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W. H. HUTT, The Rhodesian Calumny - Ralph Raico, New Individualist Review 
New Individualist Review, editor-in-chief Ralph Raico, introduction by Milton Friedman (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981).
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The Rhodesian Calumny
I HAVE LIVED FOR thirty-seven years in race-troubled South Africa and during that time I have been observing, thinking about, and occasionally writing about, the superficially intractable problems of color prejudices and racial domination. I have seldom felt that the politicians were leading wisely on the always delicate and sometimes explosive issues of race antagonisms, either in my own country or in adjacent countries. Yet during the 1950’s and early 1960’s, there was one area in which there were hopeful signs of emerging enlightenment. I refer to the now disintegrated Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
With rare statesmanship, commendable realism, and courage, the Welensky regime had brought about in the Federation an all too brief era of peaceful and prosperous development under the rule of law, independent courts, integrity of administration, and as rapid an orderly modernization as the world had ever witnessed. Nowhere else had Blacks and Whites got on with one another better under the stresses of radical sociological change and economic progress. Order was maintained by a tiny unarmed police force, more than half of which was African. Time-rooted color prejudices were being slowly dissolved whilst, for Southern Rhodesia, the 1961 Constitution had not only laid down a non-racial voting qalification, but, through a Declaration of Rights, provided for the unconstitutionality of legislative discriminations on the grounds of race or color.
Unfortunately the British government, placing the ambitions of a handful of power-hungry African politicians above the interests of the inarticulate African masses, decided to break up this great experiment. Nevertheless, in the present Rhodesia, the 1961 constitution (with minor amendments) has survived: and under it, the most promising deliberate attempt the world has ever seen at creating a wholly democratic, multi-racial society has continued.
But persistent pressures from the new totalitarian and nationalistic African governments, which were understandably hostile to a genuine democracy in their continent, have demanded that it be crushed; and the belief of the White Rhodesians that Britain and the United States were siding with the totalitarians drove Ian Smith’s Government (legally elected under the 1961 Constitution) into a Declaration of Independence in 1965.
The present position is that Britain, the United States, and the United Nations reject the system under which the right to the franchise in Rhodesia is independent of race or color and based on very modest educational and/or property qualifications. They want a system which confers the right to vote unconditionally upon four million tribal Africans. That is what the quarrel is about. Yet Rhodesia was offering, in the middle of Africa, a continuous object lesson in growing racial and color harmony, under classical democracy.1
Ian Smith’s regime, whilst solemnly pledged to “unimpeded progress to majority rule”; and prepared to entrench this objective by any bona fide technical means the world might demand (“by solemn treaty if necessary”); and prepared further to lighten materially the franchise requirements (under adequate safeguards), is nevertheless doggedly resolved to preserve the Western heritage for all races to share, and not to permit its destruction (which nearly all White Rhodesians believe would be the outcome under “one man, one vote”). The only limitations on the franchise are, in fact, of the kind that J. S. Mill advocated in his classic Representative Government (1861).
I allege that Americans have been grievously misled about the facts. The frankness of Ian Smith and his colleagues in expressing their fears of the unconditional enfranchisement of Africans, has been subtly used, by unscrupulous reporters, to create an impression that the Rhodesian government is keeping the Africans in political subjection. That is false.
ADMITTEDLY, THERE are White supremacists in Rhodesia. They support the present Government faute de mieux, because it is at least staving off African uni-racial totalitarian rule. Today they are taking advantage of the backlash caused by anger at the injustice of sanctions and pressing for an apartheid policy. If the supremacists gain power and put back the clock, will it not be the fault of Britain and the United States?
The present situation may easily confuse the superficial observer. Originally the threat, and later the actuality of sanctions, together with unprecedented internal efforts (mainly by non-Rhodesians) at subversion, have forced the Rhodesian government into defensive action. It is easy to represent emergency steps as normal policy. The white leaders of Rhodesia are not Nazis. Some have a proud war record.
The extent to which, through press, radio, television, and pulpit, the American public has been misinformed on this issue is fantastic. I can illustrate by a few out of hundreds of examples. In September 1966, the influential Newsweek (relying upon a reference by Ian Smith to Dr. Verwoerd’s personal kindliness: words of sympathy following the latter’s assassination) remarked that “the Rhodesian leader made it plain that his support for white supremacy was unshaken.” Rep. D. M. Fraser told Congress shortly before that the Rhodesian government “favors rule by a racial minority through policies aimed at excluding virtually all Africans.” Various politicians (mostly ill-informed, but still irresponsible) have referred to “racial and political injustice” in Rhodesia (these are President Johnson’s words), or expressed similar blanket condemnations. Ambassador Goldberg told the world through the United Nations that Rhodesia involved “the seizure of power by a minority bent on subjugating a vast majority on racial grounds.” And a host of other seemingly well-informed and trustworthy authorities have succeeded in slandering the rulers of Rhodesia by deepening the impression that Africans are being denied democratic or human rights by a White minority.
Actually, Rhodesia offers free political institutions, the rule of law, a judiciary with an independence of politics which most Americans would find difficult to believe, a free enterprise economy, and few surviving state-imposed (I stress this qualification) barriers to equality of economic opportunity. It was also a happy and internally peaceful area until recently, order having been maintained since the beginning of the century by a tiny force of unarmed police. That was, of course, before the return of saboteurs trained in China, Algeria, and Tanzania. Otherwise, since World War II, persons of all races had obviously been learning to live with one another under increasing amity.
The greater proportion of the 220,000 Whites (which includes many whose enterprise and industry had created the civilization established in Rhodesia) had undergone an agonizing readjustment of deep-rooted racial attitudes. They had come to accept not only the inevitability of equality of political opportunity, but also the wisdom of a policy aimed at deliberately hastening progress toward the day when the majority of the qualified electorate would be Africans. Moreover, prior to the imposition of sanctions, Rhodesia had been prosperous. Its GNP had almost doubled during one decade, providing more than proportional benefits to the African section of the population and attracting an enormous number of foreign Africans to share in temporary employment opportunities.
The main source of discord was a small group of African leaders, imbued with a faith in their ability to serve their people, but often spurred on chiefly by personal ambition; and sometimes understandably bitter in the light of humiliations and indignities which they may have had to endure. Among this group, the politicians’ ubiquitous hunger for power was whetted by the apparent prospect of early African supremacy. They had just witnessed a succession of capitulations which had conferred sudden status, privilege, and wealth on similarly placed African leaders to the north. They were aware of the dominating population of mainly tribal Rhodesians whose votes could obviously be won by appeals to perfectly natural envy as well as to color resentments, nationalist emotions, and class antagonisms. All this seemed to suggest that, with determination and the right stategy, office and honor were within their grasp. They found they were thwarted by the entrenchment of a non-racial political equality, a reasonably achievable franchise available on equal terms for every literate and responsible Rhodesian, whatever his color.
WHY SHOULD GOVERNMENTS which claim, at least, to be striving for the eradication of color prejudices and racial injustices wish to crush this genuinely democratic society? One reason is, I believe, that American and British politicians tend to think in terms of the aspirations of African politicians. They are not directly concerned with the welfare of the African masses, who, unlike their leaders, are not possible future voters at the United Nations; and sometimes the Western politicians seem to think that it is expedient to retain the friendship of “moderate” leaders in African territories; whilst even the moderate leaders find it desirable, for popularity reasons, to appease the racial emotions and resentments of the black peoples. If they did not, they could not survive, it is felt, against more extreme rivals.
A more difficult question is, why should so many who obviously do sincerely wish to eliminate surviving inequalities of opportunity and respect between Black and White in the world, also wish to destroy the most propitious experiment in non-discriminatory representative government that mankind has known? I can conceive of only one answer: because of culpable news-slanting by reporters, newspaper correspondents, editors, and radio and television staff.
What I cannot explain satisfactorily to myself is why those in control of propaganda resources should have a vested interest in misinforming the world on so vital an issue. Yet the blatant fact remains that the number of people outside Rhodesia who know the facts about that country is almost infinitesimal, and the occasional attempts of these few to correct misrepresentations have had little success. For instance, during the year 1966, I can recall seeing only two really unslanted references in New York newspapers to the policy of the Smith Government. One was in a very well informed letter from John Davenport (of Fortune), and the other a brilliant letter, quoted from the English press, of Elspeth Huxley’s.
Now there are some aspects of the racial situation in Rhodesia which critics abroad might deplore, whilst giving full recognition to the democratic, non-racial objectives of the Smith Government. I shall shortly refer to policy aspects which I myself regard as wrong or ill-conceived; but it has been a tactic of those who are hostile to Rhodesia’s aim of preserving Western civilization for gradual sharing with the Africans, to refer to these aspects and, through references to her friendship with the Republic of South Africa, to imply that Rhodesia is following an apartheid policy.
It is true, of course, that South Africa has tactfully assisted Rhodesia’s resistance to sanctions, yet this is not because there is any basic similarity in objectives. It is due to fear that the overthrow of Smith’s regime would lead to the early establishment of a hostile black nationalist dictatorship on the northern boundary of South Africa. The Rhodesians are genuinely grateful for this support in their hour of need, and official references to the Republic are understandably amicable; but the proclaimed racial policies of the two countries, whatever their merits or demerits, are at present diametrically different.
Let us consider the allegations of racial discrimination in parliamentary representation, with general political bondage for the Africans. In truth, every Rhodesian at the age of twenty-one upwards has the right to qualify for the vote (or to stand for election) on the same terms, irrespective of his race, color, or ancestry. Moreover, the franchise qualifications are surprisingly moderate when one considers the need, in so complex a racial situation, for insuring that voters shall be able to understand something about the issues on which they will be expected to exercise ballot-expressed judgments.
The qualification is based on education or property, or a combination thereof. Thus, on the so-called “A” roll (providing for 50 of the 65 seats in the legislature) completion of primary education plus either an annual income of £528 (say $1300) or property of £1100 is one of the conditions which qualifies a voter.2 But no property or income standard is applied if four years of secondary education have been completed (a provision intended, I understand, to bring as many moderately qualified young Africans, as rapidly as possible, onto the “A” roll). And there are other, alternative conditions for qualification. For the “B” roll (providing for 15 seats only) the requirements are much more lenient. For persons over thirty years of age, income of only £132 plus completion of primary education will qualify, as will completion of two years of secondary education with no age, property, or income requirement. Again, there are other means of qualifying. The “B” roll qualifications were intended to insure immediate representation by African members in Parliament.3
FOLLOWING THE TIGER talks, the Smith regime had been willing to accept even easier franchise qualifications. The Rhodesian government was, indeed, prepared to lean over backward in its efforts to refute the slander that its object was to perpetuate the subordinacy and inferiority of the Africans. Now I submit that, unless by some stratagem Africans are prevented from exercising their rights, even under the present provisions, there is nothing to justify the sanctions through which Britain and the United States have been trying to bring the regime to an end. Let it be clearly understood that there is no parallel in Rhodesia to the subterfuges which have, in the past, denied constitutional rights to Negroes in some parts of the United States. Moreover, there are no grounds whatsoever for the suggestion that educational opportunities are being deliberately withheld from Africans, or not reasonably available. (I shall return to this point.) Nor can the Whites be shown to be using the dominating parliamentary majority power which the franchise conditions at present accord them in order to legislate against equality of opportunity in the economic sphere. Even if they did, the Declaration of Rights, with the Constitutional Council’s power to declare such measures unconstitutional, would stand in their path.
If Rhodesia’s critics had merely demanded even more ironclad constitutional entrenchment to insure that African rights should not be subsequently revoked, there is not the slightest doubt that the Smith Government would have agreed to this, although not in a form which would have given a veto right to the “B” roll voters. The intransigence of the White Rhodesians rests in their determination not to let the future of their land—a progressive country which their courage, industry, and integrity have built up—be determined by a “one man, one vote” referendum in which almost wholly tribal and illiterate Africans were allowed to vote.
The political protection of these presently voteless Africans is secured through the “Declaration of Rights,” which provides for what are termed “fundamental rights and freedoms.” Equality of treatment in all legislation is guaranteed to every Rhodesian “. . . whatever his race, tribe, place of origin, political opinions, color or creed, subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others.” To pronounce on the constitutionality of proposed legislation (in the light of this “Declaration”) there is a Constitutional Council, of predominantly non-white membership. Its members are nominated and chosen by an electoral college consisting of the existing and any former chairman of the Council, members and former members of the Council, judges and retired judges, and the President of the Council of Chiefs.
THROUGH THE CHANCE of history and tradition, few of the four million Africans were able to play more than a passive role in the development of their country. Hardly any were capable of being more than unskilled collaborators with the hard-earned savings, enterprise, energy, and skill of the White settlers. This was due, as every intelligent Rhodesian knows, not to any innate inferiority of the Black people, but to history and the absence of earlier opportunity. Insofar as there remains any deliberate perpetuation of practices or procedures which deny opportunities to Africans, there is something which any “classical liberal” like myself would never hesitate to censure; and any unintended perpetuation of racial economic inequalities can equally be subjected to exposure and criticism. Yet White property owners, including landowners, have never been responsible for racial discrimination—at least not in that role.
But are the political rights conferred under the sort of franchise conditions I have briefly indicated a mere sham, as is often alleged? Let us consider the educational facilities available for Africans as a path to enfranchisement. Rep. Donald M. Fraser told Congress last year that “the Smith regime refuses to provide education above the primary school level for a meaningful number of Africans,” and Mr. Joseph Palmer, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, recently told the California Institute of Technology that “relatively few Rhodesian Africans are permitted the facilities to complete the highest secondary grade or go to college.” These assertions are false.
What are the facts? To get the matter into perspective we must remember that, although the Whites make up only one-twentieth of the population, they provide 98 per cent of the direct taxes collected. In spite of the fact that 220,000 Whites alone must for some time finance educational development for 4,000,000 Africans, the most impressive achievement of the regime and the most impressive planned achievement is precisely in respect to secondary education. A top priority in the reforms introduced by the Field Government in 1962 was a rapid speeding up in the provision of secondary schools. In the period since then, 45 new secondary schools have been established. The present program aims at offering secondary school education to 50 per cent of those Africans who complete primary school; and for the rest a system of correspondence courses is to be provided.
If the opportunities available in Rhodesia are seized, progress toward the time when responsible Africans will hold the balance of power should not be protracted. A team of three Americans, headed by Rep. John Ashbrook, has recently reported, after a study of the situation at first hand, that there have been “spectacular advances” in education and that “the demand for . . . places in secondary schools has yet to equal the supply.” Far from being excluded from opportunities, Africans are not yet voluntarily taking advantage of the facilities available. In vocational training the same apathy on their part is slowing down the progress hoped for.
Over a decade, enrollment of Africans in primary schools has doubled, enrollment in secondary schools has increased six-fold, and enrollment as a whole has tripled. Ashbrook’s team points out, quite pertinently, that in Britain “only 34 per cent continue to go to school after age 15.” In Rhodesia the target for Africans alone is 50 per cent. Unless sanctions succeed in sabotaging the most rapid advance in educational facilities which any African area has ever experienced, in three years time all Rhodesian children of all races will have an opportunity of achieving a complete primary education. Expenditure on education, which is the biggest item in Rhodesia’s budget, has trebled over the last seven years and has been accelerating. Moreover, as far as university education is concerned, a deliberate policy of discrimination in favor of Africans in respect to scholarships and loans has been followed. In the words of the Ashbrook Committee, the Rhodesians have “struggled valiantly to pull the African into the twentieth century.”
These facts, which can easily be verified, ought to have been known to Rep. Fraser and to Mr. Palmer. If they did not trouble to check their facts but based their allegations upon reports of newspaper correspondents, articles in popular periodicals, and the like, their speeches were recklessly irresponsible. But should the facts as I have stated them be doubted, let one of the large foundations finance a visit to Rhodesia by a small body of disinterested members of the academic profession—chosen for their known independence from affiliation or association with any political party—and let them report, from first hand contact, on what is happening. The overall aim of the program, planned in 1962, may well be over-ambitious, almost naive in its optimism and idealism; but what chance has it when the world tries to destroy the regime which boldly conceived of it?
AT TIMES, I GET the feeling that it is hopeless to try to expose the repeated misrepresentations and false stereotypes that have been created, particularly in the minds of American Negroes. I can illustrate by a typical distortion. On one occasion a reporter told the world that Ian Smith had declared “There will be no black rule in my time.” This alleged assertion made headlines everywhere and it is constantly repeated; but the repeated denials seldom get printed, let alone make headlines. What Smith had actually said, in a CBS telecast, and I quote from Anthony Harrigan’s One Against The Mob, was: “If we had a black nationalist government—a black extremist government in my lifetime, then I believe we would have failed in our policy . . . [which] has always been no discrimination between black or white.”
A report published in the American press on September 18, 1967 said that Prime Minister Wilson was sending aides to Rhodesia to seek “acceptance of eventual African majority rule.” How tendentious and subtly mendacious it all is! There is majority rule under non-discriminatory franchise qualifications, and the whole plan, guaranteed since 1961, contemplates an eventual African majority of votes on both the A and B rolls as soon as the Africans have used the rapidly growing facilities to achieve education or to qualify under the other responsibility tests. Moreover, the hackneyed insistence that “all sections of Rhodesian opinion, black and white, should be consulted” is equally tendentious; for already, under the present constitution, all sections who can be reasonably assumed to be capable of envisaging the issues have equal rights under the franchise provisions. But if “all sections” is a euphemism for Nkomo and the PCC, and Sithole and ZANU, anything short of immediate black supremacy seems certain to be rejected.
How much wiser and commendable is Ian Smith’s attitude towards the whole franchise problem! He has said: “We hope the time will come when we shall have Black and White in Parliament and nobody will start counting heads to decide whether there are more Blacks than Whites.”
Do those Americans or British who applaud the “tough” line taken against Rhodesia know that this is the spirit with which the government of that country has faced its appallingly difficult task? How many who feel indignation at the supposed “oppression” of the Africans in Rhodesia know that, in advising his countrymen about how to act in face of brutal attacks, perfidious misrepresentations, and vindicative sanctions, he urged them all to exercise “courtesy, kindness and understanding towards all peoples, especially those of other racial groups . . . to maintain the highest standards in everything that you do: in your work, in your play, in your thoughts, especially when thinking of other people; in your general demeanour. . . .” Are these the words of a Rhodesian Hitler determined to treat the Africans as the Nazi regime treated the Jews? Yet that is the image which has been created of Ian Smith.
Yet is there political freedom in Rhodesia? Is there not suppression of effective opposition? Again, I have found that most Americans and Britons who have been interested in the subject believe that the expression of anti-government views is somehow restrained. The truth is, I think, that the restrictions imposed have been aimed not at opinion but firstly at incitement to mob violence, terrorism, and intimidation, and secondly at more subtle attempts to destroy morale.
It is possible that, through an element of war hysteria created by world hostility and organized misrepresentation of their aims, the Rhodesian government has gone beyond what has been needed to prevent instigation to disorder; but confronted with sustained cold war aggression, together with the burden of sanctions, it was vital that they should maintain legitimate hopes of success in their struggle to preserve non-racial democracy. Although the newspapers of Salisbury and Buluwayo (which are under a single British ownership) have a justified reputation for responsibility, they have pursued a policy of supporting Britain right or wrong. Their news presentation and comments were obviously felt to be destructive of good racial feelings, and even worse, destructive of faith in the power of Rhodesia to survive the world’s aggression (through sanctions and otherwise).
The Rhodesian government had no journals of their own of similar influence; short of nationalizing the press, they were led to drastic censorship; and the power to censor remains. The Ash-brook Committee reports that it is the Administration’s “earnest hope that the worst rigors of censorship are past. . . . If the editors would only be a little more co-operative, the whole unpleasant business could be brought to an end.”
THE SORT OF PROBLEM which has to be resolved can be illustrated by difficulties encountered at the University College of Rhodesia recently. As in virtually every college or university of the free word, a few Communist sympathizers among staff and students (of course, “they are not Communists,” we are always assured) appear to work for the “other side” in the cold war. They work as unobtrusively as they can, but their task is to spread dissention and inspire “demonstrations.” Now it was the hope of the Smith Government that the College could train a growing number of Africans to take their part among Rhodesia’s future rulers, and that within its walls the old prejudices, antagonisms, and misunderstandings could be eradicated. A minority among the staff, however, (mostly British) seemingly indoctrinated with the notion that the fomentation of race hatred, and the quiet implementation of class and race war are legitimate in the struggle against “capitalist imperialism,” were causing serious friction. They seemed to be inculcating resentments and the spirit of revenge among the African students. The deportation of certain lecturers who were believed to be guilty of this abuse of academic freedom has naturally been represented as, in itself, a denial of that freedom.
A typical misrepresentation can be mentioned. Last year the College entertained the Principal of the University of Cape Town, Dr. J. P. Duminy. At the ceremony, a deplorable demonstration was organized among some of the students on the grounds that the principal of “a segregated university” was being honored. The American journal, Christianity and Crisis, subsequently published an article which sought to justify this insult to an eminent academician, by describing the invitation to Dr. Duminy as “provocative to the African students.” Yet the University of Cape Town is (and will always remain, I hope) open to students of all races. Segregation is imposed by the government of South Africa upon students wishing to attend, not by the University’s own decision or regulations. Moreover, every year after he was appointed, Dr. Duminy, together with the Chancellor of the University, played his role in an annual ceremony and procession of protest at which the “torch of academic freedom” is carried—a torch which was ceremonially and solemnly extinguished when academic apartheid was enacted. The writer must have known these facts. Why did he suppress them?
If, in these circumstances, the Rhodesian government has resorted to press censorship and suspension of the rule of law (and of habeas corpus) in dealing with suspected troublemakers, the criticisms of those far from the scene ought, at any rate, to be guarded. There are no racial riots and no obvious signs of smouldering discontent among the great mass of Rhodesian Africans. From that angle, whatever the demerits of the regime, it has its concomitant virtues. Ash-brook’s Committee reported of the Rhodesian capital: “The only troops in evidence are a handful of smiling Africans. . . . On the streets white and black mingle with one another with every appearance of courtesy and good humor. . . . During the whole of our visit, we never heard a siren; . . . we never noticed so much as a sidearm. . . . The perceptive American knows that racial tensions can be sensed; but he senses none of these tensions here.” We must remember that, due to the infiltration of saboteurs trained abroad, Africans who wished to co-operate in the democratic order, by enrolling as voters or by actually voting, were for some time in danger of being murdered, tortured or having their houses and crops destroyed and their cattle maimed. After Rhodesia’s independence, the Zambia Broadcasting Corporation, with the collaboration of the BBC, explicity exhorted participation in sabotage and murder. This seemed incredible to me when I first heard of it; but it is true. Tape recordings exist and the text has been published. Both the PCC4 (formerly ZAPU) under Nkomo, and ZANU5 under Sithole, are supported by the two great Communist powers. Captured bombs, grenades, and machineguns together with sabotage instruction manuals from various places beyond the Iron Curtain have been produced in the courts.
The first big campaign for lawlessness and disorder was rapidly suppressed by the loyal and efficient Defence and Police Forces.6 Internal peace then ruled for some time; and a second large-scale effort launched from Zambia recently appears also to have been effectively suppressed. Those who forecast wide-spread bloodshed following the Declaration of Independence have been proved wrong, although many Africans lost their lives and their property at first.
IN DEFENDING THE Rhodesian regime from contemporary misrepresentations, I must not leave the impression that, in my judgment, the Africans have no legitimate grievances. There are surviving discriminations. How rapidly the causes of the discrimination can be removed will depend upon the wisdom of those elected as the weight of the African vote gradually increases. Moreover, as I have already insisted, there are supremacists in Smith’s Rhodesian Party. But the Prime Minister himself vehemently and indignantly denies that his policy is moving towards apartheid. He maintains—and with patent sincerity, I believe—that his government stands for non-discrimination and the right of all to progress on merit.
U.S. Representative J. D. Waggoner claimed recently that “Segregation is unknown in Rhodesia. It is forbidden by law. Public facilities, hotels, bars, buses and the like are open to one race as well as another.” That is broadly the position; but a cultured African is, I understand, still subject to indignities and affronts, mainly from Whites of a lower social class; and exclusions by subterfuge occur here in other spheres,7 fortunately not in the University College, or in public transport, or in public buildings. In housing, de facto segregation persists fairly widely, but only in the sense in which this assertion is still equally true of the United States, and it is basically an income segregation. (The most stupid follies of apartheid are not found in Rhodesia).
The remaining major discrimination imposed by law against Africans is, in my opinion, that due to segregation maintained under the Land Apportionment Act. There is, I believe, almost universal agreement that this Act must eventually be drastically amended; but the case against precipitate action is strong. What were the objects of the Land Apportionment Act? The British Parliament passed it with two aims in mind:
The first aim was to attract settlers with enterprise and know-how capable of developing the flow of real income for the benefit of all races (which aim has been realized). The Act was in the nature of a contract with the settlers who responded. If there was any element of privilege conferred by the contract, it resembles the monopoly promised to prospectors everywhere—to induce them to risk capital in searching for the earth’s hidden wealth.
The second aim was to protect land allocated to African ownership from purchase by Whites. There is, I understand, no legal restraint on the sale of agricultural land in White ownership to Africans: the chief protection the Act provides is for Blacks, not Whites.
Mr. Palmer told his audience that “the acreage reserved for the white minority consists of the best land.” That is not true. In a reply to Mr. Palmer, the Rhodesian Ministry of Information has pointed out that “there was a slightly higher percentage of higher fertility soils in the African area than in the white area, nearly twice the percentage of medium fertility soils and, while only 37 per cent of Rhodesia has a rainfall above 20 inches, half the African areas fall within this zone.”
Now it is complained also that the area of land per head possessed by Whites is incomparably greater than that possessed by Africans per head. Of course, but should that be a grievance? The Whites equally remain in possession of a proportionally greater capital per head in other forms; but it was the capital which their enterprise, stubborness, expertness, and energy could alone have created. What is now their land was hardly capital when they took it over. It was virtually valueless—almost wholly unproductive scrub. Many of the critics of Rhodesia seem to be arguing that the Whites should be dispossessed of that property simply because they are Whites. But the principle of non-discrimination condemns privilege, not property. Privilege may become property—e.g., import licenses may become assets—but property is not privilege. It cannot be held that the Whites exploited the Africans they employed.
THE CHIEF OBSTACLE to a more rapid achievement of equality of economic opportunity on the part of Rhodesian Africans is to be found, however, in the labor market. This is an aspect of the problem, however, which Rhodesia’s critics all pass over. Just as in the Republic of South Africa, the most powerful color bars in Rhodesia do not arise from quite honest exclusions in “job reservation” form, or from the indirect but still obvious exclusions via “group areas” and “labor allocation” forms. It is the simple insistence on “the rate for the job” which creates the really vicious color injustices. The principle of “equal pay for equal work” prevents the African from discounting his initial inferior training for many types of work required in modern society, the extra costs of employing him (including the unrest which labor union leaders can initiate by playing on the color prejudices of the Whites). It confines him on the whole, therefore, to occupations of relatively low productivity and value, and it destroys the business incentive to invest in the inculcation of industrial skills. Where the Rhodesian Africans are progressing economically is in the spheres where the standard rate cannot be enforced and labor union power cannot be exerted—in the white collar occupations, journalism, and the civil service. In the professions and in business, the qualified Africans encounter merely the kind of obstacles (not imposed by law) which similarly qualified Negroes encounter in the United States. But it is through restraints in the labor market, of a kind which are defended by practically all Rhodesia’s critics, that the key injustices can be discerned.8 Whether African leaders wise enough to perceive this reality are likely to emerge in the near future is very doubtful. But as the political progress of Africans under the present constitution will be to some extent dependent upon economic progress, their leaders will have every incentive to rescue their people from the tyranny of “the standard wage-rate.”
Of course the constitution withholds present majority power from the Africans, but the purpose is to insure their eventual sharing in the heritage of the West by preventing their destruction of it; and the planned gradualness is surely to be welcomed. Blacks as well as Whites are stupidly emotional on the skin color issue in all areas of contact all over the world. The problem is aggravated when color prejudice is merged, as it usually is, with class prejudice. With gradualness and steadfast policy, these prejudices can be dissolved; but demagogues demanding haste can sabotage the process.
Those who, like myself, regard color prejudice as the worst social evil of the contemporary era must strive for the removal of the sanctions which were imposed against Rhodesia after she was condemned, unheard and unrepresented, by the United Nations. If we want the most hopeful planned attempt the world has ever experienced to achieve a free multi-racial society to be allowed to demonstrate its potentialities—for the benefit of all—we must, indeed, go even further. Rhodesia deserves generous compensation for the harm already caused, mainly to innocent Africans, from past efforts to compel her to capitulate to the prospect of black totalitarian racism; and in the United States, if the Negroes were rationally and disinterestedly led, we should find them fighting for the right of the Rhodesian Africans to qualify for a democratic and prosperous future; and that means their protection from the “one man, one vote” tyranny which capitulation to the PCC and ZANU would surely impose upon them.
[* ] W. H. Hutt has been Professor of Commerce and Dean of the Faculty of Commerce at the University of Cape Town, South Africa; currently Visiting Professor of Economics at Wabash College. His book, Economics of the Colour Bar, remains one of the principal works on the origins and impact of racial legislation in South Africa.
[1 ] It is as essential to distinguish between “classical democracy” (i.e., the form of representative government advocated by the “classical liberals”) and what is commonly called “democracy” today, as it is to distinguish between “classical liberalism” itself and what is today commonly called “liberalism.”
[2 ] It should be noticed that this qualifying income is less than one quarter of the family income regarded by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as the poverty or “deprivation” level.
[3 ] There are 13 African representatives in Parliament.
[4 ] People’s Caretaker Council.
[5 ] Zimbabwe African National Union.
[6 ] It is perhaps significant that, at the rank and file level, Africans constitute the majority in the Defence and Police Forces.
[7 ] Segregation in schools has not discrimination as its purpose, but maintenance of standards. This is not just hypocrisy. No one believes, I think, that it will survive African progress in the cultural and educational fields. The Ashbrook Committee reported, after interviewing three African members of the Rhodesian Parliament, “They do not urge even the integration of elementary and secondary classrooms.”
[8 ] Since NRA, in the United States the relative progress of male Negroes appears to have been confined solely to the white collar field (clerks, salesmen, teachers, or professional men), and to the entrepreneurial field, or to professional sport.