A PAPER PRESENTED TO INTERNATIONAL NEGOTIATIONS SEMINAR
MAY 30, 2007
THE LANCASTER HOUSE NEGOTIATIONS: A GAME, LEADERSHIP, AND POWER- THEORETIC ANALYSIS.
The intent of this paper is to extend theory and provide tools for analyzing the complexities of the Lancaster House negotiations. Coalition theory, decision theory, game theory, and leadership theory are each applied to the negotiations leading to the independence of Zimbabwe. Definitions of most concepts in Social Sciences are disputed, that holds also true for negotiations. There is no common and shared definition of what a negotiation is. Zartman(1994) defines negotiation as a “process of combining conflicting positions into a common position under a decision rule of unanimity, a phenomenon in which the outcome is determined by the process”(p.15).
However, most theories of negotiations share the notion of negotiations as a process. Yet, they differ in their description of a process. Structural Analysis considers this process to be a power game. Strategic analysis thinks of it as a repetition game (Game Theory). Integrative Analysis prefers the more intuitive notion of process, in which negotiations undergo successive stages, e.g. pre-negotiation, stalemate, settlement. Especially structural, strategic and processual analysis build on rational actors, who are able to prioritize clear goals, are able to make trade-offs between conflicting values, are consistent in their behavioral pattern, and are able to take uncertainty into account( Watkins et al, 2001, pp. xvii-xxi).
Domestic Parties to the Dispute
Ending a civil war is usually difficult. Organizational inertia, tunnel vision, thinking, and miscommunication all work against early reconciliation and make cooperation difficult. Once fighting begins, plans are set in motion and attitudes toward the enemy become fixed in ways that are not easily reversible (Walter, 1997, p.336). Even if opponents agree to negotiate, they still face the risks and uncertainties of cooperation difficult. Will an opponent fulfill its side of the agreement? Or will the compromise itself turn out an inherently bad deal? Civil wars do not end up with some type of explicit settlement. Current explanations claim that power asymmetries, indivisible stakes, bargaining difficulties, opposing identities make settlement in civil wars nearly impossible.
In Rhodesia, successive white settler colonial leaders, including Ian Smith, repeatedly rejected power-sharing solutions from 1976. The October 1976 All-Party Geneva Conference on Rhodesia mediated by U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger and John Vorster failed to achieve the goal of power-sharing. The so-called internal settlement of March 3, 1978, the Rhodesian Front own attempt to come to terms with the black majority without the Patriotic Front of Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe, reached an agreement on granting one person one vote but interests of the white settlers were protected. Thus, it gave the White population 28 of the 100 seats in parliament, a blocking fourth for constitutional change under the new constitution. In addition, control over public service, police and defense forces remained on white hands , preserving the power to undemocratically alter policy outcomes ex post facto.
Habeeb(1998) has developed a power theory that applies to the issue under discussion in this study. Based on the conceptual framework, Habeeb develops a theory that presumes that the process and outcome of any asymmetrical negotiation is essentially determined by the dynamic changes in the balance of issue-specific power. Whereas aggregate structural power(which essentially refers to an actor’s resources, capabilities, and position vis-à-vis the external world as a whole[p.17]) has a major direct and indirect (through its impact on the tactical power) influence on negotiations, it does not determine the process and outcome of negotiations.
Hence, in the case of Ian Smith, despite all his aggregate power, in October 1979, he compromised, revealing the preferences in a Game Theory T(Temptation) >DC(Democratic Compromise) > CW(Civil War) > S(Sucker) (Prisoner’s Dilemma). But Ian Smith himself refused to budge and had to be removed by his own party. This incident has been interpreted in two ways. The first is that he was sincere in his wish to go down fighting rather than compromise, giving Deadlock preferences, again, in a Game Theory T > CW > CR > S (Stedman, 1991). The second is that this was tactical ploy where he counted on being removed, allowing himself to be seen fighting to the bitter end, giving Prisoner’s Dilemma preferences (Tamarkin, 1990).
The war in Rhodesia was about majority rule but not necessarily about democracy since an undemocratic Black regime was possible(Nyhamar, 1999, p.6). Both the Zimbabwe African Union (ZAPU) led by Joshua Nkomo, and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) led by Robert Mugabe officially endorsed democracy as a solution to end the war. The split between the two parties in 1963, had occurred over whether Zimbabwean should be their own liberators and therefore adopting a military strategy, and ZANU broke away to begin the armed struggle. In the meantime, in both 1976 and 1978, Nkomo’s attempts to negotiate a separate agreement with Smith failed because Smith was not prepared to accept majority rule. It was therefore not surprising that Nkomo adopted the military strategy only when compromise failed, and when military inactivity had become a military liability(ibid, p.7).Interestingly, Nkomo did not opt for guerrilla warfare, building a conventional force to deliver Salisbury the final blow(Tamarkin, 1990, p.100). It was no coincidence that Nkomo’s military strategy led to very little actual fighting. Assurance Game players will opt for the military strategy if others choose the military strategy, but Nkomo’s first preference remained the CR outcome, yielding the preferences, CR > T > CW > S (Assurance Game)
Robert Mugabe did want majority rule in Zimbabwe, but ideologically he believed that allowing multiparty parties might cause ethnically diverse African countries to fall apart. He never thought that Ian Smith would yield on the crucial issue of majority rule before the military situation was ripe, and considered negotiating with him politically harmful. In any case Smith had vowed that majority rule would come to Rhodesia not in a thousand years. But Mugabe’s reluctance did not stem for ideology or principle, as a British diplomat stated, “He believed in armed struggle, because of Smith” (Stedman, 1993, p.138). ZANU was militarily stronger and more active than ZAPU in the armed liberation struggle, suffering large loses---7ooo dead in 1979 alone out of a total of force of 50,000. The morale of ZANLA forces unbroken and Robert Mugabe was on his way to military victory, but he was not ideologically opposed to a settlement ( Stedman, 1993, p. 138). Thus, applying the power theory, Mugabe had alternatives, commitment and control to shape the direction of power balances in the negotiations. His preferences in the Game Theory were thus T > DC > CW > S (Prisoner’s Dilemma).
External Parties to the Dispute
I call these secondary parties, the Front-line- states, South Africa, Great Britain, and to a lesser degree the United States of America, Nigeria, Commonwealth and the Organization of African Unity.
The Front-line Presidents had made it clear to the leaders of the Patriotic Front that they wanted peace.
Although remaining on the periphery, the Carter administration did make certain contributions that ultimately led to a successful conference. The conference had stalemated over the question of financing land resettlement and redistribution schemes a majority rule government rule government might undertake. Nkomo and Mugabe balked at the idea of compensating whites for land that the PF felt had been stolen from its original African owners. While Carter,s commitment on this issue was rather convoluted and cautious, just offering the possibility of U.S. aid to compensate landowners was enough to offer the PF a face-saving way out of the impasse (Davidow, p.65).
The Importance of The British Mediation
Acting as a bridge between internal decision making and external negotiating and reconciling the divergent interests of fractious constituencies demands leadership grounded in credibility and skill rather than authority(Watkins et al, p.xxi). Lord Carrington was the British mediator and he had two sources of power. One was the power emanating from his position as foreign secretary of Great Britain which automatically gave him some amount of authority over the sides. However, the Commonwealth’s mandate to Britain (i.e., to Carrington) for a mediation effort was his really power. It was this mandate that gave him a wide-ranging freedom to ‘bully’ the sides into an agreement whether they wanted it or not. Patriotic Front could denounce Britain but not Commonwealth because many of their patrons and allies were part of it.
Stakes of the Mediator
Lord Carrington had his wounded prestige from his previous mediation effort. Moreover, he had mining interests in Rhodesia, South Africa and Namibia. Britain had its prestige to deal with as well. Authorities in Britain probably felt that this conflict had gone on for too long and they were being humiliated. This feeling of humiliation explains why in this mediation effort they tried to keep it ‘in the family’ and not include ‘strangers’ e.g., US. Britain also worried that this problem would affect its relations with the Commonwealth. Prime minister Margaret Thatcher, being more worried about economics, wanted to be rid of this problem. Great Britain had much to lose economically if things continued: its economic relations with sub-Saharan Africa were in jeopardy. Nigeria, Britain’s most important trading partner in Sub-Saharan Africa, was threatening British interests. Nigeria was not allowing British companies to tender for contracts. Britain was economically in dire straits at the time. The OPEC crisis was still in the minds of the British people. This was the fourth mediation effort in as many years and the Rhodesians had declared their independence nearly two decades ago. Thousands of people had already died and many had emigrated or had become refugees. Rhodesia’s economy was in bad shape but so was the region’s economy. Militarily, Rhodesia’s position was worsening. Therefore, this mediation effort cannot be called early. All sides seem to have been ready for another mediation attempt either because they were coerced into it or because they saw it as being in their interests.
Leadership defined in terms of innovative thinking, inventiveness and problem-solving skills, seems to have been evident throughout the course of negotiations. Lord Carrington obviously played a key leadership role in the negotiations by structuring and shaping the agenda, moving negotiations forward and inventing novel solutions to at first glance seemed to be intractable problems.
Lord Carrington realized that white economic privileges not only made the democratic compromise outcome more attractive, but, importantly offered a credible guarantee of long-term benefits for a group surely facing long-term political marginalization. Thus white economic privileges made the Democratic strategy rational even if the Whites were to become a permanent minority without any say in the iterated political game or if the iterated political game is cut short by the winners of the first elections, making it difficult to generalize this aspect of the Zimbabwe experiences to cases where the parties can only be rewarded by the political game (Nyhamar, p.18). Hence, Carrington’s tactics at Lancaster House was to keep issues strictly separated. The first issue was the constitution, then the transitional arrangements, and finally the ceasefire. After six weeks of hard negotiations, ZANU and ZAPU, who had united politically under the PF umbrella for Lancaster House, accepted the constitution on September 18, 1979. Agreement was reached with Lord Carrington fully in control of issues and proposals, in spite of many PF attempts to wrestle the initiative from him (Davidow, 1984, p.61). Moreover, no ultimatum from the Front Line presidents was necessary to make the PF accept the Constitution, even with property rights enshrined in the Constitution: Land had to be voluntarily sold and paid for at once with full, market-level compensation. This provision made land reform impossible, setting aside the most important political issue in Zimbabwe. It is true that one persistent source of tension has always been land segregation. This complex feature of Rhodesian life permeates all questions of economic, social, and political life and no aspect of Rhodesian politics can be understood without finding a solution to the land issue(Bowman, 1973, pp.11-12)
Lord Carrington gained control over the agenda by preserving the privilege to present proposals. Moreover, he and his team engaged in a kind of shuttle diplomacy; the actors sat in separate rooms, bargaining with Carrington rather than with each other. This minimized the problem created by the many equilibrium solutions, because all actors were forced to concentrate on this one and same solution. Note should, however be taken that this does not necessarily mean that the parties at Lancaster House had a wide zone of acceptable solutions. Roughly the same amounts of utility may be represented in many concrete ways, giving considerable leeway even with the thinnest of acceptable zones. Davidow (1984:110) argues that Carrington’s tactics enabled him to obtain concessions from each party they would not otherwise have granted, but more importantly, the parties were able to converge on an acceptable outcome in only four months.
Implication for transition to majority government
There was an agreement which resulted in the establishment of the Republic of Zimbabwe. It was mostly an integrative solution. Almost all types of integrative bargaining took place.
Neither of the conflicting parties achieved their initial demands and were faced with unfavorable British options. The options were disliked by both parties. The British believed that the only way forward was for them to formulate the options and then to present it to the conflicting parties (while making it clear that the choices were between accepting it and leaving the table). Bridging was thus used. The Rhodesians had initially demanded recognition and the ending of economic sanctions. They were not granted these but rather received some provisions and safeguards which, when compared to what they had, must have looked weak. Yet the remnants of Colonialism. Instead, they agreed (with pressure from their patrons) to not only give the Rhodesian citizens automatic rights to Zimbabwean citizenship but also to reserve twenty seats in the parliament for the whites.
The reestablishment of British colonial power was another example of bridging. The Rhodesians were not seen as directly turning power over to the PF, and free elections (under British control) could take place; the PF was sure that it would win. Both sides had initially different goals than what they finally agreed to but the final deal that they offered was still acceptable (or forced to be acceptable).
Expanding the pie can be seen in at least three cases. The PF obtained the promise of funds from the U.S. in return for dropping their demands for compensation of land. The PF also received more assembly points for their freedom fighters (a critical issue as the PF knew that their soldiers would be vulnerable to a conventional attack, especially from the Rhodesian air force). British and Commonwealth forces were also stationed in these points which would have meant that an attack on the freedom fighters would also have meant an attack on the British.
It can be argued that the most important case of expanding the pie was when Britain made it clear to the parties that its role would not end at the table but that it would also be involved in implementation of the agreement. I think this factor of bringing a ‘policeman’ was helpful to the parties who greatly mistrusted one another.
Logrolling can be seen in the issue of peacekeepers. The British knew that the Rhodesians would not accept UN peacekeepers but they also knew that the PF insisted on the presence of peacekeepers. Therefore, the British (with some nominal Commonwealth contribution) took over the role of peacekeeping. It can also be said that there was logrolling on the two most important issues: land and democracy. The PF “had got the main concession of the creation of democracy” and compromised on the land (Charlton: 129).
All of the sides believed that the elections would create a result favorable to them and the British used this belief. This can be considered a form of non-specific compensation because the British held out the bait of elections in return for acceding to the agreement.
The Rhodesians said that the British had given them (secret) assurances that Mugabe would not be allowed to form a government and that instead Nkomo would be part of a coalition government. The Rhodesians maintained that it was this belief that made them lenient ( Bayer, 2002: 14). In my opinion, this would be a form of cost-cutting: elections take place but the most militant side is not allowed to form a government. Incidentally, the British admit that while such a coalition government was one of the suggestions, there was nothing that could be done once Mugabe received a clear majority.
A case can also be made that this was a distributive agreement. It is true that the mediator had the parties lower their resistance points. Compromise settlements that were not to the liking of either party were pushed forward, e.g., having to return to colonial rule. Deadlines were imposed and a bleak future was forecasted to whichever party withdrew from the table first. Outsiders (i.e., patrons) were constantly used to bring the parties into line, e.g., when the PF initially only offered partial acceptance of the cease-fire, the British the British had the Americans tell the Front-line countries that they were going to be lifting the sanctions applied to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia which resulted in the PF being pushed into an agreement by the Front-line Presidents. The British scheduled and controlled the negotiations, e.g., the PF’S answer was always asked after that of the Salisbury delegation and the parties were not allowed to engage in free debates. Carrington was aggressive in general, e.g., when Smith went up to Carrington during the negotiations and told him that these were the worst terms they had ever been offered, Carrington replied, ‘“Well, of course they bloody well are! You’ve turned down everything since the talks on [HMS] Tiger and [HMS] Fearless, and ever since the 1960s!”’(Charlton: 130).
The fate of the attempt to solve the conflict in Zimbabwe is neither explained by the intensity of the racial conflict, nor by the actors preferences about democracy, nor by their political differences. Political outcomes such as transitions to democracy are influenced by but not determined by social forces. The chance that the leaders of armed groups choose democracy increases if constitutional issues are kept separate from substantive ones. Furthermore if the path to democracy is an iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, each player must succeed in striking a balance between the need for establishing a credible threat to punish future defections from democracy and the need to alleviate the fear of defection from democracy. Third party intervention may thus aid the parties to achieve spontaneous compliance during the transition, but is no substitute for it.
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