HL Deb 21 March 1977 vol 381 cc338-72

7.53 p.m.

Lord ALPORT rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made since the breakdown of the Geneva Conference in achieving a negotiated solution to the threat to the whole of Southern Africa posed by the present situation in Rhodesia. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this gives me an opportunity of reporting to your Lordships such conclusions as I have reached during a five weeks' tour of Southern and Eastern Africa, during which I had, as a private individual representing no one but myself, a particularly favourable opportunity of assessing, in the light of such previous experience as I have had, the trends and possibilities which exist there. I acknowledge with gratitude the help that I received from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and from its extremely able representatives in five of the six countries I visited, many of whom were old colleagues of mine.

In this post-imperial era, so far, not in time, but in distance from the days when British influence was paramount in Africa, I felt a sense of pride at the manner in which Her Britannic Majesty's Ambassadors and High Commissioners are continuing to exercise an influence in the countries to which they are accredited, which so closely corresponds to the welfare of those countries concerned and to the interests of Great Britain itself. I was able to meet all whom I wished to meet. If I do not catalogue them, your Lordships will, I am sure, accept that they represented the Governments and the political Parties in most of the countries concerned; and in Rhodesia itself Government Ministers, the representatives of the European Opposition Parties, the executive committees of the Patriotic Front, the ANC and ZUPO, and many individuals of long experience of the politics and problems of that part of the world.

I set out to discover the answer to two questions: first, so far as Rhodesia is concerned, what is the time-scale for a peaceful settlement of the situation there? I started by thinking in terms of a year or more. As a result of my talks with a great many individuals, both black and white, it came down from three months to "less than a minute". What they were trying to say is that a new initiative is of paramount urgency if the poison which is spreading over the whole of the Southern part of Africa from the present situation in Rhodesia is not to corrode the hopes for stability and progress for black and white alike.

My second question was: if a new initiative is to be taken by the British Government, what form should it take? Let me, in this context, make two remarks. Mr. Young was quite right in saying that none of the Heads of State or political leaders he met believes that he can trust Britain—not in the moral sense, but simply in the sense that Britain would not conform to the particular policies and ideologies he represents. This goes for President Nyerere, Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Ian Smith. But the fact of the matter is that there is in Africa an almost desperate hope that a British initiative, an acceptance by this country of the responsibilities of statesmanship which history has bequeathed to us, will rescue them from the same disaster in Rhodesia which has accompanied the transfer of power by the Portugese in Angola and Mozambique. Secondly, they understand that if Britain is to take the lead, it must have the support of the super-Power of the West and from Africa itself.

Let me therefore, before I attempt to give my personal assessment of the form which any British initiative should take, give to your Lordships what are known as the relevant considerations to anyone who has even a wartime training in military logic. First, the guerrilla warfare, despite the loss of European lives, is unlikely to produce the unconditional surrender for which some—but not all—the front line Presidents hope. Its main impact on the present régime is the fact that the withdrawal of white manpower from the farming and business communities, in conjunction with sanctions, provides a very serious drain on the resources of the Rhodesian economy.

Although human life in Africa has supposedly a lower value than in Europe or America, the killings of Africans by the Rhodesian forces on the Mozambique or on the Botswana borders has involved the death of many innocent Africans whose only aim was to follow the paths across frontiers which from time immemorial had been open to them, or who have strayed out in curfew time to gather food from the fields. As your Lordships know, it has led to the death of missionaries who have devoted their lives to the welfare of their African congregations; of the wives and children of white families on the farms, which they have in many cases cut out of the bush; and of many young men—both black and white—who seek from different standpoints to serve causes in the rightness of which they profoundly believe.

The loss of life, my Lords, is tragic, but with every casualty—and this, to me, is more important—the bitterness is increased. The poison it produces spreads further into the body of Rhodesia itself, and seeps out over the borders into the neighbouring States, of which the most recent is Botswana. But let me emphasise this. There is still sufficient good will in Rhodesia today for the wounds of the present conflict to be healed if a political settlement can be reached this year. Those who believe that it can come only "at the muzzle of a gun" are the enemies of black and white alike, and are recognised as such.

The second relative consideration is this. While I do not believe that it is realistic to suppose that an internal settlement negotiated by Mr. Smith with any significant Africa Nationalist Party is possible, there is a strong and justifiable demand among the Africans that any régime which comes into being when a settlement is reached should be one of their own choice, and not imposed from without. Majority rule is now accepted. "Right", they say, "let the majority decide, and let them decide by a vote based on a referendum". And if there is to be a referendum, let it be internationally supervised by Britain and America, and possibly by representatives of the OAU. It is of course true, my Lords, that there is a tribal factor in the Rhodesian situation. The Mashona represent perhaps 80 per cent. of the African population, the Matabele less than 20 per cent. The ANC is primarily a Mashona Party with Matabele attachments; the Patriotic Front is a Matabele Party with Shono attachments. The front line Presidents, by throwing their influence behind the Patriotic Front, are seen in Rhodesia as trying to impose minority, not majority, rule on the Zimbabwe of the future. Why, so the argument goes, should they, however eminent they may be, seek to treat the Rhodesian Africans differently from the way in which they were treated at Independence by Britain or would allow their own people to be treated in any foreseeable future? That argument, my Lords, is in my view conclusive.

Thirdly, I was assured by a senior Minister in the Rhodesian Front Government that it would be possible to organise a referendum in a matter of days, or weeks at the most, using the Kenya system of identification by dye, which we have seen most recently was used in the Indian election, or by using the identification card. I understand that registration on a local basis already exists. Of course the campaign which preceded the referendum would involve security problems. There would be intimidation; there would be intervention by various guerrilla factions. There might be some abuses of the electoral procedures—which, after all, my Lords, is not unknown elsewhere. But the process of a referendum would enable the settlement of the Rhodesian problem to be achieved by the vote and not by "the muzzle of a gun".

Fourthly, my Lords, whatever may be thought by history of the rights or wrongs of the proposed Kissinger settlement and the subsequent Geneva Conference, it produced the acceptance by the Rhodesian Front Government of the reality of majority rule, not in a thousand years but in two. It does not matter now, my Lords, that the interpretation of majority rule was quite different in the minds of Mr. Smith and his advisers from what it was in those of the leaders of the Nationalist Parties or, indeed, from that of someone like myself. Nor is the situation changed by the new policy to eliminate some racial discrimination, which has caused a split in Mr. Smith's Party. His proposals are almost identical with those on which the late Sir Edgar Whitehead fought the 1962 election, when he was defeated by the defection of Mr. Smith under the leadership of the late Winston Field, with all the tragic consequences which have followed during the last 15 years. The fact is that what seemed a lot then—too much for many white Rhodesians to swallow—is too little now. The issues are not the relaxing of racial discrimination or the introduction of majority rule, but how soon and in what manner both are to be achieved with the minimum loss of life and damage to the whole structure of the Rhodesian economy.

I must emphasise to your Lordships three things. The front line Presidents, by throwing their influence behind a single Party, which from a tribal point of view in Rhodesia is a relatively small minority, have forfeited the confidence of the majority of Africans there. I know that there are many experienced observers who believe that if the outcome of a referendum were to place power in the hands of the Shona-based Party, the ANC, there would be a new and an even more destructive civil war. My Lords, I do not believe this. I think that the chances of trouble would be far greater if, as a result of external pressure, power was given to a tribal minority. But, my Lords, that is not the point. If those who believe that the ANC represents the vast majority of Africans in Rhodesia—and the Observer recently estimated them at 80 to 90 per cent.—are wrong, let the issue be decided by the people of Rhodesia themselves; not by the intervention of the front line Presidents or the guns of the guerrilla forces, but peacefully on the basis of one man, one vote.

Let me say here that in my talk with the representatives of the Patriotic Front there was evidence of the essential reasonableness of many of their views. Indeed, the proposals which Mr. Nkomo made to Mr. Smith some months ago for a qualitative franchise were such that it is difficult to understand why they were so abrasively rejected. All one can say is that so many opportunities of reaching a reasonable and realistic settlement of the Rhodesian problem have been lost that history must simply add one more to the debit side of Mr. Smith's political balance sheet.

Secondly, my Lords, despite the flow of Soviet and Chinese arms, of President Podgorny's present tour, of the Cuban mercenaries and of the flirtation of African leaders of various sorts with Marxist imperialism, Africa and Africans are not a fertile ground for Communism. Tanzania, as the prototype of what is called African Socialism, is widely regarded as a failure. The only significant export of Russian Communism to Africa are the guns with which one faction in Africa is enabled to kill other Africans. I exclude, I must confess, the Chinese, whose Tan-Zam railway was intended to be a direct contribution to African development but which, alas!, owing to the inadequacy of the Dar-es-Salaam port and the high cost of freight, has made little contribution to the bankrupt economy of Zambia. My Lords, the point I am making is this. In African eyes—and this goes for most Europeans and for most Africans—the future of Africa lies with traditional Africa and not with the Communist East. It would in my view be a great mistake to allow our distaste and fear of Communism to distort our policies or influence our actions in that part of the world.

Thirdly, in a country of present-day Africa, where the numerical strength of the whites is less than one-to-twenty of the blacks, there is no future for political power for that tiny minority, however strongly they may be entrenched in the economic life of the country or however great may be the contribution they have made to its development. A delegation of Rhodesian farmers has recently visited Kenya. I was told that they were greatly impressed by the way in which the Europeans in Kenya had been integrated into the Kenyan economy. Many, of course, have been bought out; but those who are prepared to identify themselves with the interests and progress of an African State can still play a recognised role and live a tolerable life in a community in which they may no longer dominate politically, but to the development of which their past efforts and their future energies make a wholly acceptable contribution.

Lastly, the establishment of a majority African Government would destroy the reason d'être of the guerrillas. It is perfectly true that some Africans in Rhodesia suspect that the recruitment of guerrillas from Matabeleland over the Botswana border—as, for example, the recent incident of the so-called "schoolchildren"—is an attempt to strengthen the military hand of one element in the Patriotic Front with the aim of preempting any other settlement. This is certainly possible. But a majority Government would have at its disposal the disciplined police and army forces in Rhodesia in which the Africans are in a majority, and would certainly have the support of a substantial element among the guerrillas. I do not think that we should overestimate the problem which the ending of guerrilla warfare might pose.

My Lords, in the light of these considerations, I offer the following proposals which I hope may be considered by those who, here and in Africa, have the power to dispose and to act in the context of the present time. I suggest that Her Majesty's Government should propose the appointment of an electoral commission to supervise the holding of a referendum. This commission should consist of a British representative to act as chairman; a United States representative and a representative appointed by the OAU. This referendum must, in my view, take place before the end of September and must be on the basis of one man, one vote. The guerrillas in Mozambique and Zambia should have the right to vote under appropriate arrangements. As a result of the referendum, an interim Government should be formed with a representation proportionate to the voting strengths of the various Parties.

Following the referendum, the electoral commission would become a high commission with the responsibilities that I outlined in my previous speech in your Lordships' House—to act as Head of State, to frame a Constitution with safeguards for minorities, to be responsible for law and order with the support of an "internal security" mission representing, in addition to the present security forces, expert advice from outside, but working through a Minister in the interim Government who would belong to the majority Party; and, lastly, to make arrangements for the election of a Head of State of independent Zimbabwe and for its first Parliament.

My Lords, I suggest that when the interim Government is formed sanctions should be lifted and the British and United States Governments should proceed to activate the 2,000 million dollar fund, which should be used not only in Rhodesia but also to compensate the peripheral States such as Botswana, which have suffered severely from the present troubles. I think that Africans in exile, along with the detainees, should be given an opportunity in Rhodesia, on return or release, of taking part in the referendum —provided that they give an undertaking to abide by the settlement which this process will produce. If some still wish to conquer at the muzzle of a gun, it will then be easy to assess their real value to the peaceful evolution of the Zimbabwe of the future.

When Mr. Richard did his second tour of Africa he tried to hammer home—so I was told on the very good authority of the South African Foreign Minister—three principles. They were: one, that there must be majority rule; two, that there must be a tolerable and secure future for the Rhodesian Europeans in Zimbabwe; and, three, that there must be an end to guerrilla warfare. In all the countries I visited I had reason to suppose—from South Africa Northwards—that those principles were accepted.

I have outlined a method by which these principles could be put into effect. I do not underestimate the difficulties or the power of the malign forces which would seek to prevent a peaceful and orderly solution of the Rhodesian problem. I have tried to think that problem through. Of course I have not thought of all the combinations and permutations which others may consider appropriate; but of the practicality and desirability of the general design, I have no doubt.

It will require the willingness of Her Majesty's Government to accept the responsibility which is historically ours; it will require the United States Administration to act up to the principles to which President Carter dedicated his country in his speech last week at the United Nations; it will require the Republic of South Africa to implement the policies to which Mr. Botha has recently referred in New York; it will require the realism to which Mr. Smith has, at last, apparently, been converted; and it will require the co-operation and moderation of African national Leaders —and I believe that that will be forthcoming, at any rate from some of them.

I can only say, my Lords, that having lived with the problems of this part of the world for most of my political lifetime, I still believe that there is a chance of a solution to the Rhodesian problem which could prevent the untold damage to a fine country and the suffering to its people of all races which today seem inevitable; and perhaps it might achieve something beyond that. Perhaps it might avoid, for the whole of Southern Africa, a fate which in the words of Mr. Vorster is "too awful for any of us to contemplate".

8.16 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to start by thanking my noble friend for raising this matter upon which he has a depth of experience greatly in excess of my own. It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of the matter which he has raised or of the conversations that are, I hope, continuing covertly on the future of Rhodesia. As he has indicated, their outcome will be crucial to the future of the whole of South Africa. The example of Rhodesia cannot fail to exert an influence on the future of Namibia. The future of Namibia is intimately bound up with the future of South Africa. We have to face the sad and urgent fact that stagnation is no longer an alternative to progress. In the past, the status quo could perhaps have been preserved by inaction. Today, up and down that end of the continent it can only be preserved by riot police, by emergency regulations, by guns and, as my noble friend has pointed out, by casualties and a heavy drain on the economy of the countries concerned.

It must be our concern as a nation to make possible a just solution and to see, in so far as it is possible for us so to do, that it is arrived at with the minimum of violence, suffering and loss by the people to whom it applies. The longer a solution escapes us—and not merely us, my Lords, for we are by no means in sole control or in any shadow of control at all of this difficult situation—the longer it is delayed, the greater, I believe, will be the cost of attaining it. The pressures that are accumulating—not just in Rhodesia but in the boiler of Southern Africa as a whole—portend a terrible and costly explosion unless, somehow, the fires are drawn.

My Lords, if it is not easy to exaggerate the importance of the Rhodesian problem in its proper context, it is no easier to exaggerate its complexity. It is both concentric and tortuous—indeed, if Mr. Richard went out to Geneva and the African capitals like Mercury, as depicted by the statue in Piccadilly Circus, his struggle with the circumstances that he met there soon reminded us more of Laocöon, as depicted in the group at the Vatican. Within Rhodesia, to reduce it to its simplest terms, we have a confrontation between Smith and Muzorewa, with Sithole—with Muzorewa perhaps disposing of 70 per cent. of the support of black Rhodesians, and more, probably so, if he is joined by Sithole. Over the border, Mugabe and Nkomo mount a continuing assault of young expatriates bent on the violent overthrow of the Smith regime. Behind them, stand the five front line Presidents upon whose good will this assault in different degrees depends. Behind Smith stands Vorster upon whom he, likewise, depends to repel it. Beyond this tableau of confrontation and dependence loom, on the one hand, the Russians, anxious to build a Marxist bridge across the continent, and, on the other, the Americans, anxious alike for their own interests and, more unmistakably now under the new Administration, for a solution that is fair in terms of what we now call human rights and used to call common justice. The figures in this moving tableau stand upon a ground in some areas of which lie undisturbed mineral resources of very considerable interest to all the participating States and to some who are not even engaged.

Her Majesty's Government cannot divest themselves of the responsibility given to them by history, and in no way lessened by their abortive efforts at Geneva and their fruitless journeys thereafter, of moving about among those figures, of trying so to adjust the balance of interest and advantage that a settlement can he reached that is at least acceptable to enough of those concerned to make sure that it sticks, that can be seen to be just as well as viable, and which does not betray the interests of this country.

The task is not an easy one, and it occurs to me that, like any other difficult task, it is rendered a thousand times more difficult by being carried out in the dark, as my noble friend has already indicated. We are in the dark, my Lords, on one very fundamental matter: the opinion of the actual inhabitants of Rhodesia—the future Zimbabweans, if you care to call them such—as to what they want. And that, for the principal protagonists of democracy in the Western world since the 13th century, is a pretty extraordinary position for us to be in!

I know that I said earlier that Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Sithole between them could probably count on 70 per cent. of the support of their compatriots. Certainly I believe this. I believe it because it has been stated to me forcefully by quite a large number of people who have been there, or who live there and who ought to know. But it has been stated as an opinion held on purely subjective evidence. Thus, I may believe it, but I do not know it and I may be wrong. Certainly Mr. Nkomo would challenge it, and he would challenge the opinion at least as forcefully as it has been advanced to me. But he cannot know either what the Zimbabweans think, and nobody can know because nobody has asked them. Some of us know what we think they want, and most of us know what we think they ought to want, but that is not good enough.

Nor do I think it will be good enough if we finish up by collaborating in a solution to which we have acceded simply as a reaction to diplomatic pressure or in the more or less intelligent pursuit of what we regard as our own self-interest. It happens here, as so often, that our self-interest and our moral obligation coincide. Our moral obligation is to help the Rhodesian people, both black and white, in whose history we cannot deny that we have played a major part, to arrive at a Constitution under which, if they are wise —and nobody can guarantee that—they can live in peace and freedom, both as a nation and as individuals. That will not be achieved by imposing on them a Constitution designed to satisfy either our own preconceptions or those of the Marxists. Nor, my Lords, will we do any service to justice or to ourselves if we adopt a solution simply because those who favour it have guns, and those who oppose it do not. It is the function of diplomacy to achieve justice without resort to war, or whatever Klausewitz may have said, and in this case justice must not be blind.

Surely, the time has now come for the Government of this country, seeking what support they may need from others, to turn their mind to ascertaining who in reality the Zimbabweans want to decide their future for them? And ought they not, whatever the answer to that question is, to ensure that it is accepted and seen to be freely given, and to turn their minds also to having it validated by some external and independent observer? The noble Lord knows that I could well be more specific (my noble friend has indeed been so), but this is no time, and I speak from no place, to tie anybody's hands with detail.

I recognise the very great delicacy of the task that now confronts the Foreign Secretary. I wish him luck in it and I wish to remind him of the magnificent carving that adorns the ruins of ancient Zimbabwe. I have not been there but I have been in Rhodes House, for my father was for many years International Secretary of the Trust, and there I have seen it carved on every conceivable angle and cornice. It is a bird of an austere and almost entirely mysterious majesty. But if little is known of it, it is clearly not a bird of the night, and I want to put into the noble Lord's head the thought that if he wants to know what or who the inhabitants of that troubled country actually want, he will have to ask them and bring the broad light of day. Conversations with pressure groups, with opinion-formers, with vested interests, with Governments, with Heads of State and with interested parties are not enough.

Nor is it enough simply to take the path of least diplomatic resistance or of most diplomatic advantage. Still less, if we are to avert a disaster which will spread eventually down to the Cape, can we afford to do nothing. Let him then find a means of asking all the people what—or better, perhaps, who—they want, and let him see that the question is asked and the answer given in circumstances under which no one can afterwards doubt that it is given freely and that it is true. It may be a tall order, but it is something he cannot lightly dismiss.

I will not follow my noble friend into the complexities of the arrangements. That is not something, perhaps, which the Secretary of State should himself have in mind at the outset of his journey; but let him recall that any settlement that is imposed upon an unwilling people, regardless of the good will which it will get for this country from the incoming Government, will not get permanent good will. It is in our interest to have friendly States throughout Southern Africa, and it is in their interest to have our friendship and support. If we go merely for the easy option—even though we are weak at the moment in terms of military and economic force—we betray not only ourselves but the Zimbabweans of the future.

8.26 p.m.


My Lords, we are indeed fortunate in that the noble Lord, Lord Alport, has put this Question to the Government, for there can be few men as distinguished and with as much experience of African and Rhodesian politics. I will not only read his speech again, but I will keep it for reference. The noble Lord's Question is right on target. So long as no negotiated solution is achieved in Rhodesia, there is a constant threat to the whole of Southern Africa, and with every delay the situation can only get worse. So I hope that the Government will examine the noble Lord's speech and see what can be done in order to implement his suggestions.

Since in the United Nations every resolution starts with a condemnation of apartheid and includes armed struggle as a legitimate means to achieve human rights, this ties in with the Soviet practice of giving aid to African countries in the form of armaments. When it comes to making friends, decolonisation cannot compete with Soviet guns. Over a span of about 12 years I have noted the growing influence of the Russians on Third World countries. I have sometimes thought: How can we speed the decolonisation when we lose friends by doing so? In last Sunday's Observer newspaper, Colin Legum, in an outstanding article, traced the course of Soviet ambitions and Soviet strategy over land and sea round South Africa. He concluded—and I agree with him—that if the Western nations, especially Britain and the United States, fail to solve the problems of Rhodesia and Namibia quickly, the Russians will continue to be invited to play a large role in Southern Africa. Of course the South African Republic and the Rhodesians are only too well aware of this. But their obsession with the Communist menace does not in their minds have much to do with majority rule, and I think that the noble Lord, Lord Alport, gave a hint of this. It just hardens their attitude towards apartheid.

The attitude of Mr. Ian Smith, despite his twisting and turning, is somehow a little different. He has, after all, accepted majority rule in two years and he has won his Bill over land for blacks which drastically cuts the exclusively white areas of the country and opens white farming areas to all races. He did that without solid support from his black Members of Parliament, and so a major breakthrough towards removing racial discrimination has come about. Mr. Ian Smith still seems to me to be the man—and here I am not sure that the noble Lord, Lord Alport, would agree with me—to continue to negotiate with.

On the other hand, Mr. Vorster fills me with gloom. The idea of majority rule paralyses him and he seems to recoil from any idea of dismantling apartheid. Mr. Vorster's attitude, to me, spells armed conflict, and few journalists or observers speak of the outcome of armed conflict between blacks and whites as a victory for the whites—because the black people are fighting for their human rights and they outnumber the Europeans by five to one. I suppose that I am naive, but I find it very difficult to understand apartheid and those who believe in it. It seems to me that those who maintain it are bartering the lives of their children and their grandchildren for a mess of privilege. Mr. Vorster appears to me as an unrepentant prisoner of privilege; he seems to me to be a man without a vision of the future, an eyeless man who is blind to the moral issue of apartheid.

As for our own Government and the possibility of influencing events in Southern Africa, they cannot come up with any instant solutions, but the fact that Dr. Owen, the Foreign Secretary, is himself going to Africa is a measure of the importance and urgency he attaches to the problems involved. Anyone who acquires a knowledge of apartheid and racial discrimination quickly comes to the realisation that human rights are indivisible. Finally, my Lords, may I say that I hope, again, that the Government will take to heart the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, and will act upon it.

8.33 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to seek to put the record straight a little. Firstly, as to the personalities, Mr. Nkomo represents the Matabele. His patron is President Kaunda. The Bishop and the parson represent the Mashona. Their patron is President Nyrere. The Mashona are a mixture of tribes shattered by the Zulu and pinned against the Zambezi and the Barotse. For generations, they were treated by the Matabele as game. They were the people upon whom the Matabele warrior blooded his spears. For two generations before the white man came, they could not sleep in their huts because the huts were fired that they might be speared when they came out; and so they went and slept in the bush. Robert Mugabe represents nobody in Rhodesia; he is said to speak for the guerrillas. The guerrillas are not Rhodesian; they are Makonde from Mozambique in the great majority and are recruited, armed and trained by Russia. Robert Mugabe is not a Makonde; he is not a guerrilla: he is a lawyer. He is in fact Russia's man, put forward to speak for the Russian interest in this battle.

Now let us look at the front line Presidents. President Kaunda is dictator of Zambia; his patron is America. Both his economy and law and order are at a very low ebb. Nyerere dictates Tanzania. The country is bankrupt and central Government has largely broken down. It is what in colonial days we used to describe as "less and less administered". His patron is China. Machel of Mozambique—well, there, semi-official assassinations are probably as numerous but less publicised than in Amin's domain. The state of the nation is chaos and the patron is Russia. Neto in Angola is not in a very different position. Seretse Khama in Botswana is an extremely decent man, trying to administer a small backward district. Those are the front line Presidents to whom we have handed over.

Now let us see what is the state of the play. In September we had the Kissinger terms. They provided for a mixed interim Government, for that Government to be replaced by a majority Government to be drawn from Rhodesians, and for a compensation fund to be provided to assure the Europeans if their positions were made untenable. On the 22nd September, Kissinger confirmed that Presidents Kaunda and Nyerere had consented and agreed the terms. Our own Statement on the subject, issued a day or two later said this: They"— that is, the terms presented by Mr. Kissinger to Mr. Smith and accepted by Mr. Smith without detraction: reflected the thoughts of the Presidents of the African nations most directly concerned, who were consulted throughout by Dr. Kissinger and in the course of five special US/UK missions to Africa in recent months. That is the Kissinger terms approved by us, consented to by the Presidents, cheered by all except Russia.

Then came the Patriotic Front. Mr. Nkomo, knowing that he was in a minority in Rhodesia, made a deal with the guerrillas—that is the Makonde. This was a Russian plan to "dish" the Mashona, because the Mashona looked to Nyerere and, indirectly, to China. That is what the Patriotic Front really is. It is certainly based on no trust at all. Nkomo, with the assistance of his patron, Kaunda, has been arming busily, recruiting the Matabele, kidnapping the Matabele and transporting them North to Zambia to be trained, in order to fight Mugabe and the Northerners when the time comes. That is the build-up there.

Then came the Geneva Conference; and let us say that was to implement the Kissinger plan. It was upon that basis that Mr. Smith was advised. At the time, I said to the Government and to your Lordships: "This is a hopeless and mischievous proposal. It is a hopeless and mischievous proposal because the Russians have decreed that it shall not work". As usual, I received a rebuke from the Government for my warning. I have been used to that over the last 11 years. For 11 years I have warned the Government, step by step, of the disasters which would happen, and on each occasion I have been rebuked. The conference did fail, and it made things a lot worse. Geneva made things a lot worse, because it degraded our position. We "ratted" on the Kissinger agreement and our "ratting" failed, because it brought no agreement, because Mugabe was briefed by the Russians not to agree. I told the Government that before it happened. At that meeting, we abandoned our case for majority rule in Rhodesia. We changed that to rule by the appointees of the five Presidents—in fact, the Russian guerrilla front. Mugabe had his instructions, and even our humiliation did not buy any kind of agreement.

Then came the Salisbury proposals. Even if they had not been a recipe for the suicide of Rhodesia, they must have been unacceptable, in view of the extent of discredit, as to balance and equanimity, which Mr. Richard had earned for himself. The whole thing was the disaster that I told the Government it would be. This is the background which we are up against. Against this, the noble Lord, Lord Alport, has proposals. His proposals are that we should now hand over to the Shona majority. That is what his election, whatever one calls it, comes to. It comes to handing over to the Shona majority. Is he still naïve enough to think that that is acceptable to the Russians? Does he still think that that would stop the guerrilla war? Does that make him think that the Makonde are not going to break in? Does he think that that is acceptable to the Matabele? It is really very great nonsense and, with very great respect, I must say this to the noble Lord: No man has been more disastrously wrong in Africa than he has been throughout his contact, and I do not think that any man has earned the same degree of mistrust as he has earned among those Africans who have the current misfortune of sharing his colour.

Several noble Lords



My Lords, I now turn to the future. There is going to be a war. I can tell the Government as I have told unhappy truths about Rhodesia and Africa for many years. Peace is not an option. Peace as an option is long, long past. The question is: who will that war be between? On the present Russian plan, it will be between the Matabele and the Makonde. They will set upon the Shona and the Europeans. When they have been destroyed, the Makonde will fight the Matabele and the object will be that Rhodesia joins Mozamibque as part of the Communist area in Africa. That is the African plan, worked out quite ruthlessly and fearlessly.

The alternative is a deal within Rhodesia, under which Bishop Muzorewa would probably become Prime Minister and the Rhodesian Army—mostly black, but for the time being certainly white-led—would have a reasonable chance of defeating the Makonde invaders. That is the alternative. But it is an alternative that must be fought for by arms. There is no peaceful alternative here. We totally "kid" ourselves. We "kid" ourselves as much as many people "kidded" themselves in 1939 in imagining that there was a peaceful solution when none existed. Appeasement here will not work any more than it worked then.

Here is a position where a little toughness is required and I hope that, at very long last, Her Majesty's Government will think for a little where the interests not only of ourselves but of Africa really lie. They lie in an internal settlement in Rhodesia, and armed military support to that new Rhodesian Government, probably led by Bishop Muzorewa, to enable them to defend themselves from the Makonde/Frelimo forces, which are at present the best armed and the most able, and which are organised by Russia on their borders.

8.46 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, is always a difficult man to follow, especially on this subject, about which his knowledge is so extensive and on which his sincerity is so self-evident. There was a great deal in what he said with which I agreed, and I have no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, will deal faithfully with him on those points of agreement. But I must say that I strongly dissociate myself from his, as I thought, unwarranted attack upon my noble friend Lord Alport.

Several noble Lords

Hear, hear!


My Lords, over many years now my noble friend Lord Alport and I have spoken in these debates on Rhodesia. We have always disagreed, but gradually, I think, the gulf between us has narrowed, until today it is very nearly, though not quite, non-existent. I think that where I differed from my noble friend, and where I agreed particularly with the noble Lord, Lord Paget, was in his assessment of the Russian threat. I cannot quote my noble friend's exact words, but he said something to the effect that the Africans do not like the Russians, and we will find that they will throw off Russian Communism quite easily. There are quite a number of people in the world who do not like the Russians. I do not think the people of Poland like them particularly. I do not think the people of Czechoslovakia like them particularly. But they have not been able to throw them off, and I think we "kid" ourselves if we believe that by getting a settlement we have removed the Russian threat.

The Russians do not think in terms of quick returns. They do not want results as we always want them, by Tuesday fortnight at the outside. They have long-term objectives and they stick to them, and if for a moment they seem to recoil it is only in order to jump further in the future. My noble friend insists that a solution is urgent. As he said, the time scale has dropped from years to months, even to minutes, and I agree with him that a solution is urgent. However, the main point which sticks in my mind from his speech is his insistence that there must be a settlement in Rhodesia—in Zimbabwe, if we prefer the word—for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe, of whatever tribe or colour, and for the benefit of nobody else.

Earlier this afternoon I had the opportunity of a word with my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel, and I asked whether I could quote him in support of the general argument that I am trying to put forward. My noble friend was perfectly agreeable that I should do so, but he asked me to make an apology to my noble friend in particular and to the House in general for his not being here this evening. Only an hour or two earlier he had arrived from California and I think that it would have been unreasonable to expect my noble friend to wait for this debate.

I want to draw the attention of the House, for noble Lords may or may not have seen it, to an article by my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel in the Spectator of 26th February, 1977. The theme of the article is the one which has been stressed by nearly every speaker today: that this is a matter for the people of Zimbabwe, not for the front line Presidents. The particular passage that I should like to quote is as follows: The probability of a negotiated arrangement has been compromised by the collapse of the Kissinger enterprise, but there are two factors in the present Rhodesian scenario from which agreement could derive. The first is that Mr. Smith has not repudiated his statement that he would agree to majority rule in two years provided that the transition was orderly. He has in fact lately repeated the pledge. The second is that Bishop Muzorewa is a Rhodesian, is in Rhodesia,"— although he is not now, I believe— and wishes to reach a settlement without the use of force. The lesson of the recent months would seem to be that outsiders should lay off and allow the different groups inside Rhodesia to work out a reconciliation". For my own part, I believe that if it is to have any chance of lasting, any settlement we come to must be on the basis that outsiders should lay off. I do not think that I can recall any debate on Rhodesia—and Heaven knows! I have spoken in enough of them and listened to enough of them—in which there was in general such a measure of agreement between both sides of the House. I was particularly impressed by the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell. I do not hold any brief for Mr. Ian Smith and it is not my place to defend him, but I was very much heartened by the openness of mind which the noble Baroness showed in her references to him. I believe that the noble Baroness reflected an openness of mind on all sides of the House.

There is just one question—I have given him notice of it and I hope that he received it—which I should like to put to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts. Just what is the interest of the front line Presidents in Rhodesia? Is it that they want to establish Parliamentary government in Rhodesia? It can hardly be so, or they would have established it in their own countries. Is it that they are so concerned with individual freedom and the rights of man? It can hardly be that, or they would have paid more attention to individual freedom and the rights of man in their own countries. Is there any basis for the attitude of the front line Presidents except the basis of race? And why is it that racism, which is illegal in this country, should seem to be mandatory in Africa? I should like the noble Lord to turn his mind to that question and to give us an answer that makes sense. However, I think it is clear from every speech that has been made that, whatever the solution is, it must be for the benefit not of the front line Presidents or their territories; it must be a solution for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe, irrespective, as I say, of tribe, race or colour. I hope that the Government, however long they last, will bear that point in mind.

8.57 p.m.


My Lords, I want to do much more than thank the noble Lord, Lord Alport, for initiating our debate tonight. I want to thank him for his speech. I have been a little disappointed that in the debate which followed we have not recognised the importance of his speech. It was delivered after the noble Lord had seen representatives of the different nations in Southern Africa, the leaders of the African peoples and the leaders of the whites in Zimbabwe. I thought that he gave us a most objective and impartial picture of the results of that investigation.

The noble Lord concluded his speech by making proposals, the significance of which we have not yet realised. He will forgive me for saying that one will have to consider his proposals very carefully after we have read them in detail. However, the noble Lord's speech contained proposals for the settlement of the situation in Rhodesia which were more constructive and hopeful than any I have heard in previous debates in this House. Therefore, I want to pay my tribute to the noble Lord and to say how ridiculous were the attacks upon him which have been made by one speaker in the debate.

We are now in a very critical situation. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Alport, was correct when he said that it is a matter of months, not years, whether this dispute in Zimbabwe is to be solved by discussion and negotiated settlement or whether we are to be faced with a racial war in Southern Africa the consequences of which we can hardly begin to contemplate. That settlement is as important for the whites in Zimbabwe as it is for the blacks. If they have a fear of majority rule in Zimbabwe let them look to Zambia, where the white residents who have remained are happy and recognise the justice of the African Government which has followed.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord, who is always so very courteous? When he thinks of Zambia and the position of the white man there, has he considered the economic dislocation and the poverty which has descended upon the people of Zambia as a whole since independence?


Yes, my Lords, I certainly have and that economic depression which is in Zambia today is largely the result of the heroic attitude of the Zambian Government in its opposition to minority rule in Zimbabwe, in carrying out the sanctions for which we have asked; and we all ought to pay tribute to the Zambian Government for having done that. But I am thinking not only of Zambia; I am thinking of Kenya, where the quite remarkable conciliation under African rule of the Europeans who were there, particularly in the White Highlands, ought to make the whites in Zimbabwe feel that if a settlement is reached by discussion and negotiation, they may have a future in Zimbabwe as there now is in Zambia and in Kenya.

I have a terrible feeling tonight that history will not forgive us, will not forgive the whites in Zimbabwe, will not forgive the blacks, if the present opportunity for a settlement is not grasped. I should have liked—but I refrain from doing so in detail—to reply to what the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, said about the Kissinger negotiations. I shall only refer him to the letter which appeared in The Times last Friday from Colin Legum, who probably knows as much about this subject as anyone in this country, which completely denied the suggestion that when the proposals were made by Mr. Kissinger to Mr. Ian Smith, those proposals involved an absolute agreement in which the United States of America and this country were involved.

I am not surprised that that agreement was rejected by the African people of Zimbabwe. It would have left the armed forces, and responsibility for law and order, in white hands. We now have a situation in which our Foreign Secretary, Dr. Owen, is making an examination of the whole situation in Southern Africa. I wish him every fortune that he can have in that effort. I will only say this to him. I very much hope that in his discussions with Mr. Vorster in South Africa he will not sacrifice Namibia in the interests of a settlement in Zimbabwe. We are forgetting the issue there, and justice in Southern Africa is as important as the issue in Zimbabwe itself.

I want to recognise that if a settlement is to be reached it will mean adjustments on both sides, by the whites and by the blacks. If there is to be an interim Government before majority rule is realised, that interim Government must be recognised as representing a transition to majority rule. It would have to involve very much more than Mr. Ian Smith has now proposed to end discrimination in Zimbabwe and it would have to secure that the control of the armed forces and law and order were in hands that were acceptable to the majority in Rhodesia.

On the other side, there must be adjustments by the African leaders. They must in this situation find a basis of unity. If they are to influence the future of Zimbabwe the conflict between three African leaders, all claiming to speak for the Africans in Zimbabwe, must be ended; and, if we are to succeed in moving towards majority rule, a supreme effort must be made by that conciliation between African leaders. I say this, further, that if a settlement is to be reached by reason and negotiation which makes majority rule in Zimbabwe possible within the period of two years which has been laid down, then the whole influence of African leadership must be exerted against the continuation of guerrilla warfare in that territory.

Finally, my Lords, I want to make an appeal to our own Government. I want it to be much more decisive and challenging in its assertion of the right of the majority in Zimbabwe to control their nation. I should like to see them much more challenging on the issue of sanctions. They are sometimes being betrayed by interests in our own country; they are being betrayed in many countries of the world. I should like to see our Government taking a much more challenging attitude in the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations, denouncing those who are repudiating this international obligation.

There is one further point that I want to make. British subjects of Asian descent and non-white descent are now asked in Zimbabwe to join the military forces against the African guerrillas. A number of them are refusing to do so. A number of them are now seeking to come to this country. There are three cases now which are before the Home Office, and at Heathrow they are being refused admission to this country, though they desire to come here because they are refusing to become the conscripts of a Government which we regard as illegal. When this matter was raised by my noble friend Lord Avebury—and I pay tribute to his initiative—I proposed in this House that all individuals of this character should, at Heathrow, before they are sent back, he allowed to make an appeal to the Home Office. I regret to say that that suggestion was declined.

What I want to say to Her Majesty's Government is this: if they are really sincere in their desire to secure majority rule in Zimbabwe, then they have to show a challenge and a decision to a Government which is illegal, which is in defiance of our own Government, and they have to show sympathy and support to those in Zimbabwe itself who are declining to become the instruments of that illegality. I hope the Government will listen to that plea.

9.12 p.m.


My Lords, in following the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, who takes such an interest in Africa and whose sincerity I always admire, he will not expect me to agree with not a little of what he has said, although he has, as usual, made interesting suggestions. I have just returned from seven weeks in Southern Africa where I spoke with not a few responsible individuals, both black and white, and so carried back an impression. For that reason tonight I could not forego the inclination to advance some reflections. I was looking forward to the Question and how it was going to be put by my noble friend Lord Alport, and I am not disappointed in his address, so thoughtfully presented. He has put forward some massive suggestions and has made what is without question a contribution of great value to all our thinking. But to anybody with logical reasoning and some knowledge of Africa we should ask the question, what does the Free World really want to see—Rhodesia succumbing to the influence of Marxist principles, as pressed all over Southern Africa, doubtless with the intention of dominating the whole of Southern Africa?

There can be no doubt that in Rhodesia there was grave resentment against the attempt of the British Government to impose an external solution, as doubtless there would have been in many other countries under similar circumstances. Many find it puzzling that the British Government attach such importance to the so-called five front line Presidents and accept their advice. As those Presidents are all subjected to Russian influence, that advice must be suspect.

An internal settlement would be much more acceptable to all Parties and peoples in Rhodesia. The Western Free World must have grounds for the widest possible opposition to the dangers of Communism and it should pursue all possible means to oppose Communism, regardless of emotional or ideological feelings. High on the list of priorities should be the removal of sanctions. Such an action would prove to be a great discouragement to the terrorists and would contribute to a reduction in the loss of life. Surely sincerity and humanity should press for such a step being taken. That should also be acceptable to the emergent States which have received hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money, none of which has gone to Rhodesia.

Let there be no misunderstanding. The present conflict in Africa is not black against white: it is Communism against non-Communism; it is constitutionalism and private enterprise against Communism. Tan Smith has accepted the removal of racial discrimination, the abolition of the Land Tenure Act and the accompanying revision of the Tribal Trust Land areas. This practically satisfies the demands of both the previous Conservative Government and this Government. I believe that those steps will be taken by the Rhodesian Government. I should like the Government to display more guts in mobilising world opinion to save Rhodesia from the dangers of Communism.

Let us make no mistake. Terrorism is paid for by Russia, by money or weaponry. This is a contribution which receives assistance from other sources, such as the Swedish Government, who have recently voted 800,000 dollars to the terrorist movement, and assisted by others, even British private as well as official sources. The House was told recently, by the noble Lord, Lord Home, with much wisdom, that while we could call off sanctions we could not stop terrorism. Be sure that Russia, in contributing support to terrorism, will not relax.

I hope that we shall hear from the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, tonight some drift of the Government policy towards logic and sanity, and also policy in getting assistance from the United States and other Free World sources to bring about this possible saving of Rhodesia from Communism and to bring about a peaceful settlement in that splendid country, the responsibility for which this Government continue to admit.

9.23 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of SALISBURY

My Lords, I venture to intervene for a brief moment because my knowledge of Southern Africa is only infinitesimal after 30 years. It is in fact 32 years since a South African proposed marriage to me and I accepted her, and ever since I have been visiting the country and also been in touch with my friends in Rhodesia. But on behalf of these Benches I want first to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Alport. I believe it was a promising politician elsewhere who said that, "Jaw, jaw, was better than war, war". I should have thought that negotiation is absolutely essential, but, as the noble Lord pointed out, time is getting short.

Secondly, I believe that your Lordships will agree that there is a breakdown of trust. That is what has to be re-established between black and white. From my knowledge of those in education and my brother priests out there, all the advice I get is that this is what they are looking for; the re-establishment of trust by negotiation. I do not believe that it can be done by force of arms for reasons that the noble Lord, Lord Alport, told us. In the areas of defence, internal security and law and order, trust needs to be re-established.

How can it be done? At this late hour it is perhaps not pertinent for me to go into any suggestion of detail, but I wonder whether it could be done by a Commonwealth presence at the invitation of the Geneva delegation to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. It could be drawn from various countries, which I shall not enumerate now. It would be a Commonwealth presence but not a Commonwealth force. It would be on a small scale for training purposes—training in defence; training missions to retrain those at present in nationalist movements under arms to serve a new national army; field officers to monitor the deployment and role of forces in the field, police officers to supervise police forces responsible to the Crown and so on; a great programme of retraining.

I wonder whether a referendum could be monitored by such a Commonwealth force? I should have thought that Bishop Muzorewa's concept of a poll to ascertain the degree of support would only result in saying, "We would support different people", and, as Lord Alport said, there are bound to be irregularities; there are in countries in the West, as he reminded us. But I think that such an outside presence, monitoring and supervising a referendum, would be more likely to meet with universal approval.

There are people who have already committed themselves in one way or another away from their civilian lives—some of them are friends of mine—some of them are in exile and others are under arms. There will, I suggest, need to be a massive and prompt retraining programme for those people if they are to contribute constructively, as I believe many of them want to do, to the economic and social strength of the new nation. Many of the personnel needed for this retraining programme could, I suggest, be found from Commonwealth sources.

I would follow the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, by saying that we shall be able to digest all that Lord Alport has given us. With enormous restraint, I hold back from explaining to the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, the warped theology of Mr. Vorster, on which I could give her three or four hours' instruction at any time she wishes. I restrain myself at this late hour merely to wondering whether, in his answer, the Minister would convey whether some such thoughts as these may be in his mind, though of course not in any way presuming to suggest the details; a Commonwealth presence to achieve negotiation and, with God's will, peace.

9.28 p.m.


My Lords, we are all extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Alport, for the tone as well as the content of his wholly admirable speech tonight. It follows a similar speech in quality and message that he made some weeks ago when we last discussed this important matter. I was personally delighted to hear the tributes paid to him from all parts of the House, not only for his speech, which was constructive and high-minded, but also for his immense services to Africa and to the Commonwealth over a long and distinguished career.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, that there is indeed a good deal of consensus in the House tonight as to what needs to be done or attempted to be done to secure a fair and durable solution of the Rhodesian and, therefore, of the Southern African problem. Her Majesty's Government, like their predecessors, are motivated by the belief that there must be a credible alternative to armed strength. As Lord Alport put it, the solution does not come from the mouth of a gun. If it does, it will not be a solution; it will be a recipe for continuing chaos and bloodshed in the future. If we fail to find it, as I have said before at this Box, not only Rhodesia but the whole of Southern Africa may be consigned to a racial and ideological conflagration, the outcome of which none of us could predict and one which might involve not only Rhodesia and Southern Africa but the whole of mankind, for we are dealing here with issues that are African in context but humane in their implication for good or ill.

That is why, despite repeated setbacks and disappointments, we are determined to pursue the quest for a peaceful settlement based on genuine majority rule; and that is why—and here I give one point of assurance to a number of speakers in this debate—we shall continue to work closely with the United States Administration as with other parties involved. That is also why my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has decided to make Southern Africa the object of one of his very first trips abroad since assuming office.

There are some who have said from time to time, and especially since Mr. Ian Smith on 24th January rejected our proposals as a basis for future negotiation, that we should wash our hands of the whole affair. I was very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, invited me to join him in reasserting a firm determination of this Government and, I believe, this country, whatever the Government in power, never to abandon our responsibility for Rhodesia—a responsibility for all its people. We would indeed refuse to be party to any bogus solution that might be patched together internally in Rhodesia and which went only part of the way to render justice to a section of the people concerned. We are not interested in a so-called solution that would merely serve to perpetuate an existing repression; nor, indeed—and here once more I agree with the noble Lord. Lord Coleraine—are we interested in a solution that might hand over Rhodesia and its peoples to a Marxist repression.

Our objective is genuine non-racial democracy, and it is not an ideal which is impossible of attainment. We have heard tonight, and some of us know personally, that in many parts of black Africa they are well on the way to achieving this ideal. We have heard references to multi-facial communities in Zambia, in Kenya and, one might add, in Botswana, and what can happen in those three countries—and there are others—can, I suggest, happen in Africa, as in other parts of the world, where that ideal has not yet been attained.

My noble friend Lord Brockway called for a positive, striking initiative by the United Kingdom. I wish to say to my noble friend that if it were left to the United Kingdom alone there would be a settlement today, but, as he said, we are not alone in this. This is the post-colonial situation—not a colonial situation, still less a pre-colonial one. We are in this with others. We accept responsibility, but we have to share it; and when my noble friend says that we should be more definite about sanctions I should like to know more about this. If every country in Eastern or Western Europe had been as assiduous and as honourable in the discharge of its obligations to the United Nations in the matter of sanctions, it is possible that the illegal régime would already have been brought down. It really is not enough constantly to accuse the United Kingdom—Britain—of shortcomings, deficiencies in this and in so many other matters, as if it all depended on us. This country has, as a colonial Power, as well as a post-colonial Power, much to be proud of, and I should like to see a little more appreciation of the role and mission of this country today, as in the past, in Africa, as in other parts of the world.

My noble friend Lady Gaitskell, in an excellent speech, quite rightly examined the possibility of whether the later initiatives of Mr. Ian Smith—what I described the other day as the latter day sainthood, for which we have been waiting for 11 years, and which, in a rather patchy way, is coming forward—might not be the basis for a solution. I would only say: by all means, if the intention genuinely is to move ahead expeditiously to majority rule. Like her, I should very much like to be able to welcome such a policy emanating even from the illegal régime, but, quite frankly, I do not think that we can be too hopeful of this at the moment.

In common with the United States and all our major allies, we believe that if a durable agreement is to be reached in Rhodesia it must be subscribed to by all the parties. It is not for Mr. Smith and his cronies to pick and choose with whom among the black Africans they are going to come to an agreement. Justice is indivisible in Rhodesia, as elsewhere. We are told that Mr. Smith is willing for anyone to put to the test their claims to represent the majority. I wish that that gentleman had been here to listen to the section of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, in which he described—I do not necessarily accept the proposal at this Box—a possible electoral method of doing this. This is the kind of thing that we should like to hear the illegal régime declare for, the kind of proposal that the noble Lord, Lord Alport, put before us. May I say, both as to what he had to say about the organisation of the interim Government via the High Commission, and the other three points he made on that score, and, indeed, on the electoral process so vital to assuring everybody that the real views of the Rhodesian peoples have been ascertained, I can assure him that Her Majesty's Government will examine very carefully indeed what he has proposed, and, indeed, his entire speech.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury made a number of excellent suggestions. I must be very careful not to express too swiftly agreement with what he said, so he will not take me as stating Government policy just yet. There is a certain comparison between what I am about to do and what I am told St. Augustine proposed at one period in his career—"Not quite yet". But the proposals he has made have more than the germ of common sense and practical sense. I personally very much like the idea of a Commonwealth presence. We said on 24th January to Mr. Smith in the paper we put to him, as we did to the other protagonists in this argument, that we were ready to provide a British presence. Let us not be too rigid about what precise presence there should be. It could be a Commonwealth presence. By all means let us look at this. I am speaking merely for myself at the moment, but I very much like this idea. After all, the Commonwealth is an association of 36 countries of all colours, creeds and backgrounds—and of systems, too. Not all of them are Parliamentary democracies, as the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, almost accused them of being—not all of them, not yet—but they are a microcosm of the world, a fund of suggestion and, so often, of co-operative action. The suggestions of the right reverend Prelate, as well as those of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, certainly merit very close consideration indeed.

My Lords, I am bound to say that I find myself more in agreement with the two noble Lords I have mentioned than with the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, very much though I always want to agree with him because he has a way of making it almost impossible for me not to agree with him. When he talks about Communism, I do not see it this way. I do not think you are going to prevent Communism in Africa by backing what I see to be the prime inducer of Communism into the Continent over the past 11 years. This is not one of my wild far Left ideas. No less an authority than the noble Lord, Lord Alport, in a speech last November, trenchantly and I thought conclusively showed this on a basis of fact and history. I could only say that, so far as I can see, if you want to prevent Africa going "Red" you need to remember that it is black. The antidote to Communism, to totalitarianism, is of course the prideful, constructive nationalism that so often animates the self-governing States of the British Commonwealth.

I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, will look at this again, for he knows Africa so well. Is this the right way to prevent external totalitarianism from getting a grip on Africa; indeed, to have a kind of totalitarianism tighten its grip on the vast majority of Africans? I am afraid that the attractions of Communism, or, as I call it, of external totalitarianism, are going to prove increasingly strong to Africans as their experience of homegrown Rhodesian totalitarianism, as far as they are concerned, proceeds. If we stand idly by and make no effort to induce a sense of realism among the members of the Rhodesian Front and their friends in this country, then they will proceed, blinkered, to the inevitable possibility of extended bloodshed and, possibly, to the last thing that they want to see happen in Rhodesia, the great black majority of 7 million driven to the point where they welcome the introduction of external totalitarian Communism.

The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, put a question to me; and he put it with what I can only call House of Commons incisiveness. He had, in fact, anticipated it with what I can only call House of Lords courtesy, by letting me know beforehand that he was going to ask the question. He asked me what interests, other than that of race, had the front line Presidents in Zimbabwe. I would say that they had at least three. First, they are interested in an early solution of the economic uncertainty and loss which the present situation imposes upon them as much as upon Rhodesia. We had the example of Zambia from my noble friend Lord Brockway—and so true it is. That is one interest they have in an early solution in Rhodesia; the interest of economic progress. Secondly, they have an interest in political stability. Indeed, before we upbraid certain African States with not having achieved full British-type Parliamentary democracy, let us pay a little attention to that second need: that is, a firm basis of political stability, without which they cannot start to think of systems, still less of democratic stability. They wish to see an early solution so that they can count on political stability. Thirdly, they have an interest in Rhodesia —of course they have—in their fellow-feeling for them. It is not a racist feeling; it is a natural feeling. If you like, it is an anti-colonial feeling; a feeling that it is time that this type of system ceased on their borders as it has ceased within their borders, whatever the deficiencies of the latter.

Having said that, I agree that some African States, not all, have not yet attained British-type political democracy. Would my noble friend—as I like to call him—say that the South African Republic has attained a British type of political democracy? It would not be enough to say that they had done it for 4 million white people. That is not an answer. Have they done it for 14 million coloured and black people in the Republic? What is the interest of the South African Republic in Rhodesia? Is it to introduce political democracy? If so—and I echo the noble Lord in his second question—why have they not done it in the Republic?—because they have not. My Lords, we could go on arguing and debating in this way and perhaps losing the precious boon of constructive consensus which I entirely agree has been discernible and audible in this debate.


My Lords, the noble Lord is always so courteous that I feel some extra sense of diffidence in pressing him a little further. He tells us that the front line Presidents foment guerrilla warfare in Rhodesia because they want an early settlement. That is the one way to ensure that there is not an early settlement. They foment guerrilla warfare in Rhodesia, as the noble Lord says, to achieve stability. But surely that is not the way to achieve political stability. If we want a political settlement which is fair to everybody in Rhodesia, Her Majesty's Government must do what they can to call off the front line Presidents from baying at the heels of Rhodesians, both black and white.


My Lords, I think that the noble Lord has somewhat rephrased the question which I, in my inexpert way, thought that I had attempted to answer. Nevertheless, he now asks me about the front line Presidents and their relation to the guerrilla fighters. But I do not think that one can insist on anything in South Africa. There was no need to insist on front line Presidents or anybody else not supporting guerrilla fighters for a long time because there were no guerrilla fighters. They came about because in the course of the 11 years they found that otherwise there was absolutely no hope of budging the illegal régime. I have said from this Box that Her Majesty's Government do not in any way condone or support, materially or morally, guerrilla fighters or fighting. But we have to understand that after years of trying it the other way, at last the inevitable has happened: men have taken up arms and some African Presidents have supported them. My Lords, how do we get out of this?

The Marquess of SALISBURY

My Lords, did I understand the noble Lord correctly in saying that because the guerrillas and their supporters were unable to achieve what they wanted by peaceful means, they were entitled to resort to arms, and it was perfectly proper for the neighbouring States to support them?


My Lords, the noble Marquess has not quite paid his usual attention to what I was saying. I thought I was most explicit, once more. Her Majesty's Government neither condone nor support, morally or materially, guerrilla fighters or fighting. But we are bound to understand why, after vainly attempting for many years by peaceful means to extort from the illegal régime some measure of movement towards what I have heard called "democracy", men's patience snapped and they took up arms; and some African Presidents have blessed and supported guerrilla fighting. That is what I said. Those are the facts of life, and I was addressing myself to the question: what do we do now? How do we stop guerrilla fighting? The only way to stop guerrilla fighting is to remove the cause of it and to attain as quickly as possible—and here I join those who have stressed the urgency of the situation—an arrangement in Rhodesia which is seen to be fair to all sections and to be durable. When that is attained, what was the state of affairs in Rhodesia only a few years ago, before 1972—namely, an absence of guerrilla fighting—can then be logically re-attained. There has not always been guerrilla fighting in Rhodesia. For a long period there was nothing of the sort.

By addressing ourselves to the task in which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will very shortly be engaged we shall create those conditions. It is indeed to the end of achieving a peaceful solution of the Rhodesian and South African problem, based on general majority rule, that he will be visiting Southern Africa during the Easter Recess. I repeat, the fact that he is finding time, at this early stage in his tenure of office, to make such a visit in order to acquaint himself at first hand with the problems and with some of the key figures concerned, is a measure of the importance that he, together with Her Majesty's Government, attaches to finding a solution. I am confident that we can make progress, given good will and trust on both sides; but without it even the most perfect schemes for transitional Government or an independent Government will come to naught. My Lords, I believe that this evening's debate has yielded two things: a fundamental consensus and a number of extremely useful and constructive ideas. It will be my duty to convey personally to the Secretary of State the spirit and content of the debate.