Talks close to final draft – British official

29 Sep, 2022 - 00:09 0 Views
Talks close to final draft – British official Lord Carrington

The Herald

The Herald, September 29, 1979  

LONDON. – A new constitution for Zimbabwe Rhodesia is close to its final draft, and the British government hopes to present early next week a transitional plan to lead the country to legal independence.

British government sources said yesterday no major problems remained over a constitution, and the London settlement conference would soon take up the more difficult problem of arranging for new elections in the country.

“Agreement is in sight,” one British official said. He confirmed that the Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, hoped to call a plenary session of the conference on Monday to put to the Zimbabwe Rhodesia Government and the Patriotic Front a detailed constitutional plan they would both find acceptable.

At the foreign office, Lord Carrington’s Zimbabwe Rhodesia experts are drawing up a blueprint for the transition which is designed to fall between the demands of the two delegations and form a basis for negotiations on what the British consider “free and fair” elections and the controversial issue of security force control.

A widespread British presence is said to be under consideration, with Commonwealth forces maintaining a security presence during a ceasefire.

“We fully realise there will have to be British supervision, as was agreed in Lusaka. Exactly how far that supervision goes in the context of administration of the country has still to be decided,” said one source.

Yesterday, Bishop Muzorewa and the co-leaders of the PF, Mr Joshua Nkomo and Mr Robert Mugabe, met separately with Lord Carrington.

Delegates from both parties privately concede that although the constitutional agreement has been rapid, the real problems are still ahead.

As the talks continue, right-wing Conservative parliamentarians are becoming disturbed at its slow progress and suggest the Foreign Office is spinning out the conference to avoid a showdown at the Tory party conference in two weeks’ time.

“If the talks broke down, the Government could be in trouble,” said Mr Ronald Bell.

He felt the delays might be aimed at an even longer target – November, when the renewal of sanctions must be decided.

“They are almost certainly hoping to railroad the ministers into a temporary renewal by the House of Commons,” he said. – Iana.

LESSONS FOR TODAY

  • The general agreement to most of the issues proposed in a draft constitution for the country by the Zimbabwe Rhodesia government and the Patriotic Front leaders was a turning point for the talks as it paved way for the discussions on the roadmap for the transition of power to the majority.
  • A little pressure in negotiations can help move things along. The British government was under pressure to conclude the talks before the Tory Party conference, which helped exert pressure on it to expedite the talks.
  • The resolution of bigger issues does not necessarily signal the end of a problem or problems; in some instances, it can signal the start of even more problems. In this case the issue of the constitution was now largely resolved, but parties to the negotiating table were wary that there were more problems ahead.

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