29 MARCH 1963, Page 5

Bargaining Over the Body



F all the political leaders of the Govern- ments of Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia and the Federation, now gathered in London for discussions with Mr. R. A. Butler, Kenneth Kaunda, leader of the United National Independence Party, holds the best cards. Morally there is no answer to his claim that if Nyasaland can be allowed to secede, this right cannot be denied to Northern Rhodesia. Its People hate the Federation just as much as their fellows in Nyasaland who have profited eco- nomically from it, while Northern Rhodesians have been milked for the benefit of Nyasaland and the Southern territory.

Any attempt to blackmail Mr. Kaunda with threats of economic sanctions unless he agrees to some form of political association between the two Rhodesias will fail. He has the support of two-thirds of the Africans. The other third belongs to Mr. Harry Nkumbula, leader of the African National Congress, who, on the issue of dissolution, is with Kaunda entirely. So are the top Colonial Service officials who form the third section of the coalition government of Northern Rhodesia.

Mr. Kaunda alleges that an attempt at black- mail is being made, by both British and Federal Governments, with threats of cutting off Kariba Power to the North and barring the use of the railway through Southern Rhodesia to Beira and Lauren° Marques, the export ports for the North's invaluable copper.

If this is true (and one can believe it of the Federal Government but hardly of the British) It is almost childish bluff. Southern Rhodesia's new Prime Minister, Mr. Winston Field, is un- likely to join in it and if the bluff were worth anYthing he should be the man to try It. He is a realist who wants the Federation ended, if only of necessity, while the probability still exists of Africans agreeing to strong eco- nomic links being maintained. The Rhodesia railways and the Kariba hydro-electric project would become insolvent in no time without the copper freight and the supply of power to the great copper mines of the North.

Mr. Kaunda claims that he has already had discussions with the authorities of the Benguela Railways about greater use of that rail route to Lobito Bay. Apart from the possibilities of disturbances in Katanga and Angola through which the line runs, this route would suit both the copper exporters and the merchant importers of the copperbelt as well as the route south. If Kariba power were cut off, says Mr. Kaunda, We will build the Kafue hydro-electric scheme which the Federal Government cheated us out Northern Rhodesia is, in fact, rich enough on its own to do this even without outside capital. But the Kafue scheme would take some Years to construct and it would be quicker and cheaper in emergency simultaneously to expand to the maximum Northern Rhodesia's Victoria Falls power station—the cheapest potential source of power up to a limit of 200 MW in Central Africa. The copper mines, because of the risk of relying on a single transmission line from Kariba, still take some power from Union Miniere's hydro-electric station, Le Marinel, in Katanga. They also have their own thermal stations which can supply about 60 per cent. of their power requirements. Making the maxi- mum use of both (unless Katanga goes up in smoke, which is unlikely), the copper industry could carry on, perhaps with a slightly reduced production, while Kariba's creditors lamented. The mines would still need coal, at present railed up from Wankie Colliery in Southern Rhodesia. But they survived before, when this supply broke down, by imports through Lobito Bay sup- plemented with local wood fuel. It would take a little time to step up the carrying capacity of the Benguela line to meet all needs fully. There would be an awkward period in the North, but no more. The effect on Southern Rhodesia would be much more than awkward.

How the Federal Government could conduct a sort of cold war against itself, even if it were not dissolved, as it is obviously going to be, is inconceivable. Nor, when Federation has gone, is the prospect of Southern Rhodesia starving itself by these methods, imaginable, unless she cut loose from the Commonwealth and joined the Republic of South Africa, which for the first time since 1924 is remotely possible, but still remotely. Nevertheless, Mr. Kaunda is right to this extent, that these cold war arguments are being bandied about behind the scenes.

In any economic bluff and counter-bluff, Northern Rhodesia holds the aces. For it an economic association with the South is desir- able, but not, as it is to the South, vital. Nor is the South's mushroom growth of secondary in- dustries (since Federation particularly) of much advantage to it in any economic bargaining. A tariff wall along the Zambesi would wreck most of them in a few months. But unless copper slumps permanently to the depths, the North will stay rich and get richer. Its diversity of other minerals, its expanding tobacco production, with other and lesser export products, would en- able it to survive without copper, but only just. Copper is King, not only of the North, but of the whole Central African area. The Federation has been riding on its back. Before Federation, Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland would have been much the poorer without the labour mar- ket, the consumer market and all the ancillary benefits stemming from the world's second greatest copper-mining industry and spreading beyond the borders of its host, Northern Rhodesia.

In sputniks and washing machines, Polaris submarines and the telly the world (unhappily perhaps) is using more and more copper. All the experts in the copper industry predict health and happiness for it in our time. The Govern- merit of Northern Rhodesia had built up sub- stantial reserve funds before Federation to cushion any temporary slump (one came in 1958) and the Government can do so again. The known reserves of high-grade ore in Northern Rhodesia are, unless some clam in Wall Street is sitting on a map sketched by a dying prospector in the Gobi Desert, the greatest in the world. Mr. Kaunda knows all this, and is sitting pretty. Mr. Field knows it and is sitting carefully. Mr. Butler knows it and is sitting and thinking— but not, one hopes, for much longer without acting.

Mr. Kaunda, regrettably or not, also holds the best political card in the pack, the ace of troubles. 'After ten long wasted years,' he has just said, 'we are in a hurry. We are not pre- pared to wait any longer for the end of Federa- tion.' He has warned Mr. Butler that the British Government must take the consequences of de- laying any further. The consequences would be a campaign of non-violent passive resistance, and of non-co-operation with the Federal Gov- ernment which would make the Federation un- workable. If, says Mr. Kaunda, Sir Roy Welensky used his troops to enforce Federation, they would not break the will of three million Africans. His words may sound unpleasant to the ears of Britons who do not take kindly to threats. But have Sir Roy's threats sounded any pleasanter? And upon whose side does justice lie? And what are we all going to do about it anyway?

It was inevitable that Mr. Kaunda should now show his political ace. At least the troubles he threatens, if he has to play it, are to be non- violent, although one may wonder how long they would remain so if Sir Roy carried out his threat of force. Yet it is far from inevitable that Mr. Kaunda should have to play his card, and it will be unfortunate for the white settlers of both Rhodesias if he does, as well as for the Africans and the economy of the country.

The majority of the peoples, and the three territorial governments, now want Federation to end. Even Sir Roy Welensky seems to have little heart left for it, confining his recent speeches to blaming the British Government for its present difficulties, and raising the bogies of Communism and the Congo. He has the appearance nowadays of a man who is beaten and knows it, though he will never admit this.

The time is now. We can surely confidently ex- pect that Mr. Butler will announce Northern Rhodesia's right of secession this week.

The leader-writer of The Times believes that he has the weapons to get as tough as he likes in holding the Rhodesias close together or in abolishing the Federation. He can deny Mr. Kaunda a new Northern Rhodesian constitu- tion, he can deny Mr. Field independence for Southern Rhodesia, and he can fix Sir Roy Welensky with an Act of Parliament dissolving the Federation. With respect to The Times only the third weapon is a killer. When Mr. Butler has used this, a constitutional conference should follow rapidly—the prediction here is the end of April, at the Victoria Falls—to salvage the closest economic association that the territories will agree upon.