Following the Meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government held in Lusaka from August 1-7 1979, the British government invited Muzorewa and the leaders of the Patriotic Front to participate in a Constitutional Conference at Lancaster House. The purpose of the Conference was to discuss and reach agreement on the terms of an Independence Constitution, and that elections should be supervised under British authority to enable Rhodesia to proceed to legal independence and the parties to settle their differences by political means.
Lord Carrington, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, chaired the Conference. The conference took place from 10 September-15 December 1979 with 47 plenary sessions.
In the course of its proceedings the conference reached agreement on the following issues:
In concluding this agreement and signing this report the parties undertook:
Under the Independence Constitution, 20% of seats in the country's parliament were reserved for whites.
The three-month long conference almost failed to reach an accord due to disagreements on land reform. Mugabe was pressured to sign and land was the key stumbling block. Both the British and American governments offered to buy land from willing white settlers who could not accept reconciliation (the "Willing buyer, Willing seller" principle) and a fund was established, to operate from 1980 to 1990.
The British assisted in setting up the Zimbabwe conference on reconstruction and development in 1981. At that conference, more than £630 million of aid was pledged. The first phase of land reform in the 1980, which was partially funded by the United Kingdom, successfully resettled around 70,000 landless people on more than 20,000 km² of land.
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