18 MAY 1962, Page 9

Good Old Roy



WELL, I congratulate Sir Roy Welensky on winning this seat,' was the comment of a deposit-forfeiting woman candidate in last month's general Federal elections, when asked t') say a few words into the microphone after the count. The successful candidate (it was not Sir Roy's constituency) winced a little, but most listeners had to admit the remark was one of the most truthful of the whole election cam- paign. It was indeed Sir Roy's victory; it had been his election from start to finish. The calibre of his candidates scarcely mattered; indeed, they could have been wooden horses for all their Personal ability was brought into account during the campaign. It was fought and won on a `Back Sir Roy' slogan, with full-page 'Big Brother' pictures of the leader himself daily facing the electorate as they opened their news- papers. The `Personality Cult' was shamelessly exploited by the party machine with a consider- able measure of success.

Although the election is widely regarded as a meaningless victory for Sir Roy, mainly because it was boycotted by Right-wing parties in Southern Rhodesia and by Africans, Asians and Liberals all over the Federation, it has proved one thing; that in Northern Rhodesia, where most of the seats were contested (and lost) by the extreme Right-wing Rhodesia Republic Party and a few Independents—at least one of whom Was considerably to the Left—a large number of Europeans are more willing than ever before to cling to Sir Roy's leadership. On the face of it, this is a paradox, for Northern Rhodesians of all people in the three Federal territories have had more to lose than most since the in- ception of Federation nine years ago. 'Their cost of living has crept steadily higher each year, While their political security has been under- mined by African antipathy to Federation. They tend to hark back to the 'good old days' before 1953, when Northern Rhodesian income tax was little more than a joke and Africans were a happy, contented people with only a vague in- terest in politics. Now, income tax has become an annual headache; African' Nationalist parties have grown in size and strength and African political aspirations have become uncomfortable to live with; outside investment is frightened off by political uncertainty and unemployment figures for black and white are mounting. Yet despite this depressing state of affairs, the majority of Europeans firmly believe that but for that bulwark against pan-Africanism, Sir Roy Welensky, Northern Rhodesia would by now have become a second Congo. They applaud their leader's harangues against the British Gov- ernment and talk of him as another Churchill— the only statesman left in a decadent world. Those who have met him face to face are bowled over by his personal charm and his ability to remember names and faces; they speak with awe of his 'great sincerity.' Good old Roy,' they say enthusiastically, 'there is no one who could replace him. We must back him to the hilt.'

The possibility that a Prime Minister who has the confidence of only one comparatively small sector of the population and none whatsoever of the African majority (for example, only forty-six Africans in Northern Rhodesia voted for the two special African seats in the general election and this out of a population of nearly 3,000,000) may not be able to hold the fort for them much longer, does not enter the heads of his European admirers. 'Leave it to Roy,' they tell each other and leaving it to Roy has become their favourite tranquilliser. One of the new young United Federal Party candidates in this last election described himself in his manifesto as a 'cadet' on the 'good ship Federation' with Sir Roy at the helm. The metaphor might be carried a little further and the white passengers be said to have such faith in the captain that they seem bent on going down with him when the ship founders.

Sir Roy has given a number of reasons for calling the election when he did, but they all add up to pique over the new Northern Rhodesian Constitution. 'It will reject itself,' he said, rather like the fox and the grapes, when he returned from his well-publicised and fruitless dash to London earlier in the year. And it is quite ob- vious that nothing would suit his book more than for his words to be proved right. If the first elections to be held in Northern Rho- desia under the new Constitution and scheduled for November next are carried out according to plan, it is anticipated that Northern Rhodesia will be well on her way to an African majority government and, with Nyasaland expected to opt out of the Federation within the next twelve months, it is only logical to conclude that a Northern Rhodesia with an African majority would quickly follow suit, with the subsequent collapse of the Federation.

There are only two methods open to Sir Roy to hold the Federation together: one is the use of force and the other is a change in its form Which would make it acceptable to Africans.

The former method, which was openly threatened by Welensky recently in one of his more aggressive moments, is naturally to be deplored. Putting Federal troops into Northern Rhodesia to 'maintain law and order' would not only provoke general resentment and rebellion among the African population, but attract criti- cism and possibly interference from the outside world. Yet if the rival African Nationalist parties in Northern Rhodesia, UNIP and ANC, continue to indulge in faction fights such as the one that took place last Easter weekend and cul- minated in the brutal and senseless murder of eight Africans (an event which undoubtedly swayed many a wavering European voter to cast his vote for Welensky's party), the chances are the Federal Government will consider itself justified in sending in troops, although under the Federal Constitution it cannot legally do this unless so requested by the Territorial Govern- ment.

The results of any such action would be disastrous. It is confidently considered by politi- cal observers that Britain would feel duty bound to send out troops to combat Federal forces and peace would soon become a thing of the past in Central Africa.

If Sir Roy is really the great statesman his followers claim him to be, then he would surely see the folly of such action. (Although the news that the Federal Government is spending in the two years 1961-62 £16,000,000 on defence is not exactly reassuring.) If the threat is just bluff to warn off interference by the British Government, then he is probably underestimat- ing the significance of Mr. Butler's appointment. Not the least reason for handing over the task of solving the Federation's problems to the British Home Secretary is that he is considered a strong enough person to parry Sir Roy's angry thrusts.

Changing the form of Federation to something more acceptable to the majority would therefore seem to be the only answer. However, the form already suggested by Sir Edgar Whitehead and Sir Roy Welensky in a series of 'inspired leaks' early in April is far from finding favour with the majority. This was a plan to divide up Northern Rhodesia into separate parts. 'It may be that a true solution would lie in dividing Northern Rhodesia like all Gaul, into three parts, each separately linked to the Federal Govern- ment,' Sir Roy said in Parliament on April 16 shortly after Sir Edgar had told a press con- ference that he had suggested such a plan to the British Government while in London in March. Although Sir Edgar was applauded in the press for his 'New Thinking,' there was nothing par- ticularly new about it. A similar plan had been advocated by the Right-wing Confederate Party at the beginning of Federation. Known as the Central African Alliance plan, it was soundly condemned at the time by the very party which has now tried to put it forward as a solution.

The one outstanding feature, common to both plans, is, of course, that the wealthy Copperbelt in the north-west of Northern Rho- desia is visualised as being conveniently linked to Southern Rhodesia by the line of rail. This well-developed portion of the North would re- main under European control and Southern Rhodesia would then be in the comfortable position of a fetus drawing its lifeblood through the umbilical cord from the placenta of the North. No doubt boundaries could be made elastic enough to include the Kariba hydro-elec- tric scheme in this prosperous section as well. Barotseland would possibly be another com- ponent part. The Litunga or Paramount Chief has already expressed his peoples' unwilling- ness to remain a part of a Nationalist-governed Northern Rhodesia and overtures have already been made to him about the advantages of stay- ing within the Federation. How it would be planned to allocate the rest of Northern Rho- desia (mostly land held in trust for Africans by the Northern Rhodesia Government and none of it very valuable agriculturally) is not clear, but it seems likely that these areas would be offered to Africans to rule themselves, rather on the system of Dr. Verwoerd's Bantustans. Nyasaland could then presumably secede if she wished and some semblance of a Federation would still remain.

There is only one real snag about such a plan—Africans in Northern Rhodesia would not tolerate it for one moment and any attempt to implement it would most surely lead to a revolt. Force would be needed to restore order and once again nothing would be gained but a great deal of misery and bloodshed.

. never thought much of Sir Stanley Spencer

until now.'

Happily it appears that the scheme was quashed during the recent discussions in London between the Governors of the terri- tories and the British Government. Northern Rhodesia's Governor, Sir Evelyn Hone, stated on his return that he had made it clear to Britain that such a scheme would be quite unacceptable to Africans in the territory and it only remains for Mr. Butler to state quite categorically to Sir Roy Welensky that 'Partition' is out.

Small wonder that people both inside and out- side the Federation are talking of Welensky's latest 'mandate' as his swan-song. One way 01 another his Federation seems destined to come to an end, unless Africans in the three teal, tories can be persuaded to accept a looser assn elation on economic and not political lines. 11 the name 'Federation' is dropped and the capital is moved from Salisbury to one of the other territories, this is not beyond the realms of possibility.

But it is fairly certain that Captain Welenskl will have to relinquish his position at the belie if the 'good ship' is to be salvaged.