The Internal Settlement was the agreement between Prime Minister of Rhodesia Ian Smith and Bishop Abel Muzorewa in 1978. After almost 15 years of civil war, and under pressure from the sanctions placed on Rhodesia by the international community, and political pressure from South Africa, Great Britain and the United States, the Rhodesian government met with some moderate African nationalist leaders to reach an agreement.
This agreement led directly to the election of March 1979, which brought Muzorewa and his UANC party to power. The electorate was not qualified by race, but purely on meeting certain conditions, such as educational standard and/or income and/or worth of property owned. The election process had been witnessed by international observers, who were in agreement that the process had been free and fair. Muzorewa was set to take over the premiership from Smith on 1 June 1979.
Once Muzorewa had taken over the new government of national unity, the country was renamed Zimbabwe Rhodesia and a new national flag was raised over Salisbury (now Harare), signifying the transition. It was expected that all sanctions would be lifted, now that the country was under democratically elected black majority rule. However, this did not lead to the lifting of sanctions as the hard-line parties ZAPU and ZANU were not involved in the political process. Under pressure from Jimmy Carter and Andrew Young, the British Government in turn pressured Muzorewa to take part in the Lancaster House Conference in late 1979 in return for international recognition of the country and the lifting of sanctions.
The internal settlement was condemned by United Nations Security Council Resolution 423 of 14 March 1978, declaring illegal any internal settlement in Southern Rhodesia. The US, the UK, France, Canada and West Germany abstained from the vote.
- Catholic Institute for International Relations, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Rhodesia. Rhodesia After the Internal Settlement, 1978.