Lancaster House Conference on Rhodesia/Zimbabwe

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"Face-Saving Maneuvers and Strong Third Party Mediation: The Lancaster House Conference on Rhodesia-Zimbabwe," in the Journal of International Negotiation (2009)

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Lancaster House Conference on Rhodesia/Zimbabwe

  1. 1. International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 www.brill.nl/iner Face-Saving Maneuvers and Strong Third-Party Mediation: The Lancaster House Conference on Zimbabwe-Rhodesia Andrew Novak* 4 Carol Ave, Apt. 8, Brighton, MA 02135 USA (E-mail: novak.andrew@gmail.com) Received 6 May 2008; accepted 13 July 2008 Abstract Where two opposing sides are engaged in violent conflict and a process of political disintegration, the ability to protect an already-contested legitimacy becomes crucial to a negotiated agreement. Lord Car- rington, the mediator between the government of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and the guerrilla forces of the Patriotic Front, helped the parties save face at the Lancaster House Conference in 1979. Using a tactic of strong third-party mediation, Carrington accepted responsibility for the concessions the opposing delega- tions made, allowing them to protect their reputation among supporters. This paper examines the three primary ways the parties at Lancaster House attempted to save face: using the mediator as scapegoat, engaging in sharp confrontation in public and flexible conciliation in private, and conducting “shadow” negotiations through Commonwealth Secretary-General Sir Shridath Ramphal. Keywords Dominant third-party mediation, face-saving, Lancaster House, mediation, Rhodesia, Zimbabwe The Lancaster House Conference in London in 1979 was “Zimbabwe’s best last chance” to resolve a decade-long guerrilla conflict and set up a transitional admin- istration that would lead to independence (Economist, Oct. 13, 1979). For nearly fifteen years, the rebellious white settler regime of the British colony of Southern Rhodesia ruled an isolated, pariah state embroiled in a guerrilla war with African nationalists.1 The architect of Rhodesia’s unilateral secession from the British Empire was Prime Minister Ian Smith, a farmer and staunch supporter of white rule. Under the economic pressure of sanctions and war, Smith negotiated a new constitution that permitted a semblance of black majority rule while maintaining *) Andrew Novak has a B.A. in international relations from George Washington University and an M.Sc. in African Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, where he specialized in Southern Africa. He is currently a J.D. candidate (2009) at the Boston University School of Law. 1) For an analysis of Rhodesia’s unilateral declaration of independence from the British Empire and the international response, see Good (1973), including the immediate actions taken by Britain and the United Nations (15–28), and the eventual passage of comprehensive United Nations sanctions (251–256). © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2009 DOI: 10.1163/157180609X406553
  2. 2. 150 A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 significant power in the hands of the white community.2 In April 1979, Methodist bishop Abel Muzorewa won the first open elections in the country’s history, becom- ing prime minister of a country with the hybrid name Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.3 The guerrilla war showed no signs of abating, and Muzorewa’s popular support eroded. The victory of Conservative candidate Margaret Thatcher in the United King- dom’s parliamentary elections in May 1979 changed the calculus: if the parties could not come to a final agreement, Thatcher would lift British sanctions and recognize the Muzorewa regime.4 With this narrow window of opportunity, British Foreign Minister Lord Peter Carrington took a central role in the negotiations between the guerrilla forces of the Patriotic Front and the Government of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, buoyed by the mandate he received from the Commonwealth of Nations. Political authority on both sides of the Rhodesian War was disintegrating. Muzorewa was prepared to abandon Smith and surrender the white privileges, and the Patriotic Front was unraveling into its component parts, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) led by Robert Mugabe, and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) led by Joshua Nkomo. Using a negotiating style best described as “dom- inant third-party mediation,” Carrington authored his own proposals, persuaded each side to offer significant concessions, and used the alternatives – recognition of Muzorewa’s government or continuation of the guerrilla war – as leverage 2) Bishop Muzorewa describes the tense negotiations with Ian Smith and the Rhodesian Front govern- ment that led to the so-called “internal settlement” (see Muzorewa 1978: 225–240). For a systematic criticism of the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia constitution and founding elections, see Palley (1979: 38):“The 1979 Constitution certainly does not meet the criterion, laid down by successive British governments, of ensur- ing unimpeded progress to majority rule. Nor is it acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole.” The most serious flaw in the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia constitution, observers believed, was the “blocking mecha- nism” by which 28 seats out of a 100-seat legislature were reserved solely for whites. It took 78 votes to amend the constitution, amounting to an effective white veto (Palley1979: 38). 3) Despite Muzorewa’s tragic flaws (“incompetent negotiator and a fickle politician”), as Meredith writes, he had a strong, loyal following. “To those blacks worried about nationalist divisions, Muzorewa repre- sented the voice of unity. His evident lack of political skill enhanced the belief among his supporters that he was not personally ambitious. . . . His position as head of the United Methodist Church further con- vinced them that essentially he was a ‘man of peace’. For many, he was simply the easiest option” (Mere- dith 1979: 326). 1.87 million votes were cast in the elections; Muzorewa took 67 per cent of the vote, including 51 of 72 black seats in the assembly; Sithole took 14 per cent and 12 seats; and Chief Ndiweni took 11 per cent and 9 seats. As Meredith (1979: 365) concludes, the vote itself was a strong indicator of the strength of the Rhodesian state: “merely the fact that the government had been able to mount such a huge logistical exercise so effectively indicated how far away from collapse it was, and how false were the boasts of the [Patriotic Front] about an imminent victory.” For a critique of these numbers, see Palley (1979: 34–45) (finding that voter turnout among black Africans was only 51 per cent). 4) Lord Soames, appointed the last governor-general of Southern Rhodesia in December 1979 in accor- dance with the Lancaster House document, recalled: “on May 15, the new Conservative Prime Minister, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, welcomed the major change which had taken place in Rhodesia as a result of the recent elections and the emergence of an African majority government. . . . She emphasised that the gov- ernment must and would recognize the realities of the present situation in Rhodesia, but that it must and would take into account the wider international implications” (Soames 1980: 407).
  3. 3. A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 151 (Davidow 1984: 115).5 “Carrington used his freedom of manoeuvre to pursue a conference strategy that was more arbitration than mediation,” Preston writes (2004: 155). Carrington did not do it alone. Perceived by the Patriotic Front as biased toward Muzorewa, Carrington’s strong tactics could only work if he main- tained his own face and was not perceived as weak by the delegations lest he lose his leverage. The entry of the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Sir Shridath Ramphal, was critical to the success of the Conference as Ramphal mediated between Carrington and the Patriotic Front and helped Carrington step back from his most hard-line positions (Chan 1991). With a fast-paced tempo, hard deadlines, and strict ultimatums, Lord Carrington successfully resolved the three overriding issues: a ceasefire between government and guerrilla troops, a transitional administration that would govern the ceasefire and fresh elections, and a new constitution for independent Zimbabwe.6 Because of the fragmentation of both delegations and their contested legitimacy at home, Carrington’s strategy was especially important because it allowed both sides to save face with their supporters while making important concessions. But Carrington’s power was not limitless. He was only the public face of the mediation, much of which occurred in private; Carrington was constantly torn between Thatcher’s conservative base and his Commonwealth allies. As a result, the presence at the Conference of a shadow mediator in Sir Ramphal and a host of proxy mediators helped Carrington moderate in private that which he committed to in public. Saving Face with Strong Third-party Mediation Face is a person’s sense of self-image or self-worth that she wants to project to her social environment. Face influences conflict behavior because parties have to pro- tect their conflict goals in order to find success; maintaining one’s reputation among supporters is often critical, particularly where stakes are high. When one party is attacked, she feels the need to restore or save face; when one party is credited or complimented, she feels her self-worth is enhanced. Loss of face in a negotiation setting may bring the negotiation to a halt; a party is much less willing to concede 5) Carrington was central to the conference; Thatcher did not interfere. The structure of the conference, in which the Patriotic Front and Zimbabwe-Rhodesia negotiated with Carrington rather than with each other, reinforced his centrality. Davidow continues: Though the parties sat in the same room for plenary meetings, no bargaining took place in those position-stating sessions, leaving it to Carrington to carry the negotiating load. In this role, he was able to obtain from each delegation concessions that they would not have granted to the other. Carrington’s crucial role was also reinforced by his insistence on basing the negotiations on his texts, forcing the opposing parties to focus on views other than their own (Davidow 1984: 110). 6) See Southern Rhodesia – Report of the Constitutional Conference, Lancaster House, London, Sept– Dec. 1979 (Lancaster House, Dec. 21, 1979), including Annex C (constitution), Annex D (transitional administration), and Annex E (ceasefire agreement). Accessible at: http://www.zwnews.com/Lancasterhouse. doc (accessed: Apr. 12, 2008).
  4. 4. 152 A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 or bargain when she is intimidated, embarrassed, or offended. The process of restoring face is known as facework: those communicative behaviors used to protect one’s respect, status, credibility, reputation, or social relationships (Ting- Toomey and Kurogi 1998: 187–88, 190). Saving face occurs when a negotiator attempts to protect her legitimacy among her constituency and her negotiating capital with the other party while conceding points that weaken her position. “Face-saving reflects a person’s need to reconcile the stand he takes in a negotiation or an agreement with his principles and with his past words and deeds,” Fisher and Ury write (1991: 15). The fear of losing face is a major obstacle to reaching an agreement: “Face is much more than ego,” short- hand for a negotiator’s dignity and reputation with her counterpart and audience (Ury 1993: 120). Face-saving is designed to “control the occurrence of future events that one expects will foster an appearance of weakness or vulnerability, particularly when it is presumed that such events will impair one’s image or the image of those whom one represents,” Brown (1997: 278) writes. A negotiator will try to appear consistent in her concessions. “Face-saving involves reconciling an agreement with principle and with the self-image of the negotiators,” Fisher and Ury conclude. “Its importance should not be underestimated” (1991: 29). The concern about face is universal, Dupont and Faure (2002: 50) write, “although its importance varies according to culture and society,” from “one of many problems” to “a matter of life and death.” Intercultural face-saving strate- gies may include defensive or aggressive behavior, avoiding the other party, apolo- gizing, compromising, or calling in a third party (Ting-Toomey 2004: 78).7 “Maintaining face both confirms the person’s acceptance in a society (collectivism) and that person’s status within the society (hierarchy)” (Brett 2001: 104–107). Using an indirect confrontational approach helps to preserve harmony and respect among the participants, especially among collectivist, hierarchical cultures. Direct, solution-minded confrontation is discouraged in many cultures. It may be easier to maintain face using an indirect approach than a direct one; using a third party helps buffer the disputants from each other, preventing direct confrontation and the consequent loss of face.8 Parties to a negotiation are better able to trust their opponents, preserve their negotiating strength, and maintain their legitimacy in 7) Ting-Toomey divides these face-saving strategies into three categories: dominating facework, in which a party focuses on presenting a credible image and wanting to win the conflict through competition; avoiding facework, in which one emphasizes the preservation of relational harmony by not directly deal- ing with the conflict up front; and integrating facework, involving mutual face protection strategies such as problem-solving, collaboration, reframing, and compromising (Ting-Toomey 2004: 78). 8) Graham and Lam (2003) note one cultural context on which saving face rests: “In Chinese business culture, a person’s reputation and social standing rest on saving face,” and the consequences can be disas- trous if face is lost. “The Chinese notion of saving face [mianzi] is closely associated with the American concepts of dignity and prestige.” There are numerous similar culturalist studies that describe the univer- sality of saving face.
  5. 5. A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 153 the eyes of their constituents if they can make concessions during negotiations while saving face. One method of saving face is to negotiate through a third party (Ury 1993: 121). A negotiator may be more willing to accept a proposal offered by a media- tor than the same proposal offered by the opposing party (Pruitt and Johnson 1970: 239). “Acceding to the third party permits the representatives to save face with their constituents as well as with themselves, since the third party is consid- ered a respectable and impartial source of proposals,” Bartunek, Benton, and Keys (1975: 552) write. Where a negotiator is torn between the need to make conces- sions and the need to appear strong and consistent with past statements, the mediator becomes most effective, able to offer suggestions to relieve the negotia- tor of responsibility for the concession. Both needs are present in every negotia- tion, and the more conflicted they are, the more effective a mediator may be. The negotiation is no longer a zero-sum game in which one party’s gain is the other’s loss. Mediators may also structure the dialogue by setting the pace and the agenda for the parties. As Pruitt and Johnson (1970: 245) reveal, the more time-pressured a negotiation is, the larger and more frequent the concessions. As a result, fast- paced negotiations may contribute to mediator success. Mediation “provides the negotiator with a face-saving device whereby he can retreat without feeling that he has capitulated.” This face-saving “results from throwing the blame for one’s own concessions onto the mediator” (Pruitt and Johnson 1970: 246). The medi- ator becomes the scapegoat and thus saves the agreement. As Rubin (1980: 35) notes, if the concessions ultimately lead to agreement, the parties can assume credit for success. If the concessions ultimately lead to exploitation at the hands of one’s adversary, the parties can blame the third-party mediator for the failure. In either case, the parties avoid a loss of face. The need to save face may arise where one party has made a strong public com- mitment and would appear weak if she retreats, or where a party feels intimidated or insulted by the opposing party (Stedman 1991: 79). A mediator must be tuned in to a party’s defensive strategies, such as making evasive commitments and hypothetical concessions. A mediator’s role is to reframe a party’s position, caucus individually with a party, or help build a party’s self-esteem (van Ginkel 2004: 479–80). Preventing loss of face not only contributes to the likelihood that a party would accept the agreement, but would help the party “sell” the agreement to her constituents and make implementation successful (Ury 1993: 122–23). A mediator that can “elicit a concession from one side and then present it to the other side as the mediator’s own proposal” and can “shield the first side from being seen as soft by the other side prior to . . . an agreement” (Pruitt 1981: 138). In describing Henry Kissinger’s strong mediating role in the Middle East in the early 1970s, Pruitt (1981: 137) notes how Kissinger served as a surrogate target for often emotional and tense debate. Kissinger would reframe contentious issues by stripping them of their emotional content and then formulate proposals for
  6. 6. 154 A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 the two sides. Having achieved the approval of the Egyptian president for United Nations-administered checkpoints on an Israeli-controlled road, Kissinger pre- sented this idea to Israel as his own proposal (Pruitt 1981: 137). In addition to making proposals, the mediator may also extract concessions from the parties that they could not make to their opposing counterparts for fear of appearing weak. As Pruitt and Johnson (1970: 240) summarize, “A combination of the need to make concessions and the need to appear strong should be especially fertile ground for a mediator’s activity.” The authors (1970: 246) conclude that in mediation, a negotiator “can retreat without feeling he has capitulated.” As the Kissinger exam- ple illustrates, this face-saving results from the ability to pass the blame for one’s concessions to the mediator. In a pure negotiation, parties have full responsibility for the concessions they make; in adjudication or arbitration, parties have no control over the decision and full responsibility rests on the judge or arbitrator alone. Facilitative media- tion, in which a mediator helps to clarify issues, provide direction, and tease out points of agreement, is closer to negotiation. Where a mediator promotes specific outcomes, as in directive mediation, she falls somewhere closer to arbitration. In directive mediation, a mediator helps a party extricate itself from an impasse, uses leverage to pressure parties to agree, issues ultimatums, and rewards concessions (Bercovitch 2007: 176–77). In directive mediation, “the mediator assumes the maximum degree of involvement, making itself a party to the solution if not to the dispute” (Zartman and Touval 1992: 253). Such a mediator may persuade the parties to adopt its vision of a solution and use carrots and sticks to make that vision attractive to the participants. The most directive form of mediation, dominant third-party mediation, “lies between mediation with muscle and dictation,” Davidow (1970: 117) writes. This kind of “power mediation” involves the mediator’s use of coercion or leverage in the form of promised rewards or threatened punishments to move the parties closer to a settlement. In power mediation, Fisher (1995: 41) writes, “the third party pursues specific interests for its own sake.”9 In Kissinger’s mediations, both the shuttle format and the placement of less controversial issues early on the agenda contributed to the feel of momentum; his step-by-step diplomacy pro- gressed into ever more difficult territory (Pruitt 1981: 139). Lord Carrington was able to achieve a similar sense of urgency, which “conveyed the impression of conference progress,” and he imposed strict time limits that produced larger and more frequent concessions (Davidow 1984: 107–08). In his comparison between the Lancaster House Conference and mediation efforts in the Lebanese Civil War 9) Fisher distinguishes between “pure mediation” and “power mediation,” which is similar to the distinc- tion above between facilitative and directive mediation. (“Pure mediation is typically assumed in the domestic arena, such as in industrial relations, whereas both approaches are common in international relations, with powerful states being drawn to power mediation by their very identity, while small states and international organizations primarily practice pure mediation”) (Fisher 1995: 41).
  7. 7. A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 155 in Taif, Saudi Arabia in 1990, Preston (2004: 228) argues it was the mediator’s leverage, not the mediator’s tactical strategy, which was able to extract substantial concessions from both sides. Thus, the threat to recognize the Muzorewa regime or to recognize Syria’s role in Lebanon most spurred the parties to agreement. At Lancaster House, Carrington had both tools – strategy and leverage – at hand. These served to strengthen his power, ultimately pressuring the parties toward concessions while allowing the two sides to shift the blame for their concessions to him. Fragmented delegations with heavily-contested legitimacy may have the most serious face problems. For these delegations, strong third-party mediation with a high-pressure, fast-paced tempo may help them make the major concessions nec- essary to reach an agreement. The negotiators may be heavily accountable to their constituencies, often because they are important political or military actors. Those negotiators who are highly dependent on their support base to implement a desired outcome are much less flexible in negotiations – and consequently have more serious problems of face. Negotiators free of constituent restraints have much more flexibility to reach a desired outcome. Unsurprisingly, Bartunek, Benton, and Keys (1975: 538) write, those negotiators most dependent on their support base to implement an agreement (“highly accountable”) are those most in need of third-party intervention; negotiators with more flexibility were less dependent on the mediator. “When strong leadership is lacking, a mediator can often provide face-saving protection,” Susskind and Babbitt (1992: 33) add, describing the internal political turmoil in Iran during the hostage crisis that prevented those negotiating for Iran from forging a consensus within their government. Because the mechanisms for internal decision-making were in disarray, the Algerian medi- ators were instrumental in helping the divided Iranians produce a face-saving way out of the impasse. Where the legitimacy of the negotiating parties is most heavily contested, the need for robust mediation becomes most critical. “Political actors, whether states or revolutionary parties, are coalitions of individuals with different values, prefer- ences, and resources,” Stedman (1991: 210) writes. In both Rhodesia and Lebanon, Preston (2004: 232) argues, political leaders had consolidated their positions and sidelined their rivals, augmenting their legitimacy and giving them flexibility to negotiate moderate solutions without opposition. “Leaders could now make the compromises necessary to reach a settlement without fear of a palace coup,” he adds; if intractable divisions persisted, they only served to weaken opposition to the negotiations (Preston 2004: 232–33). Precisely the opposite is true; Preston has overstated the unity of the delegations and the political capital they commanded. Far from facing strong and cohesive negotiating parties, Lord Carrington was suc- cessful precisely because he faced two weak and bitterly divided delegations. Throughout 1979, both the Patriotic Front and the Government of Zimbabwe- Rhodesia were disintegrating, unable to continue promoting a common, unified
  8. 8. 156 A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 agenda. While their leadership structures may have been intact, Stedman (1991: 210–11) writes, at no point in the Conference did either delegation speak with one voice. This crisis of legitimacy at home made saving face at the Conference a far more urgent and pressing concern. This played into Carrington’s hands. His strong manipulating style helped the fragmented and torn parties save face before suspi- cious constituencies while ultimately reaching a workable agreement. Indeed, some observers felt that saving face was the parties’ primary motivation for going to London. “What the conference may be all about is angling to see which side can be tagged with responsibility for failure,” one newspaper reported. “This could have an important political effect on the war which would surely follow” (Globe and Mail (Canada), Sept. 11, 1979). With the Rhodesian war fought not only on the battlefield but on the stage of world opinion, neither side wanted to back down first. It fell to the mediator to help extricate each side from this stand- off and gracefully retreat. The Fragmentation of Political Authority in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia Scholars have overstated the unity and cohesiveness of the delegations attending Lancaster House. According to Cohen (1995: 107), a “cultural barrier” between the two sides allowed the mediator to “high handedly . . . impose his own tempo on the talks.” The Zimbabwe-Rhodesia delegation, organized by “a clear chain of responsibility and preoccupied with constitutional details” was more pragmatic and businesslike in its goals. The Patriotic Front, a loose alliance between Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), had a “discontinuous, sluggish tempo” slowed by the need to resort to consensus and principled positions (Cohen 1995: 107). This characterization merits reanalysis; it overstates the unity of each delegation and the coherence of their agendas. Both the delegation of Zimbabwe- Rhodesia and the Patriotic Front were sharply splintered, representing vastly different interests and constituencies. Lord Carrington benefited from this frag- mentation of authority, as the cleft delegations ceded a great deal of control to him in a way that had not been possible at previous negotiations. Carrington had his own face problems, having to manage his own party’s right wing while main- taining the support of Commonwealth and African leaders. Carrington’s control over the Conference, moderated by Ramphal’s quiet diplomacy, allowed the delegations to make very important concessions – Muzorewa’s resignation, the restoration of British rule, a ceasefire, and fresh elections – while preserving their standing among their home constituencies. Potential spoilers, unhappy with the Conference outcome, did not later attempt to undermine the agreement.
  9. 9. A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 157 The Delegation of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia The fragmented delegations mirrored the disintegration in the wider political sphere. The unquestioned head of the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia delegation was Bishop Muzorewa, once a rising nationalist before his alliance with the former white regime. He had been prime minister for less than six months by the time the Conference opened. Muzorewa’s close confidante, Deputy Prime Minister Silas Mundawarara, was present in London. The delegation included two of Muzore- wa’s political rivals from the 1979 Zimbabwe-Rhodesia elections, Chief Kayisa Ndiweni and Ndabaningi Sithole.10 Former Prime Minister Ian Smith was on the delegation, although, as the sole dissenting vote over whether to approve the new constitution, he was sidelined early at the Conference. “[Ian Smith’s] loss of para- mount influence over white politics was clearly critical to the success of the Lan- caster House negotiations,” Preston (2004: 131) writes. Smith no longer spoke for white Rhodesia. The other white members of the delegation were pragmatists such as government minister Chris Andersen, one of the first white politicians to pledge support to the new Zimbabwe government, and Finance Secretary David Smith, who, with an understanding of the country’s dire economic position, was “more than anyone else . . . conscious of the need for a settlement” (Renwick 1997: 38). Those closest to the conflict, including intelligence chief Ken Flower and armed forces commander Peter Walls, were those most ardently advocating for an agreement (Davidow 1984: 69–70). A coalition emerged among Muzorewa, Walls, and David Smith that successfully overcame the opposition of Ian Smith. Unlike previous negotiations, where Ian Smith was in undisputed control, at Lancaster House Ian Smith’s voice “became one among a cacophony of voices: Muzorewa, Walls, Flower, David Smith, among others” (Stedman 1991: 211).11 10) Sithole represented the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), unaffiliated with Mugabe’s force. Sithole took 12 seats out of 100, with his strength in the eastern region of Manicaland. Ndiweni represented the United People’s National Federation Party, and took nine seats out of 100, especially in the southern region of Matabeleland. 11) White politics in Rhodesia were complex. White liberals had a champion in reformist Rhodesian Prime Minister Garfield Todd, who was pushed out before the 1958 elections in favor of moderate Edgar Whitehead, who had the backing of the white business community. In 1962, Whitehead and the United Federal Party lost to the right-wing Rhodesian Front. These three factions, liberals, moderates, and con- servatives, continued to divide white politics, with conservatives increasingly constituting the largest faction. By the 1970s, Ian Smith was dominant in Rhodesian politics, with ever-widening majorities. For the rise and fall of the white left and center in Rhodesia, see Hancock (1984: 1–11). For an overview of white politics in post-UDI Rhodesia dominated by the Rhodesian Front, see Bowman (1973), especially chapter 7, “Internal Politics and Control since the Unilateral Declaration of Independence” (133–150). The white left continued to oppose Ian Smith and advocate for a settlement, but they languished in the political wilderness. By around 1978, however, even Ian Smith’s close colleagues were increasingly warm- ing to a solution. Muzorewa’s government and even Carrington’s mediation efforts at Lancaster House depended in part on the acquiescence of pragmatic Rhodesian Front politicians for success. See Godwin and Hancock (1993). For a description of Muzorewa’s delegation to Lancaster House, see 261; for white division over the “internal settlement” and Muzorewa’s rise to power, see 238–39 (describing the white referendum on the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia constitution).
  10. 10. 158 A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 The Delegation of the Patriotic Front “Despite a general unity of perception, the Patriotic Front, like the Muzorewa delegation, was an uneasy coalition,” Davidow (1984: 46) writes, recalling the nearly two decades of hostility and rivalry between ZAPU and ZANU, which at times broke out into violent conflict. The Patriotic Front was at its most unified at Lancaster House, Stedman (1991: 211) adds, but “Nkomo and Mugabe had different interests, sponsors, and constituencies.” By the end of the Conference, ZANU and ZAPU finally split. Unlike Nkomo, Mugabe believed he could win the war by force; he also did not support contesting the 1980 elections as a united party. While Nkomo embodied ZAPU, Mugabe’s position at the head of ZANU was far less personal. Mugabe’s military commander, General Josiah Tongogara, “had the clearest understanding of the disastrous nature of the war” and “would argue during the conference for a course of moderation and compromise” (Davi- dow 1984: 44). Tongogara was the wild card the British had not counted on; he “emerged as the most powerful and persistent voice for settlement within the ZANU camp” (Stedman 1991: 211). The ZANU delegation sought balance between its “fire-breathing radicals” like Edgar Tekere, and more pragmatic lead- ers like Tongogara and legal advisor Simbi Mubako,” Davidow (1984: 48) writes. He also describes how ZANU was further cleft by the Shona clan: “As a Zezuru, [Mugabe] had to tread carefully around the sensitivities of the more numerous Karangas, whose members formed the bulk of ZANU’s fighting force and its military leadership” (1984: 49). The Mediator’s Delegation Lord Carrington was only the public face of the mediator at Lancaster House. While the British may have been, as Davidow (1984: 49) wrote, the most unified delegation at the conference, Carrington represented a sharply cleft government, deeply divided on the issue of Rhodesia. The Conservative Party embodied this division. Just a year before, 116 Tory MPs revolted against party leadership and voted against renewing sanctions on Zimbabwe-Rhodesia; Ian Smith still held tremendous sympathy among the Tory Right, and Muzorewa perhaps even more. While Carrington may have been “in the party, he was not really of it, especially in its latest, most conservative form under Mrs. Thatcher,” and nowhere was this conflict more glaring than over the Rhodesian crisis (Davidow 1984: 35). In October 1979, shortly after the Lancaster House Conference opened, a Tory Congress threatened rebellion against Carrington. Carrington had an equally difficult problem with the Commonwealth of Nations, which had given Thatch- er’s government a mandate to host negotiations so long as Britain adhered to certain ground rules, among them a new election (Stedman 1991: 171). When Carrington threatened to lean too closely to Muzorewa, he risked the loss of
  11. 11. A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 159 Commonwealth and Front Line support; if he made too many concessions to the Patriotic Front, he risked mutiny from his party’s powerful right wing. Sir Ramphal, the head of the Commonwealth, played as great a role as Carrington himself at Lancaster House, acting essentially as a shadow mediator (Chan 2001). Ramphal was able to help Carrington step away from some of his most hard-line positions, positions he put forward to pressure the Patriotic Front, to shore up support in the Conservative Party, and to prevent Muzorewa from walking out. In private, Ramphal secured the consent of both Carrington and the Patriotic Front to concessions neither could make in public (Chan 2001). The omnipotent mediator at Lancaster House in fact had his own institutional inter- ests to protect; Ramphal’s presence made this possible. In addition, an impressive array of other actors, including the Front Line presidents, a handful of Common- wealth prime ministers, and U.S. diplomats, conducted proxy negotiations and floated ideas. The presence of a shadow mediator at Lancaster House helped dramatically to close the wide gap between the two delegations – a gap too wide for Carrington alone to fill. The Need to Save Face at Lancaster House Lancaster House was the culmination of half a decade of intermittent failed medi- ation between the Smith regime and the guerilla forces. The ill-fated Victoria Falls Conference in 1975 had disastrous consequences. Those black nationalists most willing to offer concessions, namely Muzorewa and Sithole, dramatically lost face, “strengthen[ing] the hand of Mugabe, who did not want a negotiated settlement” (Stedman 1991: 79). This intensified the armed conflict as both sides used the lull in violence to strengthen themselves in anticipation of renewed fighting. The failure to save face in Victoria Falls led both sides to redouble efforts on the battle- field to restore the reputation they had negotiated away. At the Geneva Confer- ence in 1976, Ian Smith attempted to present himself as a “model of sweet reasonableness” by agreeing to Henry Kissinger’s entire plan for a power-sharing regime, a plan far too conciliatory to the Smith regime to have warranted honest consideration by African nationalists (Godwin and Hancock 1993: 181). This posturing allowed Smith to revive his waning support in the South African gov- ernment and to refuse less generous offers from the British and Americans the following year.12 Both sides used negotiations – and the failure of the negotiations – to shore up political support and strengthen their hand on the battlefield. Not 12) The less generous offers came in the context of the Anglo-American initiatives. The Anglo-American offers put forth by U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and U.K. Foreign Minister David Owen swung the pendulum too far in favor of the Patriotic Front. Smith and Muzorewa had to reject it, and it pushed the two closer together (Stedman 1991: 161–62).
  12. 12. 160 A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 until Lancaster House were the parties able to make real, honest concessions, due in part to changed political circumstances and the shrewdness of the mediator. Lord Carrington, taking a strong directive role as mediator, was very sensitive to the need of both parties to save face when offering concessions. While Car- rington pressured the Patriotic Front in particular to reach an agreement, “the British negotiating style coupled a harsh public posture with a far more nuanced and sensitive private relationship” with the representatives of the guerrilla forces, Davidow (1984: 110) writes.13 “Doors were never slammed shut. Much of the tough negotiator façade was pure theater, designed to have its effect on Nkomo and Mugabe” to accept the final agreement, but also intended to neutralize the potential spoilers – right wing British Tory, South African, and white Rhodesian sentiment that Carrington was treating the Patriotic Front too gently (Davidow 1984: 110). In private, Carrington secured important concessions: Muzorewa’s resignation, the restoration of British rule, the disarmament of the guerrillas, and a new election. But in public, Carrington allowed both sides to save face by grandstanding, currying favor with the press and British public, posturing, com- mitting to extreme positions, and even attacking the mediator himself and his negotiating style. Considering how significant the concessions were, Carrington successfully prevented either side from losing face to such a degree as to damage each negotiator’s relationship with his constituency.14 The most important ways that the parties at the Lancaster House Conference were able to save face included blaming Lord Carrington and his heavy-handed negotiating tactics; symbolically taking extreme positions in public while yielding to more moderate proposals in private; and negotiating through a shadow media- tor to help Carrington protect his face with the delegations. In addition, parties could not hedge for conference failure by jockeying for advantage on the battle- field as they could at previous negotiations, due in large part to pressure from Rhodesia’s neighbors. The parties were hemmed in on all sides and found a nego- tiated settlement to be the most effective way out of the impasse. This was the key to the Conference’s success: protecting one’s negotiating capital and reputation with constituents while making impressive concessions and then raising the costs of alternatives to negotiation. 13) Lord Soames (1980: 410) writes that Carrington’s proposals were pragmatic and sound, which is why they were successful. Carrington had “a determination to implement what it believed to be right and defensible, once all the arguments for and against had been deployed, whether all the other parties to the Conference had signified their agreement or not. . . . [T]he British government was ready to take convinc- ing steps to show that it would give no party a veto over the implementation of solutions which ought to commend themselves to reasonable men. At each such stage, it was of course condemned by some for its intransigence. But it stood firm, and its firmness was vindicated at every stage.” 14) The Economist referred to this as “huff, puff and fudge” (see “Zimbabwe’s Best Last Chance,” Econo- mist, Oct. 13, 1979:27).
  13. 13. A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 161 Mediator as Scapegoat Strong mediators can help reluctant parties save face by offering proposals that the parties themselves cannot offer without risking their reputation or standing in the eyes of their supporters. The mediator thus accepts responsibility for the pro- posal. In public, the parties may attack the mediator and bemoan his tactics. The stronger the mediator, the more the negotiators are able to pass the blame for their concessions. At Lancaster House, members of both delegations used Lord Carrington as scapegoat, bitterly attacking his proposals while faithfully follow- ing his lead. “For three months, Britain’s Lord Carrington had endured a variety of verbal abuse” in the peace talks, Newsweek reported (Dec. 17, 1979). Of Lord Car- rington’s strategy of presenting and revising proposals that he then pressured both sides to accept, Nkomo recalls: “They were ‘spider’ tactics” (Charlton 1990: 77). “By dealing with each side separately, Lord Carrington put himself at the centre of the spider’s web, of which he alone could pull the strings” (Nkomo 1984: 195). Mugabe shared Nkomo’s sentiment about the mediation procedures, finding them “absolutely baffling and, in a way, repugnant” (Charlton 1990: 79). Mugabe even yelled at Carrington at one point to “go to hell” (Newsweek, Dec. 17, 1979). The Patriotic Front explicitly challenged Lord Carrington’s timetable, believing tran- sitional arrangements should be discussed before the constitution. Ian Smith agreed, breaking with his delegation (Stedman 1991: 177). Though the Front hoped to change the timetable in order to strengthen its position in the constitutional nego- tiations, Carrington held firm. Ian Smith as well resented Carrington’s manner of mediation. “We were very disappointed in Carrington,” Smith recalled. “[We] were deceived by him” (Charlton 1990: 89). Muzorewa had sharp words to say about Carrington’s tactics at one point: “My delegation and I are running a country. We have been in London too long and are losing patience” (Stedman 1991: 187). Carrington recalled in his memoirs that he was the subject of “ferocious verbal assaults from one side or the other . . . generally accompanied by noise, rage – real or simulated – and innuendo” (Carrington 1988: 299). By attacking the media- tor, the parties saved the mediation. Blaming Lord Carrington for his manipula- tion and deceit was a face-saving maneuver that allowed them to compensate for the results of the negotiations. Muzorewa’s relationship with the mediator was complex. No delegate needed to make as great a sacrifice as Muzorewa did, and no delegate needed to save face more urgently. Describing the 1978 negotiations over a new constitution for Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, Meredith described Muzorewa’s face dilemma: “Facing Smith in negotiation, Muzorewa was constantly torn between the need to reach an accommodation with the whites and, at the same time, to satisfy radical ele- ments in his own party.” Indeed, “the rank and file of the party pressed the bishop to make a tougher bargain; many even questioned the wisdom of negotiating
  14. 14. 162 A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 with Smith” (Meredith 1979: 236). Muzorewa lost face following the internal settlement and confronted a similar dilemma at Lancaster House. Carrington’s most difficult task was to secure Muzorewa’s resignation and a commitment to hold new elections. This deeply divided Muzorewa’s delegation: Ian Smith felt it to be political suicide, while Sithole, as leader of the parliamentary opposition in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, was strongly in favor of another opportunity to rival Muzorewa (Stedman 1991: 187). The bishop’s closest allies on the delegation, such as Deputy Prime Minister Mundawarara, adamantly opposed the fall of the government. Walls found Carrington’s transitional package to be favorable as it kept the Rhodesian security apparatus intact, and he therefore conceded Muzore- wa’s resignation.15 Once again, this fragmentation played into Carrington’s hands. By 1979, Muzorewa faced major challenges to his authority. His government was in trouble: much of his own party defected over the summer, the guerrillas had rejected his amnesty offers, the confidence of the white community began to wane, and the economy continued to deteriorate (Stedman 1991: 172).16 And still his government lacked recognition. “The Bishop cannot be said to have a stable democratic base or a stable military base,” Palley (1979: 36) wrote, calling his coalition “unstable.” He sought to reverse these trends at Lancaster House and regain his standing as Rhodesia’s first black prime minister. Muzorewa might have hoped the Conference would collapse; he could then come to a separate agreement with Britain.17 He continually sought to maintain good relations with Carrington, believing this would maximize his outcome. As a result, he was more prone to make concessions (Davidow 1984: 43–44, 112). In order to secure Muzorewa’s resignation, Carrington first “appealed to [his] ethics and tried to convince him that stepping down was the ‘right’ thing to do” 15) This division on Muzorewa’s delegation closely mirrors Stedman’s observation that his delegation really had four factions. Muzorewa and Mundawarara attended Lancaster House in an attempt to bolster their government internationally and domestically. Peter Walls and Ken Flower, the two most concerned with security, recognized the need for a settlement and believed Muzorewa could win an election. Ian Smith decided against any concessions at all, since he knew any fair election would mean a victory for the Patriotic Front. Sithole, and likely Ndiweni, were anxious for new elections. The key “swing” vote was Finance Minister David Smith. When forced to choose sides, David Smith sided with Muzorewa over Ian Smith (Stedman 1991: 172–73). 16) In the summer of 1979, Muzorewa’s party cracked along ethnic Shona clan lines. James Chikerema, one of Muzorewa’s deputies, led dissidents from the Zezuru clan out of the United African National Council. Palley suggests that after this defection Muzorewa’s base was largely Manyika and Kore-Kore, who, together, formed about 25 per cent of the African population of Rhodesia. Muzorewa’s legitimacy crisis was in part an ethnic and clan crisis. On the strength of the three Shona clans, Muzorewa won Mashonaland; he did much worse among the Ndebele peoples, who largely voted for Ndiweni. The Karanga Shona clan and the Ndau ethnic group split; the Karanga comprised a large portion of the mili- tary and police forces. “This leaves the Bishop dependant on white support to govern” (Palley 1979: 36). 17) This was Carrington’s “best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA)” (Davidow, 1984: 43–44, 112) (“Carrington not only let the Patriotic Front, and everyone else, know his BATNA . . . but he was able to use it as an instrument of considerable leverage.”)
  15. 15. A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 163 (Stedman 1991: 187). Second, Carrington appealed to the bishop’s political interests, hoping “to convince him that his loss of position would be temporary, that he would win another election and regain his position in a matter of months” (Stedman 1991: 188). After agreeing to new elections, Muzorewa sought to pres- ent himself in a new light to the public as an apolitical clergyman committed to nonviolence rather than an ambitious partisan stakeholder. He “wrestled in prayer” to reach his decision to resign (De Waal 1990: 34). As he later recalled, “I did not come to seek office, or seek power[;] I had been persuaded to join politics for the good of the country.” He assured his supporters that he would win any election. “I believed that if the new elections were fair, then we were certain to win,” he said (Charlton 1990: 83). Agreeing to a new election was a gamble, and one he spec- tacularly lost, winning only three out of 80 open seats in the Assembly. The white community felt a sense of betrayal at Muzorewa’s loss, shocked that Thatcher would allow a Marxist regime to take power. In the conspiracy theories that fol- lowed, Britain played a substantial role (Godwin and Hancock 1993: 272–73). Ian Smith, who pressured Muzorewa not to resign, blamed Carrington and the “political sharks” in the Foreign Office for Muzorewa’s loss: “They took poor old Bishop Muzorewa for a ride. He was not a politician. He was a simple man of the church. . . . He did not understand the game” (Charlton 1990: 90). Carrington admitted he preferred Muzorewa to win and saw a Muzorewa-Nkomo coalition as the most likely outcome, but he denied promising any result. Blaming the British for Muzorewa’s electoral loss deflected criticism from Muzorewa’s government and allowed his base to more readily accept the electoral outcome. Private Negotiation, Public Rhetoric In reality, Lancaster House consisted of two negotiations, one public and one behind the scenes. The British mediation team attempted to stake out a moderate position that could in theory be accepted, and then sought to push Muzorewa into accepting it so that it was a real offer, capable of implementation, when pre- sented to the Patriotic Front. “This meant that the main battles with Muzorewa and his team had to be fought in private,” Renwick (1997: 34) wrote, noting that these private caucuses were every bit as difficult as the public battles with the Patriotic Front during the plenary sessions. As Carrington (1988: 299) recalled, “We did the minimum in plenary sessions, with their opportunities for quarrel and attitude, the maximum in restricted negotiation behind the scenes.” This was another way the parties could save face: coupling a symbolic harsh public stance with a more conciliatory private position. The parties, like the British, committed themselves to extreme positions in public that they moderated in private. At one point, Mugabe made statements to the press saying that the Patriotic Front would not accept British oversight of the elections, but, when pressed by Lord Carrington, he retracted: “My saying it on television
  16. 16. 164 A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 does not mean it constitutes an official Patriotic Front position” (Stedman 1991: 184). Mugabe had to show the public a tough side given his own face problems. His forces truly believed ZANU could win the war outright on the battlefield, and were not supportive of negotiations. Mugabe was famous for his revolution- ary rhetoric. “Our guns must . . . continue to blast the enemy in the name of the people and with the power of the people,” Mugabe once said. “The surest victory for the people and the surest defeat of the enemy can only be the product of our armed struggle” (Mugabe 1983: 110). Mugabe accused the British of “giving full support to the fascist regime” in Rhodesia. “They are not after a genuine settle- ment,” he said (1983: 110). Yet he went to London to negotiate anyway, and his rhetoric stayed outside the conference hall. Although Lord Carrington operated from a single negotiating text and formu- lated all of his own proposals, he was willing to make private concessions in order to help the parties save face.18 In discussing the constitutional framework, the Patriotic Front could digest all aspects of the agreement except for one: land redis- tribution. Under the new constitution, the government had to fully compensate for land, an expensive prospect for the new state. “The land issue was hardest to accept, because it involved such visceral feelings and our mobilization had depended on land, thus we decided we had to make some kind of stand,” one delegate recalled (Stedman 1991: 182). The Patriotic Front threatened to walk out of the Conference, and Mugabe presented a tough public posture: “We would welcome a settlement. But we can achieve peace and justice for our people through the barrel of a gun” (Davidow 1984: 63). Carrington reacted with an equally hard-line public posture: he adjourned the Conference. In private, he presented the Front with an offer from Britain to cover some of the expense of reimbursing farmers for land redistribution. Sir Ramphal secured a similar offer from President Carter, which provided sufficient assurance to the Patriotic Front. As one ZANU delegate recalled, “We had something we could sell to the people” (Davidow 1984: 183). Although the Patriotic Front had made substantial compromises in the constitution, it walked away with one major concession. The public posturing and private conciliation proved to be effective. In December, the Lancaster House Conference finally came to a close. Mugabe faced a difficult choice: whether to sign the final document or resort to the battle- field to fight a war he was sure he could win. His sponsors, the Front Line states, supported the former, while his troops on the ground (if not his commanders) supported the latter. As Davidow (1984: 89) writes, Mugabe’s motivation for 18) Davidow elaborates: “The British did not develop a blueprint prior to the conference that would dic- tate each move in advance. In fact, as Lancaster House progressed, they found themselves encountering unplanned-for situations, making commitments not entertained . . . at the outset.” This was tempered by three factors critical to the Conference’s success: emphasis on British centrality, dictatorial conference management, and a step-by-step approach (Davidow 1984: 36).
  17. 17. A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 165 stalling was complex: he distrusted the British; he feared the Rhodesian military; and he could not betray the trust of his supporters. The ceasefire arrangements did not fully satisfy the Patriotic Front; “it became important for them to dem- onstrate their own negotiating strength by forcing the British to actually amend the proposals” (Davidow 1984: 88). At the last plenary session on December 15, Mugabe attacked the British proposals and announced that he rejected the cease- fire arrangements. Following this public confrontation, the British pulled out all stops: they enlisted Mugabe’s military commander Tongogara to pressure him, and leaked information to the press, whether true or not, that Nkomo planned to sign with or without Mugabe. The pressure from President Machel of Mozam- bique proved decisive; he would not let Mugabe use Mozambique as a base for renewed hostilities (Renwick 1997: 60; Davidow 1984: 89). Under this pressure, Mugabe signed, but not before the British made “a final face-saving gesture.” They established an additional checkpoint in Rhodesia at which guerrilla forces could disarm (Stedman 1991: 207). To the Patriotic Front, this was more than an empty concession. “We stood our ground, because now it had to do with the fighters,” Mugabe later said of the disarmament points (Charlton 1990: 130). The stationing of British and Commonwealth troops in the assembly areas gave the Front confidence that Rhodesian troops would not attack the disarming sol- diers. The flexibility behind the scenes allowed Carrington to consider the posi- tions of the parties and adjust his proposals to meet the parties’ criticisms in a way he could not do publicly. Shadow Mediation Given the fractious nature of both delegations and their heavily contested author- ity, both parties, especially the Patriotic Front, were constrained from making certain concessions to Lord Carrington without losing face. The Patriotic Front’s belief that Carrington, as the representative of a Tory government, was biased toward Muzorewa heightened this face concern. When Carrington leaned too far toward Muzorewa, forcing the Patriotic Front to either lose face and concede or leave the Conference, Sir Ramphal intervened on behalf of the Patriotic Front and organized a “parallel conference” to Lancaster House (Charlton 1990: 109). At the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Lusaka, Zambia in August 1979, Britain received the backing of a united Commonwealth for nego- tiations on Rhodesia, so long as those negotiations resulted in new elections and a democratic constitution. “I saw my role, and the Commonwealth Secretariat’s role, as holding the British government to Lusaka,” Ramphal said of his agenda at Lancaster House (Charlton 1990: 109). Carrington (1988: 300) presents a less sympathetic portrait, believing that “Ramphal thought, no doubt with the best of intentions, that he could help and had the right to try. He was mistaken[;] . . . totally committed to the Patriotic Front, he had no credibility as an impartial observer.”
  18. 18. 166 A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 Carrington did not see the greater dynamic: at some points in the conference, Carrington and Ramphal were in a negotiation of their own, the proxies of the two delegations. This is the phenomenon of the dual mediator: with their own institutional interests, the two mediators became negotiators. Ramphal’s intervention proved decisive a number of times, helping Carrington step down from hard-line proposals so that the Patriotic Front could meet the concession. Ramphal put forth more moderate alternatives that both Carrington and the Front could accept. When the Patriotic Front refused to consent to the new constitution because it did not contain a provision for land redistribution, Carrington vowed to move forward on the transitional arrangements with Muzorewa alone. Sir Ramphal condemned Carrington’s actions, but then “busied himself with seeking a formula that would enable Mugabe and Nkomo to agree” (Ren- wick 1997: 42–43). Ramphal secretly enlisted the assistance of U.S. Ambassador Kingman Brewster to seek a pledge from President Carter for a contribution of a substantial amount of money for land redistribution. “That of course saved the conference” at the moment when Nkomo and Mugabe prepared to leave, Ramphal recalled (BBC News, Aug. 22, 2007). Brewster’s cautious offer did not signifi- cantly add substance to a similar one Carrington made on behalf of the United Kingdom, “but it did present Nkomo and Mugabe with a face-saving way out of the impasse” that they ultimately accepted (Davidow 1984: 65). Sir Ramphal, along with Anthony Lake from the U.S. State Department and Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, helped mediate between Carrington and the Patriotic Front over the duration of the transitional period. The Patriotic Front perceived Carrington’s proposal as too short in duration for the interim government to dismantle the white state apparatus. Backed by President Carter and the Front Line presidents, Ramphal’s intervention to extend the interregnum “resulted in some indication of British flexibility,” and Carrington agreed to allocate several more weeks to allow a ceasefire to take hold (Davidow 1984: 70–71). In order to maintain his tempo and leverage, Carrington himself had to protect face lest he spark a Tory revolt. Carrington proposed that the Rhodesian armed forces should keep security in the country during the transitional period. The Patriotic Front wanted a U.N. peacekeeping force, which, if Carrington agreed, “would have appeared like a partial surrender of the British prerogative in Rhodesia” (Chan 1991). Nor could Carrington take the risk of an all-British military force lest he raise the ire of the Tory Right. On November 10, Ramphal and Kaunda won Carrington’s approval for a Commonwealth Monitoring Force, which would have a backbone of British allies along with developing world representation from Fiji and Kenya. Their intervention was decisive: “Without a climb down from the Rhodesian armed forces-only scenario, the Patriotic Front could never have agreed to a ceasefire” (Chan 1990). While Carrington supported individual country del- egations for election observation during the new elections so as to increase the odds of a split verdict in the case of election irregularities, Ramphal won another
  19. 19. A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 167 concession with a coordinated Commonwealth Observer Group that would orga- nize election observer units and speak with one voice (Chan 1990). Ramphal’s greatest victory was in preventing Commonwealth members from defecting, particularly the Front Line and African presidents who may have opposed the Lancaster House Conference. The Front Line presidents kept their pressure on the Patriotic Front to stay at the table. Behind the scenes, they lob- bied Carrington to help Mugabe save face; under their pressure, Carrington agreed to neutralize the Rhodesian military and air force to prevent attacks on disarming guerrillas (Stedman 1991: 199). As Chan (1991) recalls, “It was Ramphal, late at night, with Nkomo and Mugabe present, who telephoned [President Julius] Nyerere and convinced the Tanzanian leader that the proposed agreement would not put the [Patriotic Front] at extreme risk.” The presence of proxy mediators at Lancaster House, particularly on behalf of the Patriotic Front, helped preserve face both for the Front itself and for Lord Carrington. These proxy mediators served as channels of communication and “trial balloon floaters” for the opposing sides, “allowing new ideas to circulate without any delegation’s formally accepting paternity” (Davidow 1984: 109). Muzorewa benefited as well; South African For- eign Minister Pik Botha, passing through London, assured the Muzorewa delega- tion that the terms of the agreement were acceptable to the South Africans (Smith 1997: 317).19 In addition, British military advisors worked closely with Walls and Tongogara to make sure Carrington’s ceasefire proposals were practical, and once they were, Walls and Tongogara together helped sell the ceasefire to their delega- tions (Stedman 1991: 199–200). In public, Carrington was a strong third-party mediator, in firm and unchallenged control. Behind the scenes, his authority was multifaceted and complex. Hedging for Conference Failure During the Lancaster House negotiations, the parties continued the war at full force, jockeying for position on the battlefield as a way to hedge for conference failure. The use of force had long been a face-saving tactic for the Rhodesian combatants when negotiations fell apart. As Stedman (1991: 229) writes, “When the opportunity to negotiate seemed foreclosed, the pressure to escalate [the con- flict] increased tremendously.” After the failure of the Victoria Falls Conference in early 1976, the Front Line presidents of Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, and Tanzania “agreed to give full support to the guerrilla movement” when their 19) According to Ian Smith, Pik Botha encouraged Muzorewa to comply with the Lancaster House Agree- ment. “The promises of both financial and material assistance made at the meetings with Muzorewa and David Smith proved to be a powerful lever” (Smith 1997: 323). Smith also had harsh words for Chief Justice Hector MacDonald, whom Smith accused of undermining Rhodesia’s position in London. Mac- Donald was one of a number of political actors in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia who defected. Given the fragmen- tation of politics, this is hardly surprising.
  20. 20. 168 A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 efforts to promote negotiations with the Smith regime failed (Meredith 1979: 207). Three days after the opening of the Geneva Conference in late 1976, the Rhode- sian army struck deep into Tête Province, Mozambique. “In the seven weeks that the Geneva Conference lasted, more guerrillas were killed in Rhodesia than in the whole of 1975” (Meredith 1979: 286). At Lancaster House, the Rhodesian secu- rity forces launched a major raid deep into Zambia just as Carrington was pre- senting his proposals for a transitional administration that kept the security forces intact. If the Conference had failed, and the conflict escalated into a larger or regional war, “it would have been in part because major actors believed that nego- tiation was foreclosed” (Stedman 1991: 230). Should Lancaster House have failed, the intensified use of military force was much more impracticable than after previous negotiations. First, the parties’ allies – the Front Line states for the Patriotic Front and South Africa for Zimbabwe- Rhodesia – had no intention of letting the conflict continue indefinitely, and they made this clear to the parties. Second, the one party who would most have needed to resort to force to save face, namely Joshua Nkomo of ZAPU, suffered a major military setback during the conference that all but derailed his plans for a renewed offensive in northern Rhodesia. This committed Nkomo even more to an agreement he, perhaps more than any other party at the Conference, desper- ately needed. “In many ways, Carrington’s strongest card at Lancaster House was the belief by all of the delegations that they could win an election,” Martin and Johnson (1981: 318) write. If any of the parties had not believed this, continuing the war would have been the best hope for victory; at Lancaster House, however, the parties, especially Nkomo, had more to gain by negotiation than by contin- ued warfare. Nkomo, the “weak link in the Patriotic Front,” entered Lancaster House with a major legitimacy problem: given the overwhelming strength of the ZANU forces, he knew his smaller force was not indispensible to Mugabe on the battlefield (Stedman 1991: 169). As Stedman (1991: 165) writes, “Cooperation was risky for a junior partner that had real limits on its base of support.” The Rhodesian government had long attempted to peel the more moderate Nkomo away from Mugabe and to enter a separate settlement with him. Nkomo’s face problem with Mugabe began in August 1978, when a secret negotiation between Nkomo and Ian Smith fell apart. When the details of the negotiations were leaked, there was a “blazing row between the two factions of the Patriotic Front,” Godwin and Hancock (1993: 228) write. Forced to “prove” himself to Mugabe and ZANU, Nkomo’s forces bombed Air Rhodesia Flight 825.20 “For days on end, White Rhodesia was overwhelmed by shock, grief, and anger” (Godwin and Hancock 1993: 228). The incident saved face with Mugabe, as “ZAPU had . . . become 20) Of the 52 passengers and four crew members, eighteen survived the crash only to be attacked by ZAPU forces half an hour later. Ten more died.
  21. 21. A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 169 more radicalized” by the incident, but any hope Nkomo would ever join a gov- ernment with Muzorewa had evaporated (Stedman 1991: 165). By the time of Lancaster House, Nkomo’s tumultuous alliance with Mugabe was unraveling. Nkomo planned a risky move, an “act of desperation, not strat- egy” in case the Conference fell apart: he would launch a major military offensive from Zambia.21 According to Nkomo, at the very moment ZAPU planned to launch the assault on his orders from London, Rhodesian aircraft bombed several strategic bridges over the Zambezi River; Nkomo believed British intelligence in London had leaked the information to the Rhodesian military (Nkomo 1984). Nkomo’s recourse in the event of conference failure was severely handicapped. He committed to the Lancaster House Accords, and campaigned for the April 1980 elections in which he would do poorly.22 Paradoxically, the Rhodesian forces, by jockeying for dominance on the battlefield in order to strengthen Muzorewa’s hand in London, actually undermined the chances that the Patriotic Front would walk out of the Conference and thus leading to a separate agreement between Britain and Muzorewa. As the Rhodesian forces penetrated further into Zambia and Mozambique in late 1979, Presidents Kaunda and Machel placed ever more pressure on the Patriotic Front to negotiate (Godwin and Hancock 1993: 261). Eventually, the delegations were hemmed in on all sides; their gamble to hedge for the failure of negotiations on the battlefield only served to redouble their opponents’ commitment to a negotiated solution. Saving face outside of the con- ference room was no longer an option. Conclusion Lord Christopher Soames, the last British colonial governor in Africa, arrived in Salisbury, Rhodesia on December 12, 1979. Upon Muzorewa’s resignation, the colony of Southern Rhodesia, in rebellion for over fourteen years, reverted to British rule. On December 15, Muzorewa’s delegation initialed the report and ceasefire agreement, and two days later Mugabe and Nkomo assented. The report received royal approval the next day. At a formal ceremony on December 21, Car- rington and the two delegations signed the Lancaster House Accord. The guns fell silent at midnight (Wiseman and Taylor 1981: 13, 15). 21) Quoting a ZAPU delegate on the dangers of escalating the war (Stedman 1991: 174). Davidow writes that Carrington had access to first-rate intelligence, which “increased British self-confidence and fostered a tougher negotiating attitude” (Davidow 1984: 106). 22) Nkomo took 20 seats to Mugabe’s 57 in the April 1980 elections. Nkomo claims the vote was not fair. “That my party should have won not a single seat in Salisbury, and only twenty seats in the whole western strip from Kariba right down to Beitbridge, I could not believe and still do not believe,” he recalled. (Nkomo 1984: 210). By shifting his blame to the system, he explained away his poor results to protect his standing in the eyes of his supporters. This highlights once again the value of face-saving in mediation: by blaming the technique, one might prevent attack on the substance.
  22. 22. 170 A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 Mugabe’s surprising landslide victory in April 1980 might well have derailed a less durable agreement. Potential spoilers, such as Nkomo’s ZAPU forces, the Rhodesian white community, the South African government, and even anti- communist political elements in the United States or the United Kingdom gener- ally respected the agreement and did not attempt to destabilize the country. In the immediate future, the Accord was a success: the ceasefire held, the elections were judged largely free and fair, and a democratically-elected party won black majority rule and formally assumed the reins of government on April 18, 1980 (Wiseman and Taylor 1981: 93). One commonly-raised criticism is that the Lancaster House constitution blocked the vast societal restructuring promised by the Patriotic Front’s revolutionary rhetoric, causing an inherently unstable situa- tion in which the will of a politically mobilized population could not find suffi- cient gratification (Davidow 1984: 98). History has questioned this criticism. The provision for 20 white seats in a 100–seat legislature for a period of seven years was particularly striking, Hatchard (1991: 81) recalls, but the ruling party “com- plied strictly with the terms of the Constitution” and did not attempt to abolish the white seats until September 27, 1987. Despite having a majority of the votes in parliament, and nearly two-thirds after the 1985 elections, Mugabe’s political party was faithful to the Lancaster House constitution until the provisions expired. Because the parties to Lancaster House had the opportunity to save face with their supporters and the opposing delegations, the parties were able to drastically close the distance between them and come to a workable agreement. Both delega- tions blamed the mediator’s tactics and strategy while committing to the mediator’s proposals; both delegations engaged in harsh rhetoric in public while remaining flexible in private; and both delegations profited immensely from the participa- tion of Ramphal and his colleagues when they needed a face-saving buffer between their concession and Carrington. Muzorewa was able to resign as prime minister and commit to new elections because of Carrington’s assurances that he could win and receive international recognition as the rightful prime minister of the country. Mugabe committed to a ceasefire because of Carrington’s promise to use a United Kingdom-backed force to maintain security during disarmament. The moderation shown by the military commanders Walls and Tongogara in conjunc- tion with the Front Line presidents helped sway the more radical political figures and lent military realism to political aspirations. Lord Carrington also helped Britain save face in a crisis which was at least in part of the colonial power’s own making. With Lord Carrington’s directive mediation, “Britain gained what it had sought unsuccessfully for fifteen years, an honorable way out of the Rhodesian imbroglio” (Davidow 1984: 97). While Carrington’s delegation may have been strong and united, British government policy and public opinion were as divided as the unraveling delegations represent- ing the Rhodesian combatants.23 Carrington’s “unapologetically aristocratic blend 23) “[O]f the three delegations that assembled on September 10 at Lancaster House, only the British were
  23. 23. A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 171 of self-confidence, no-nonsense, and civility” has “given a weak Britain the confi- dence, with Commonwealth help, to move to centre stage again” (Economist, Nov. 17, 1979). Carrington allowed Britain to diplomatically draw the curtain on its African Empire. In order to help the two negotiating sides close the gap between them and come to an acceptable agreement, Carrington committed Britain to providing substantial assistance to the transitional regime. The introduction of British troops to provide security was a major concession on behalf of Britain to the Patriotic Front. The commitment of Britain to helping reimburse the Zimbabwean gov- ernment for buying out white-owned land was also risky. Carrington had never been popular with the Tory Right and by foiling the Right’s efforts to recognize the Muzorewa regime, he “increased his political vulnerability” within the Con- servative Party, Davidow (1984: 97) writes. Britain, and the Conservative Party in particular, had to save face for the commitments it made to a Marxist guerrilla regime in Africa. “Carrington’s reputation was burnished domestically and inter- nationally in the short run,” but the Tory Right would have its revenge. It is plausible that “Carrington paid for his [Zimbabwe] victory with his Falklands resignation” after the Argentine invasion (Davidow 1984: 97–98). Britain, like the other two delegations, saved face by sacrificing the mediator. Saving face is the effort by a negotiator to maintain legitimacy and reputation among the constituency on whose behalf she is negotiating while making conces- sions that ultimately weaken that constituency’s bargaining position. Where a negotiator’s base is insecure, divided, or unsupportive of attempts at resolution, the constituency will likely be far more sensitive to bargaining concessions that weaken its position. The negotiator’s ability to bargain will become more con- strained. The need to save face becomes more urgent and more difficult if a work- able agreement is to result. With control over the agenda, pacing, and performance of a negotiation and with access to leverage that can increase the odds of compliance, a strong media- tor is able to accept at least some of the political cost of the bargain. The Lancaster House Conference involved two parties that were both at the height of their political vulnerability to rapidly disintegrating constituencies. A strong mediator role can minimize loss to parties’ political capital since the mediator can accept responsibility for concessions, engage in symbolic public confrontation with the able to present a unified stance. The other two teams were burdened with internal dissension and distrust” (Davidow 1984: 49). However, some of Thatcher’s closest allies were strongly opposed to Carrington’s meddlesome negotiations. The Suez Group in Parliament had “oppos[ed] every step in the dissolution of the African empire,” vigilant as they were of a feeble foreign policy. In 1979, these influential conserva- tives were sharply pressing Thatcher on recognition of Muzorewa’s government (Charlton 1990: 12–13). One member of the Suez Group, Julian Amery, memorably recalled: “Neville Chamberlain and Anthony Eden were appeasing an enemy, or an adversary, of Britain. It was arguable, from their point of view, that this was a gamble that might pay off. What we did at Lancaster House was not to appease, but to turn round and punish ourselves. It was a masochistic exercise.” (Quoted in Charlton 1990: 16–17).
  24. 24. 172 A. Novak / International Negotiation 14 (2009) 149–174 negotiating parties, and facilitate retreat from combative, hard-line positions in private. A strong mediator comes with her own vulnerabilities. A mediator wielding high leverage and operating from her own script cannot lose face before the nego- tiating parties lest they challenge her authority or call her bluff. Given Lord Car- rington’s power at the Conference and his own sharply cleft constituency, he needed a mechanism by which he could gauge reactions on possible proposals, target the pragmatists and moderates on each delegation, and find political cover when he exposed his own vulnerabilities. Having a shadow mediator in Sir Ramphal, who could seek concessions that Carrington himself could not solicit and com- municate with actors such as the Front Line presidents that Carrington could not reach, helped Carrington preserve face with Britain’s Commonwealth allies and the right wing of the Tory party. Ramphal had his own institutional interests to protect, particularly the Lusaka arrangement agreed to by the Thatcher govern- ment calling for fresh elections and the restoration of British rule. Ramphal was able to use his own bargaining position to extract concessions from Carrington, most notably with the composition of the election observer contingent and the monitoring force. At times, Ramphal and Carrington negotiated between them- selves on behalf of the two delegations. As dual mediators, Ramphal and Car- rington were also proxy negotiators, which balanced Carrington’s (and Thatcher’s) perceived bias toward the Muzorewa delegation. In the end, the agreement stood. An ambitious, newly-elected government agreed to stand down, and a guerrilla force that had vowed sweeping revolution laid down arms. A mediator sensitive to the face concerns of the delegations drew the two sides out of their impasse. The delegations’ ability to preserve their legitimacy before their constituencies made the agreement itself look legitimate to the bulk of the popula- tion in Rhodesia. Potential spoilers largely accepted it. And the dramatic experi- ment that was Rhodesia came to a hopeful conclusion as a new Zimbabwe. References Bartunek, Jean, Alan Benton, and Christopher Keys (1975). “Third Party Intervention and the Bargaining Behavior of Group Representatives.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 19, 3: 532–557. Bercovitch, Jacob (2007). “Mediation in International Conflicts: Theory, Practice, and Develop- ments,” in I. William Zartman, ed., Peacemaking in International Conflict: Methods and Tech- niques. Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace Press. Bowman, Larry (1973). Politics in Rhodesia: White Power in an African State. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Brett, Jeanne (2001). Negotiating Globally: How to Negotiate Deals, Resolve Disputes, and Make Deci- sions across Cultural Boundaries. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass. Brown, Bert (1977). “Face Saving and Face Restoration in Negotiation,” in Daniel Druckman, ed., Negotiations: Social-Psychological Perspectives. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publishers. Carrington, Lord Peter (1988). Reflect on Things Past. London: Collins.
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