The Internal Settlement was an agreement which was signed on 3 March 1978 by Ian Smith and the so called moderate nationalist leaders comprising of Ndabaningi Sithole, Abel Muzorewa and Jeremiah Chirau. It led to the creation of an interim government in which Africans were included and their inclusion was to only serve as a pretence that they was now African and or black majority rule in Rhodesia. This in turn was to led to the achievement of the settlement's main goal in which the country was to gain international recognition which in turn implied that sanctions imposed on Rhodesia which came about as a result of the announcement of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of 1965 were to be abolished. The settlement was however short lived and it eventually collapsed paving way for the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979 which managed to broker a deal for the attainment of independence in 1980.


Prior to 1978, many conferences were held with the aim of bringing about the independence of Zimbabwe as a result of negotiations thus bringing the Second Chimurenga to an end but they never yielded an success. For instance, in 1976, there was the Geneva Conference amongst a hoard of others mainly because Smith was under pressure from the international community. He was however inflexible and he regarded the leaders of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) and the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU)as radicals.[1] Hence this obstructed any meaningful negotiations between the three parties.

After the Geneva Conference, Smith amended the land laws which were segregatory in nature as a way to enhance the end of the liberation struggle.[2] The nationalists movements responded in a somewhat luke warm manner. In the wake of all this, Smith decided to form an interim government excluding the radical parties with Muzorewa, Chirau and Sithole who were deemed as moderate politicians.

Signatories of the Agreement

Muzorewa who was leading his party the United African National Congress (UANC) was characterised as someone who had minimal political experience and someone who had constantly revealed negotiating weaknesses.[2] He was thus subject to manipulations. The executive interim of the UANC was also said to have been composed of intellectuals who are said to have forged alliances with business people who had interests of establishing their business in Rhodesia after the imposed economic sanctions were abolished.[3] Hence, members of the UANC considered agreeing to the settlement because they were to benefit from the whole deal.

Chirau who was a chief and an employee of the Rhodesian government was also used an appendage by Smith who was eager to see Rhodesia gaining international recognition. Chirau was leading his own political party called the Zimbabwe United Peoples Party (ZUPO) which was said to have been the initiative of Smith.[3] The inclusion of a chief in the whole agreement was supposed to draw the attention of peasants who revered chiefs. But this was a fallacy because Chirau had been a close associate of Smith and peasants by the turn of 1978 knew whose side Chirau was on.[3]

Sithole who was also part of the signatories of the agreement was viewed as a dejected member of ZANU PF who was had a hidden vendetta against the party.[3] He had been deposed as a result of his capitulation to the 1974 December talks chaired by Kenneth Kaunda who was the then president of Zambia which was prioritising the end of the war in favour of the attainment of independence as a result of negotiations. He had shown his stance which was in a way moderate.

Failure of the Agreement

The fact that ZANU PF and ZAPU were deliberately excluded from the settlement was first main reason which caused the failure of the settlement. The military wings of these two parties continued fighting against Smith's government, something which had an impact on the settlement as well as the view that it was upholding African majority rule. Sithole who had promised to end the liberation struggle failed dismally to deliver the expected results. He organised meetings to sell his idea but the attendance was poor.[3] The interim government continued to detain political activists and this was contrary to the dictates of the settlement inciting the continuation of the struggle.[1]

The dictates of the settlement were meant to perpetuate the repressive government of Smith and this caused influenced the liberation struggle to be more rigorous. The Africans never benefited from the settlement. Instead, the economy, control of best agricultural lands as well as the security forces remained in the hands of the minority whites.[2] Two weeks after the settlement was put into effect, Byron Hove who was the co-Minister of Justice was sacked after he had called upon the government to reveal the control of the security forces.[2] The decision of his dismissal was not contested by Muzorewa who was now the prime minister after the April 1979 elections which saw his UANC gaining the majority of the seventy-two seats reserved for Africans in the parliament.[2] This was used by ZANU PF and ZAPU as evidence to prove to the Organisation of African Union (OAU) that Smith had an upper hand in the interim government which saw the renaming of the country into Zimbabwe-Rhodesia purported to be ruled by Muzorewa.[2]

The OAU petitioned the British Conservative Party to repudiate its promise of advancing Smith's goal for Rhodesia to be internationally recognised after the inclusion of Africans in the governance of the country.[4] The settlement remained internal within Rhodesia and it was not considered by anyone else besides Smith, Muzorewa, Chirau and Sithole and thus it was doomed to fail.

Conflicts between Muzorewa and Sithole began to blossom and this had a negative impact on the settlement. Sithole was now accusing Smith of favouring Muzorewa and he even stated that the 1979 elections were rigged.[2]

Within Muzorewa's UANC there was bickering and this saw the resignation of influential intellectuals and party members such as James Chikerema. He was part of Muzorewa's delegation who later formed his own party the Zimbabwe Democratic Party.[2] Those who resigned had realised that they had been tricked and hence they began to advance the need of a militant approach.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 , The Pressure Is On, "Boston Coalition for the Liberation of Southern Africa", published:1979,retrieved:2 July 2014"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Fay Chung, Re-living the Second Chimurenga: Memories from the Liberation Struggle in Zimbabwe, "Weaver Press", published:2011,retrieved:2 July 2014"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 John Ngara, The Zimbabwe Revolution and the Internal Settlement, "Marxism Today", published:1978,retrieved:2 July 2014"
  4. , The History of Zimbabwe, "Bulawayo 1872",:,retrieved:2 July 2014"