The Lost History of the Rhonasians: Rhodesian Independence and the Place of Race in Decolonization

Thursday, 26 July, 2012 - 14:00

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Lancaster House was great theater. All the suspense of negotiations, of who  would walk out and who would compromise, was not only anticipated but understood to be part  of the process. Carrington later wrote “I thought it likely that the invited parties would come, and  then create trouble at the moment they decided most favorable, break off the proceedings, walk  out…” and leave Thatcher’s government, secure in the knowledge that they had tried, regretfully forced to recognize the government in Salisbury. At the time, however, Carrington had read  the cables coming into the foreign office and knew full well the pressures under which the  Patriotic Front would be negotiating: he knew they could not really walk out. He had to have  had some sense of how unlikely it was for the conference to completely break down, and he of  course knew how disappointed Thatcher’s government was with Muzorewa, a man “without any  political skills at all.” Given how much the foreign office knew, and how tense the situation was  however much anyone knew, the conference was carefully choreographed. The most obvious  choreography was Carrington’s, that each segment of the settlement – the constitution, the  transitional arrangements, and the ceasefire – be negotiated and resolved before the  conference could go onto the next. The less obvious choreography was that of the front line  presidents, who, as this section shows, took a firm hand in shaping the conduct of the PF at the  conference. The remainder of this chapter will not be a history of the Lancaster House  conference in its entirety. I concentrate instead on issues of citizenship and voting that have  informed earlier chapters of this book, debates over reserved seats for whites, citizenship, and the procedures for the 1980 election.


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