The Herald, 11 September 1979
THE British Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, yesterday called on both warring parties involved in the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia conference here to show a willingness to find a settlement.
Without this willingness, he said at the opening, “It would be illusory to think that any settlement can fully satisfy the requirements of either side.”
Lord Carrington ended his address by saying: “I have deliberately avoided talking of ‘last chance’ of a settlement. Last chances have come and gone before. I would put it differently: Since Geneva, the conflict has reached new levels — the cost of continuing it is very high.”
The Foreign Secretary went on: “Since 1976, the number of men under arms on both sides has more than doubled. The war has spread into neighbouring states.
“The price of failure at this conference would be further prolonged bloodshed and further destruction of the life of whole communities. The responsibility for preventing this lies upon all those present here.
“The eyes of the international community will be upon us all to see that we live up to that responsibility. The British Government is determined, for its part, to do everything in its power to bring this conference to a successful conclusion.”
Earlier Lord Carrington said: “This is a constitutional conference, the purpose of which is to decide the proper basis for the granting of legal Independence to the people of Rhodesia.”
He expressed the hope that the end of the conference would see the end of the war.
“That is an outcome which I believe will be greeted with immense relief by the people of Rhodesia and throughout Africa.
“Rhodesia will proceed to legal independence with a government formed by whichever leader can show that they command the confidence of the people.”
Lord Carrington said it was a matter of “great regret and disappointment” that the war went on while the conference was in progress.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
Lancaster House in London, the United Kingdom has been used by the settler colonialists to negotiate the independence of Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Following the failure of the Geneva Conference and the Internal Settlement to bring about Independence — September 10, 1979 is now a historical date, that saw Rhodesia’s warring parties coming together at Lancaster House to agree on a negotiated settlement, which would lead to the granting of independence.
The process was driven by the Conservative government, led by its first woman Prime Minister Mrs Margaret Thatcher.
Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary Lord Carrington oversaw the negotiations that led to the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement or Constitution.
The basis of success when negotiating a multi-pronged agreement is trust and desire for positive change among the interested parties.
Lord Carrington induced that since the Agreement was signed on December 21, 1979.
The signing of the Lancaster House Agreement was not an event, but a process with important lessons for current generations.
Now that the top figures among the protagonists have passed on, how do we sustain their legacy and ensure that the country remains on a peaceful and development-oriented trajectory?