1 FEBRUARY 1963, Page 4

Gloom Lightening

FTHE situation in the Central African Feder- ' ation is at last showing a brighter side. Among the encouraging signs that have emerged recently, much the most important is the new partnership between Mr. Kaunda and Mr. Nkumbula which seems to have ensured further constitutional advance for Northern Rhodesia in the near future. They arc sensibly getting down to the serious business of running the country rather than shouting for action against Southern Rhodesia. Furthermore, both they and Dr. Banda in. Nyasaland have been reluctant to renounce any form of post-Federation asso- ciation for the three territories. All are alive to the advantages of living economically at peace with each other but the Northern leaders will not be pushed, and Mr. Butler would be unwise if he attempted to put too much pressure on them.

Such encouragement, however, should not blind Mr. Butler to the fact that the place where his influence is needed most urgently is still Southern Rhodesia. The really explosive element in that country remains the vacuum created by the banning of ZAPU, by which the Africans have been deprived of even those political con- cessions which the constitution offers. Perhaps it is too much to expect that Mr. Field will immed- iately lift the ban on ZAPU, but at least Mr. Butler may be able to persuade him to make a tacit admission that another party will be quietly allowed to appear in its place. A wise Prime Minister would then hold another election as soon as there is an African party capable of fight- ing it. For there should be no doubt that it is the growing habit of treating the African in Southern Rhodesia as a non-political animal that is also going to hold up his social progress. Luckily, Mr. Butler has an effective bargaining counter in the precarious state of the Southern Rhodesian economy, which is going to need a great deal of British aid if it is going to revive.