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Trade Sanctions Against Rhodesia Remarks Announcing Continuation of the U.S. Sanctions.

June 07, 1979

After the most careful and thorough consideration, I have made a decision on the Zimbabwe-Rhodesian sanctions. First, I am absolutely convinced that the best interests of the United States would not be served by lifting the sanctions.

Secondly, I am equally convinced that the best interests of the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia would not be served by the lifting of the sanctions.

Finally, it's clear to me that although there has been some very encouraging progress made in that country, that the action taken has not been sufficient to satisfy the provision of the United States law described in the so-called Case-Javits amendment.

In reaching this decision, we have carefully assessed recent events in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. We have consulted very closely with the British, who retain both legal and historic interests and responsibilities for that country.

The actual voting in the April elections appears to have been administered in a reasonably fair way under the circumstances. But the elections were held under a constitution that was drafted by and then submitted only to the white minority, only 60 percent of whom themselves supported the new constitution. The black citizens, who constitute 96 percent of the population of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, never had a chance to consider nor to vote for or against the constitution under which the elections were held.

The constitution preserves extraordinary power for the 4-percent white minority. It gives this small minority vastly disproportionate numbers of votes in the country's parliament. It gives this 4 percent continued control over the army, the police, the system of justice, and the civil service, and it also lets the 4-percent majority [minority] 1 exercise a veto over any significant constitutional reform.

1 Printed in the transcript.

Moreover, while the Case-Javits amendment called for free participation of all political factions or groups in the country in the recent election, the internal representatives of the opposing political parties were banned from the elections. They were unable to participate in the political process. They were prohibited from holding meetings, from having political rallies, from expressing their views against voting in the election, and even prevented from advertising their views in the news media.

For these reasons, I cannot conclude that the elections were either fair or free. Nor can I conclude that the other condition of the United States law has been fully met. The authorities in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia have expressed their willingness to attend an all-parties meeting, but they have not indicated that they are prepared to negotiate seriously about "all relevant issues." All relevant issues have to be considered in order to comply with the United States law.

We will, of course, continue to keep the question of the observance of sanctions under review. I sincerely hope that future progress can be made and made rapidly. Along with the British, we will particularly look for progress towards a wider political process and more legitimate and genuine majority rule. In so doing, we will report to the Congress and, obviously, consult with the Congress on a monthly basis on the progress being made in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

The position that I have outlined best serves not only American interests but the interests of our allies in a region of the world of increasing importance to us. It should preserve our diplomatic and ties of trade with friendly African Governments and also limit—and this is very important-limit the opportunity of outside powers to take advantage of the situation in southern Africa at the expense of the United States.

No other government on Earth has extended diplomatic relations or recognition to Zimbabwe-Rhodesian Government. However, these actions of the United States that I'm describing should help and encourage the newly elected authorities, including Mr. Muzorewa, to intensify their efforts to achieve genuine majority rule, an end to apartheid and racism, based on firm, reasonable, constitutional processes that exemplify the very principles on which the United States Government has been founded.

I consider this principle to be extremely important to represent in international affairs what our Nation stands for, what our people believe in.

I recognize, to be perfectly frank with you, that I do not have a majority of support in the United States Senate. My guess is that at the present time in the House we would have difficulty in this position prevailing. But because it is a matter of principle to me personally and to our country, because I see the prospect of our Nation being seriously damaged in its relationship with other countries, in southern Africa, and elsewhere, because to lift sanctions at this time would directly violate international law, our past agreements ever since President Johnson under the United Nations, and would not contribute to the best interests of either our country or the people in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, I intend to do everything I can within my power to prevail on this decision.

It means a lot to our country to do what's right and what's decent and what's fair and what is principled. And in my opinion, the action that I've described fulfills these requirements.

Now Secretary Vance, who is with me on the platform, will be glad to answer any specific questions that you might have about this issue.

Note: The President spoke at 5:20 p.m. to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Trade Sanctions Against Rhodesia Remarks Announcing Continuation of the U.S. Sanctions. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249936

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