Select Page

With the conclusion of this agreement and the signing of its report, the parties committed: forty years ago, on 21 December 1979, an agreement was signed at Lancaster House. This put an end to the illegal white-dominated regime dominated by Rhodesia since the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (IDU) in 1965 and inaugurated the newly independent state of Zimbabwe. The Lancaster House Agreement was an early diplomatic success for Margaret Thatcher`s new Conservative government and remains one of the most remarkable achievements of British diplomacy since World War II. The three-month conference was virtually unable to reach an agreement due to differences on land reform. Mugabe was put under pressure to sign, and the country was the most important stumbling block. [Citation required] Both the British and American governments proposed to compensate white citizens for each country sold to support reconciliation (the “Willing Buyer, Willing Seller” principle) and to create a fund to operate from 1980 to 1990. [Citation required] The agreement would lead to the dissolution of Zimbabwe`s unrecognized state of Rhodesia, created months earlier by the internal regime; an agreement between moderate black nationalists and the government of Prime Minister Ian Smith. While Zimbabwe-Rhodesia has not been recognized, the internal settlement has deprived the majority of blacks (so far the main British claim) and led to the election of the country`s first black prime minister. Mugabe argues that the country remains a problem because of the constraints imposed by the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979 to end white rule in former Rhodesia and Britain`s betrayal of the promises it made to secure a solution. Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo led the delegation of liberation fighters to the talks. From the beginning, Nkomo said that the return of the country to a majority was essential to his cause: “What will be the future of the country?” he asked the British.

Tags: Diplomacy, FCO historian, Joshua Nkomo, Lancaster House, Lancaster House Agreement, Margaret Thatcher, Rhodesia, Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe After the meeting of Commonwealth heads of government in Lusaka from 1 to 7 August 1979, the British Muzorewa government and patriotic Front leaders invited to a constitutional conference at Lancaster House.