin text:

Z.173. Prime Minister’s address to the nation, Friday 24th September, 1976:2

As you are all aware, I have recently had a series of meetings in Pretoria, firstly with the South African Prime Minister, then with Dr Kissinger and finally with Dr Kissinger and Mr Vorster together.3

At these meetings the position of Rhodesia in relation to the rest of southern Africa, and indeed to the Western nations, was discussed in [Page 589] great detail. It was made abundantly clear to me, and to my colleagues who accompanied me, that as long as the present circumstances in Rhodesia prevailed, we could expect no help or support of any kind from the free world. On the contrary, the pressures on us from the free world would continue to mount. Dr Kissinger has been working in close consultation with the British Government and he has the full support of the other major Western powers.

Dr Kissinger assured me that we share a common aim and a common purpose, namely to keep Rhodesia in the free world and to keep it free from Communist penetration. In this regard, of course, Rhodesia is in a key position in southern Africa. What happens here will inevitably affect the entire sub-continent. Although we and the Western powers have a common purpose, we differ from them in how best to achieve this. I would be dishonest if I did not state quite clearly that the proposals which were put to us in Pretoria do not represent what in our view would be the best solution for Rhodesia’s problems. Regrettably, however, we were not able to make our views prevail, although we were able to achieve some modifications in the proposals. The American and British Governments, together with the major Western powers, have made up their minds as to the kind of solution they wish to see in Rhodesia and they are determined to bring it about. The alternative to acceptance of the proposals was explained to us in the clearest of terms, which left no room for misunderstanding. Since our return Cabinet have examined in great detail and in all its aspects the choice which faces us and we have done this in full knowledge of the heavy responsibility which we carry for the welfare and the safety of all Rhodesians, white and black. In the light of this assessment, Cabinet had decided to accept the proposals put to us in Pretoria and the Parliamentary caucus of my party, which met all day yesterday, has endorsed our decision.

Before I spell out these proposals in detail there are some general comments I should make. The proposals represent what, in negotiating parlance, is usually called a “package deal”, which means that some aspects are more readily acceptable than others. Firstly, on the positive side, as soon as the necessary preliminaries have been carried out, sanctions will be lifted and there will be a cessation of terrorism. Dr Kissinger has given me a categorical assurance to this effect and my acceptance of the proposals is conditional upon the implementation of both of these undertakings.

In the light of previous experience there will be some understandable scepticism regarding the undertaking that terrorism will cease, but on this occasion the assurance is given, not only on the authority of the United States Government, but of the British Government as well.

[Page 590]

Since the weekend meetings we have reiterated to Dr Kissinger and those who are working with him our concern over their ability to fulfill their undertaking to halt terrorism, and we stressed the responsibility which they carry in this regard. They have reaffirmed to us their conviction that they will be able to ensure the implementation of this condition. Nevertheless, if we are realistic we must accept that terrorism cannot be halted at the drop of a hat and it will therefore be incumbent on the security forces and all those living in the affected areas to act accordingly. Indeed, it is likely that there might be an immediate and temporary increase in terrorist activity.

It is also necessary for me to issue a warning with regard to sanctions. It is essential that the security of commercial information should be strictly preserved in the coming months and all those concerned are urged to be particularly careful not to reveal any information bearing on the breaking of sanctions.

Secondly, together with the lifting of sanctions in all their forms there will be an injection of development capital which will provide an immediate stimulus to the economy. Thirdly, because the Western powers are mindful of the need to retain the confidence of the whites, there will be other far reaching financial provisions. I shall deal with these more fully later in my statement.

Turning now to the constitutional aspects, the proposals provide for the setting up of an interim government comprising a Council of State and a Council of Ministers. The Council of State will be the supreme body and it will have equal numbers of white and black members with a white chairman. As is customary in the Cabinet system, decisions will normally be reached by consensus, but where a vote is necessary, a two-thirds majority will be required. Its first duty will be to appoint the Council of Ministers. However, the most important function of the Council of State will be to draw up a new constitution. Its deliberations will therefore be of vital significance for the future of our country and all of its people. Its decisions will determine whether Rhodesia remains a stable, democratic and progressive country. It is important to note that this constitution will be drawn up in Rhodesia, by Rhodesians, and will not be imposed from outside. I am confident that in these circumstances and, given good will and realism on both sides, the right decisions will be taken. It will be a majority rule constitution and this is expressly laid down in the proposals. My own position on majority rule is well known. I have stated in public many times, that I believe I echo the views of the majority of both black and white Rhodesians, when I say that we support majority rule, provided that it is responsible rule.

The Council of State will be given two years to complete its task of producing a constitution and undertaking all the detailed work neces[Page 591]sary for elections on the basis of that constitution. Some may regard this as too short a period, but I believe there are advantages in aiming at reaching finality as soon as possible.

Having given you the general background, I shall now read the actual terms of the proposals put to me by Dr Kissinger. Paragraph six relating to economic aid is an agreed summary of a longer paper: Quote

Rhodesia agrees to majority rule within two years.
Representatives of the Rhodesian Government will meet immediately at a mutually agreed place with African leaders to organize an interim government to function until majority rule is implemented.
The interim government should consist of a Council of State, half of whose members will be black and half white with a white chairman without a special vote. The European and African sides would nominate their representatives. Its function should include: legislation; general supervisory responsibilities; and supervision of the process of drafting the constitution. The interim government should also have a Council of Ministers with a majority of Africans and an African First Minister. For the period of the interim government the Ministers of Defence and of Law and Order would be white. Decisions of the Council of Ministers to be taken by two-thirds majority. Its functions should include: delegated legislative authority; and executive responsibility.
The United Kingdom will enact enabling legislation for this process to majority rule. Upon enactment of that legislation, Rhodesia will also enact such legislation as may be necessary to the process.
Upon the establishment of the interim government sanctions will be lifted and all acts of war, including guerilla warfare, will cease.
Substantial economic support will be made available by the international community to provide assurance to Rhodesians about the economic future of the country. A trust fund will be established outside Rhodesia which will organize and finance a major international effort to respond to the economic opportunities of this country and to the effects of the changes taking place. The fund will, inter alia, support the internal and external economic circumstances of the country and provide development assistance, guarantees and investment incentives to a wide variety of projects. The aim will be to expand the industrial and mineral production of the country, to enhance agricultural potential by suitable land utilization and development programmes and to provide the necessary training and educational facilities to provide the essential flow of skills.

Pension rights, the investment of the individual in his own home and/or farm and the remittances overseas of an individual’s liquid resources within levels yet to be stipulated will be guaranteed by the interim and subsequent governments. These particular measures will be [Page 592] underwritten by the trust fund thereby giving a firm international base to the government guarantee. Unquote.

That was a brief outline of the proposed support measures which have now to be worked out in detail. As I have said, the measures, in particular the trust fund, are aimed at giving both the European and the African certainty as to his future in a multi-racial socity and to demonstrate not only that the economic and social stability of the country will be maintained but that every individual can look forward to continued rising standards of living.

In our discussion in Pretoria, my colleagues and I made it clear that Rhodesians were not enamoured of schemes to buy them out—they were looking for a solution which would mean that they could go on living in their homeland. We were assured that the other parties to the proposal strongly supported this contention. Accordingly, whatever plan is produced to assist those who decide to leave, the incentive should be aimed at making it worthwhile for Rhodesians to stay.

Those are the proposals which were put to us in Pretoria. With the agreement of Cabinet and with the support of caucus I have sent a message to Dr Kissinger indicating my acceptance of the proposals, subject to their being accepted by the other parties involved, and as I stated earlier, subject to the lifting of sanctions and the cessation of terrorism.

The next stage will be the meeting between government representatives and African leaders to set up the Council of State, as the first stage of establishing the interim government. This, I hope, will take place as soon as possible, because once the decision is taken it will be in the best interests of Rhodesia to proceed without delay.

I have given you the more important parts of what transpired during these negotiations. Were I to continue talking for the next two hours, I would not be able to tell you everything, and unfortunately there is much which cannot be disclosed in public. I hope you will derive some reassurance from the fact that my Cabinet, and my caucus, came to the clear and positive conclusion that, on the evidence before us, this is our best choice.

What I have said this evening will be the cause of deep concern to you all, and understandably so. But we live in a world of rapid change and if we are to survive in such a world we must be prepared to adapt ourselves to change. We have the satisfaction of knowing that, in spite of the odds against us, we Rhodesians of all races have built up a magnificent country where the prospects are second to none in Africa. I hope and believe we shall be able to keep it so.

Despite the stresses and strains imposed by terrorism the relations between the races in our country remain friendly and relaxed. We are moving steadily towards the removal of racial discrimination and this will be seen to an increasing extent as the recommendations of the [Page 593] Quenet Commission are implemented in the coming months. I believe that it is incumbent on all of us, white and black alike, to act with dignity and restraint in the testing time which lies before us, and to create the right atmosphere to enable those charged with the drawing up of our new constitution to proceed expeditiously with their important task.

Clearly, this agreement doesn’t give us the answer which we would have liked. However, it does present us with an opportunity which we have never had before—an offer to Rhodesians to work out amongst themselves, without interference from outside, our future constitution. The Council of State has been charged to do this within two years, which should be more than ample time. As I have already indicated, the Council of State will be composed of equal numbers of white and black Rhodesians. They will be chosen by Rhodesians. I hope they will be the best, the most responsible we can find. It will only be at the conclusion of this exercise that we will know whether this whole operation has succeeded or failed. I hope all Rhodesians will join with me in dedicating themselves to ensure that there can only be one answer—success.

Meanwhile, I believe it is important that we maintain our morale and our confidence. It would be unworthy of us, after all we have been through, after all the sacrifices which have been made, to allow ourselves to fall into any premature despondency. There is no doubt in my mind, that the great fighting spirit of Rhodesians over the last decade has earned great respect from the rest of the world, and had it not been for this, the proposals which are now before us would not have been so favourable.

For myself, I hope to share the privilege of continuing to play a part in helping to guide the destiny of Rhodesia. I remain dedicated to the ideal of doing all I can to ensure that Rhodesia remains a country in which all of us, of whatever race or colour, can live and work and prosper together in peace, harmony and stability. I have been tremendously gratified and encouraged by the messages of support which so many Rhodesians have sent me in the last week. I am confident that the spirit and determination of Rhodesians remain undaunted and that we shall go forward together towards our goal.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 93, Geopolitical File, Africa, Chronological File, September 24–25, 1976. Confidential; Cherokee; Flash; Nodis.
  2. Ford made a brief statement to the press on Smith’s address. See Public Papers: Ford, 1976–77, Book III, p. 2318.
  3. See Document 206.