18 FEBRUARY 1949, Page 2

The Two Rhodesias

The suggestion that Southern and Northern Rhodesia should unite to form one unit, whether its form is that of a Dominion or not, is more than thirty years old and has been the subject of numerous blue-books and white-papers. The conference which met this week at Victoria Falls and agreed at once on the principle of federation is entirely unofficial, in the sense at least that it is not sponsored by Whitehall. The delegates from both Rhodesias are elected members of their Legislative Assemblies, and any recommendations they make will have to be considered ty their respective Governments before they reach London. Southern Rhodesia now deals with the Commonwealth Relations Office, while Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland (which is a protectorate, and not geographically or economically affiliated with the Rhodesias) deal with the Colonial Office ; but these differences of status would be no obstacle to any form of federation which could be shown to be practical, nor would it be fair to assume that the present British Government would be unsympathetic towards the idea. All the same, the difficulties which faced closer union in 1936 are still real in 1949. The idea of union is favoured by most of the white settlers on either side of the Zambesi, but it is on the whole suspected by the native populations. Britain owes paramount duty to the native inhabitants of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and unless their fears of the native policy that would be pursued by a United Rhodesia are allayed, it will be impossible for the British Government to give its blessing to the project.