Sir Roy Welensky, Prime Minister of the former Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1952 to 1962, commented on the situation in central Africa on Wednesday (19 February), during a brief stay in London.
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SV Sir Roy Welensky interviewed.
TRANSCRIPT (SEQ 2): WARD: Sir Roy Welensky, what sort of settlement do you see coming about in Rhodesia?
WELENSKY: Well, of course, I am personally hoping that both sides will accept what I have always described as a common role. I don't really see how any settlement can emerge unless something like that does develop, principally because I am utterly opposed to what people here seem to believe is necessary - a quick handover. I don't think that's to anyone's advantage.
WARD: What do you mean by a common role?
WELENSKY: This is a role which would give everybody the opportunity of voting, providing they had minimum qualifications- and when I say minimum qualifications, I would cover the man who earned a reasonal income or man who had a reasonable education or who had a property qualification. I would urge the expansion of the present role so that people could begin and take a part in politics which has been denied to them up to now.
WARD: That might sound very progressive, but is it not, in fact, what was happening in Rhodesia while you were in active politics?
WELENSKY: Well, that would be so because I considered the present constitution in Rhodesia a backward step.
WARD: You are a respected statesman in that part of the world and you have perhaps had more communication with the black leaders in Rhodesia than the present regime has had. Do you think really they will accept this as a settlement...the common role?
WELENSKY: They would be very unwise, if it was offered to them, to reject it, because we've got a choice of one of two things. You can either have change - and I accept that change is inevitable...but we can have change by revolution or change by evolution. And I hope people, particularly in Great Britain will not under-estimate the attitude of the white Rhodesian. I think he is willing to accept, in the present circumstances, change by evolution. But if there is any attempt to force an instant change, Rhodesians are, I'm afraid, not going to do what the Portuguese did in Mozambique. The white Rhodesians will fight and this ought to be avoided in my opinion.
WARD: In that light, do you see the Smith regime as a mistake for Rhodesia?
WELENSKY: Well, of course, in some ways I think it's an unfair question, Bill, to ask me, because I'm a critic of the Rhodesian Government - not of Rhodesia. It's my country, and I want to see it independent and I want to see it survive. I think the act of UDI in 1965 was a collosal error of judgement.
REPORTER: William L. Ward
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Sir Roy Welensky, Prime Minister of the former Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1952 to 1962, commented on the situation in central Africa on Wednesday (19 February), during a brief stay in London.
Now 68 years old, he is a recognised elder statesman whose views are respected throughout the continent. Recently he was President Kaunda's guest of honour at the State Opening of the Zambia Parliament.
Sir Roy spoke with characteristic candour when interviewed by Visnews Africa Editor William L. Ward.