The Chronicle

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

BU­L­AWAYO, Mon­day, Au­gust 15, 1966 — In the pro­tracted dis­pute be­tween the Bri­tish and Rhode­sian gov­ern­ments about how in­de­pen­dence can be legally at­tained, the al­most for­got­ten fac­tor is how this coun­try’s four mil­lion Africans will be rep­re­sented in the ne­go­ti­a­tion of any set­tle­ment.

Now the leader of the United Peo­ple’s Party, Mr Chad Chipunza, draws at­ten­tion to this. In a let­ter to Mr Harold Wil­son he writes that be­fore any agree­ment is reached Bri­tain should ‘’at least’’ con­sult the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the African peo­ple of Rhode­sia.

It is a rea­son­able re­quest. But if that is the least that should be ex­pected of Bri­tain so far as African in­ter­est in the mat­ter is con­cerned, what is the most?

The Rhode­sian Gov­ern­ment would pre­sum­ably be happy with con­sult­ing the African Coun­cil of Chiefs. Bri­tain is in favour of wider test­ing of African opinion and Pan Africa has al­ways de­manded it. Widen­ing the scope of African con­sul­ta­tion would ren­der more re­mote the prospect of a set­tle­ment. Se­condly a good case can be made for re­gard­ing African na­tion­al­ists as per­sona non grata.

Be­fore the most re­cent ban on the na­tion­al­ist par­ties, they had an op­por­tu­nity to seek di­rect rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Par­lia­ment. By choos­ing in­stead to boy­cott elec­tions and to seek power by il­le­gal means, they for­feited the right to par­tic­i­pate in the draft­ing of any con­sti­tu­tional changes.

On elec­tion statis­tics alone, Mr Chipunza and his party claim to be widely rep­re­sen­ta­tive of African opinion. It is the fault of the African en­fran­chised for mak­ing lim­ited use of their vot­ing pow­ers.

The UPP is the only demo­crat­i­cally elected voice of the African peo­ple. Apart from in­sist­ing that their chiefs should also be heard, it is rather late in the day for the Africans to demand any other spokes­men.

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