182. Letter From President Carter to Tanzanian President Nyerere1

Dear Mr. President:

Your letter of December 13,2 which reached me a few days ago, added to the warmth of the Christmas season. Because the identity of our views on the Rhodesian situation is so marked, I am optimistic that 1978 will see the creation of an independent, majority-ruled Zimbabwe.

I agree that we must move forward rapidly and for this reason I attach great importance to Dr. Owen’s invitation to Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe to join him in serious negotiations. As you point out, the roles of the respective parties during the transition period remain to be defined. This is the kind of thing we expect representatives of the Patriotic Front to discuss in London or wherever the meeting is held. Talks with them will demonstrate that our settlement effort, aided by your support and assistance, continues to proceed.

For this meeting to succeed, however, we should avoid any precipitate moves in the UN or elsewhere which could complicate or divert attention from our efforts. I hope that you and our other African friends agree and will collaborate with Andy Young to this end.

The British White Paper of September 13 sets forth a reasonable, logical and comprehensive plan to transform Rhodesia from minority to majority rule. It requires Mr. Smith to relinquish power. It neutralizes Rhodesia’s armed forces, and creates a new Zimbabwean army which, as we agreed, will be based on the liberation forces. We are determined to take all appropriate measures to implement these proposals.

Settlement attempts which ignore ideas like these do not merit our support because they do not provide for lasting peace. For this reason, I share your concerns about the recent initiatives of Mr. Smith.4 In this [Page 525] connection, I agree with you that it is important for Reverend Sithole and Bishop Muzorewa to see that our efforts can bear fruit in the near future.

Your letter reminds me of how similar our goals for Zimbabwe are. We, like you, do not wish to impose a particular economic or political system on Zimbabwe or to choose its leaders. Rather, we wish to end a situation which offends the conscience of the world. We want to give its people an opportunity to select their leaders in an atmosphere free from fear. It is imperative that the new government be perceived by them and by the world as duly constituted and deserving of international and domestic support.

The coming year will be a momentous one for southern Africa and I appreciate your friendship and advice in meeting the challenges that will arise.

Please accept my best wishes for a very happy holiday season.

Warmest regards,

Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 19, Tanzania: President Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, 1/77–5/78. No classification marking.
  2. In telegram 306770 to multiple posts, December 24, the Department transmitted the text of Nyerere’s December 13 letter to Carter. It was noted that the letter was delivered to the Department on December 21 by the Tanzanian Embassy. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770480–1154)
  3. In telegram 206698 to all African diplomatic posts, August 30, the Department transmitted the text of the British White Paper. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770312–0901)
  4. In telegram 6377 from Pretoria, November 25, the Embassy summarized Smith’s November 24 press conference, during which he committed himself “to the principle of majority rule based on ‘adult suffrage’ provided there are constitutional guarantees for whites. He also revealed that on this basis Muzorewa, Sithole, and Chirau had agreed to talks beginning next week aiming at an internal settlement.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770437–0493)