The Pearce Commission has reported to the British Foreign Secretary. Despite confident predictions of a `No' vote, will a new sell-out be wrapped up in fine words from official sources? EDWARD KANENGONI, a Rhodesian African living in Britain, gives some pertinent historical reflections as the world awaits the verdict on a verdict.
THE constitutional history of Rhodesia is clearly mile-posted with a chain of broken promises by socalled civilised men from Britain.
When the British came to Rhodesia from the neighbouring Botswana in the late 1880s they persuaded Ki n g Lubengula to sign the Rudd Concession which gave them "the exclusive charge over all metals and minerals situated and contained in my kingdoms, principalities and dominions together with full power to do all things they may deem necessary to win and procure the same." In fact they went on to take the land as well as the minerals below.
The 1923 Constitution promised the Africans (though without consulting them) that the Governor of Rhodesia should not allow which discriminated against Africans to be passed in Rhodesia. Of course as we in Rhodesia all know an act was passed in 1930 which divided the country into white areas (i.e. the richest and best land was given to the white people) and African areas (i.e. the poorest and worst land). This meant moving Africans from their lands into whatever area the Government cared to choose for them.
This was a clear breach of the 1923 provision and from then on a huge pile of legislation excluding Africans from virtually all activities in the national life of the country was passed.
In 1953 the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was created. Again the Africans of Rhodesia together with those of Malawi and Zambia were promised partnership. In fact, important people in the Federal government thought it proper to tell their white supporters that it was a partnership of horse and rider, the horse being the African.
The Federal Government never implemented partnership. White education was taken over by the Federal government and African education was left to provincial governments. White children got more than enough of everything necessary for their education and African children went short. This was a clear breach of promise for partnership enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
In 1961 a constitution was given to Rhodesia and in it there were provisions which would have led to majority rule in 1976. This constitution was actually torn up by Ian Smith on November 11, 1965. UDI was thereupon hailed by white people with a degree of support amounting to hysteria. Such enthusiasm for UDI is still very much alive in Rhodesia and has become part of the political life of white people in my country.
It is therefore all too clear that the white people in Rhodesia can never be trusted to carry out any promise which does not give them power for ever over the Africans. One sees the following breaches of promise over the years: The Rudd Concession of the 1880s was broken;' the 1923 Constitution was broken; the +partnership provision in the Federal Constitution of 1953 was broken; and the 1961 Constitution was broken on November 11, 1965 by UDI.
How can we be so sure that the latest proposals will be kept, honoured and implemented without breach?
The British Government gave independence to South Africa in 1910 and Africans 'there were promised many things including the vote. But gradually, virtually every civil right was taken away from the Africans of South Africa. If in 1972 a British Government does the same to Rhodesia, no one can ever say it was a mistake. Rather will it be clear that they intentionally want their "kith and kin," 250,000 of them, to rule the six million Africans.
However, we are hoping that the Pearce Commission will find the Africans have said "No"; and that the British Government will then set up a truly democratically representative constitutional conference. From this a majority-rule conGtitution could be drawn up and agreed by all concerned. Only thus will peace and prosperity come to our country.