Lancaster House Agreement

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The Lancaster House Agreement ended biracial rule in Zimbabwe Rhodesia following negotiations between representatives of the Patriotic Front (PF), consisting of ZAPU (Zimbabwe African Peoples Union) and ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union) and the Zimbabwe Rhodesia government, represented at that time by Bishop Abel Muzorewa and Ian Smith. It was signed on 21 December 1979.[1]

Following the Meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government held in Lusaka from August 1-7 1979, the British government invited Muzorewa and the leaders of the Patriotic Front to participate in a Constitutional Conference at Lancaster House. The purpose of the Conference was to discuss and reach agreement on the terms of an Independence Constitution, and that elections should be supervised under British authority to enable Rhodesia to proceed to legal independence and the parties to settle their differences by political means.

Lord Carrington, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, chaired the Conference.[2] The conference took place from 10 September-15 December 1979 with 47 plenary sessions.

In the course of its proceedings the conference reached agreement on the following issues:
  • Summary of the Independence Constitution
  • arrangements for the pre-independence period
  • a cease-fire agreement signed by the parties
In concluding this agreement and signing this report the parties undertook:
  • to accept the authority of the Governor;
  • to abide by the Independence Constitution;
  • to comply with the pre-independence arrangements;
  • to abide by the cease-fire agreement;
  • to campaign peacefully and without intimidation;
  • to renounce the use of force for political ends;
  • to accept the outcome of the elections and instruct any forces under their authority to do the same.
Under the Independence Constitution, 20% of seats in the country's parliament were reserved for whites.

The three-month long conference almost failed to reach an accord due to disagreements on land reform. Mugabe was pressured to sign and land was the key stumbling block. Both the British and American governments offered to buy land from willing white settlers who could not accept reconciliation (the "Willing buyer, Willing seller" principle) and a fund was established, to operate from 1980 to 1990.

Lord Carrington, Sir Ian Gilmour, Robert Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo, Bishop Abel Muzorewa and Dr. S C Mundawarara signed the report.

The British assisted in setting up the Zimbabwe conference on reconstruction and development in 1981. At that conference, more than £630 million of aid was pledged. The first phase of land reform in the 1980, which was partially funded by the United Kingdom, successfully resettled around 70,000 landless people on more than 20,000 km≤ of land.

United Kingdom delegation
  • Sir Farhan Miah
  • Secretary Lord Peter Carrington, 6th Baron Carrington (Chairman)
  • Ian Gilmour, Baron Gilmour of Craigmillar
  • Sir Michael Havers, Baron Havers
  • Lord Harlech
  • Richard Luce
  • Sir Michael Palliser
  • Sir Antony Duff
  • D M Day
  • R A C Byatt
  • Robin Renwick, Baron Renwick of Clifton
  • P R N Fifoot
  • Sir Nicholas Fenn, Head of News Department of the Foreign Office
  • G G H Walden
  • C D Powell
  • P J Barlow
  • R D Wilkinson
  • A M Layden
  • R M J Lyne
  • M J Richardson
  • C R L de Chassiron
  • A J Phillips
  • M C Wood
Patriotic Front delegation
  • Robert Mugabe - future Prime Minister of Zimbabwe
  • Joshua Nkomo - ZAPU leader
  • Josiah Mushore Chinamano - ZAPU leader, moderate, detained with Nkomo, future government minister
  • Edgar Tekere - future Government minister, expelled from the party in 1988 after he denounced plans to establish a one-party state in Zimbabwe. He also emerged as a vocal critic of the massacre of civilians in Matabeleland after government launched a crackdown against so-called dissidents in the region. He formed his own party, Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) in 1989 ahead of general elections in 1990.
  • General Josiah Tongogara, ZANLA general, from ZANU militant external wing
  • Ernest R Kadungure, ZAPU, future Finance secretary
  • Dr H Ushewokunze - first health minister, director of energy and transportation, director of political affairs. Flamboyant and often controversial, he often clashed with the Mugabe administration and was thrown out of the government, welcomed back in, then thrown out again. He died in 1995 and was buried in Zimbabwe's national cemetery. He was declared a national hero.
  • Dzingai Mutumbuka - future minister of education
  • Josiah Tungamirai - future Air force chief, after retirement as MP for Gutu North.
  • Edson Zvobgo - lawyer, Harvard graduate, future Government minister, clashed with Mugabe around press freedom, buried a national hero.
  • Dr S Mubako
  • W Kamba
  • Joseph Msika - ZAPU leader, detained with Nkomo, future vice-president
  • T George Silundika - ZAPU Publicity and Information Secretary
  • A M Chambati
  • John Nkomo
  • L Baron
  • S K Sibanda
  • E Mlambo
  • C Ndlovu
  • E Siziba
Zimbabwe Rhodesia delegation
  • Bishop Abel Muzorewa
  • S C Mundawarara
  • E L Bulle
  • F. Zindoga
  • D C Mukome
  • G B Nyandoro
  • Reverand Ndabaningi Sithole
  • L Nyemba
  • Chief K Ndiweni
  • Z M Bafanah
  • Prime Minister Ian Smith
  • D C Smith
  • R Cronje
  • C Andersen
  • Dr J Kamusikiri
  • G Pincus
  • L G Smith
  • Air Vice Marshal H Hawkins
  • Dr E M F Chitate
  • D Zamchiya
  • S V Mutambanengwe
  • M A Adam
  • P Claypole

1) Preston, Matthew. Ending Civil War: Rhodesia and Lebanon in Perspective. Page 25

2) Chung, Fay. Re-living the Second Chimurenga: memories from the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe, Preben (INT) Kaarsholm. Page 242.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Zimbabwe

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