About Me

My photo
Nairobi, Kenya
I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on yebomimi@gmail.com The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011

Blog Archive

Search This Blog

There was an error in this gadget



Thursday, July 9, 2009


The tragic dilemma of innocent bystanders

The death toll rises steadily as the bloody civil war in Rhodesia grinds on, with little hope for an early settlement. Last week black nationalist guerrillas attacked a convoy of 50 vehicles at Kariba, 140 miles north of Salisbury. A bus driver and three young white girls died from bullet wounds; 16 other passengers were wounded. Later, guerrillas attacked and set fire to a tiny village in the Zwimba Tribal Trust Land, killing 17 of its 22 black inhabitants.

Among all the innocent bystanders caught in the Rhodesian conflict, however, none face a more agonizing dilemma than Rhodesia's Christian missionaries, who for years have provided education and health care to blacks. Their stations, schools and orphanages have become targets of suspicion for both the army and the nationalist guerrillas. The missions face a problem if they do not report local guerrilla movements to the government and a problem if they do. In the past two years, 25 missionaries have been deported, accused of aiding the rebels. Last month 13 men, women and children at the British Pentecostal mission of Elim, near the Mozambique border, were killed during the most brutal assault on whites since the civil war began.

More than one-third of the 300 missions in rural Rhodesia have closed since 1972. Others survive only as caretaker operations. One undaunted exception is St. Augustine's, a boarding school at Penha-longa, only 20 miles from Elim in an area where the guerrillas now operate with impunity. St. Augustine's, run by Anglican friars of the Community of the Resurrection, was founded in 1891, and is one of the oldest church missions in Rhodesia. In 1939, over white opposition, it established the colony's first secondary school for Africans, and boasts 1,150 students in primary and secondary grades. A number of today's black nationalist leaders are among its graduates.

Last week TIME Johannesburg Bureau Chief William McWhirter visited St. Augustine's. His report:

During the day, life in the mountain valley where the mission's 4,500-acre tract is located still appears as serene as it was in 1964 when the present rector, Father Keble Prosser, first came out from England to run St. Augustine's. The dirt road twists and turns its way up a hillside, into which are built low, one-story brick classroom buildings and dormitories, shaded by long verandas and heavy foliage. St. Augustine's 14th century bell continues to ring out across the valley. As the African sun climbs through the mist to strike the treetops, the hill rings too with the sound of children's voices.

But life at St. Augustine's is quickly changing, for the worse. Says Father Prosser: "Until recently we were genuinely a haven of peace. But after Elim, I was approached by a number of our senior African teachers who said they had certain knowledge that St. Augustine's would be next." The rector replaced his last five white teachers with blacks. Reluctantly, he began to spend his nights at the home of a friend in the nearby town of Umtali


1976: White rule in Rhodesia to end
The Rhodesian Government has agreed to introduce black majority rule to the country within two years.
Prime Minister Ian Smith announced the news five days after hearing the proposals of the United States-led diplomatic delegation.

The plan presented to him by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had been formulated by the American and British Governments.

But Mr Smith made it clear he was only accepting the plan under pressure and was not happy with the conditions.

In a broadcast to the nation from the capital Salisbury, Rhodesia's premier outlined the first of six steps agreed with Dr Kissinger.

An interim government is to be established and the violent guerrilla warfare being waged by factions of the country's black population must end.

It offers a real hope of bringing peace

UK PM James Callaghan

In return international sanctions against the state, which declared its independence from the United Kingdom 11 years ago, would end.

UK Prime Minister James Callaghan welcomed his counterpart's acceptance of the proposals, saying it was a decisive step forward.

"It offers a real hope of bringing peace to Rhodesia and of averting the threat of intensifying warfare and bloodshed," he said.

Despite the hopes of peace Mr Smith announced he was only taking the step reluctantly.

"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 to Rhodesia's problems," he said.

But the prime minister ended his speech by urging his countrymen to make the agreement work.

"I hope all Rhodesians will join with me in dedicating themselves to ensure that there can only be one answer - success," he said.


Principled failure: British policy toward Rhodesia, 1971-72
Posted by: johnnyryan on: 20 February 2004

In: various / old Comment!
The History Review 2004. Copyright Johnny Ryan 2004.


The choice lies starkly between a compromise settlement, which by definition will not satisfy anyone but which will gain for the Africans substantial new opportunities for advancement, and a rapid and complete polarisation of the races and the prospect of conflict.[1]

In May 1972 the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary told the British Parliament that the peoples of Rhodesia stood at the crossroads between two destinies: they could accept a compromise settlement or suffer total racial polarisation and civil war. By then, the choice was already made. Despite attempts to initiate dialogue between the European and African parties in Rhodesia, British diplomacy failed to avert slaughter. The Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement of November 1971 had indicated the possibility of finally resolving the Rhodesian issue. Yet by the end of 1972, an opportunity for a settlement between Britain and Rhodesia had been lost, and the last British colony in Africa was set upon the course of catastrophe. By 1978, Rhodesia’s ferocious civil war claimed an average of thirty casualties a day.[2]

The Rhodesian issue is a humiliating last chapter in Britain’s African colonial history. Despite the wave of decolonisation of previous decades, Britain refused to grant Rhodesia independence as a result of its white minority régime’s refusal to allow African political participation. Determined to forestall the introduction of majority rule, the white Rhodesian Front (RF) Government rebelled against the British Crown in 1965 and made its unilateral declaration of independence (UDI). Thereafter, Britain remained responsible for Rhodesia despite its inability to influence Rhodesian affairs.

Following UDI, Harold Wilson’s Labour Government was burdened with the crisis. Wilson adopted a maximalist position of ‘no independence before majority African rule’ (NIBMAR). His insistence upon NIBMAR and his public rejection of the use of force to impose an acceptable government on Rhodesia resulted in deadlock. At the 1966 Commonwealth Conference in Lagos, Wilson was inundated with demands for action against Rhodesia. He responded that sanctions alone would resolve the matter ‘in weeks rather than months’ ― a response that would haunt him and his successors. Two rounds of negotiations between Wilson and the Prime Minister of the illegal Rhodesian régime, Ian Smith, aboard HMS Tiger (1966) and HMS Fearless (1968), failed to end the impasse.

Even before Edward Heath’s election as Prime Minister in 1970, Rhodesia posed him and his Conservative Party with an ongoing party political crisis. As leader of the opposition, he faced annual rebellions from the ‘Monday Club’ right–wing members of his Party who identified with the Rhodesian Front Government and refused to support sanctions against Rhodesia. The Rhodesian issue threatened to split the Conservative Party when eighty MPs rebelled in December 1965 over the embargo of oil supplies following UDI. Heath, once in office as Prime Minister, continued to be sensitive to the mounting domestic and diplomatic pressures arising from the continuing failure to secure a settlement with Rhodesia. The dread with which Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) memoranda refer to upcoming party conferences illustrates the political sensitivity of the Rhodesian problem. Quite aside from the party political trauma wrought by the intractable Rhodesian problem, Britain was under constant international pressure to reign in Ian Smith’s illegal régime. The Rhodesian issue put a severe strain upon Britain’s relations with her former colonies. As one FCO official recalls ‘Britain had the constitutional responsibility for [Rhodesia] and was reminded of it by the rest of the Commonwealth, who used this as a stick with which to beat successive British Governments’.[3] African and Asian nations at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly continuously condemned Britain’s failure to oust Smith’s régime and appealed to the Security Council to apply harsher sanctions.

The re–opening of high level negotiations between Ian Smith and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, Alec Douglas–Home, in 1971 raised hopes of an opportunity to finally resolve what had become a domestic and international dilemma. Smith agreed to a settlement that would theoretically provide for majority rule in the longer term. Following the Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement, it appeared that the British Government would now be able to grant the white Rhodesian régime legal independence with a minimum of international condemnation and absolve itself of responsibility for its last African colony. Despite the exclusion of African representatives at the Anglo–Rhodesian negotiations, the so–called ‘fifth principle’ included in the Agreement gave them the power of veto. On the last day of 1971, a commission chaired by Lord Pearce was dispatched to Rhodesia with instructions to conduct a ‘test of acceptability’, studying Rhodesian opinion in order to ascertain if the fifth principle had indeed been met and if the Agreement could be implemented.

The Cabinet’s optimism about African support for the Agreement was ill founded. The Africans of Rhodesia would not endorse an agreement to which they had not been a party. Since Ian Smith would not tolerate African participation in the negotiations, and since the Heath Government could not force him to do so, its attempts to resolve the Rhodesian issue were prone to failure from the outset. Britain’s decayed military capability and sensitivity to Third World sentiment compromised its policy making to the point of impotence. Following the popular African rejection of the Agreement, British diplomacy was paralysed. The Pearce Commission’s inquiry stimulated incendiary nationalism among Rhodesia’s African population. Thereafter, they demonstrated a heightened political awareness and dramatically escalated their guerrilla campaign against the white régime. While a relatively ineffectual guerrilla war had been waged against Smith’s Government since 1964,[4] escalated warfare accounted for 2,477 deaths by August 1976.[5]

Military weakness and conflicting sentiment in Britain had made military intervention against the white régime impossible. Yet, the transparent and principled diplomacy that Third World scrutiny demanded of the British Government made it virtually impossible to impose a solution upon the Africans of Rhodesia. This study illustrates the paralysing constraints under which British diplomacy operated in the post–colonial era. Ironically, respect for African and Commonwealth opinion frustrated the British Government’s efforts to avert a bloody civil war in which the overwhelming majority of casualties were African.

This paper casts fresh light on Edward Heath’s Conservative Government’s efforts to deal with the Rhodesian crisis with the benefit of the newly released prime ministerial, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Cabinet Office records at the Public Records Office (PRO) in Kew, London. The author also requested interviews with Edward Heath, Ian Smith and Miles Hudson (Sir Alec’s political secretary), who are best placed to comment on this subject in the absence of Alec Douglas–Home. Unfortunately, Sir Edward declined, and Mr Smith was impossible to contact despite the best efforts of his publisher. Fortunately, Miles Hudson has graciously cooperated and his recollections offer a valuable contemporary insight to this research. The timeframe of this study is limited by the constraints of the thirty–year rule of record releases. It examines Anglo-Rhodesian relations from the re–opening of high level Anglo–Rhodesian negotiations in 1971 until the end of 1972 when the Rhodesian problem was once again deadlocked and guerrilla violence had begun to escalate.


One writer has drawn a comparison between Mary Tudor’s agony at the loss of Calais and Britain’s later pain at its inability to forfeit Rhodesia.[6] While the loss of Calais signified an involuntary end to British ambitions in France, inversely, the Heath Government’s concerted efforts to settle with Rhodesia marked one episode of a willing withdrawal from Britain’s world empire. It suits historical narrative that as the Rhodesian issue continued to harry his government both domestically and internationally, Edward Heath was preoccupied with securing Britain’s entry to the European Economic Community (EEC). Thus in the same year that Britain abandoned the old imperial denominations of Sterling in favour of Continental practice, Alec Douglas–Home arrived in Salisbury, the Rhodesian capital, with a mission to cast off Britain’s last colonial responsibility in Africa. When Sir Alec met Ian Smith in November 1971, Macmillan’s ‘winds of change’ had already blown for a decade at gale force divesting Britain almost completely of her imperial mantle. The military, social, economic and diplomatic pressures that had driven the retreat from empire elsewhere now mounted around the intractable Rhodesian problem, motivating, and sometimes hindering, the British Government’s attempts to relinquish its last African possession.

In the aftermath of World War Two (WW2), military logic dictated the forfeiture of the Empire. Whether or not they caused it, the European wars of the twentieth century certainly accelerated the imperial retreat. At the close of the WW2, colonial possessions no longer augmented national prestige, nor was Britain in a position to sustain and employ them to secure strategic interests. Colonies had become tiresome liabilities making their possessors vulnerable to international condemnation and to entanglement in unpopular conflicts. Nationalist insurgency and new military technology had made the costs of imperial defence increasingly prohibitive. Colonial warfare in Indo China and Algeria offered examples of disaster. Between 1947 and 1987 British defence expenditure accounted for 5.8 percent of the GDP where it had been 2.6 percent previously.[7] Britain’s armed forces had numbered eight and a half million in 1918 and over five million in 1944. By 1975 they numbered only 338,000. By 1969, twenty percent of active units were assigned to Northern Ireland.[8] While Britain had successfully fought to defend the Federation of Malaysia and had countered the East Africa mutinies of 1964, British forces would no longer be involved in distant operations. Britain had learnt the same lesson as the French and Dutch: ‘Holding the empire would be a bloody and expensive business’.[9] The sterling crisis of 1967 led the Labour Government to abandon military commitment to the Persian Gulf and Singapore. Thus Britain’s capability to effectively intervene against the rebel Rhodesian government following UDI was questionable at the least.[10] No doubt Wilson was loath to make divisive military threats when in possession of a Commons majority of only four members, but Britain’s military impotence and contemporary images of the Vietnamese quagmire must also account for his public rejection of the use of force to impose NIBMAR. Indeed, the Labour Party’s military realism extended further once in opposition, and having ruled out the use of actual British force in Rhodesia, the Party recommended extending financial and diplomatic support for liberation movements in southern Africa in 1973.[11] The very fact of Britain’s military atrophy in the post–colonial era mitigated against its ability to decolonise Rhodesia on satisfactory terms through the use of its own military force.

There remained bonds between kith and kin in the metropolan power and the colonies. The contrast between the treatment of the white residents of the Falkland Islands and the Ilois (described by the Permanent Under Secretary of the FCO, Denis Greenhill, as ‘a few Tarzans and Man Fridays’) of the British Indian Ocean Territory, who were legally British citizens but were summarily cast off their land following the leasing of Diego Garcia to the US, proves that racial, or kith and kin, considerations played a role in fostering official and public sympathy for white colonists.[12] Ian Smith’s supporters within Britain respected him as a war hero (Smith had escaped Axis imprisonment in WW2, crossing the Alps in his socks en route to freedom). Moreover, some regarded Smith as a bulwark against Communist influence in the Third World. The role of leftist resistance groups during WW2 and the war’s destruction of the veil of imperial impregnability both contributed to an equation in which anti–colonial movements challenging the status quo were equated with Communism.[13] Some viewed Smith not only as a bulwark of empire against nationalist insurgency (despite his rebellion), but also as a defence against Communism revolution in the Third World. Moreover, since European Rhodesians constituted only five percent of the population, Smith could pose as the leader of the whites under siege. As Heath later noted, ‘our post bag confirmed the extent of public support for the white Rhodesians’.[14] When the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary informed the House of Commons that he would be travelling to Salisbury for talks with Smith, one MP made the point that irrespective of its adherence to the five principles, a settlement with Smith was essential for regional security, and added that since Sir Alec would depart on Remembrance Sunday, ‘may I ask him to remember the Rhodesians, so many of whom fell for us in the war’.[15] Yet the emerging dominance of liberal opinion within Britain opposed the established ethos that had promoted empire overseas. The legacy of the great wars that had heralded the end of the Empire could not now psychologically bind it together. Smith’s war hero status and the plight of the white minority carried little weight with the young liberally minded post–war generation. The colonists and some segments of the Conservative Party were slow to make the same adjustment. Zimbabwe’s future Prime Minister, Bishop Muzorewa, pondered the mentality gap between metropole and the colonies during a pro–African National Council (ANC) march to London’s Trafalgar Square in early 1972.

I pondered one of the contradictions of our liberation struggle. At home I battle against white people largely of British extraction who are die–hard racists. … Here in the centre of London I found myself surrounded by white people who were loudly condemning the racism of the Smith régime.[16]

The contradictions Muzorewa observed were the same that plagued Heath within his party, and plagued Britain as she adjusted to the postcolonial world.

The increase of the Britain’s real gross domestic product during the two principle decades of decolonisation, from 1951 until 1973, illustrates the new economic circumstances in which she now operated.[17] Sterling had been usurped at the Bretton Woods Conference, and was devalued by a third in 1949. This and the impressive economic performance of the war torn countries made membership of the EEC more attractive and suggested the redundancy of Commonwealth and imperial trading ties. The ‘unholy’ alliance of France and Germany, coinciding with Britain’s global decline, indicated that Britain had to become involved in the European program if it were to have any hope of a strong position. In the early 1970s Britain found herself governed by an Euro–centric Prime Minister who had grown up within view of the Continent as a boy and had travelled through it as a young man. Edward Heath’s Britain had found a new role, one quite at odds with lingering ties to troublesome colonies.

A psychological issue played upon the minds of British policymakers. The belief that British rule was beneficial to those it governed would suffer should decolonisation offer disastrous results. As the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary put it, ‘to return Rhodesia to a legal relationship with Britain would redeem one of our few failures in the conversion of empire to commonwealth’.[18] Official opinion in the postcolonial era hoped that a new empire of benevolent influence, a ‘fourth empire’, could be engineered. Britain had already achieved an amiable decolonisation of Canada two centuries before. By 1931, with the introduction of the Statute of Westminster, Britain institutionalised a process for the gradual loss of control over her possessions.[19] The anticipated sphere of informal influence and voluntary association would in theory be a return to an older British global system. Once again, Britain’s actual imperial possessions would be ‘just the tip of the iceberg’.[20] Had Britain been permitted to gradually nurture colonies towards pro–British independence, this might have been achievable. Yet the longer Britain remained in possession of her colonies once decolonisation had begun and the voices of newly independent nations began to make themselves heard at the UN, the more she was vulnerable to the stigma of her former overlordship. This was compounded when France and then Belgium began a race among the colonial powers to grant full independence to their African possessions. As a result of hasty decolonisation, the (formerly Belgian) Congo descended into chaos, and provided a model for African independence that ‘helped to destroy British influence among the whites as thoroughly as it demolished British rule over the blacks’ in Rhodesia.[21] The timeline for decolonisation, rather than being a protracted and considered process, shrank to fit circumstance.

Field Marshall Wavell, Viceroy of India (1943–7) noted that, ‘the really fatal thing for us would be to hang on to responsibility after we had lost the power to exercise it’.[22] In Rhodesia, Wavell’s pronouncement had applied since before UDI, yet Britain could neither cast off responsibility nor exercise any power. Britain needed to decolonise rapidly in order to rehabilitate itself in the new mould of world power. The British role in the world was changing, and the centre of emphasis had shifted from the colonies to the continent. Europe was at the centre of Heath’s personal vision, and Britain’s financial prospects. Yet in the realignment of Britain’s global outlook, some identification with kith and kin remained to complicate the process. Rhodesia, intractable, politically devastating and internationally embarrassing, impeded Britain’s transition to a new role as a European economic power with extended influence. Britain no longer had the military capacity or confidence to impose its will on the white rebel government. As Bishop Muzorewa realised, the troublesome Rhodesian colony had come to be regarded as ‘“the Rhodesian problem” which they [British politicians] eagerly wanted to get rid of as one would a hot potato in the hand’.[23]


Despite complaints at the United Nations, Britain had little choice but to deal with the illegal régime in Rhodesia. Since Wilson had publicly ruled out force in speeches to Parliament and to the UN General Assembly, Britain had minimal negotiating leverage. The white minority government was unwilling to concede any part of its monopoly on political power, and Rhodesian Africans of were not included in the process of negotiation. The British Government was not in a position to force Smith to include African representatives in the discussions, and settled for permission to interview African leaders. Douglas–Home pointed out to the Cabinet that

no one believed that the Rhodesian Front régime could be overthrown. … The choice before us lay, in effect, between Mr Smith’s régime with an agreement or Mr Smith’s régime with no agreement. [24]

Britain’s only alternative to negotiating with Smith was a wholesale abandonment of Rhodesia. This would have incurred severe international opprobrium as the implementation of majority rule in Rhodesia was viewed internationally as a British responsibility. Douglas–Home advised Heath that disengaging from and decolonising Rhodesia by an act of parliament would cause problems within the Conservative Party and that ‘Africans all over the world would feel that we had abandoned their fellows’.[25]

Thus, with no alternative options, Douglas–Home re–opened high level discussions with Ian Smith in November 1971 in Salisbury, the Rhodesian capital. This high level meeting had been preceded by months of negotiations that were carefully kept secret.[26] The Cabinet was initially pessimistic about what form of concessions could be extracted from the white régime.[27] Yet Ian Smith was under pressure from the intensifying six year old guerrilla campaign being waged by the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU)[28] and from continued sanctions. In addition, the connection with Britain that European Rhodesians purported to hold dear ― despite their declaration of a republic in 1970 ― was overshadowed by Rhodesia’s status as a rebel colony. Britain alone could grant Rhodesia psychological and legal legitimacy among the nations of the world. Accordingly, Smith was willing to negotiate with Douglas–Home, who he regarded as having ‘both experience of and feeling for our problem’.[29] Indeed, some suggested that the very fact of the November negotiations represented ‘a tactical victory for Smith’ because it suggested a British de facto recognition of Rhodesia under the prevailing discriminatory 1969 Constitution.[30] Smith viewed the Conservative Party as a more amenable negotiating partner than Labour because the Conservatives had adopted a more conciliatory approach and accepted the idea of a gradual progression towards majority rule. While Smith may have wished to avoid majority rule at any point, the gradual Conservative approach appealed far more to him than Wilson’s immediate NIBMAR demand. This gave Wilson the appearance of being tough on Smith where the Conservatives seemed to falter. Yet as Hudson remarks

the official Conservative Party was certainly not ‘in support of Smith’. We were after a fair deal whereby the blacks would eventually achieve power, but after a period of a kind of joint government.[31]

The Smith–Home negotiations resulted in a set of agreed proposals for a settlement that generally satisfied both governments. The proposals were comprised of ‘five principles’, which included 1. unimpeded progress to majority rule, 2. guarantees against retrogressive amendments to the Constitution, 3. immediate improvements in the political status of the African population, 4. progress towards ending racial discrimination. The fifth principle stipulated that any basis for independence must be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. These proposals technically allowed for eventual African political representation past the point of African/European parity, and included a new constitution and bill of rights. The Attorney General relayed Douglas–Home’s positive assessment of Rhodesian public opinion from Salisbury to the Cabinet on 23 November 1971: ‘With the exception of Mr Nkomo and some of those who had been detained by the Rhodesian régime, the vast majority favoured a settlement’.[32] An Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement was signed the next day.

On 25 November, having returned from his negotiations with Smith in Rhodesia, Douglas–Home elaborated on his analysis of Rhodesian popular opinion to the Cabinet.

Political extremists apart, the general desire was for the conclusion of a settlement. … Racial antagonisms had grown sharper in the years since the illegal declaration of independence; but all save the extremists regretted this deterioration in relations and appeared genuinely to believe that a settlement would enable the substantial but necessarily silent body of moderate opinion to express itself afresh.[33]

The Cabinet’s justified pessimism, bred by six years experience of the intractability of the Rhodesian problem, gave way to unbridled optimism about the prospects of finally concluding a legal settlement with Rhodesia. That same day, an elated Heath discussed the issue with Richard Nixon. Responding to the President’s question ‘do you think they [the proposals] will make it?’, Heath replied, ‘I think they will, yes’. Heath said that ‘Alec got far more than we ever thought possible’ from Smith in the negotiations on the settlement.[34] One of the negotiators of the Agreement, Lord Goodman, retorted to the accusation at the House of Lords that the proposals were a sell–out by pointing out that the British Government had nothing left to sell.[35]

In these circumstances, an enthusiastic Cabinet endorsed the initiation of the ‘test of acceptability’ that would investigate whether there was popular Rhodesian support for the proposed settlement as agreed between Douglas–Home and Smith.

It was agreed that the improvements to the Proposals for a Settlement … were remarkable. It was further agreed that it would be right to put the proposals now agreed with Mr Ian Smith to the people of Rhodesia. The Test of Acceptability would be of the greatest importance. … If the test was rigorously and painstakingly carried out, it would establish whether there was a genuine desire to set Rhodesia on a new course towards peaceful co–existence of the different races.[36]

Even before the Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement had been made, the British Government had made its implementation of the proposals for a settlement with Rhodesia contingent

upon the British Government being satisfied that they were acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. The British Government will therefore appoint a Commission to ascertain directly from all sections of the population of Rhodesia their views on the acceptability of the proposals and to report thereon to the British Government.[37]

Since the Africans of Rhodesia constituted ninety–five percent of the population, implementation of the Anglo-Rhodesian Agreement (under the terms of the fifth principle) depended upon their endorsement.

Despite the new optimism sweeping through the Cabinet, there is some evidence to suggest that Douglas–Home remained alert to the possibility that the settlement attempt might be unsuccessful. The day after the Cabinet’s decision to initiate the test of acceptability, he advised Lord Pearce that he expected ‘African opinion to be very volatile’.[38] On 5 November, before his negotiations with Smith, Douglas–Home had circulated among the Cabinet a contingency study planning for a negative verdict entitled ‘Rhodesia: options in the event of failure to achieve a settlement’. The following options were outlined:

[If the fifth principle is not met] we shall have a very difficult situation when the Sanction Order falls to be renewed in November 1972. We shall have three courses of action open to us – i. To repeal the sanctions legislation outstanding and divest ourselves of our special responsibility to Rhodesia as administering power. ii. To continue sanctions and to maintain our present position. iii. To continue sanctions but to divest ourselves of our special responsibility for Rhodesia… …There is no need for us to take a decision now on which course to adopt. I hope that my negotiations with Mr Smith will produce a settlement that will be found acceptable in the test of acceptability. … Nevertheless I think that my colleagues should be aware of the difficult choices before us should a settlement prove impossible, and of the probability that one way or another we shall have to renew the sanctions legislation.[39]

Except for the absence of the later conceived ‘Rhodesian solution’, option ii of this initial contingency study described the policy that Whitehall would eventually pursue in the aftermath of the Pearce Report. The options outlined in the study are repeated in successive policy papers throughout 1972, illustrating both the consistency of British policy following the failure of the settlement attempt, and the paucity of favourable options available to end the deadlock.

Despite Douglas–Home’s remark to Lord Pearce and his contingency planning in early November 1971, there is little other evidence to suggest that Whitehall was not confident that it finally had an opportunity to achieve a solution to the Rhodesian problem. Perhaps the most compelling evidence of Whitehall’s optimism is that it seems that no consideration was given to appointing sympathetic commissioners who might be relied upon to report a favourable verdict to the test of acceptability. Aside from the expectation that the settlement would be ratified, the determination to mount an unbiased test of acceptability was also motivated by the international scrutiny under which the Heath Government laboured to resolve the Rhodesian problem. In December 1971 the Cabinet heard that while there had been ‘sharp criticism’ at the United Nations,[40] where it was felt that the Agreement with ‘the racist minority régime … constitut[ed] a flagrant violation of the inalienable right of the Zimbabwe people to self–determination and independence’.[41] Indeed, Britain would have to veto a Security Council draft resolution opposing the Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement.[42] It was even expected that the UN would request permission to station UN observers in Rhodesia during the test of acceptability.[43] Many African nations and Rhodesian African leaders were suspicious of the Agreement and of the ‘stooge commission’[44] administering the test of acceptability. President Nyerere of Tanzania wrote to the Australian Prime Minister that the proposals were ‘not even sufficient window dressing’ for a ‘second South Africa’. He called the ‘almost inevitable legalisation’ of the Smith régime a ‘setback to African freedom’ and ‘an indication of where Britain stands in the almost inevitable confrontation between free Africa and South Africa’.[45] Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s representative had talked to Presidents Nyerere, Kaunda of Zambia and General Gowon of Nigeria. Trudeau told Heath that all three directed ‘expressions of distrust’ at Lord Pearce and Britain’s motives.[46] Within Rhodesia, Methodist Bishop Muzorewa and the ANC were suspicious about the composition of the Commission.[47] The Government also faced domestic political opposition to the settlement. Presenting the terms of his Agreement with Smith to Parliament, Sir Alec was barracked by cries of ‘this is an absolute betrayal’ and ‘this is monstrous’.[48] Anticipating negative reactions from these various quarters, the Cabinet decided that the membership of the Commission to be dispatched to test Rhodesian opinion ‘should be individuals whose independence and integrity should command wide respect’.[49] The FCO went so far as to investigate its twenty members’ possible conflicts of interest (through business interests in Rhodesia),[50] and to insure that the Commission’s translators would have no affiliation with the Smith régime.[51]

It seems that the London and Salisbury governments had miscalculated the likelihood of African support for the proposals. Indeed, the Commissioners themselves were so expectant that African opinion would be pro–settlement at the outset of their task that their report notes, ‘we all thought that one of the main problems was whether an African would dare to say ‘no’’. They discovered ‘by the time of our arrival that problem had to some extent been overlaid by the problem of whether an African would dare to say ‘yes’’.[52] This excerpt from the Pearce Report was deemed worthy of inclusion in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s draft summary and indicates that the FCO underwent the same realisation that African opinion opposed the proposals.[53] Following the delivery of the Pearce Report, South Africa’s Prime Minister Vorster was quoted as saying that ‘the finding of the Pearce Commission comes as a tragic shock’.[54] It was also a severe shock to Ian Smith. Miles Hudson recalls that ‘Denis Greenhil and I took the result of the Pearce Commission to Ian Smith. He was very disappointed!’[55] After the public announcement of the negative verdict, Lord Pearce and his deputy Lord Harlech told Douglas–Home that ‘Mr Smith probably still refused to accept, even to himself, that the answer could be no’.[56] Anticipating the obvious criticism that an African rejection of the proposals should have been expected, Heath commissioned a report on 15 May suggesting rebuttals of attacks on the Pearce Report. The resulting report included a response to the criticism that ‘the proposals were so bad, it was absurd to think the Africans would accept them’, and rebutted that earlier proposals arising from the Tiger and Fearless talks were predicted to be unpopular ‘but there were also many Africans who accepted the proposals’.[57] This rather feeble response reflects what seems to have been the British Government’s groundless confidence as the Pearce Commission began its investigations. As Heath later wrote, ‘neither Alec nor I could hide our disappointment at the report’s conclusions’.[58] British confidence at the end of 1971 gave way to dismay in the early months of 1972 when it became apparent that Lord Pearce would deliver a negative verdict.


In Ian Smith’s brief account of the Pearce Commission in The great betrayal he writes that the Commission’s findings were initially positive. According to him, this changed when the Commission’s deputy chairman, Lord Harlech, departed for London. Smith claims that Lord Harlech met with Edward Heath, who instructed him to insure that the Pearce Commission delivered a negative verdict. Heath’s sabotage of the settlement was motivated, Smith alleges, by party politics: ‘Ted Heath and the Conservatives us[ed] us as a bargaining chip in order to win votes at the House of Commons’.[59] According to Smith, it was British party politics and not African opposition that was responsible for the Pearce Report’s negative verdict. This claim does not stand up to much scrutiny.

Curiously, Smith’s account singles out Lord Harlech as the principle offending member of the Commission who conspired to thwart the settlement. Smith describes the other Commission members positively, calling Lord Pearce ‘a distinguished British judge’ and offering no negative comments about the other senior members of the Commission, Maurice Dorman, former Governor General of Malta, or Glyn Jones, former Governor of Nyasaland. Lord Harlech alone among the commissioners is described disapprovingly as ‘not rated very highly … [and] not having covered himself with glory’ during his post as British ambassador to the United States.[60] Yet in correspondence with Douglas–Home in 1972, Smith describes the commissioners en masse as ‘inexperienced academics whose dislike of my government, and everything that we do, is pathological’.[61] It seems possible that Smith chose Lord Harlech, a former Conservative MP, as the target of his ire because the commissioner’s political career facilitated a conspiracy account of the Commission’s negative report in which British politics were presented as the main motive.

While Lord Harlech did travel to London during the inquiry as Smith reports, there is no evidence to support the claim that he met with Heath. However, he did meet Joseph Godber, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, on the evening of 15 February 1972 at No.1 Carlton Gardens. According to the minutes of the meeting, Lord Harlech reported that the Commission was already satisfied that its verdict would be negative, which directly contradicts Smith’s account.[62] Furthermore, by the time Lord Harlech travelled to London, the Rhodesian Front Party had already realised for some time that the outcome of the Commission would not be to its advantage. On 4 February, the Chairman of the Rhodesian Front, Desmond Frost, told the Commission that unless Africans reciprocated, there was no guarantee that his party could continue to support the proposals.[63] Obviously, Lord Harlech’s visit alone did not signal the wholesale change in the fates of the Pearce Commission that Smith alleges.

Smith suggests that there was a political bargain in which Heath conceded the success of the Rhodesian settlement in return for political co–operation from the Liberals on the European issue. Heath was facing opposition on Europe from within his own party and from the Opposition. The Liberals, Smith argues, were anxious to see that no settlement was achieved between Britain and Smith’s régime because they sympathised with the Organisation of African Unity, which opposed the settlement. Certainly, there is no doubt that Heath was absorbed with securing the entry of Britain into the EEC, and he spent far less time on Rhodesia than Wilson had.[64] Nonetheless, the Rhodesian issue was a major personal challenge for Heath within his own party, and only a settlement with Smith could have resolved this political crisis. As Heath later wrote, ‘the issue of Rhodesia was the most difficult problem of my first year, indeed it continued to dog us right up to the 1970 election and then throughout our period of government’.[65] In 1965, one Labour minister observed how acute the Rhodesian problem was for Heath and the Conservatives: ‘The Tories [are] splitting up and splintering before our eyes. Heath is a pathetic figure, kicked this way and that, and is incapable of giving firm leadership’.[66] Fevered references in the 1972 PREM and FCO files to domestic politics (specifically the Party Conference) corroborate the view that Rhodesia posed a huge internal problem for the Conservative Party. Pressure was also applied by Labour Party condemnation. Wilson’s previous settlement proposals had been rejected by the Salisbury régime and thus were saved from the rejection by the Rhodesian public that the November 1971 proposals suffered. As one writer observed,

Rhodesia provided the ‘ground’ on which the ideological and tactical tensions between, and within, the two great political parties of the state were played out. … Like Wilson, Heath’s prime objective was simply to arrive at the next general election without having his party crack apart beneath him on the way there.[67]

Thus while Heath was undeniably committed to European policy, one must not underestimate the importance of Rhodesia. Rather, the Rhodesian issue was the rock upon which British foreign policy had foundered. One can not easily accept Smith’s assertion that Heath sabotaged the settlement that would have resolved the Rhodesian problem and its attendant troubles for the Conservative Party in order to gain the support of another political party. Indeed, one analysis suggests that Britain initiated the November 1971 negotiations

because the government had every reason to fear that without some initiative it would suffer a major back bench rebellion at the very moment that it needed to show that it still had control of its majority if it was to continue with the enabling legislation necessary for entry to the European Community.[68]

Miles Hudson response to Smith’s allegation is emphatic: ‘This is rubbish. I was intimately involved in all this. Home, Heath and many others were very disappointed with the Commission’s verdict but had to accept it’.[69] Smith’s conspiracy account might therefore be dismissed on the grounds that the motive he attributed to Edward Heath is inconsistent with the political realities of his situation. Most dubiously, Smith’s contention that Heath wrecked the settlement is predicated upon a notion that Heath could have happily endured its failure. Yet there can be no doubt of Heath’s genuine disappointment at his failure to resolve the Rhodesian problem as he anticipated the Conservative Party Conference, the Commonwealth Conference, the renewal of the sanctions orders and the long–term damage the Rhodesian issue was doing to British influence in the former colonies. The attempted settlement with Smith was not only a matter of foreign policy, it was a political strategy to assuage the asperities of domestic politics, and its failure could be expected to cause havoc.


The recently released files at the PRO in Kew reveal that British apprehensions mounted at the beginning of 1972 over the possibility that African Rhodesians might reject the proposals for a settlement agreed between Smith and Douglas–Home the previous November. Reports that the Pearce Commission would deliver a negative verdict began to accumulate and the Government came to the realisation that the settlement would have to be postponed or abandoned. On 24 January 1972, the eight African MPs of the Rhodesian Electoral Union, who were considered Smith’s yes–men, surprised onlookers and spoke out against the proposals. The next day, the British representative in Salisbury relayed his view that the Pearce Commission would return a negative verdict.[70] At the UN, a draft Security Council resolution ‘considering the overwhelming opposition by the African people of Southern Rhodesia of the proposals for a settlement’ on 2 February 1972 did not bode well. The FCO received a report that the ANC were already certain of a negative verdict and had begun considering their next step after the report was published.[71] Finally, a credible, but unofficial, warning came from Lord Harlech on 15 February, reporting that the verdict would almost certainly be a rejection of the proposals.[72] The signs from all quarters were overwhelmingly negative.

Thus, in early 1972 the British Government was forced to give serious consideration to alternative options in anticipation that the Pearce Commission would deliver a negative verdict. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau wrote to Heath that Britain might consider referring the problem of Rhodesia to the UN should the Pearce Report deliver a ‘no’.[73] Heath pencilled ‘v. interesting’ beside the suggestion and initiated extensive FCO analysis of the issue. The UN option was eventually ruled out.[74] Existing contingency plans were also revisited. Heath received a draft copy of a new Cabinet Office contingency study of policy options in the case of a negative verdict on 7 February.[75] On 14 February, the final document was circulated to the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee, the Attorney General and to Number 10. The following options, which deviate only slightly from Douglas–Home’s earlier contingency study, were outlined.

1. Push on with settlement… 2. Play for time… 3. Back to square one… [maintain sanctions and sovereignty] 4. The little bang… [abandon sanctions and the Beira patrol (Royal Navy oil blockade)] 5. The big bang… [abandon all but the Beira patrol] [76]

Outlined as the third option was ‘continu[ing] sanctions in the expectation that they will be increasingly disregarded by the rest of the world, or … that they will produce some change in the situation in Rhodesia’. This course of action was favoured. Douglas–Home updated his earlier policy recommendation in a report to Heath of 22 February recommending a Rhodesian solution in which Britain would play the role of facilitator, leaving the proposals on the table in the hope that European and African Rhodesians would use them as the basis for a future settlement.[77] He acknowledged that this would entail riding a political storm: ‘I would not relish the task at the Party Conference but I think one might get by once more’. He added that ‘if Mr Smith could negotiate convincing improvements with some African consent we could be in a position to give independence on the revised proposals’. Douglas–Home’s use of the phrase ‘some African consent’ in his report might be interpreted as a reassessment of the Government’s original commitment to the fifth principle. Sir Alec’s reassessment might not have been an abandonment of the test of acceptability, but it did indicate a willingness to consider a compromised approach.

If the possibilities of future dialogue between the parties in Rhodesia and a solution based on the existing proposals for a settlement were to remain open, a restrained initial reaction to the negative verdict by both parties would be crucial. Bishop Muzorewa was hopeful that Britain would hold a constitutional conference after the negative verdict, and so was promoting a moderate stance within the ANC and avoiding violence.[78] However, in early March Miles Hudson and Philip Adams, the FCO representative at the Cabinet Office, met with Ian Smith in Salisbury. Smith warned them of his intention to react aggressively in the event of a negative verdict because

[it] would be necessary for the government to act firmly and quickly to show by deed as well as by word who was master. … To show the Africans that there was no future in their counting on Britain to improve their situation. … In order to do this he would have to be tough. This would mark the end of any British influence in Rhodesia.[79]

Despite Smith’s threat, Lord Pearce and Lord Harlech told Douglas–Home that they expected there would not be a major white backlash against the Africans. Their impression was, ‘that a number of white Rhodesians had been shaken by the revelation of African feeling into a slightly more liberal attitude’.[80] Nonetheless, the FCO took steps to promote a more moderate response from Smith. The Permanent Under Secretary of the FCO, Denis Greenhill, was dispatched to Salisbury to present Smith with a copy of the Pearce Report a week before its official release.[81] The instructions Greenhill received for his mission included the following threat that he was to use to wrestle good behaviour from Salisbury.

[HMG can] abandon our special responsibility for Rhodesia and simply take our place with other nations observing the mandatory sanctions called for by the UN. Such action would have grave consequences for Rhodesia and little or no consequences for the UK. There would inevitably be attempts at the United Nations to increase pressure on Rhodesia by measures such as aid to the terrorist movements or the establishment of a government in exile, which we would be even less well placed to prevent.[82]

The threat Greenhill deployed was hollow. He threatened Smith, in effect, that the British Government would adopt ‘the little bang’ option detailed in a Cabinet Office contingency study of 14 February, even though the reasons offered in the study for not adopting this option were convincing, as outlined here.

[The little bang] would be an admission of failure; African states would be suspicious of HMG having done a deal with Smith; also, African nations at the Security Council would attempt to reaffirm Britain’s position as administering power in Rhodesia through Article 73, and HMG would have to do a series of embarrassing vetoes; Government of Rhodesia might be entrusted to the UN or other exiled régime; Soviets might be asked by Africans to replace the Beria patrol [the Royal Navy task force enforcing sanctions]. [83]

Greenhill’s mission to Salisbury reflected the British Government’s impotence in Rhodesia. Even though it was absolutely critical to both a future solution and world opinion that Smith deliver a restrained reaction to the report’s negative verdict, Greenhill could do little more than deploy a bluff that was so unpalatable to his government that Julian Amery was later to describe it as ‘the worst of all possible worlds’.[84] Whatever the efficacy of Greenhill’s threat, the European Rhodesian reaction to the announcement of the negative verdict was ‘just the low key, dignified, closely argued refutation we had hoped the Rhodesians would limit themselves to’.[85] Though Smith’s public reaction upon the report’s official release on 23 May 1972 was condemnatory, he also called for restraint. He told the nation in a televised address that: ‘the Pearce Commission had the wool pulled over its eyes … We have had many different inquiries and reports during our history. I believe this one will go down as the most irresponsible of them all’.[86]

When Douglas–Home met the Commission members and received the final draft of their report on 4 May, he said that his difficulties would come with the Party Conference in Autumn and with the decision about sanctions.[87] Heath’s correspondence, such as his letter to President Tolbert of Liberia, illustrates the pessimistic outlook that the negative verdict introduced. He wrote, ‘that [the proposals] constituted about the best terms that can be secured from the Rhodesian authorities by negotiation. Since they have not proved acceptable it is difficult to see the way forward’.[88] If Heath could not see the way forward, Smith on the other hand could still see it clearly. He had already written to Douglas–Home on 24 March urging implementation of the proposals irrespective of the results of the test of acceptability. His appeal stretched so far as to play the Communist card: ‘The implementation of this Agreement will be a victory for the free world against communist infiltration’.[89] He had added that should the test of acceptability produce a negative verdict, ‘I hope you have no thoughts of renegotiation’. Heath minuted ‘v. depressing’ on his secretary’s introductory note to the letter.

Salisbury’s attitude to the fifth principle was revealed explicitly during Douglas–Home’s discussion with the Rhodesian Attorney General, who told him that ‘there was a responsibility on the British Government to ensure the correct answer’.[90] Heath minuted ‘!!’ beside these lines of the memorandum of the conversation. In much the same vein, the Rhodesian Attorney General added ‘if the Pearce Commission reported in the negative, Mr Ian Smith should feel that he had been given the wrong understanding of what had been contemplated’. Smith later wrote that he had sealed a secret deal with Heath’s predecessor, Prime Minister Wilson. According to Smith’s account, he told Wilson in 1965 that the Africans did not understand either the voting process or the issues involved, and could be easily intimidated to vote against a settlement. Wilson allegedly replied that he understood Smith’s concerns, and that the test of acceptability was only necessary to satisfy international opinion: ‘He assured me quietly and firmly, in between puffs at his pipe, that if we made an agreement I need have no fears about the test of acceptability’.[91] This tallies with Bishop Muzorewa’s suspicion that the British Government would collude with the Smith régime and announce that the Pearce Commission had returned a positive verdict, despite the majority of opinion being negative.[92] Yet if Smith found Wilson so co–operative, one wonders why he had hoped for a Conservative victory in the 1970 election.[93] Furthermore, in 1964, both Douglas–Home’s and Wilson’s Governments had rejected Smith’s proposal to use a traditional African indaba of elderly and financially dependent chiefs to determine African acceptance of independence under the 1961 constitution.[94] Both had demonstrated a commitment to conducting an accurate test of acceptability. Hudson again emphatically responds: ‘Ian Smith is talking rubbish. … I just do not believe him’.[95] If Smith had made a deal about disregarding the test of acceptability with Wilson, he refrained from mentioning it in his correspondence with Heath, as his letter below indicates.

The conclusion based on a counting of heads … was never my interpretation of the fifth principle and I do not believe it was yours. If it was, you certainly did not tell me so. If the British Government were now to endorse and confirm this interpretation of your fifth principle, it would, in my view, make clear once and for all to the Europeans in Rhodesia the futility of trying to reach a settlement with the British Government as long as your fifth principle remains.[96]

The editorial of one Rhodesian newspaper in the aftermath offered a similar view. It suggested that the lesson to learn from the Pearce Commission’s verdict was that the fifth principle had been an error and had given Africans the power of veto.[97] While Smith’s régime, already suffering pariah status, was largely immune to the international pressures that operated upon the British Government, Douglas–Home advised Heath that Britain could not abandon the fifth principle and implement the proposals, ‘at least in the immediate aftermath of the publication. We should be wide open to accusations of bad faith’.[98] Douglas–Home’s analysis was correct. In November 1971, the UN General Assembly had reaffirmed NIBMAR and the principle ‘that any settlement must be worked out with the participation of the nationalist leaders of Zimbabwe and endorsed by the people’.[99]


The Pearce Commission’s negative verdict suggested that a solution would almost certainly not be reached in 1972. Conscious of international reaction and domestic opposition, the British Government was unable to abandon the fifth principle and implement the proposals despite the Pearce Report. Yet the Rhodesian régime was unwilling to renegotiate the Agreement for settlement proposals that might prove more acceptable to African Rhodesians. Once again at an impasse, the British Government sought a solution from within Rhodesia in keeping with Douglas–Home’s earlier recommendation of 22 February 1972 (referred to above).[100] As Ward reported from Salisbury,

what was wanted was a credible and valid reason for superseding the Pearce verdict. The responsibility for this must necessarily lie with the Rhodesians and might take some time. … It was for the Rhodesians to say whether and … how the Africans who said no could come to say yes.[101]

Following the ‘no’ verdict, British policy was limited to the promotion of discussions between Ian Smith and moderate Africans in the hope of gaining African support for the proposed settlement. The day the report was officially released, Douglas–Home prepared his cabinet colleagues for the long haul and told them that he expected

a period of nine to twelve months would be required to enable the full implications of rejection of the proposals to become clear and the Rhodesian régime, if it wished to do so, to make a fresh attempt to win the confidence of the Africans.[102]

Douglas–Home’s expectation of a long–haul tallied with the advice he had received in March from the two most senior members of the Pearce Commission, Lord Pearce and Lord Harlech. They reported that ‘Mr Smith … was probably to the left of the party he led and desperately wanted the settlement to succeed’, but following a negative verdict, ‘there would be little chance of Mr Smith being able to talk to the Africans in the immediate aftermath of the report. Perhaps in six months or so it might be possible’.[103] Douglas–Home told Parliament on 23 March,

the negotiations of November followed by the Pearce Report have created a situation … in which positions which hitherto have been inflexible could become more fluid. … In these circumstances there must be time for reflection, particularly by the Rhodesians, for the problem of Rhodesia can essentially only be solved by the Rhodesians themselves.[104]

In the mean time the British Government considered which Africans might talk to Smith. The FCO regarded the ANC as representative of the majority of African Rhodesian opinion.[105] Philip Mansfield, the principal FCO official who negotiated with Smith, considered ANC leader Bishop Muzorewa moderate enough to deal with Smith in realistic terms.[106] Lord Pearce suggested that Muzorewa ‘might be able to carry African opinion if he tried’.[107] Yet the Bishop had been among the Agreement’s most vocal opponents. Muzorewa had described the Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement as ‘a constitutional rape of Africans by both the Rhodesian and British Governments’ in December 1971.[108] According to him, the Anglo–Rhodesian proposals

had been essentially a public relations exercise. … The nasty smell of a sell–out deal became evident. The opinion spread among Africans that the Proposals were merely Britain’s way out of their quandary with out abandoning their kith and kin. In clandestine meetings the Zimbabwean leaders met to analyse this latest piece of Rhodesian–British intrigue. Soon a strategy for rejection began to emerge.[109]

Yet in the aftermath of the negative verdict, with his position buttressed by the success of his ‘no’ campaign, he now became Britain’s best chance of recovering what might have been achieved by a ‘yes’ vote. The Times quoted Muzorewa as saying ‘there has to be a compromise between “never majority rule” and “majority rule now”’. The FCO’s draft answer to a question from Lord Barnby arising from The Times article noted that Muzorewa had ‘hinted at the kind of compromise … which the ANC would be prepared to contemplate. … This would be an important and even hopeful development’.[110] Two days later, Muzorewa held a large meeting in Salisbury where he told his mainly white audience that he desired compromise.[111] With such positive developments in train, Miles Hudson proposed to Douglas–Home the next day, 21 July, that the time was right to initiate meetings between the Rhodesian Government and the ANC, and suggested employing an intermediary such as President Banda of Malawi.[112] It might have appeared that an accommodation might be in prospect, but Smith told the House of Assembly in Salisbury that he stood by his earlier decision not to talk with the ANC that same day.[113]

Despite Smith’s statement, the possibility of talks between Smith’s régime and the ANC remained. However, time was running out in London, and Smith’s actions towards the ANC did not bode well for a future settlement. Hudson’s memorandum to Alec Douglas–Home of 2 August outlines British concerns.

Now we have the ANC, whose agreement would give respectability. … My fear is that Mr Smith is out to break the ANC instead of trying to oust the extremists from it and then to use it. … Time is not on our side, we want to show some kind of movement by the time of the Party Conference’.[114]

Rhodesian Finance Minister Wrathall attempted to allay Hudson’s fears when they met in London. Wrathall, who had been sent by Smith to London as an informal delegate, told Hudson that Smith recognised the importance of Bishop Muzorewa.[115] Yet Smith’s retrospective description of the ANC in the most negative terms and of Muzorewa as its figure–head illustrates the difficulty in promoting dialogue between him and the ANC. In Smith’s view, the ANC were ‘black extremists … who were still tainted by association with intimidation and petrol bombing’, and their installation of Abel Muzorewa as leader gave ‘themselves a much more acceptable face of respectability’.[116] Nonetheless, Smith presented a softer line in his speech to the Rhodesian Front Party Congress on 21 September.[117] Yet even by the end of October, the time for Smith to talk to the ANC looked far off. The Rhodesian Settlement Council (a pro–settlement group) took the view that

the time has not yet arrived when direct public talks between the government and the ANC are practically possible or even desirable, and we would not like to see any pressure brought to bear on ether party to undertake such talks.[118]

In the longer term, the Settlement Council expected that the government would use fringe benefits to save the ANC’s credibility, and would settle with them.

Nonetheless, having vacillated for some months following the no verdict and waited until after the Rhodesian Front Conference and the Parliamentary Sanction Order, Douglas–Home finally wrote to Smith about the possibility of his meeting with the ANC.

Could you get the ANC ― or at least a part of it ― to recognise that the only path to progress … is to start along the road of evolutionary advance in parliament. … Following Pearce I think that this is the only way ahead.[119]

Drafting this letter to Smith, Douglas–Home accepted a suggestion that a specific reference to Bishop Muzorewa should be replaced with the reference to ‘the ANC ― or at least a part of it’ that appeared in his final letter to Smith. Douglas–Home evidently accepted the view of his Deputy Under–Secretary, Martin LeQuesne, that

I do not think that we should be any better off if Mr Smith did succeed in persuading only Bishop Muzorewa. For all his virtues he is not, as we know, a very strong personality and I fear that if we encourage Mr Smith on a course of action which might lead to detaching the Bishop from the rest of the ANC we should find that the Bishop was no longer a valuable asset.[120]

As the note quoted above demonstrates, though Muzorewa had been groomed as the African leader capable of delivering moderate African commitment to settlement, London did not view him as invaluable. When Smith’s régime took the bishop’s passport, Heath received appeals on his behalf from the World Council of Churches and from President Tolbert of Liberia.[121] Heath did not intervene on Muzorewa’s behalf, and feigned impotence within Rhodesia (perhaps quite accurately).[122] According to Douglas–Home, attempts at intervention on the bishop’s behalf were unlikely to work and might waste any capital of influence that remained to secure the release of the liberal former Rhodesian Prime Minister Garfield Todd, and his daughter, and the treasurer of the ANC, Mr Chinamano, and his wife, all of whom had been detained following disturbances early in 1972.[123] Perhaps Heath’s decision not to intervene on Muzorewa’s behalf was partly motivated by the wish to avoid giving the Bishop the appearance of dependence upon London, and the hope that his detention by Smith might gain him popular credit. Nonetheless, it is apparent that Whitehall did not view the Bishop as invaluable. Thus despite Lord Pearce and Lord Harlech’s earlier endorsement of Muzorewa’s capability as a popular leader,[124] the FCO’s view was less certain. Hudson recalls the prevailing view that ‘Muzorewa was certainly not the ‘’ideal black leader’’ but he was there and available!’[125]

Smith’s reply to Douglas–Home’s letter made no specific reference to Muzorewa, and raised the question of the fifth principle once again.

There has been some contact with the ANC leadership. … They are not yet ready to face up to the realities of the situation and reimposition of the sanction order has renewed their hope of further concessions. … I do not rule out the possibility of getting some of them to change their minds and to realise the advantage they would gain if the settlement were implemented. However, before we make any move in this direction I must have a clear indication of what you would need as evidence of acceptability, for I am not prepared to risk a second Pearce fiasco.[126]

Douglas–Home’s reply to Smith continued on the theme of courting moderate African opinion. He stressed that the new Rhodesian racial legislation requiring Africans to carry identity cards and limiting their educational prospects posed ‘a serious danger [of] alienat[ing] the moderate African whose support is absolutely essential if we are to achieve a settlement’.[127] He also applied pressure on Bishop Muzorewa, making it clear that he felt the negative verdict had been responsible for the new racist legislation and would be the cause of future deterioration of the situation.[128] By late December it was apparent that while there had indeed been contacts between Smith’s régime and the ANC, Smith would only offer fringe benefits if the ANC dropped its opposition to the proposals for a settlement.[129] Had Muzorewa agreed to this, the ANC might have been split. As Hudson recalls, Smith, who was the superior negotiator, subsequently pressured Muzorewa to accept a deal that would not be satisfactory to the ANC, who rejected it in May 1974.[130] The fears Hudson had voiced earlier in August ‘that Mr Smith is out to break the ANC instead of trying to … use it’ had been well founded.[131]

Thus even by the end of 1972, a solution remained impossible. Douglas–Home reported to the Cabinet that Smith had reservations about talking to Muzorewa, who he felt would not talk realistically to him because he hoped for British support in renegotiating the proposals. As Douglas–Home noted, ‘this situation has to be seen against the difficulty of retaining the backing of the Government’s supporters next year for the continuation of sanctions’.[132] He had dispatched Philip Mansfield and Bryatt to Pretoria to meet Smith’s officials and then to meet Muzorewa. Pretoria was chosen on Smith’s advice to facilitate confidentiality.[133] The strength of the fifth principle was queried, and the Cabinet ‘noted that Mr Smith was reluctant to work energetically to obtain public support for the 1971 settlement terms unless he first knew what degree of African support for them would be acceptable to the British Government under the fifth principle’.[134] Even at this stage, Heath said that it was essential that Mansfield and Bryatt’s approach should not be publicly perceived as HMG pressurising Africans to accept the unacceptable.

By the end of 1972, time was not on the Heath Government’s side, and the Rhodesian solution looked distant. While the issue had been avoided at the Party Conference, it had been difficult to renew the sanctions order in parliament in 1972.[135] It has been suggested that ‘the timing of the Heath Government’s moves was more closely linked to the need to avoid the annual embarrassment of a Conservative back bench rebellion on sanctions than it was to choosing the optimal moment to press the Rhodesians into a settlement’.[136] Of course, the Conservatives were bound by their election promises to make an attempt to negotiate with Smith.[137] Politically, the Rhodesian problem would be very taxing in the new year, as Miles Hudson observed,

it will be very difficult indeed to get the Conservative Party in Parliament to support the continuation of sanctions for another year in November, 1973 unless negotiations with Mr Smith are actually in train at that time, and even then things could be difficult. Our argument this year ― there must be time for the races to get together ― will look very thin indeed eighteen months after the Pearce Report.[138]

Douglas–Home had promised Conservative backbenchers that sanctions would only be continued so long as they contributed to the achievement of a settlement, and that he would discuss the matter with them in June or July 1973. Hudson noted that ‘if [Douglas–Home] could not produce signs of positive developments by this stage, the Conservative Party would nearly be out of control on the sanctions issue’.[139] Right–wing Conservative members felt that sanctions were now merely punitive since they had already brought Smith to the negotiating table three times and could not do so again. While the right of the Conservative Party would vote against sanctions, the centre was increasingly under pressure to join the rebellion. Indeed, as one of Heath’s colleagues observed, ‘he found himself being goaded along to the right’ regarding Rhodesia.[140] Yet from the other wing of the Party, forty Conservative MPs wrote to Heath demanding that sanctions be maintained, prompting Hudson to observe ‘a Conservative Government would not be defeated in the House if it attempted to maintain sanctions, but it was just possible that it could be defeated if it tried to drop them’.[141]

If British diplomatic policy towards Rhodesia developed little following the no vote, some movement seems to have occurred in the Government’s commitment to the fifth principle. In October, Douglas–Home held firm and turned down one option for a watered down fifth principle when Wrathall had queried whether an African petition of 60,000 in support the proposals might be accepted as fulfilment of the fifth principle.[142] Douglas–Home responded, ‘I think we have to do more than simply turn down a petition. How could we get people to stand up and be counted? Would it carry more conviction to have a convention of all races?’[143] Yet Sir Alec broadly agreed with Julian Amery’s minute of 23 November, which explicitly referred to ‘stretching’ the fifth principle. Otherwise, his four courses of action closely resembled those of earlier policy options.

1. Do nothing, hope for Smith and Africans to reach agreement. 2. Wash our hands of Rhodesia and drop sanctions. 3. Wash our hands of Rhodesia and continue sanctions. 4. Make a determined effort to persuade Smith and some moderate Africans to reach some kind of agreement.[144]

Douglas–Home highlighted the fourth point in pen. Amery noted that option one

has the attraction that it allows us to do postpone a decision and to avoid unpleasantness with black Africa and the UN. But it would confront us with a very difficult parliamentary situation and would mean going into the election year with the albatross of Rhodesia still round our necks.

Option three ‘seem[ed] to involve the worst of all worlds’, while option four ‘would mean making up our minds to settle on that basis even if it meant stretching the fifth principle a very long way’. Amery added that the only means remaining to the Government to apply pressure on both parties to accept option four was the threat of adopting option two. This recalled a similar policy months earlier when Denis Greenhill had been dispatched to Salisbury with the same threat. Amery suggested that the reaction from the African nations to his fourth option, ‘stretching the fifth principle’, would probably be minimal.

The only … black African Commonwealth countries … that really matter are Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia and Ghana. Zambia is probably [most] amenable now. … In Kenya, Kenyatta’s realism may prevent any serious retaliation. Ghana … was frankly cynical about Rhodesia. … Nigeria … should remember our constant support during their civil war.

In Amery’s view, ‘the greater danger to our interests lies in letting the Rhodesian situation drag on’. Douglas–Home underlined Amery’s conclusion that

there is no easy way out. But I conclude that British interests and party political considerations both point to adopting course four, namely accepting the best agreement Smith and some Africans can reach as a basis for granting Rhodesia independence.

Clearly, Amery was advocating a compromise of the fifth principle. In Hudson’s view, Amery was not central to the policy making machinery of the Rhodesian issue.[145] Yet Douglas–Home, having highlighted Amery’s notes on option four, minuted ‘I am inclined to agree’. Thus by the end of 1972, the British Government was reconsidering its commitment to the fifth principle, and little substantial movement appeared to have occurred in the Rhodesian situation since the Pearce Commission had delivered its report in May. Yet the situation in Rhodesia had been electrified by the negative verdict, and if there appeared to be little chance of significant dialogue, the chance of escalated warfare was far greater. British diplomacy had perhaps nurtured the ANC to some degree, but could do nothing to pre–empt the oncoming tide of violence.


By the end of 1972, the Conservative Government had failed to achieve a settlement with Smith, but its efforts to do so did effect the situation in Rhodesia, and the Government’s position in domestic politics and international diplomacy. The conclusion of the Agreement in November had some short term effects, such as the interruption of bills of new racist legislation that would have carried Rhodesia closer to the South African model of apartheid.[146] Yet the Agreement, the Pearce Commission and the negative verdict also had more far reaching effects. In Rhodesia itself, the prospect of a settlement and the investigation of the Pearce Commission had led to the ANC’s emergence. An African voice was established, and as the failure of the settlement illustrated, it was a voice that could no longer be ignored. While the ANC’s position was strengthened in the short term by the success of its ‘no’ campaign, the ensuing escalation of armed struggle undermined the role of politics in the campaign for majority rule. In Britain, the Pearce Commission’s negative verdict forced the Conservative Government to undertake the politically onerous task of renewing the sanctions against Rhodesia. The failure to secure a settlement or even tangible results of dialogue between the ANC and Smith’s régime by the end of 1972 meant that the Conservative Government looked forward to a grim next year in government. One positive outcome of British diplomacy through 1971–72 was that Britain enjoyed a better position in world opinion by virtue of the fact that it had respected the wishes of African Rhodesians and had not implemented the proposals for a settlement. The very failure of the settlement proved that London had not colluded with Salisbury.

It seems fitting that the most obvious Rhodesian developments arising from the Anglo–Rhodesian diplomacy of 1971–72 were those which directly opposed the Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement. The arrival of the Pearce Commission had a dramatic effect upon the Africans of Rhodesia. The Pearce Commission’s inquiry was ‘the first time the Africans had actually been consulted on their future. They could never henceforth be ignored’.[147] Now that Britain took a direct interest in their sentiment and abandoned the settlement out of respect for their wishes, Rhodesian Africans discovered a new sense of political potency. This had two results: the emergence of the ANC and the escalation of guerrilla warfare.

During the investigation of the Pearce Commission, the Commission’s very presence agitated and politicised Rhodesian Africans. ANC leader Bishop Abel Muzorewa (also the head of the United Methodist Church) had begun the ‘no’ campaign almost immediately after the proposals were announced, and the ANC was formally established on 10 March. Smith’s régime banned its membership cards and detained its leaders. Nonetheless, the ANC represented the majority of African opinion in Rhodesia, and Smith would eventually share government with the ANC and its leader at the end of the decade. Moreover, though the raison d’être of the ANC was opposition to the settlement, it provided Britain with its only hope of a ‘Rhodesian solution’: an identifiable body of moderate African opinion that might negotiate moderately with Smith. Internal squabbling had been a major impediment to African effective political opposition to the white régime.[148] Yet the advent of the ANC’s cohesive leadership against the Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement produced ‘the first obviously independent and successful African political act in Rhodesia’.[149] The implication of the ANC’s emergence was that African Rhodesians were politically mature enough to express consistent points of view. The Daily Express printed an article entitled ‘Rhodesia: new talks’ on 5 December about a secret meeting between representatives of Smith’s régime and the ANC. Douglas–Home’s oral answer to a question arising from the report admitted that there had been talks between the ANC and Rhodesian régime.[150] While this early dialogue between Smith and the ANC was abortive, the emergence of the ANC was of major importance. For the British Government, the emergence of the ANC suggested an alternative to radicalisation of racial friction within Rhodesia.

Yet, if the emergence of the ANC and the beginnings of some dialogue between it and the Smith régime gave some grounds for limited optimism, the situation in Rhodesia was soon to deteriorate dramatically. Smith had written to Heath in robust language, ‘I earnestly advise against leaving an inconclusive decision hanging in the air. Make no mistake, we will have failed’.[151] This was perhaps more accurate than Smith realised. The very political stimulus that prompted the ANC’s emergence also consolidated the disparate guerrilla movements that harried the Smith Government. As one observer writes, the Africans ‘had been politicised by repression: they had become a militant force’.[152] Another points out that the Pearce Commission and its negative report was a ‘catalyst for the resurgence of African nationalism’, offering ‘a new sense of encouragement … for the exiled guerrilla organisations beyond Rhodesia’s borders’.[153] Even during the Commission’s inquiry, guerrilla activity escalated to the point where Lord Pearce considered abandoning the test of acceptability.[154] As early as 1969, guerrilla organisations had begun preparations for major escalation within three years.[155] The Pearce Commission provided the stimulus that eventually made such plans feasible. The initial guerrilla campaigns against the white régime following UDI were, according to ZANU’s National Chairman, ‘fought in a social climate in which our people had not been given a full political ideology and line’.[156] Following the Pearce Commission and the exhilarating success of the African ‘no’ vote, guerrilla groups exhibited a new unity of purpose. At least in the immediate aftermath of the Pearce Report, disparate groups including the Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (FROLIZI) and the previously feuding ZANU and ZAPU shared a ‘full political ideology and line’ that had previously been lacking. Furthermore, the sense of African empowerment in the aftermath of the Pearce Report was added to renewed disillusionment with the status quo. While the Smith Government did not immediately introduce harsh laws to retaliate against the African ‘no’ vote, it continued to ignore the political potency of the African population that had so recently been demonstrated by the ‘no’ vote. The régime did not introduce fringe benefits that might have placated some African opinion. As a ZAPU statement said, ‘we have taken up arms after all the avenues leading to self–determination have failed. … Our revolution is for a complete change of the present political and economic system’.[157] Even opponents of the Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement had recognised that its implementation might prevent intensification of hostilities. One such commentator noted, before the Agreement, ‘the only route to majority rule [lay] through bloodshed. Now ― though the perspective is a long one ― an alternative constitutional route is opened up’.[158] Another commentary notes, ‘many people … believe[d] that open and violent conflict is an inevitable prospect’ following the rejection of the Agreement.[159]

The British Government’s failure to resolve the Rhodesian issue also had domestic political consequences. Britain had applied unilateral sanctions following UDI, and introduced mandatory UN sanctions following the failure of the Tiger proposals. When the Rhodesian régime illegally executed three citizens in May 1968, despite a reprieve from the Queen, the UN broadened the scope of sanctions and established the Sanctions Committee of the Security Council. By 1972, sanctions were maintaining the status quo. The signing of the Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement may have undermined sanctions.[160] According to one analysis,

the world at large can express its disapproval of the illegal régime in Rhodesia without either exerting itself too much or taking action that will seriously cost it anything; and the Smith régime can continue in uneasy control of Rhodesia … having to spend more and more of its energies and resources in devising new ways to evade sanctions and, in consequence of them, standing still economically.[161]

As Heath later writes ‘the Conservative Party view emphasised persuasion rather than bullying talk or the imposition of more extensive sanctions … [that] would result only in a more bloody minded attitude among the whites’.[162] The Heath Government recognised the danger in increasing or wholly abandoning sanctions. While intensified sanctions might radicalise European Rhodesians, they might also radicalise Conservatives who opposed sanctions and supported Smith. Abandoning sanctions would cause an international furore. Nyerere observed that ‘sanctions against Rhodesia … provide Western countries with a cheap way of lending … credibility to their proclaimed opposition to racialism and minority rule’.[163] Britain’s policy regarding sanctions against Rhodesia was to maintain them in the hope of maintaining pressure on Smith, while expecting them to loose potency gradually.[164] Indeed, such was Britain’s lacklustre commitment to sanctions that the Bingham Report found that Harold Wilson had been complicit in the evasion of oil sanctions by British oil producers.[165] While the Heath Government may not have been complicit in this charge, it certainly adopted a relaxed sanctions policy.[166] In the aftermath of the Pearce Report, pressure to intensify sanctions escalated. The British Government’s claim that it considered ‘UN resolutions on Rhodesia to be unnecessary and unhelpful pending the publication of the Pearce Commission’ no longer availed.[167] While it would not escalate or degrade the sanctions, the Heath Government would have to renew them in the absence of a settlement ― and this task was difficult enough. As Hudson later wrote, every Conservative Party Conference since UDI (except 1969) until 1971 had been highly problematic.[168] Sanctions had been avoided at the Party Conference in October 1972, and had also been successfully avoided the previous year, despite thirty seven motions submitted for discussion on Rhodesia.[169] Following the negative verdict, the Conference would be difficult. Nonetheless, this was mitigated somewhat by Douglas–Home’s store of political capital within the Conservative Party. The Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary ‘was the darling of the Conservative Party Conference. … The magnanimity and selflessness with which he had accepted his displacement as leader was enough … to endear him to those … who felt unhappy or even ashamed about his resignation’.[170] Yet despite Sir Alec’s reputation, the Party Conference represented a potential trauma.

The failure of the 1971 attempt to produce a settlement with Rhodesia yielded one diplomatic gain. The British Government was highly sensitive to its image in the African Commonwealth nations and in the Third World. While sensitivity to African opinion was partly motivated by a fear of isolation at the UN, African trade was also of great importance. British trade with black Africa had risen from the ₤60 million before UDI to ₤855 million by 1973.[171] Nigeria was a major supplier of oil. Rhodesia, having diversified following sanctions, offered little prospect as a significant British trading partner. One instance that illustrates British sensitivity to African opinion was the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary’s decision not to correspond with Bishop Muzorewa for fear that his letter might be published at an awkward moment when it would give the impression that Britain was attempting to force Africans to accept something they did not want.[172] The impartial composition of the Pearce Commission was determined by the need to allay African suspicions of impropriety. The view held by President Banda of Malawi, that ‘Her Majesty’s Government should settle with Mr Smith and his Government whatever the Pearce Commission’s findings may be’[173] were not widely shared among African leaders. While private support for Britain’s moderate position towards Smith had grown among Rhodesia’s neighbours as the guerrilla war centred on Rhodesian began to threaten their own positions after 1970,[174] African opinion was highly critical of Britain’s apparent disregard for its Rhodesian subjects and of its failure to intervene militarily. Yet, following its acceptance of the Pearce Commission’s negative verdict, ‘Britain had a fleeting and unusual moment of glory in African and progressive circles’.[175] It was reported to Heath that Liberia’s President Tolbert had previously been sceptical of the Commission and Britain’s stance on Rhodesia, but the outcome of the Pearce Commission had dispelled these doubts.[176] President Nyerere of Tanzania described the Pearce Commission as a ‘facade of consultation’, but admitted that the ‘Commissioners made no attempt to hide or disguise the truth’.[177] Thus, the manner in which the British Government failed to resolve a diplomatic issue that normally made it liable to African condemnation actually enhanced its prestige among African nations in the short term.

By the end of 1972, Britain enjoyed a better position among the African nations than it had become accustomed to in previous years. However, this offered little succour to the Conservative Party, which faced a troublesome Party Conference and had been forced to renew sanctions against Rhodesia. The year ended with a highly divisive problem unresolved. Yet Hudson puts the problem in perspective.

Failure to resolve the Rhodesian question was a great nuisance for Ted Heath, but it was not a disaster on anything like the same scale as the problems he had with the Trades Unions, which brought down his Government.[178]

The emergence of the ANC, which was of major importance in Rhodesia itself, offered only a glimmer of optimism in London. In December 1971, the Cabinet had expected an enthusiastic popular reaction to the Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement, and the final resolution of the divisive and diplomatically hazardous Rhodesian issue. Yet the failure of British diplomacy towards Rhodesia left the problem intact to plague future British Governments until the end of the decade. Indeed, when Margaret Thatcher’s turn to deal with the Rhodesian issue arrived some years later, she aptly dubbed it ‘a long standing source of grief to successive British Governments’.[179]


The proposals for a settlement agreed between Smith and Douglas–Home were the best terms that Britain could extract from Ian Smith in 1971. Nonetheless, they suffered from a fatal flaw: they had not been drawn up trilaterally with African participation. As the ANC announced to the Pearce Commission, ‘no settlement of the Rhodesian problem can be achieved without the active participation of the African people’.[180] It was inevitable that the Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement would not satisfy African opinion. Neither party to the negotiations represented African concerns. The Smith régime’s prime objective was to secure independence while conserving as much of Rhodesia’s internal status quo as possible. The British Government’s objective was to absolve itself of responsibility for Rhodesia under the most politically defensible conditions possible. With no Africans at the table, their interests were bound to be overlooked or compromised. Certainly, the proposals for a settlement that emerged from the November 1971 negotiations were not satisfactory to the African Rhodesians. They made no mention of any timeframe in which Rhodesia would come under majority rule. The founder of the ZANU, Ndabaningi Sithole, wrote to Heath from Salisbury prison that ‘the principle of immediate improvement in the political status of the African population is repudiated by the fact that it takes at least sixty years before even parity [of political representation] is reached’.[181] Other contemporary estimates ranged from ten years (according to the Rhodesian Front) to almost a century.[182] Furthermore, the time frame argument may have been meaningless, since the franchise was linked to land ownership.

The only legal access to political power was through the franchise, and this was generally barred to the Africans by European control of the economy, which denied them the jobs and the property, and the educational system, which prevented them from obtaining any significant numbers in the opportunities freely available to Europeans.[183]

Thus the proposals technically provided for direct rule without really challenging Smith’s position. Yet, the proposals themselves granted the power of veto to the party that had been excluded from their negotiation. While the veto was in place, no bilateral deal could be implemented. ‘The lesson of 1972 was that there could be no further talks which did not involve the majority leaders as direct interlocutors’.[184] This was something that the British Government could do little about. Smith would remain unwilling to allow African participation in high level negotiations with the British Government until circumstances forced him to. According to Smith himself, South Africa alone had the leverage to force him to accept African participation in such negotiations, and ultimately, to accept majority rule.[185] Furthermore, as Smith refrained from pointing out, this only occurred after two important developments had made their impact on the situation: the collapse of his allies in Mozambique, and the intensification of the guerrilla offensive from December 1972 (which prompted him to close the border to Zambia in January 1973, thereby damaging the weak Rhodesian economy, and inadvertently reinforcing the effect of sanctions).[186] Thus Britain’s leverage in 1971 (before these events) was wholly inadequate to force Smith to allow African participation in the negotiations, and the proposals produced by bilateral negotiation could never be acceptable to the excluded party. Any diligent commission of inquiry could deliver no verdict other than the negative.

Since this paper narrates the story of a failure and the attempts of its mitigation, it follows that some attention must be paid to what was lost by that failure. The Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement and the arrival of the Pearce Commission marked a turning point in the Rhodesian situation. From this point on, Africans would be involved in the processes determining Rhodesia’s future. The question was, would their involvement be violent or political? Most importantly, would the African leaders who were best placed after the achievement of majority rule be men of violence or of politics? Following the failure of the settlement, and the Smith régime’s failure to grant Africans meaningful concessions, it was inevitable that the African guerrilla campaigns intensified against the white government. It could be argued that had the Commission delivered a positive verdict, and had the settlement been implemented, subsequent Rhodesian history would have been significantly different. While the proposals were unsatisfactory to Rhodesian Africans, their implementation might have offered some improvement to their lot in the short term, and perhaps they would have placed their faith in politics rather than military campaigns. The prospect for an explosion of violence in the event that the Pearce Report was negative was apparent to the British Government. At Bermuda, Douglas–Home told Nixon, ‘if the settlement were not accepted, there would be no possibility of avoiding a descent into apartheid and an increasing danger that the Africans would turn to force’.[187] Had the settlement been implemented with demonstrable benefits for Africans, the ANC’s leaders might have held the reigns of the new Zimbabwe, rather than sharing them with guerrilla leaders.

For white Rhodesia, a settlement might have offered more than the mere legitimisation and end to sanctions envisaged by Smith. The Rhodesian Front Government would not have been so dependent upon Portuguese Mozambique as a route to thwart sanctions ― and the collapse of the Salazar Government in Portugal in 1974 followed by the advent of FRELIMO rule in Mozambique would not have effected it so harshly. More importantly, the gradual change envisaged in the 1971 proposals might have liberalised white opinion to some degree, with the possible result of a realisation that African majority rule was inevitable ― something to come to terms with rather than something to oppose at every step. It seems not totally unreasonable to suggest that the gradual implementation of the rather unsatisfactory gains (from the African perspective) of the settlement might have been translated into far more positive developments for both European and African Rhodesians. As one observer noted, ‘the only hope for peaceful progress lies in gradually creating conditions in which liberal ideas can prevail, in which new leaders with more flexible politics can emerge’.[188]

Yet the settlement was rejected, as the Pearce Commission reported in May 1972. Hudson writes, ‘the Conservative Government of 1970–74 ended its period of office as it had begun it, with the Rhodesian situation in a state of deadlock’.[189] The situation was in no mere deadlock. Despite the apparently positive development of dialogue between the ANC and the Salisbury Government in the final stages of 1972, the rejection of the proposals inaugurated a radicalisation of the situation. Douglas–Home had warned Parliament upon the release of the Pearce Report that Rhodesian Africans would make a stark choice: ‘between a compromise settlement, which … will gain for the Africans substantial new opportunities for advancement, and … polarisation of the races and the prospect of conflict.[190] Britain’s failure to secure a settlement with Rhodesia and to secure some prospect for improvements to the situation of African Rhodesians may not have directly caused the dramatic radicalisation of the conflict that ensued. However, one might suggest that it marked a missed opportunity to avoid the calamity. Smith did finally come to an agreement with Muzorewa and other African political leaders by 1978. But by this time the conflict had radicalised so dramatically that African political leaders were seriously compromised by their partnership with Smith.[191] On the other hand, Hudson suggests that guerrilla leaders such as ‘Nkomo and Mugabe would have ended up top dogs somehow or other’ even if a settlement had been implemented in 1972.[192]

Since the British Government was unable to negotiate a trilateral agreement with both European and African Rhodesians, and yet had committed itself to the fifth principle which granted African Rhodesians a veto on the bilateral agreement, the 1971 Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement seems to have been doomed to fail. As the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary told the Cabinet in November 1971, the Government was committed to the five principles, including the test of acceptability,

since for eight years, successive British Governments have insisted that they would settle only on the basis of the five principles, it is therefore a matter of Her Majesty’s Government’s general credibility and honour that a settlement should genuinely be demonstrably consistent with the five principles.[193]

Any bilateral agreement with Ian Smith would fail to take account of African desires and suspicions would fail to be publicly ratified if African opinion were genuinely consulted. Britain could do nothing to bring Africans to the table against Smith’s wishes. The only effective method to conclude a settlement at its disposal would be to guarantee that the test of acceptability produced a positive verdict. Douglas–Home and his colleagues ‘believ[ed] that the proposals were fair, and [that] it would have been in the interest of all Rhodesians that they should be applied’.[194] By the end of 1972 Douglas–Home was considering ‘stretching the fifth principle a very long way’ to secure its implementation, as his agreement with Amery’s note of 23 November 1972 suggests.[195] One wonders whether if the misplaced optimism of November 1971 had not influenced policy, might this alternative course have been followed from the outset?

In the aftermath of the Pearce Report’s publication, President Nyerere of Tanzania wrote

the only chance for ‘the way of compromise’ is if the British Government acts to assert its authority, and thus to change the present situation in Rhodesia. … Nor will any new and different method of meeting the ‘fifth principle’ after any such future agreement [between HMG and Smith] avoid this horrible destiny [of guerrilla war].[196]

Britain was unable to do as Nyerere demanded. It was doubtful whether the Government had the means nor the political support to impose its will upon Smith’s régime militarily. Yet it did have the opportunity to conduct the test of acceptability however it saw fit. Britain therefore had the opportunity to mount a duplicitous inquiry to impose the Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement upon the Africans of Rhodesia, just as many African leaders had feared it would. This might have exposed the British Government to very severe repercussions if the manoeuvre were discovered. The Government’s original decision to mount an unbiased test of acceptability, while no doubt principled, was also partly motivated by pragmatism since the Government operated under intense scrutiny from the Commonwealth nations, the UN and liberal domestic opinion. Thus, if the Heath Government were found to have mounted a duplicitous inquiry, it would be liable to grievous political damage. Furthermore, trade with African nations would suffer and Britain might also be isolated at the UN. Yet, the Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement marked an opportunity to gain some advances for Rhodesian Africans and perhaps might have avoided Rhodesia’s subsequent descent into a very bloody civil war. When observing the stark choice that lay before Rhodesia (see introductory quote), Sir Alec had referred to the African acceptance of the Agreement.[197] He might also have noted that Britain too had faced a stark choice: between the compromised diplomacy that Britain did actually pursue, and an alternative policy that could have guaranteed resolution of the Rhodesian problem and some advancement for the nation’s African population. The bi–lateral nature of the November 1971 negotiations and the diligence of the Pearce Commission made the Anglo–Rhodesian Agreement impossible to implement. Perhaps there was some logic behind the Rhodesian Front’s view that it was the British Government’s responsibility to ensure the correct answer to the test of acceptability.[198] Following African rejection of the Agreement, Britain could do little more than hope that the opposing parties within Rhodesia could negotiate a solution amongst themselves. Within six years, the death toll from Rhodesia’s civil war had reached over 800 per month.[199] Paralysed by principle and compromised by external scrutiny and post–colonial impotence, British diplomacy during 1971–1972 failed to cheat Rhodesia’s ‘horrible destiny’.


The author especially wishes to thank Dr Richard Aldous for his supervision, suggestions and support. The author also thanks Mr Miles Hudson for providing an invaluable insight into the Heath Government’s handling of the Rhodesian issue. Mr Hudson was Political Secretary to Alec Douglas–Home between 1970–74 and was previously Head of Overseas Affairs at the Conservative Research Department. The staff of the Public Records Office at Kew, London must also be commended for their efficiency.



Public Records Office, Kew, London, including:

CAB 128, Cabinet Minutes and Papers.

CAB 129, Cabinet Minutes and Papers.

CAB 130, Cabinet: Miscellaneous Committees: Minutes and Papers.

FCO 35, Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Rhodesia economic.

FCO 36, Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Rhodesia political department.

FCO 45, Foreign and Commonwealth Office: South African Department.

FCO 58, Foreign and Commonwealth Office: United Nations Political Department.

FCO 92, Foreign and Commonwealth Office: British Commission on Rhodesian Opinion.

PREM 15, Prime Minister’s Office: Correspondence and Papers.

Author’s correspondence with Edward Heath.

Author’s correspondence with Miles Hudson.

House of Commons Debates.

Benn, Tony, Out of the wilderness: diaries 1963–67 (London, 1987).

Douglas–Home, Alec, The way the wind blows: an autobiography (London, 1978).

Heath, Edward, The course of my life: my autobiography (London, 1998).

Hudson, Miles, Triumph or tragedy?: Rhodesia to Zimbabwe (London, 1981).

Muzorewa, Abel, Rise up and walk: an autobiography (London, 1979).

Smith, Ian, Bitter harvest: the great betrayal (London, 2001).

The Times.

The Rhodesia Herald.

Yearbook of the United Nations 1970, XXIV (New York, 1972).

Yearbook of the United Nations 1971, XXV (New York, 1974).

Yearbook of the United Nations 1972, XXVI (New York, 1975).


Abbott, Peter, Modern African wars: Rhodesia, 1965–80 (London, 1986).

Astrow, André, Zimbabwe: a revolution that lost its way? (London, 1983).

Bailey, Martin, Oilgate: the sanctions scandal (London, 1979).

Ball, Stuart & Seldon, Anthony (eds.), The Heath government 1970–1974: a reappraisal (London, 1996).

Blake, Robert, A history of Rhodesia (London, 1977).

British Council of Churches, ‘Britain and Rhodesia now: a statement on the Rhodesian situation following the publication of the Pearce Report’ (pamphlet, 21 June 1972).

——————–, Rhodesia now: the liberation of Zimbabwe (London, 1977).

Brown, Judith and Louis, Roger (eds.), The Oxford history of the British Empire: the twentieth century, IV (Oxford, 1999).

Campbell, John, Edward Heath (London, 1993).

Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Rhodesia, Rhodesia: after the internal settlement (London, 1978).

Charlton, Michael, The last colony in Africa: diplomacy and the independence of Rhodesia (Oxford, 1990).

Colley, Linda, ‘What is imperial history now?’ in Cannadine, David, What is history now? (Basingstoke, 2002).

Darwin, John, The end of the British Empire: the historical debate (Oxford, 1991).

Davies, Norman, The isles: a history (London, 2000).

Dore, Ronald, ‘Rhodesia: the settlement and after’ (pamphlet, 1 January 1972).

Ferguson, Niall, Empire: how Britain made the modern world (London, 2003).

Gallagher, John, The decline, rise and fall of the British Empire (Oxford, 1982).

Grant, G. C., The Africans’ predicament in Rhodesia (London, 1972).

Hargraves, John, Decolonisation in Africa (New York, 1988).

Eric Hobsbawm, Age of extremes: the short twentieth century, 1914–1991 (London, 1995).

Holland, R. F., European decolonisation 1918–1981: an introductory survey (London, 1985).

International Defence and Aid Fund, Zimbabwe: the facts about Rhodesia (London, 1977).

Kapungu, Leonard, The United Nations and economic sanctions against Rhodesia (Toronto, 1973).

Keyworth–Davies, Dorothy, Race relations in Rhodesia: a survey for 1972–73 (London, 1975).

Kriger, Norma, Zimbabwe’s guerrilla war: peasant voices (Cambridge, 1991).

Laing, Margaret, Edward Heath: Prime Minister (London, 1972).

Loony, Martin, Rhodesia, white racism and imperial response (Middlesex, 1997).

Meredith, Martin, The past is another country: Rhodesia, UDI to Zimbabwe (London, 1980).

Nyagoni, Christopher and Nyandoro (eds.), Zimbabwe independence movements: select documents (London, 1979).

Palley, Clare, Zimbabwe Rhodesia: should the present government be recognised? (London, 1979).

Watt, D. C. & Mayall, James (eds.), Current British foreign policy (London, 1974).

Windrich, Elaine, Britain and the politics of Rhodesian independence (London, 1978).

—————-, The Rhodesian problem: a documentary record, 1923­–1973 (London, 1975).

Winks, Robin (ed.), The Oxford history of the British Empire: historiography, V (Oxford, 1999).

Renwick, Robin, Unconventional diplomacy in Southern Africa (Basingstoke, 1997).

Rhodesian Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Civil war in Rhodesia: a report from the Rhodesian Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (London, 1976).

——————-, The man in the middle: torture, resettlement and eviction (London, 1975).

Sanders, David, Losing and empire, finding a role: British foreign policy since 1945 (London, 1990).

Slessor, Tim, Ministries of deception: cover–ups in Whitehall (London, 2002).

Smith, Tony, The United States, Great Britain, and the late industrial world since 1815 (Cambridge, 1981).

Stephen, Michael, What next in Rhodesia? (London, 1976).

Tamarkin, Mordechai, The making of Zimbabwe: decolonisation in regional and internal politics (London, 1990).

Verrier, Anthony, The road to Zimbabwe: 1890–1980 (London, 1986).

[1] HC Deb., v. 837, col. 1225, 23 May 1972.[2] Peter Abbott, Modern African wars: Rhodesia, 1965–80 (London, 1986), p. 13.[3] Robin Renwick, Unconventional diplomacy in Southern Africa (Basingstoke, 1997), p. 3.[4] Dorothy Keyworth–Davies, Race relations in Rhodesia: a survey for 1972–73 (London, 1975), p. 227.[5] Civil war in Rhodesia: a report from the Rhodesian Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (London, 1976), p. 93.

[6] Michael Charlton, The last colony in Africa: diplomacy and the independence of Rhodesia (Oxford, 1990), p. 1.

[7] Niall Ferguson, Empire: how Britain made the modern world (London, 2003), p. 352.

[8] Norman Davies, The isles: a history (London, 2000), p. 753.

[9] Martin Loony, Rhodesia, white racism and imperial response (Middlesex, 1997), p. 109.

[10] Anthony Verrier, The road to Zimbabwe: 1890–1980 (London, 1986), p. 152.

[11] Elaine Windrich, Britain and the politics of Rhodesian independence (London, 1978), p. 215.

[12] Tim Slessor, Ministries of deception: cover–ups in Whitehall (London, 2002), pp 15–35.

[13] Eric Hobsbawm, Age of extremes: the short twentieth century, 1914–1991 (London, 1995), p. 172.

[14] Edward Heath, The course of my life: my autobiography (London, 1998), p. 277.

[15] HC Deb., v. 835–6, 9 November 1971.

[16] Abel Muzorewa, Rise up and walk: an autobiography (London, 1979), p. 109.

[17] Norman Davies, The isles: a history (London, 2000), p. 797.

[18] Alec Douglas–Home, The way the wind blows: an autobiography (London, 1978), p. 249.

[19] Tony Smith, The United States, Great Britain, and the late industrial world since 1815 (Cambridge, 1981), p. 95.

[20] John Gallagher, The decline, rise and fall of the British Empire (Oxford, 1982), p. 75.

[21] John Darwin, The end of the British Empire: the historical debate (Oxford, 1991), pp 78–9.

[22] Norman Davies, The isles: a history (London, 2000), p. 762.

[23] Abel Muzorewa, Rise up and walk: an autobiography (London, 1979), p. 108.

[24] PRO Kew, CAB 128/49/59, 25 November 1971.

[25] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, ‘Rhodesia: if Lord Pearce reports a decisive African ‘no’, 22 February 1972.

[26] PRO Kew, PREM 15/621.

[27] PRO Kew, CAB 128/49/56, 18 November 1971.

[28] R. F. Holland, European decolonisation 1918–1981: an introductory survey (London, 1985), pp 284–5.

[29] Ian Smith, Bitter harvest: the great betrayal (London, 2001), pp 151–3.

[30] The Times, 10 November 1971.

[31] Hudson’s letter to the author, 23 August 2003.

[32] PRO Kew, CAB 128/49/58, 23 November 1971.

[33] PRO Kew, CAB 128/49/59, 25 November 1971.

[34] PRO Kew, PREM 15/625, memorandum of telephone conversation between Nixon and Heath, 25 November 1971

[35] Quoted in Elaine Windrich, Britain and the politics of Rhodesian independence (London, 1978), p. 177

[36] PRO Kew, CAB 128/49/59, 25 November 1971

[37] PRO Kew, CAB 129/159/27, ‘The proposals for a settlement’, 4 November 1971

[38] PRO Kew, FCO 36/911, memorandum of conversation between Lord Pearce and Douglas–Home, 26 November 1971

[39] PRO Kew, CAB 129/159/128, ‘Rhodesia: options in the event of failure to achieve a settlement’, by Douglas–Home, 5 November 1971

[40] PRO Kew, CAB 128/49/61, 2 December 1971

[41] Yearbook of the United Nations 1971, XXV (New York, 1974), p. 577.

[42] Yearbook of the United Nations 1972, XXVI (New York, 1975), p. 601

[43] PRO Kew, CAB 128/49/61, 2 December 1971

[44] Sithole to Douglas–Home, [no specific date given] January 1972, in Christopher Nyagoni and Gideon Nyandoro (eds.), Zimbabwe independence movements: select documents (London, 1979), p. 205

[45] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, Douglas–Home’s summary of Nyerere’s letter to McMahon, 14 December 1971.

[46] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, Trudeau to Heath, 11 February 1972.

[47] Abel Muzorewa, Rise up and walk: an autobiography (London, 1979), p. 94

[48] HC Deb., v. 826, col. 1538, 25 November 1972

[49] PRO Kew, CAB 128/49/61, 2 December 1971

[50] PRO Kew, FCO 35/449

[51] PRO Kew, FCO 36/911.

[52] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1207, ‘Report of the Commission of Rhodesian opinion, May 1972’, paragraph 46

[53] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1209.

[54] Editorial, The Rhodesia Herald, 24 May 1972

[55] Hudson’s letter to the author, 23 August 2003

[56] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1150, memorandum of conversation between Douglas–Home, Pearce and Harlech, 14 March 1972

[57] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, 15 May 1972

[58] Edward Heath, The course of my life: my autobiography (London, 1998), p. 480

[59] Ian Smith, Bitter harvest: the great betrayal (London, 2001), p. 157

[60] ibid., p. 154

[61] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, Smith to Douglas–Home, 24 March 1972

[62] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, memorandum of conversation between Godber and Lord Harlech, 15 February 1972

[63] Elaine Windrich, Britain and the politics of Rhodesian independence (London, 1978), p. 191

[64] Miles Hudson, Triumph or tragedy?: Rhodesia to Zimbabwe (London, 1981), p. 82

[65] Edward Heath, The course of my life: my autobiography (London, 1998), p. 276.

[66] Tony Benn, Out of the wilderness: diaries 1963–67 (London, 1987), p. 354.

[67] R. F. Holland, European decolonisation 1918–1981: an introductory survey (London, 1985), pp 280–84.

[68] Christopher Hill & Christopher Lord, ‘The foreign policy of the Heath Government’ in Stuart Ball (ed.), The Heath government 1970–1974: a reappraisal (London, 1996), p. 295

[69] Hudson’s letter to the author, 23 August 2003

[70] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, Ward’s report from Salisbury, 25 January 1972

[71] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, Ward’s report from Salisbury, 29 February 1972

[72] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, memorandum of conversation between Godber and Lord Harlech, 15 February 1972

[73] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, Trudeau to Heath, 11 February 1972.

[74] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1200, ‘Rhodesia contingency study’, 9 March 1972

[75] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, 7 February 1972

[76] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, ‘Rhodesia contingency study: options if the test of acceptability fails’, 14 February 1972

[77] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, ‘Rhodesia: if Lord Pearce reports a decisive African ‘no’, 22 February 1972

[78] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, Ward’s report from Salisbury, 29 February 1972

[79] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, memorandum of conversation between Adams, Hudson and Smith, 4 March 1972

[80] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1150, memorandum of conversation between Douglas–Home, Pearce and Harlech, 14 March 1972

[81] PRO Kew, CAB 130/518, memorandum by Douglas–Home, ‘Rhodesia: Pearce Report’, 9 May 1972

[82] PRO Kew, CAB 130/5/8, ‘Brief for the visit of Sir Denis Greenhill to Salisbury’, 15 May 1972

[83] PRO PREM 15/1171, ‘Rhodesia contingency study: options if the test of acceptability fails’, 14 February 1972

[84] PRO FCO 36/1176, Amery to Douglas–Home, 23 November 1972

[85] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, Ward’s report from Salisbury, 24 May 172

[86] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, transcript of Smith’s speech to the nation, 23 May 1972

[87] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1150, memorandum of conversation between Douglas–Home and the members of the Pearce Commission, 4 May 1972

[88] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, Heath to Tolbert, 24 May 1982.

[89] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, Smith to Douglas–Home, 24 March 1972

[90] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, memorandum of conversation between Douglas–Home and A. Smith, 17 April 1972

[91] Ian Smith, Bitter harvest: the great betrayal (London, 2001), pp 156–7

[92] Abel Muzorewa, Rise up and walk: an autobiography (London, 1979), p. 106

[93] Ian Smith, Bitter harvest: the great betrayal (London, 2001), pp 151–3

[94] Robert Blake, A history of Rhodesia (London, 1977), pp 365–8

[95] Hudson’s letter to the author, 23 August 2003

[96] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, Smith to Heath, 30 May 1972.

[97] Editorial, The Rhodesia Herald, 24 May 1972.

[98] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, Douglas–Home to Heath, 29 March 1972

[99] Yearbook of the United Nations 1970, XXIV (New York, 1972), p. 577.

[100] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, ‘Rhodesia: if Lord Pearce reports a decisive African ‘no’, 22 February 1972.

[101] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, Ward’s report from Salisbury, 17 May 1972.

[102] PRO Kew, CAB 130/5/8, 17 May 1972

[103] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1150, memorandum of conversation between Douglas–Home, Lord Pearce and Lord Harlech, 14 March 1972

[104] HC Deb., v. 837, col. 1226, 23 March 1972

[105] See PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219

[106] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219, memorandum by Mansfield, 29 July 1972.

[107] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1150, memorandum of conversation between Douglas–Home, Pearce and Harlech, 21 April 1972.

[108] Elaine Windrich, Britain and the politics of Rhodesian independence (London, 1978), p. 186

[109] Abel Muzorewa, Rise up and walk: an autobiography (London, 1979), p. 93

[110] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1161, Mansfield to Smedley and Goodenough, 18 July 1972

[111] Abel Muzorewa, Rise up and walk: an autobiography (London, 1979), pp 122–3

[112] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219, Hudson to Douglas–Home, 21 July 1972

[113] Elaine Windrich, Britain and the politics of Rhodesian independence (London, 1978), p. 201

[114] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219, Hudson to Douglas–Home, 2 August 1972

[115] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219, Hudson’s memorandum on a meeting with Wrathall, 17 October 1972

[116] Ian Smith, Bitter harvest: the great betrayal (London, 2001), p. 154

[117] Elaine Windrich, Britain and the politics of Rhodesian independence (London, 1978), p. 202

[118] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219, Bowles to Mansfield, 31 October 1972

[119] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219, Douglas–Home to Smith, 17 November 1972

[120] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219, LeQuesne to Douglas–Home, 15 November 1972

[121] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1176, Blake to Heath, 21 September 1972; Tolbert to Heath, 26 October 1972

[122] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1176, Heath to Tolbert, 9 November 1972

[123] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1176, Douglas–Home’s reasons were related by Grattan to Lord Bridges, 4 October 1972

[124] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1150, memorandum of conversation between Douglas–Home, Pearce and Harlech, 21 April 1972.

[125] Hudson’s letter to the author, 23 August 2003

[126] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219, Smith to Douglas–Home, 22 November 1972

[127] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1220, Douglas–Home to Smith, 27 November 1972

[128] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219, Mansfield to Campbell, 24 November 1972

[129] PRO Kew FCO 36/1020, Mansfield’s report from the record of the African Heads of Mission Conference, 12 December 1972

[130] Miles Hudson, Triumph or tragedy?: Rhodesia to Zimbabwe (London, 1981), p. 110

[131] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219, Hudson to Douglas–Home, 2 August 1972

[132] PRO Kew, CAB 130/5/8, 20 December 1972

[133] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219, Smith to Douglas–Home, 22 November 1972

[134] PRO Kew, CAB 130/5/8, 20 December 1972

[135] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1020, Miles Hudson’s report from the record of the African Heads of Mission Conference, 12 December 1972

[136] Christopher Hill & Christopher Lord, ‘The foreign policy of the Heath Government’ in Stuart Ball (ed.), The Heath government 1970–1974: a reappraisal (London, 1996), p. 295

[137] Miles Hudson, Triumph or tragedy?: Rhodesia to Zimbabwe (London, 1981), p. 103

[138] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1176, Hudson to Douglas–Home, 14 November 1972

[139] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1020, Miles Hudson’s report from the record of the African Heads of Mission Conference, 12 December 1972

[140] Quoted in Margaret Laing, Edward Heath: Prime Minister (London, 1972), p. 179

[141] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1020, Miles Hudson’s report from the record of the African Heads of Mission Conference, 12 December 1972.

[142] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219, Mansfield to Douglas–Home and Smedley, 19 October 1972

[143] Douglas–Home’s comment in pen on Mansfield’s note.

[144] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1176, Amery to Douglas–Home, 23 November 1972

[145] Hudson’s letter to the author, 23 August 2003.

[146] Edward Heath, The course of my life: my autobiography (London, 1998), p. 478.

[147] Miles Hudson, Triumph or tragedy?: Rhodesia to Zimbabwe (London, 1981), p. 101

[148] G. C. Grant, The Africans’ predicament in Rhodesia (London, 1972), p. 13

[149] British Council of Churches, Rhodesia now: the liberation of Zimbabwe (London, 1977), p. 3

[150] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1161, Douglas–Home’s parliamentary oral answer, 11 December 1972

[151] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, Smith to Douglas–Home, 24 March 1972.

[152] Anthony Verrier, The road to Zimbabwe: 1890–1980 (London, 1986), p. 157

[153] Martin Meredith, The past is another country: Rhodesia, UDI to Zimbabwe (London, 1980), p. 103.

[154] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, Ward’s report from Salisbury on a meeting between Lord Pearce, Lord Harlech and Smith, 5 February 1972

[155] Christopher Nyagoni and Gideon Nyandoro (eds.), Zimbabwe independence movements: select documents (London, 1979), p. 271

[156] Herbert Chitepo’s statement to the sixth pan–African Congress, Dar–es–Salaam, [no specific date given] June 1974, in Christopher Nyagoni and Gideon Nyandoro (eds.), Zimbabwe independence movements: select documents (London, 1979), p. 289

[157] ZANU statement, 14 September 1972, in Christopher Nyagoni and Gideon Nyandoro (eds.), Zimbabwe independence movements: select documents (London, 1979), p. 266

[158] Ronald Dore, ‘Rhodesia: the settlement and after’, (pamphlet, 1 January 1972), p. 4

[159] British Council of Churches, ‘Britain and Rhodesia now: a statement on the Rhodesian situation following the publication of the Pearce Report’ (21 June 1972), p. 4

[160] Leonard Kapungu, The United Nations and economic sanctions against Rhodesia (Toronto, 1973), p. 19

[161] Guy Arnold & Alan Baldwin, ‘Rhodesia: token sanctions or total economic warfare, September 1972’ in Elaine Windrich, The Rhodesian problem: a documentary record, 1923–1973 (London, 1975), p. 271

[162] Edward Heath, The course of my life: my autobiography (London, 1998), p. 277

[163] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, pamphlet by Nyerere, ‘After the Pearce Commission’, 3 June 1972.

[164] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, ‘Rhodesia contingency study: options if the test of acceptability fails’, 14 February 1972.

[165] Robin Renwick, Unconventional diplomacy in Southern Africa (Basingstoke, 1997), p. 4.

[166] Martin Bailey, Oilgate: the sanctions scandal (London, 1979), pp 216–17.

[167] Douglas–Home quoted in D. C. Watt and James Mayall (eds.), Current British foreign policy (London, 1974), p. 180

[168] Miles Hudson, Triumph or tragedy?: Rhodesia to Zimbabwe (London, 1981), p. 104

[169] Elaine Windrich, Britain and the politics of Rhodesian independence (London, 1978), p. 203

[170] Miles Hudson, Triumph or tragedy?: Rhodesia to Zimbabwe (London, 1981), p. 92

[171] Elaine Windrich, Britain and the politics of Rhodesian independence (London, 1978), p. 213

[172] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1219, Mansfield to Campbell, 24 November 1972.

[173] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1171, Banda to Heath, 12 February 1972.

[174] R. F. Holland, European decolonisation 1918–1981: an introductory survey (London, 1985), p. 284

[175] Miles Hudson, Triumph or tragedy?: Rhodesia to Zimbabwe (London, 1981), p. 101

[176] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, note by Bryatt, 2 June 1972.

[177] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, pamphlet by Nyerere, ‘After the Pearce Commission’, 3 June 1972

[178] Hudson’s letter to the author, 23 August 2003

[179] Quoted in Robin Renwick, Unconventional diplomacy in Southern Africa (Basingstoke, 1997), p. 4.

[180] ANC statement to the Pearce Commission, 3 January 1972, in Christopher Nyagoni and Gideon Nyandoro (eds.), Zimbabwe independence movements: select documents (London, 1979), p. 210

[181] Sithole to Heath, [no specific date given] November 1971, in Christopher Nyagoni and Gideon Nyandoro (eds.), Zimbabwe independence movements: select documents (London, 1979), p. 203

[182] Elaine Windrich, Britain and the politics of Rhodesian independence (London, 1978), pp 179–80

[183] ibid., pp 179–80

[184] Christopher Hill & Christopher Lord, ‘The foreign policy of the Heath Government’ in Stuart Ball (ed.), The Heath government 1970–1974: a reappraisal (London, 1996), p. 297

[185] Michael Charlton, The last colony in Africa: diplomacy and the independence of Rhodesia (Oxford, 1990), p. 4

[186] R. F. Holland, European decolonisation 1918–1981: an introductory survey (London, 1985), p. 284

[187] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1268, memorandum of conversation between Heath, Nixon and Douglas–Home, 21 December 1971.

[188] Michael Stephen, What next in Rhodesia? (London, 1976), p. 2.

[189] Miles Hudson, Triumph or tragedy?: Rhodesia to Zimbabwe (London, 1981), p. 106

[190] HC Deb., v. 837, col. 1225, 23 May 1972

[191] Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Rhodesia, Rhodesia: after the internal settlement (London, 1978), p. 13

[192] Hudson’s letter to the author, 23 August 2003

[193] PRO KEW, CAB 129/159/27, 4 November 1971

[194] Alec Douglas–Home, The way the wind blows: an autobiography (London, 1978), p. 255

[195] PRO Kew, FCO 36/1176, Amery to Douglas–Home, 23 November 1972

[196] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, pamphlet by Nyerere, ‘After the Pearce Commission’, 3 June 1972

[197] HC Deb., v. 837, col. 1225, 23 May 1972

[198] PRO Kew, PREM 15/1172, memorandum of conversation between Douglas–Home and A. Smith, 17 April 1972.

[199] Rhodesian Front Government estimate released in September 1972, cited in Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Rhodesia, Rhodesia: after the internal settlement (London, 1978), p. 18.