“. . . I am satisfied that the present Government of Rhodesia has become the only legal Government of this country, and the 1965 Constitution the only legal Constitution.”
Mr. Justice H. N. MacDonald, in a judgement delivered in the Appellate Division of the High Court of Rhodesia, at Salisbury on Friday, September 13th, 1968.
RHODESIA’S CASE – 1970
It is fair to say that international philosophy towards Africa in general, and Rhodesia in particular, during the last ten or fifteen years has been based upon the theory that natural differences among people could be disregarded; that all men are political brothers, and that the various peoples and tribes of the world, particularly in Africa, could and would live side by side in harmony “submerging their differences in a common loyalty to new nations.” These thoughts were in keeping with the winds of change that blew across much of Africa during the early 1960s.
It is now a matter of history that these winds of change have not only blown themselves out, but if anything have veered round and are now blowing in the opposite direction, namely, from the south. The reality of this change is gradually dawning upon the international community, and one purpose of this paper is to show why the policies based on the original winds of change were wrong. A corollary of this philosophy has been the “inverted pyramid” approach so far as governments in Africa are concerned. Too much heed has been paid to the creation of representative institutions at the apex, without regard for the creation of genuinely representative and responsible institutions firmly established at the base. Such an edifice could not, by any stretch of the imagination, survive the strains and stresses of the modern world.
Man has an innate capacity for prejudice, whether based upon racial, tribal, or religious differences. It is an indisputable fact that all men are not the same; that differences of race, religion and ways of living – which might be termed cultural differences – must be recognized and provided for. The major task in Africa, therefore, is to create soundly based, dynamic institutions as the foundations of African society. This means transforming that society by reconciling traditional leadership and traditional patterns with evolving institutions. It is probably true to assert that during the last years of colonial rule, when campaigns for independence were at their height, the independence movements were sufficiently powerful and popular that they were able to transcend tribal barriers. The submergence of tribalism during the period led the administering powers to believe that after independence tribalism would give way to nationalism and constitutions and the structures of government were framed accordingly. The history of Africa during the post colonial era has provided eloquent testimony to the misconception held by the administering powers in regard to tribalism.
The experience of this era has taught Rhodesians that tribalism is a more potent and powerful factor than black nationalism. It is a more enduring and effective power and unless tribalism, with all its permutations, is taken into account in the creation of a political infrastructure, then disaster is inevitable. Black nationalism, as the basis upon which political states were brought into being in the last 15 or 20 years in Africa, is now exposed as an element from which all the heat has been extracted.
Rhodesia believes that the benefits and the communalism of tribalism do create the kind of institutions which give rise to proper and effective government. It is in this context of reconciling tribalism and traditional institutions with a Western society that effective government based on sound foundations can be established.
This is the very essence of Rhodesia’s policy, and the rationale for its Constitution. Rhodesia does not claim to have found the panacea of ultimate government, but if the Western world can exercise that degree of tolerance to say “Prove your philosophy”, then it believes it can vindicate its form of government.
In its new Constitution, Rhodesia seeks to reconcile the Western European-type of government, with its system of voting and representation familiar to Europeans, with the strong, pervasive influence of tribal African society, ensuring in the process that neither white society nor black society encroaches upon or destroys the other – nor indeed, conflicts one with the other.
THE NEW CONSTITUTION
Rhodesia has governed itself peacefully and progressively for three quarters of a century, and has enjoyed self-government for nearly half a century. It has never been governed by Britain, nor has Britain provided any police force, army, administration or finance for Rhodesia. Rhodesians hewed their country from a primitive wilderness and transformed it into a modern civilization by means of their own resources, initiative, enterprise and capital.
The development of Rhodesia’s new Constitution must be gauged against the background of [UN] sanctions. Sanctions were designed to destroy her economy and to promote internal revolution, to ensure the transference of power to a section of the population manifestly unable responsibly to exercise it.
Under the 1923 Constitution, which conferred self-government upon Rhodesia, Britain reserved certain powers, in the interests of the indigenous population, but she never had need to exercise them. A natural development of this was that under the 1961 Constitution the British Government relinquished “all the reserved powers at present vested in the Government of the United Kingdom”, save for certain matters relating to the position of the Governor, international obligations and undertakings relating to the Colonial Stock Acts.
The British Government, however, refused to grant formal independence to Rhodesia; and after protracted and fruitless negotiations, Rhodesia declared independence unilaterally in November 1965, under a Constitution which closely followed the 1961 model.
Meanwhile, events in Africa and elsewhere in the world were serving to consolidate Rhodesians’ opposition to any Constitution which permitted one race to dominate another. Both the 1961 and 1965 Constitutions included the principle of “majority rule”, with its attendant evils, and both discriminated racially against the Europeans.
Rhodesia’s new republican Constitution, accepted overwhelmingly by a referendum in June 1969, adheres to the principle of advancement by merit and ability; it differs from the previous ones by precluding the domination of one race by another.
This new Constitution, devised by Rhodesians, is designed to cope with the complex situation as it exists in this country. Rhodesians have no desire to imperil the progress achieved since the country was settled in 1890. After all, they are the ones who have to live with their problems – and their solutions. The new Constitution is a genuine attempt to work out a modus vivendi between the races, and being a living and flexible instrument it is capable of being amended to accommodate changing conditions and circumstances as they arise.
BASIS FOR PROGRESS
The stability which Rhodesia’s Constitution seeks to perpetuate will benefit all races, because it recognizes the importance of establishing conditions which will permit continued economic advance for all Rhodesians according to merit and ability.
Ownership of land – for long a contentious matter in Africa – is also enshrined and entrenched for all in the new Constitution. For the first time, European land as well as African is accorded proper protection. European farming is the biggest contributor to Rhodesia’s gross national product, and the biggest employer, and in normal times it is a major foreign exchange earner. The Constitution seeks to prevent any deterioration in this regard.
European agriculture produces from a smaller arable area than that cultivated by the African, many times the amount of marketed produce. African agriculture is still largely at a subsistence level despite the strenuous efforts made by the Government as well as groups of European farmers and businessmen to raise the level of African farming.
The fundamental of separation in the ownership of land, and in basic tenure policy, is that there should be separation so that conflict is avoided.
Africans enjoy the use of free land in the tribal areas, whereas Europeans have had to buy their land and in addition have invested vast amounts of capital to make it productive. A large percentage of the African male population live in the European areas, where they are employed.
The Land Apportionment Act, apportioned one half of Rhodesia which was not Tribal Trust Land, between the two races, and this has played a vital part in Rhodesia’s economic development.
The Tribal Trust Lands were contained in the Constitution.
The Land Tenure Act, which embraces all land, will continue to play such a part by preserving the conditions which made economic development possible.
It will also ensure the security of all peoples by preventing the whittling away of the land allocations of the respective races.
It has been alleged that the tribal lands are desolate and worked out. This is a gross exaggeration. Where there are examples . of this, it is as the result of destructive practices by tribesmen whom, over a long period of time, the Government has struggled hard to educate to an appreciation of improved farming methods. There are tens of thousands of tribesmen who have proved that, given the proper treatment, such apparently unproductive areas are capable of very high yields.
Poverty in the agricultural subsistence economy depends upon the alacrity with which the tribesmen decide to accept the advice – freely given – by Government Agricultural Extension staff. Much, of course, remains to be done, and the new Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation promises to stimulate further progress by introducing business methods and capital to bring these areas into the cash economy.
African living standards have steadily improved over the years, especially in the urban areas. Visitors often remark on their well-being compared with that of other African states. African housing in Rhodesia is the best on the continent, and was so judged· by a prominent Nigerian visitor. More than 63 million pounds sterling or 155 million U.S. dollars has been invested by Government, municipalities and other agencies in African housing, and this huge investment is already paying dividends by ensuring a contented and happy African population.
In the field of African education, finance is more than ever needed to supplement Rhodesia’s lone efforts. We claim the highest African literacy rate on the continent – in fact it is three times as high as the continental average – and this has been achieved in less than 80 years by the efforts of a mere handful of white Rhodesians.
In the primary schools section the proportion of African pupils attending school cannot be bettered in Africa. In the secondary school sphere enrolments have increased sixfold in a decade, a remarkable feat when it is remembered that prior to the Second World War there was little demand for schooling by Africans. This has now turned into a veritable flood. Sanctions, however, are impeding progress in African education. Despite them, co-operation between the Government, the missions and the African people has achieved wonders, and with a little sympathetic understanding and support from overseas, still more could be done. Rhodesia has the potential for dynamic progress in all directions.
Let us examine closely the charge of racialism which has been levelled against Rhodesia. Animosities between races are as old as mankind. They range over the whole scale, sometimes animated, sometimes preventable, sometimes displaying a lack of sympathy or understanding – and sometimes outright hatred. There are those people today who seek to promote or manipulate tensions for their own purposes, regardless of the consequences in terms of human life and suffering. A policy is racialist if it preserves and promotes racial antagonism. It becomes inverted racialism if it ignores existing antagonisms and animosities. A system is anti-racialist if it seeks to prevent haters from doing damage, or to circumscribe the scope of inter-racial hatred by removing the causes of animosity.
Rhodesia can boldly claim that its policy, far from being racialist, is anti-racialist, and the constant application of the term “racialist” to Rhodesians is merely a form of vulgar abuse which seeks to make Rhodesia the whipping boy for weaknesses that exist elsewhere. Rhodesians believe that the governance and prosperity of Rhodesia is for Rhodesians regardless of race.
African leaders naively play East against West – Russia against China – trying to reap the best of two worlds. Every inch conceded to the Communists enmeshes these African states more inextricably in their net.
Communistic propaganda of the Chinese variety naturally appeals to Africa’s unsophisticates, who by their absorption of it contribute to their own ultimate subjugation. The hard reality is that the Chinese having failed to obtain “lebensraum” in the Antipodes, are now casting predatory eyes on Africa, and their design seems ripe for the payoff.
The British Prime Minister in 1968 condemned Communist responsibility for widespread industrial unrest in Britain, while a United States Senate Investigating Committee in June 1969, revealed the extent to which the Communists were behind the student violence which has disrupted so many universities in America. The committee also found that the militant Negro “Black Panther” movement was being armed and orientated by Red China and Cuba.
Yet the West watches indifferently while Africa steadily becomes Red. No opportunity should be lost to reiterate that South Africa, Rhodesia, the Portuguese territories and Malawi, constitute the last remaining stronghold for the West on this continent.
With the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic dominated by Russia, the Cape route now becomes a vital, if tenuous, lifeline for the West. Should Southern Africa fall to the Reds, nothing will remain to contest the final assault of Marxism save the self-depleted, ideologically brainwashed, armed forces of the civilized world.
THE SANCTIONS CAMPAIGN
Sanctions were imposed on Rhodesia in the hope of strangling its economy and so bringing about a revolution which would bring in a government prepared to implement “majority rule”. There is no vestige of doubt that this has failed.
The economy has not expanded as fast as it might have done had sanctions not been invoked. Some sectors of the economy have suffered more than others, but it is evident that sanctions have been responsible for a far wider and stronger industrial base in this country. The diversification and expansion that have taken place provide a solid foundation for further economic growth.
Visitors are astonished at the development in this country in its short span of existence. They are amazed at the well-stocked shops and find many goods cheaper than in their own countries. They are surprised at the volume of motor traffic, the thrusting development, the building boom, and above all at the pleasant atmosphere of peace and good race relations.
Sanctions have caused British traders and industrialists to lose out against competitors in other countries who are prepared to do business with Rhodesia, and they have to pay more for some of their raw materials. Tobacco is a case in point. Today expensive and inferior tobacco is being purchased by Britain simply because of the Labour Government’s desire to bring about by economic spite what it failed to do at the conference table.
The United States used to buy Rhodesian chrome at $30 a ton, but now gets an inferior product from Communist Russia at $48 a ton. Not only is America paying more than half as much again for this product, but she is jeopardizing her strategic interests – and trading with her major opponent into the bargain.
According to a British Government statement, sanctions have cost Britain £176 million. The real cost however, has been estimated at several times that figure; and to what purpose? Many countries, including Britain, have been inconvenienced by sanctions. One is amazed at their continuance, because no-one now believes they will bring Rhodesia to its knees. The continuation of sanctions must be with punitive intent, which is immoral – especially in view of the effects upon Africans, the very people they were meant to aid.
RHODESIA – NO THREAT TO WORLD PEACE
Despite the chaos which prevails in the world, Rhodesia remains a haven of peace; but this is not to say that Communism presents no threat. It does – a real and deadly one; but notwithstanding, the well-being of the populace and the efficiency and loyalty of the administration have restricted and repelled its inroads.
The Rhodesian Secretary for Law and Order, in his Annual Report to Parliament in 1968, disclosed a highly significant fact. He showed that whereas most countries in the world have experienced mounting violence and crime, the incidence of these in Rhodesia is actually falling.
The Middle East today is a real threat to world peace, but the U. N. stands impotently on the sideline while its would-be militant members hammer unceasingly at peaceful Rhodesia. Justice becomes perverted when someone is attacked for minding his own business, and then condemned by his attacker as being a threat to world peace.
Realizing the rightness of their cause, Rhodesians will not be deflected from their goal. They have amply proved their ability to govern wisely and well, to develop their resources and advance all their peoples.
Now that the new Republican Constitution has been accepted by Rhodesians, it is intended to press on towards the fulfilment of the country’s destiny – a destiny in which all sections of the population will share.
Rhodesia has no intention of lowering the civilized standards which have been responsible for her progress thus far. It prefers to encourage free enterprise and initiative rather than submit to the drab mediocrity of socialism – a mediocrity in which people share poverty instead of riches.
Rhodesia does not believe in enforced integration. It believes people should be free to live their own lives and determine their own future. Throughout the world there are communities where people live together because they share traditions, cultural tastes, and ways of life. If that is their choice, then they should be given every incentive and encouragement to exercise it.
The Rhodesian experiment has a groundwork of successful administration behind it, which offers great promise for the future. Rhodesia is richly endowed with natural resources, has one of the most pleasant climates in the world, outstanding tourist attractions, and peace. Rhodesia invites people of goodwill to participate in her development.
Here there is freedom and opportunity for all.
First published by the Ministry of Information, Immigration and Tourism, February 1970.
Prices quoted are at 1970 values.
Of course the “Rhodesian experiment”, cited above, never had a real opportunity to prove itself.
In 1974 a leftist military coup in Portugal led to the new government there seeking out the FREMILO terrorist organisation in northern Moçambique and, in the absence of any local self-government, the moderate majority had no way of preventing a hand over to the new communistic FRELIMO government which was imposed on them in 1975. A law was passed by the new Minister of the Interior of the FRELIMO party, Armando Guebuza, ordering the Portuguese to leave the country in 24 hours with only 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of luggage. Unable to salvage any of their assets, almost the entire European descended population, over a quarter of million people, fled in the space of a few weeks – most of them returned to Portugal penniless. The local Africans had no alternative but to “enjoy” their newly won “freedom” under Samora Machel and his Interior Minister, Guebuza, who also later became President and one of the wealthiest men in Moçambique.
FRELIMO promptly closed the lengthy Moçambique border and encouraged ZANA terrorists to set up bases and launch armed incursions into Rhodesia. Sadly, the peace and good government which had existed in Rhodesia for over 70 years, could not be sustained. Rhodesia’s armed forces, of which a large majority were black Africans, put up a valiant fight against an evil terrorist onslaught. Against their better judgement, but in an effort to satisfy “world opinion” Rhodesia introduced a new “one man one vote” constitution which, in 1979, led to the first black prime minister and black president in what became Zimbabwe Rhodesia. Even so the world was not satisfied and, having lost the support of South Africa which thought it could survive by throwing Rhodesia to the wolves, late in 1979 Rhodesians had to throw in the towel. A new constitution, organised by Britain, resulted in elections in early 1980 which led to Mugabe’s ZANU party winning control by means of the same methods as they had used to intimidate the rural tribesmen over the previous few years. For the sake of expediency, rather than honour and decency, Britain chose to show a blind eye. Mugabe and his ZANU party then proceeded to plunder the country and ruin what had been the Jewel of Africa. – CW