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October 17, 1979

Memorandum, The RSA (Republic of South Africa) Action as a Result of the Visit of Minister R.F. Botha to Britain

This document was made possible with support from Leon Levy Foundation

MEMORANDUM October 1979

From: Secretary of the CSC [Central Security Council], CSC/6/3

To: Chairman of the CSC






1. To spell out the National Security actions [course] in consequence of the input Minister R.F. Botha provided for the ZR negotiations in Britain.




1. The main participants in the Lancaster Conference [Talks] can be divided into the following groups:


a. Britain who, apart from its own interests, indirectly furthers the interests of the West in Southern Africa.


b. The PF which further their own interests, and indirectly the interests of the communistic imperialism in Southern Africa.


c. The Front Line states that further the interests of the PF, therefore indirectly communistic imperialism. The GNU of ZR and the RSA that strive for community of interests in Southern Africa.


2. It is logical that Britain has determined a strategy for each of these groups to further Britain’s, and indirectly the West’s, interests. It could be the following:


a. West: Action to accommodate the PF and the GNU through a free election in a political economic ground-plan. Inducements are used predominantly, for example promises that sanctions will be lifted; promises of a compensation fund; promises of international recognition; promises that peace will be brought about.


b. The PF: Obtain their co-operation by making them full negotiation parties which can through bargaining, compromises and reconciliation with the GNU further their interests.


c. The Front Line states: Influence the Front Line states to convince the PF that it is in their interests to participate in the conference.


d. The GNU and the RSA: Obtain the co-operation of the GNU and the RSA as allies to let the conference succeed through covert sympathizing and covert support of the joint interests of ZR and the RSA. Therefore—the RSA and the GNU become indirect allies of Britain in furthering its interests regarding the solution to the ZR problem.


e. The sum total of the strategies is to create in ZR a true Black majority government, which would be accepted as far as possible by Africa, the West and the UN.


f. During Minister R.F. Botha’s negotiations in Britain the ‘strategy of alliance’ with the RSA and the GNU developed through:


a. By promoting the GNU’s negotiating party as the fair, just and correct group. The GNU is held up as the favoured in the negotiations.


b. The close co-operation and mutual assistance between the RSA and GNU are not construed as interference in domestic matters or assault on British interests, but are commended and encouraged to be expanded further.


c. The image of the RSA as protector of the oppressed GNU is commended and actions to expand it further are not opposed.


d. The initiative of the RSA to strive for stability in Southern Africa is underwritten with acclamation.


g. Should the RSA and GNU support Britain in implementing their possible strategy, Britain will succeed in achieving the interests of the West with the support of the RSA and the GNU. The aim of the West’s strategy is to create Black majority governments in Southern Africa which receive international recognition, limited or extensive.




h. Should the London Conference be allowed to take its course as has been spelled out to Minister R.F. Botha, the strategic situation in Southern Africa could change as follows:


a. A de facto sovereign independent anti-communist state which will be rejected internationally is in the interim transformed [changed] into a British colony. The return to legality according to Britain.


b. A present democratically chosen anti-communist government is compelled to once again hold an election. Chances of success are not absolute.


c. The preservation of ZR in the sphere of influence of the RSA through the exploitation of its isolation in the international community, could change to a situation where the RSA is isolated and ZR is taken up in the sphere of influence of the international community. Although recognition will have to be given to the existence of forces that could work against such a situation.


d. The means and power basis of the PF to pursue their interests have been broadened from force to equal partners in a diplomatic bargaining process. The Front Line states are used by Britain to exert pressure on the PF.


e. The outward strategy as embodied in the Southern African strategy could be converted into close defensive strategy should ZR move out of the sphere of influence of the RSA after independence.


f. A legally elected and appointed Prime Minister would be replaced by an unknown British Governor.


g. The legal ‘head’ of the Defence Force could now change from Bishop Muzorewa to an unknown British Governor.


h. Comment. The preceding strategic situation is not beneficial to the interests of the RSA and the implementation of the Southern African strategy.


i. The factors which would determine whether the foregoing strategic situation will develop are:


a. Whether the RSA will co-operate in allowing the British Strategy to succeed or not.


b. Whether the Muzorewa negotiation party is going to co-operate in allowing the British strategy to succeed or not.


c. International support for the British strategy.




i. This new British ‘alliance’ strategy with the RSA and ZR GNU has various unanswered questions which first have to be cleared on a diplomatic level, before the RSA could consider accepting it:


a. Is Britain now going to declare the arms boycott against the RSA invalid in order to place the RSA in a position of supporting its colony ZR to ensure its national security?


b. Is Britain itself now going to supply arms to its colony to ensure its national security or does Britain expect the RSA, against which it imposed an arms boycott, to supply the arms?


c. Is Britain going to replace the present military equipment that the RSA placed at ZR’s disposal with British equipment?


d. Does Britain expect the RSA to finance its colony in order to hold its British election in ZR?


e. Will the British Gov. take steps to curb the movement in Britain in favour of disinvestment in the RSA as the RSA has to provide financial support to its colony?


f. Is Britain prepared to overtly allow the RSA to assist in ensuring the national security of ZR?


g. Is Britain prepared to overtly allow ZR and the RSA to act against the terrorist bases in Zambia and Botswana to ensure the national security of ZR?


h. What return does the RSA get for its alliance in leading its colony to independence, for example:


a. Does the arms boycott still apply?


b. Does the censure of the RSA, that it is illegally in South West Africa (SWA), still apply?


c. Does the British censure of the RSA’s territorial multinational [multiethnic] policy still apply?


j. [sic] Will Britain support the RSA if the PF comes into power and a communist government such as in Mozambique comes into power and the RSA supports Muzorewa to overthrow the government?




j. If the RSA does not oppose the strategic situation with regard to the RSA and the GNU, there is a strong likelihood that the RSA’s interests in Southern Africa and the execution of the Southern Africa strategy could be seriously prejudiced.




k. Instruction. To exploit the British strategy with regard to ZR GNU and the RSA to the advantage of the Southern African strategy.


1. Tasks:


a. The instructions and tasks as spelt out in the CSC guide-lines with regard to…ZR in the light of the London Conference, and the actions that might result from it, hold and must be executed.


b. Task


1. To inform a delegation of the ZR Gov., which includes Bishop Muzorewa, about the RSA Gov.’s interpretation of the British strategy and to spell out the possible detrimental implications thereof for the Southern African strategy.


c. Task


2. The bona fides of the covert British promises must be tested by the RSA, by obtaining official answers from the British Gov. to the questions as set out in para 8. (above).


Document outlining possibility that Britain will retake Rhodesia as a colony, and what ramifications such a move would have on South Africa and all the resources that state has invested in Rhodesia.


Associated Places

Document Information


South African Archives, Department of Foreign Affairs, BTS 1/156/3 SADFA BTS 1/156/3 Volume 4. Included in "Southern Africa in the Cold War, Post-1974," edited by Sue Onslow and Anna-Mart Van Wyk.


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