2 JUNE 1961, Page 6

The State of the Federation

I. Northern Rhodesia*


THE lack of much headline news from the Central African Federation since the last bout of constitutional conferences at the end of

last winter has not meant that any problems have been solved—as Mr. Duncan Sandys's precipitate journey shows. The familiar and irreconcilable incompatibility has remained between the grant of a new constitution for Northern Rhodesia (which Britain is morally bound and constitu- tionally empowered to give) and the continuance of any form of Federation with Southern Rhodesia to which either Sir Roy Welensky, the Federal Prime Minister, or Sir Edgar Whitehead, Prime Minister of 250,000 Europeans in Southern Rhodesia, will consent. The Monckton Report recommended rapid progress to an African majority in legislature and executive in Northern Rhodesia; but Southern Rhodesia refuses stead- fastly to remain in association with such a State, and if necessary proposes to secede from Federa- tion, facing Sir Roy and his associates with their ultimate trauma—no Federation for them to run.

At the Northern Rhodesian conference in London in February, it is virtually certain (though it has never been admitted) that an alliance of Welensky's United Federal Party and the Right-wing Tories forced Mr. Macleod to replace his original (but never declared) inten- tions for an African majority by the existing constitutional proposals—called the '15-15-15' scheme because it provides for fifteen seats elected by the Upper (in practice European) roll, fifteen by the Lower (in practice African) and fifteen National seats elected by both in a pro- portion not yet declared.'15-15-15'was bitterly attacked by African leaders for its inadequacy and by the U.FP as 'diabolical' (ipsissimum verbum) for its liberalism. At first Sir Roy Welensky threatened a Federal general election in preparation for a 'showdown' with Britain to keep Federation together; but this attitude did not survive a private talk with Mr. Macmillan, and the Colonial Secretary instructed the Governor of Northern Rhodesia to discuss '15-15-15' with all parties concerned in Lusaka to work out a generally acceptable version of their details. He has been doing so coolly and secretly for nearly three months; gaining time. But there seems now little chance that the time gained will be productive, except in reducing tempers; or that either Europeans or Africans in Southern Rhodesia will accept the new consti- tution.

The British Government's Northern Rhodesian policy is still not clear; but it will have to be announced soon, probably during June, and it will shake the seats of power in Westminster and Salisbury as well as in Northern Rhodesia. The Government must either take the risk of defying Welensky and its own Right-wing supporters or the lunatic course of bottling up African dis- content. The unsolved question is, did Sir Roy Welensky get substantial concessions out of Macmillan over the Northern Rhodesian consti- tution, or was he firmly told that he would have to put up with it? It would be perfectly possible to manipulate the '15-15-15' proposals in such a way as to give him all he wants, or tO give the Africans all they want, or to produce a compromise solution which would favour the Liberal Party (Sir John Moffat and liberal Euro- peans and a few very moderate Africans)

So Africans and Europeans in Northera Rhodesia both hope to turn the constitution In their own advantage. The UFP hopes to wangle a franchise for the National seats that, by cnor- mously weighting the European vote, would perpetuate minority rule over Africans. But the UFP made the mistake of resigning from the government after the Conference, which it had boycotted, to register displeasure at '15-15-15, thereby providing a useful demonstration that government can go on perfectly well without it. The United National Independent Party (Ken- neth Kaunda) believe that any National franchise arrangements which Britain could justify as 'interracial' would finally unseat the UFP and end Federation (because Southern Rhodesia would reject Federation with a liberal North), allowing an African majority and a Tanganyika" type constitution to emerge. UNIP have shown great wisdom in accepting the disappointing compromise of the Macleod proposals as a basis of, discussion with the Governor. Their ,)

patience in following this long-term strategY and their astonishing success in restraining their followers, who were thinking of independence in 1960, from expressing disappointment and frus- tration in violence and excess, mark Kenneth Kaunda and the UNIP as the most mature political force in the territory. Their calculations are certainly correct unless Federal and Southern Rhodesian pressures in Westminster can quickly destroy Macleod and his policies, and replace them by an antediluvian Salisbury-Turton coali- tion on colonial policy.

Unquestionably, Britain ought to back the African cause in Northern Rhodesia and to dis- regard the UFP. The Africans of Northern Rhodesia are in no way more 'backward' than those of Tanganyika; the lack of 'suitable' Afri- can leaders and administrators no greater; the readiness of expatriate civil servants to remain after independence no less. There are indications that the 80,000 Europeans are becoming less bitterly opposed to African rule—or at least more disillusioned with Federation. The fuss which followed legislated abolition of colour bar in hotels and cafés has died into acceptance; and as they look over the border to Tanganyika they see that black rule does not lead to the victimisa- tion of 20,000 settlers there. They have little sympathy with the grandiose ambitions of 'those politicians in Salisbury' and desire above all an end to political excitements. Enforced Federa- tion with Southern Rhodesia alone, in fact, pre- vents Northern Rhodesia going ahead to a future as bright as Tanganyika's.

The second of these articles, on Southern Rhodesia, will appear next week.