HC Deb 19 April 1977 vol 930 cc29-45
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Dr. David Owen)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I should like to make a statement on my recent visit to eight countries in Africa. My main purpose was to see whether it would be possible to resume progress towards a peaceful settlement of the Rhodesian problem. As the House knows, violence has been increasing and, while a long and bloody struggle might, in the end, produce an independent Zimbabwe, it will do so only at grave cost. Many lives will be lost, the economy will be destroyed, there will be severe damage to the stability of the neighbouring States and it will leave a legacy of lasting bitterness between the races. We are all well aware of the immense difficulties of resolving this problem.

I was encouraged to attempt a new approach by the support of the United States Government, with whom there has been the closest possible co-operation. It is our joint determination to work for reconciliation in Southern Africa, on the firm basis of majority rule, the fullest regard for human rights, and the ending of racial discrimination.

The starting point for the present initiative goes back to the statement of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 22nd March 1976 and to the crucial achievement of Dr. Kissinger when Mr. Smith spoke of majority rule within two years. It is true that Mr. Smith's speech mentioned other conditions which were not subsequently realised, but I believed that his statements then and since suggested that he might be persuaded to accept the objective of majority rule in 1978.

The Geneva negotiations stalled, not over majority rule, though there were doubts as to the extent to which this had been agreed by the Rhodesian Front, but on the powers and composition of the interim Government who were to draw up the independence constitution.

In March, on my visit to Washington with the Prime Minister, I suggested to the United States Administration that we should work jointly on a strategy to promote a peaceful transition to majority rule and this they readily agreed to do. On my visit to Africa I was able to discuss the possibility of the United Kingdom and the United States co-sponsoring a conference to develop a clear timetable for achieving majority rule in 1978.

Such a conference would draw up a constitution protecting basic human rights and define an acceptable democratic process for an automatic transfer to an independent nation. It would also discuss the rôle of an international development fund to help promote the economic stability of an independent Zimbabwe and encourage the minority white population to stay and contribute to the country's future. The constitution would aim to be broadly acceptable to 6 million people, black and white, who would actually live under its provisions but, as chairman of the conference, I should retain the final responsibility for bringing any constitutional Bill to this House for its approval. The British Government's proposals of January for an interim Government remain open for discussion. It may be that there is more likely to be agreement to a caretaker Government, who would be responsible for the conduct of elections prior to the granting of independence.

If Mr. Smith's Administration did not accept the constitution and the arrangements leading up to it, no immediate progress would be possible, sanctions would continue and so would the war, but I suspect at an increased tempo. If there were agreement, Mr. Smith's Administration would resign, the caretaker Government would supervise the elections and anyone participating in the election would have to forsake violence; sanctions should also be lifted.

I am convinced that many of the Africans who currently believe that the armed struggle is the only way forward are essentially men of peace. It is not difficult to understand the motives of those who feel that they have no recourse but to arms. Much as we all wish violence to stop, we cannot immediately expect it to stop while the wall of scepticism and disbelief, which I met all over Africa, remains about the intentions of the Smith Administration. Until those who currently carry arms are convinced that they will have majority rule, I regret that it looks inevitable that violence will continue. The reactions to this strategy have been sufficiently encouraging for me to feel it right, in close consultation and co-operation with the United States Government, to continue discussions with the various parties. I hope to be in a position soon to inform the House whether we and the Americans feel that it would be worthwhile to co-sponsor a conference.

My visit to Africa lasted only eight days. But I am convinced, even more than before I left, of the urgent need to end the war in Rhodesia. Genuine concern about the dangers of the continued confrontation was clearly expressed to me by the five front-line Presidents, by Mr. Vorster and by the Rhodesian leaders, black and white. I found a widespread belief in the necessity for a nonracial majority Government. There is, however, a desperate lack of trust which must now be rebuilt.

Mr. John Davies

In thanking the Secretary of State for his statement, may I first offer him my sincere congratulations on the success of his exacting and rigorous mission? We on this side of the House greatly welcome the whole visit, particularly to Rhodesia, which we thought was essential. We welcome his continued adherence to the breakthrough achieved by Dr. Kissinger. We particularly welcome his own personal involvement, both now and in the conference which he seeks to call. All these are matters which we on this side have long advocated, and we are indeed glad to see them fulfilled.

The change in the attitude of mind of the United States in so firmly offering its co-operation to the Secretary of State and to the Government is very welcome. It is one which has moved from simply backing whatever judgment might exist on the Government side to active participation. That, too, is greatly to be welcomed.

I hope that the Secretary of State will accept that the conference has our good will in principle, but we shall need to know much more about its terms before we can reach a real judgment on its purpose.

Meanwhile, may I put three questions to the Secretary of State? First, is he not concerned that the continued deferment of any reference to a consultation of the people of Rhodesia as a whole is bound to lead to doubts about whether we still adhere to the fifth principle, to which we were all earlier parties?

Secondly, does he not think that the time has come for the installation of a permanent mission in Salisbury in order that the Government, and perhaps the whole people, should be better informed on a day-to-day basis of the developments in that country and able to reach a more sound judgment as to its future?

Thirdly, will the Secretary of State clarify his position on the continuation of the guerrilla warfare? In an emergency debate we had some time ago on the subject of the disappearance of some children into Botswana, I referred to the undertakings we gave under the United Nations Charter. The condonation of violence in the settlement of international disputes is a matter from which we have deliberately debarred ourselves and any participation we might have. It is desirable that the Secretary of State should make further reference to this matter in order that there should be no doubt that we still adhere to the firmness of those principles.

Dr. Owen

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks. I note and appreciate his welcome to the United States involvement and active participation. When and if the decision is taken to convene a conference, I shall, of course, explain all its aspects to the House.

I come to the three questions I was asked. On the question of consulting the people of Rhodesia as a whole, an integral part of the whole strategy is that there should effectively be a General Election. The question of the franchise is one which, clearly, will be dealt with in the constitution, but I believe that it ought to be the broadest possible franchise.

As to the question of a permanent mission, the House will know from answers to questions on this subject some weeks ago that I said that I was completely open-minded. It very much depends on whether one decides to go ahead with the conference. Certainly, if there were a conference, there would need to be intensive consultation prior to the opening of any formal conference. Much of that consultation would necessarily have to take place in Rhodesia.

As to the guerrilla warfare, the House should be under no illusion. I never spoke to anyone who advocated armed force without making it quite clear—I thought I spoke for the whole House—that we condemned guerrilla violence. We believe that there could be a peaceful transition, but that does not exclude one from understanding why people not offered any political dialogue or any hope of a peaceful transition have taken to violence. The determination of people to use violence is, I fear, very strong when they are faced with what they see as the failure of the West to deliver majority rule in Rhodesia over the past 13 years.

Mr. Thorpe

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that he is wholly right to be extremely cautious in view of past experience and present bitterness in Africa? I congratulate him on the way in which he has appeared to be changing the climate of opinion in all quarters in a constructive direction. He has certainly achieved far more than his sceptics in this country thought possible when he set out.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will accept that the co-sponsorship of the United States is regarded by many of us as of extreme importance? Can he confirm that what is at stake is that the only hope for a peaceful settlement is if Mr. Smith genuinely accepts both the principle and the time factor involved in majority rule? Finally, did he have any talks about the whereabouts of Mr. Edson Sithole, who disappeared long before Geneva?

Dr. Owen

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his comments. I can only reiterate that I am under no illusions about the difficulties and can offer no guarantee of success. The prospects, however, of not even attempting to achieve a peaceful transition are, in my view, extremely dire.

The co-sponsorship of the United States is a crucial element, and there is no question of doubt about that. As to Mr. Smith's intentions, this is the key to the whole issue. I have made it clear that in conducting any negotiations I am forced to conclude that he believes what he says and that he means what he says. But I have explained to Mr. Smith that there is considerable doubt about his intentions and that it would greatly ease the anxieties and the doubts, and might help to reduce the present level of violence, if his Administration in the next few months—when negotiations might possibly be started—would start to remove some of the racial discrimination legislation that is on the statute book in the illegal Government and many of the practices which have taken place over the last few years which are found to be abhorrent by many people on both sides of the House.

Mr. Arthur Bottomley

Although there are continuing doubts about whether the Rhodesia Front and Mr. Smith can be trusted, would my right hon. Friend accept my congratulations on the success of his mission and, in particular, on the fact that it is his aim to bring about majority rule in Rhodesia next year? With this end in view, would he make yet a further appeal to my old friends, Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, to give the maximum help to make this possible, thereby avoiding unnecessary bloodshed and suffering to all Rhodesians?

Dr. Owen

I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend, whose experience in this matter the whole House knows. I think that his scepticism is shared by many Members. But as to the question of the Patriotic Front and the two nationalist leaders, I attach immense importance to their full co-operation, were we to call a conference. This was one of the reasons that I not only saw them early on in my own mission but went to see all the five front-line Presidents, including a visit to President Machel in Mozambique and President Neto in Angola. I believe that we have shown that what we are interested in is a peaceful settlement in Africa, and I hope that we have removed some of their anxieties that we were in any way trying to introduce Western or super-power politics into what is essentially a freedom struggle for black national opinion.

Mr. Powell

Is it too late for the Foreign Secretary to avoid involving the United Kingdom in a rôle which implies power, influence, and, consequently, the responsibility in Southern Africa which we do not possess and of which the result could be only humiliation for this country and even further bloodshed and confusion for others?

Dr. Owen

The right hon. Gentleman's consistency on many issues is well known to the House and he has consistently taken this view. I must tell him, however, that I think there is a greater humiliation: it is when a proud country with a great record of colonial rule, faced with the choice of trying to achieve a peaceful transition, at considerable risk, ducks out of it and allows violence to triumph, and also to see the possible destruction of democracy going far wider than the boundaries of Rhodesia. There are major issues involved. Great struggles are taking place in Africa. If we believe in democracy, we should be prepared to fight for democracy.

Mr. Hooley

Will my right hon. Friend say how far the Anglo-American plan for progress back to constitutional rule in Rhodesia has the assent and support of the five front-line Presidents?

Dr. Owen

Although the front-line Presidents made it utterly clear that they would continue to support the armed struggle until they were convinced that majority rule was a reality, they supported this strategy as giving some hope of a peaceful transition, but they raised many objections on the problems that we would encounter. They showed considerable scepticism about the intentions of the Rhodesian Front and Mr. Smith.

But, on the issue of representation where there was a difference with the Patriotic Front, claiming that they were the only people who should be consulted, they understood that a constitutional Bill that would come before this House could not possibly pass if we had restricted the consultation to only one sector of black nationalist opinion. They were quite agreeable to our consulting as well not only Bishop Muzorewa and the Reverend Sithole, who were consulted along with the Patriotic Front in Geneva. I believe that we shall have to go wider in our consultations, even though not formally, perhaps, in a conference.

Mr. Blaker

If the opportunity for progress which exists is to be seized, is it not clear that the two essentials are that the nationalist leaders should be prepared to work together more closely than they have done in the past and that the white Rhodesians should have some assurance about their future in an independent Rhodesia? Since it is relevant to both points, can the Foreign Secretary say whether the offer of an aid and guarantee fund, which was put forward at the time of Dr. Kissinger's tour of Africa, is still valid?

Dr. Owen

I made it clear that an international development fund would be part of the agenda of any conference were one to be called. As the United States Government would be one of the major contributors to this fund, this explains in many ways why this is not just a constitutional conference. I think it would be appropriate to have wide consultations. In Rhodesia I saw black and white trade unionists, and representatives from public sector unions also had the right to be consulted about issues of this sort as well as the black nationalist leaders. It is essentially a fund about the economic stability of an independent Zimbabwe and to help that country in its early years of its independence, which is often the most fragile period of a country's history.

Miss Joan Lestor

When my right hon. Friend met Mr. Ian Smith and indicated to him that he expected or hoped to see some indications from him in relation to good will, did he discuss with him the future of the political detainees in Zimbabwe and the rôle that they are expected to play in any negotiations that take place towards a transition?

Dr. Owen

I made it clear to Mr. Smith that, just as the racial discrimination legislation was offensive to people in the Western world generally, I also thought that he ought to look at the whole question of detention and that, particularly if the climate improved prior to an election period, it would be very helpful if normal political activity could take place again. I hoped that it was an indication of Mr. Smith's feelings on this that when, in Cape Town, before I went to Rhodesia, I made a specific request, but not a demand, to see some of Robert Mugabe's supporters and, in particular, the Reverend Banana, who was in detention, he agreed to allow out of detention two of these people, who came to see me and I had consultations with them and their other colleagues in Rhodesia. I look on this as a hopeful sign of Mr. Smith's intentions to live up to what he has been saying.

Sir J. Eden

May I, too, welcome the fact that the right hon. Gentleman's efforts have led to this new and more hopeful stage? As it is the desire of everyone in this House that there should be an ending as quickly as possible to violence and bloodshed, could the right hon. Gentleman say whether any representations are being made to Moscow as one of the principal sources of the supply of arms to those who are waging terrorist campaigns?

Dr. Owen

I made it clear throughout Africa that I did not believe that the West resented the Soviet Union's presence in Africa. They have the right to be there, as we have the right to be there. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Oh, yes. They have the right to help. I said it was wrong that their help was almost entirely confined to the supply of arms and not to development. It would be a great mistake for the House to think that Africa was something in which only the West could be involved. Many nationalist countries are genuinely non-aligned. They attach importance to this. It is important that, as my visit to Mozambique and Angola made clear, the West is not taking sides in individual nationalist aspirations.

What is wrong is that the Soviet Union's overall aid budget is extraordinarily low. Attention was drawn to this fact in the Rome European Council. Most of the Soviet Union's money is spent on supplying arms to guerrilla activities and on fomenting discontent against democracy.

Mr. Robert Hughes

May I add my congratulations to my right hon. Friend on his arduous visit to Southern Africa? Would he reaffirm that the object of the exercise is to achieve majority rule on the basis of "one man, one vote" and that there will be no legislation passed through this House and that sanctions will not be lifted until such majority rule is guaranteed?

Could my right hon. Friend also say how quickly the inquiry into oil sanctions-busting will begin and when the results will be published?

Dr. Owen

On the question of the constitution, one cannot rule out any aspect of the constitution, and the franchise is an important aspect. As I have already made clear, I consider that the franchise should be on the widest possible basis. In any constitution it would be wiser to consider safeguarding the fears of minority groups by other mechanisms than by restricting the franchise. I made it clear to Mr. Smith that the Western world will look at the question of majority rule as meaning what it says. It means a genuinely elected black majority Government—as it undoubtedly will be. I hope that, as many other African countries have done, they will have enough sense to incorporate whites within the Government and that some whites will hold governmental posts. The franchise, however, should be on the widest possible basis. Clearly, that is one of the subjects which would be discussed if a conference were called.

Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler

May I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman particularly on having taken the trouble to visit Rhodesia? This gives many hon. Members on the Opposition Benches the greatest of pleasure.

I note from the right hon. Gentleman's statement that he has reserved the Government's position on an interim Government in Rhodesia. Could he tell the House now whether that is the route preferred, and, as a result of the forthcoming negotiations, what effect will this have on the timing? Will it still be possible, if there is an interim Government, to achieve majority rule by 1978? Furthermore, if the right hon. Gentleman follows that route, what arrangements will he be making to ensure that there is a reference to the people so that the Africans can decide which leaders are to play a part in that interim Government?

Dr. Owen

The question of an interim Government requires possibly more trust at an earlier stage than the strategy which I have indicated. It may be that that trust will be established after early discussions on a constitution and it would be possible to go to an interim Government. That is why I have not excluded it. But the trouble was that a trust certainly did not exist in Geneva and it is my view that it will be difficult to establish that trust because the interim Government proposals were dependent on violence ceasing and sanctions being lifted and, in the view of many black nationalists, it did not give them the absolute guarantee of majority rule which they wished. But it is on the table and it certainly can be considered.

Mr. Spearing

The Foreign Secretary referred in his statement to the black majority and the white minority. But would he not agree that, in emerging African countries, there have also been problems with other sorts of minorities? As, in particular, Presidents Kaunda and Nyerere have pointed out these facts, does my right hon. Friend expect that this aspect will be discussed in the consultations leading to a new constitution?

Dr. Owen

Yes. There is no doubt that we would have to look at all the minority groups. There is a significant coloured minority group which, at the moment, under the racial legislation, tends to be separately represented. Indeed, I saw a group of coloured representatives when I was in Salisbury.

Mr. Michael Latham

Regarding a constitutional conference, is the Secretary of State aware that, in my own visit to Rhodesia a week before him, on which I have reported to him, many people expressed to me the view that it would be unwise to proceed on that basis at present and that further bilateral negotiations were necessary before any such step was taken?

Dr. Owen

The hon. Gentleman's impressions may have been formed a little early, in that the full extent of the proposals and strategy had not been developed. However, I have no doubt that any steps forward that we take need to be carefully prepared. I have already made clear that I do not believe that one can go straight into a formal conference. There will need to be some months of the most careful preparation and bilateral discussions, as he has indicated.

Dr. McDonald

Would my right hon. Friend elucidate the meaning of the phrase "widest possible franchise"? Does it mean "one man one vote", or not?

Dr. Owen

Clearly, the widest franchise is one man one vote, one woman one vote. My hon. Friend ought to know that in Rhodesia at the moment there is not a wide franchise for women—in fact, it is very restricted. I personally think that that is the sort of world in which we are now living, and I told Mr. Smith that. But it would be wrong to call a constitutional conference on important issues like that and to rule out any discussion of other issues. There is a tradition of restricting the franchise in some respects in some post-colonial independence constitutions, but I think that it is important to recognise the general feeling in the Western world.

I believe that the objective of giving confidence to minority groups can best be achieved through other mechanisms—possibly white Members of Parliament in the first initial years, possibly a blocking mechanism for the first few years on constitutional change. There are many different ramifications of confidence-building measures for minority opinions, rather than going for a restriction, still less a restriction of the franchise. These are issues that will be discussed.

Sir Nigel Fisher

Arising out of a question from the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes), to the last part of which the Foreign Secretary did not reply, and in view of the right hon. Gentleman's own recent statement that an inquiry is to be instituted into the supply of oil to Rhodesia, could he indicate what form that inquiry will take and could he ensure, as the Government themselves are one of the major shareholders in a large oil company, that the inquiry will be completely independent?

Dr. Owen

I can certainly give the hon. Gentleman the assurance of a totally independent inquiry. It is because we have been at great pains to follow the strict legal interpretation that we chose to use the form of inquiry that was envisaged as a possibility in the original sanctions order. We hope to be in a position very soon to announce the name of the chairman of the inquiry, in which case it can start work very early.

I agree that there is a need to get the inquiry under way. What follows then is entirely, as I understand, a judicial procedure, and the question whether there has been any breach of sanctions would eventually involve probably the Director of Public Prosecutions, if he wished to make a judgment. There will be no political interference whatever in this issue. It is particularly important, because of the Government's shareholding in British Petroleum, that that is made clear.

Mr. MacFarquhar

In adding my congratulations to my right hon. Friend, may we ask him, whether, in his conversations with the front-line Presidents or with the black nationalist leaders, any desire was expressed for a concrete British presence on the ground in Rhodesia—quite apart from any diplomatic mission—during the period up to majority rule, and what his own feelings are on this matter?

Dr. Owen

I made it clear that the British Government had no intention of committing troops in any major way in this area because I do not believe that we would contemplate such a situation.

In the proposals that we tabled for an interim government there occurred the suggestion of a resident commissioner. It may be—this is certainly one of the issues that will have to be most extensively worked out, particularly jointly with the United States—that this could provide some stability for the short period of a caretaker government who would only supervise an election. The question of providing stability and a fair election is one of the important issues which the conference must look into.

There is no doubt that black nationalist leaders would not accept an election that was supervised by the current Smith Administration. Therefore, with some form of caretaker government—who might be for only a short period and who would not have to make very many decisions—the problems that arose over the interim government would not come in such an acute form.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Five hon. Members have been trying to catch my eye. I shall call them before we conclude.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Will the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary avoid confining his scepticism to Mr. Smith without questioning the motives and reliability of such leaders as Mugabe and Nkomo? Will he avoid giving the impression of constant bias against the British? Will he also have in mind the danger which some of us foresee of a settlement being arrived at which is not that wanted by the majority of people in Rhodesia but which is acceptable to the so-called front-line Presidents and the leaders of the American nationalist movements? The order in which things happen in Africa is very important and the fact that there will be a General Election will not cure the errors of an initial settlement.

Dr. Owen

I am quite clear that one of the problems will come in 1978. If one has achieved agreement on a constitution and on an electoral process, one will have to ask Mr. Smith to give up the powers of government to a caretaker government, and one will have to ask the Patriotic Front to give up the armed struggle. That may be difficult.

Therefore, when I spoke to the five Presidents, I warned them that I could envisage a time when I would ask them to withdraw their support for the armed struggle on the guarantee of majority rule and of the need for a peaceful election. I think that is an absolutely essential principle, and I will stand by it.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Will the Secretary of State agree that the welcome and, indeed, indispensable assistance of President Carter is in striking contrast to the unhelpful meddling of the Russians which the Prime Minister was right to condemn?

On the American understanding, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the United States Government are now pressing the front-line Presidents to stop supporting guerrillas? Does he expect that they will be represented, perhaps only as observers, at any conference he is able to call, and will he not rule out the possibility of perhaps persuading the United States to be involved in some form of guarantee of the frontiers of an independent Rhodesia?

Dr. Owen

The last question is purely one for the United States Administration. But, as regards the conference, I want to make it clear that the United States is co-sponsoring the conference, it will attend the conference in its own right and, unlike as in Geneva, it will attend the plenary sessions and will speak and question with the same access and facilities as the United Kingdom. The only difference in our relationship has been that we decided that I should chair the conference. However, I should tell the House that I shall chair the conference only for those parts of the conference that have a political content. Much of the conference, if it is called, will be on a technical and legal level.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

May I congratulate the Secretary of State not only on his energy and comparative open-mindedness, which he clearly brought to these frequently over-simplified and immensely complex problems in Southern Africa, but also on his endorsement of the proposition, which I put forward as long ago as 1966 in Salisbury, that there would be no solution of this problem until there was something equivalent to Marshall Aid? I very much welcome that.

Since the right hon. Gentleman places so much emphasis, again understandably, on the question of majority rule, and since he now has some personal experience of Africa, may I ask him to define more clearly how he will avoid some form of tribal majority emerging in Rhodesia and say what form of rule it will be? Will it be similar to that in Mozambique which has followed the achievement of so-called majority rule there, and, if so, for how long?

Dr. Owen

The hon. Gentleman should have made it clear that what they achieve will be democratically elected by the people of an independent Zimbabwe, a black government. That is the inevitable consequence of giving majority rule. The question of the franchise has been extensively discussed, but I have made it clear that it should be on the widest possible basis. I have always held that it should be "one man, one vote", but that is an issue to be discussed at the conference.

As to the hon. Gentleman's endorsement of an equivalent to Marshall Aid, he should recollect that Rhodesia at present is relatively well off compared with many African countries. On the question of a development fund, we have to see that we help an independent Zimbabwe, but not at the expense of other African countries. In looking at the fund one is looking at the infrastructure of society in Rhodesia which has made it a relatively prosperous African country, one important ingredient being the white skills and technical abilities.

Mr. Townsend

The Secretary of State mentioned his visit to Angola. What is the British Government's attitude to the recent invasion of Zaire from Angola, possibly with Cuban support? Will he now turn his attention to trying to achieve better co-ordination of policy in the European Community towards this vital part of Africa?

Dr. Owen

That question goes a good deal wider than the subject, but I would refer the hon. Gentleman to a statement made public yesterday by the Council of Foreign Ministers, meeting to discuss the question of Africa. It had an extensive discussion of the complex issues that underlie the severe problems of Zaire.

Mr. Nelson

In adding my congratulations to the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, may I ask whether he would care to comment further on the emergency motion of the Rhodesian Front yesterday, that the rights of all minority groups must be meaningfully guaranteed? Will he agree that such guarantees extend beyond purely financial rights? In view of the failure of the Geneva talks, partly because of the question of the institution of security administration, what are his views on a possible security council for an interim government, or the administration of adequate security and protection for minority groups after the introduction of majority rule?

Dr. Owen

I must tell the House that if anyone believes that guarantees can be built into constitutions, or into statements, he is living in a fool's paradise. The best guarantee of stability for an independent Zimbabwe and of good relations between the races will be the way the present Smith Administration carry through, over the next few difficult months, the transition to majority rule, the way they build up confidence again between black and white Rhodesians—I am sure that it can be built up again—and the way they try to ensure a constitution that will be seen by the rest of the world to be a fair interpretation of majority rule. The more they are seen to restrict the franchise to resist any form of effective black Government, the more doubts will be raised in people's minds about the seriousness of their intention.