The Consul at Salisbury ( Roberts ) to the Department of State
Subject: Local Attitudes and Reactions to ECA Aid Programs in Central Africa.
ECA aid to Central Africa has been limited to the following principal projects: £5,000,000 loan to the United Kingdom and Government of Southern Rhodesia from counterpart funds for purchase of additional rolling stock and equipment for the Rhodesia Railways; £3,000,000 loan to the Chibuluma Mines Ltd. to develop high grade copper-cobalt ore deposit near Kitwe; £500,000 grant to the Northern Rhodesia Government to improve the Great North Road from Broken Hill to Tunduma. Aid in smaller amounts has been granted for technical assistance programs in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland and to Rhodesian Copper Ventures Ltd. for exploratory work in the newly discovered Southern Rhodesia copper fields.
The communiqués announcing the three major projects were published in the two leading Southern Rhodesian newspapers, “The Rhodesia Herald” and “The Bulawayo Chronicle”, which reach the greater part of the European population in the three Central African territories, and also reach the greater part of the native population which has sufficient education and understanding to appreciate what ECA aid is. Publicity to these projects was also given in smaller newspapers and journals and over Radio Salisbury.
In general the announcement that these funds were being made available for development purposes was well received; however, there has been some criticism of the use of funds from the United States for development purposes. Despatch No. 271, May 23, 19511 enclosed an editorial from the Rhodesia Herald, May 22, 1951, which commented on the announcement that OEEC was preparing a ten-year development program for British, French, Belgian and Portuguese territories in Africa. It frankly states that with the lack of understanding of the situation in Africa by those living outside Africa and the strings that will more than likely be attached to any dollar loan, a country such as Southern Rhodesia might be compelled to think twice before accepting it.[Page 1231]
Sir Godfrey Huggins, Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, and the Hon. G. A. Davenport, Southern Rhodesia Minister for Mines and Transport, have both commented on the strings or conditions attached to American loans, especially for Railway development. Because of these strings a proposed ECA Railway survey in Southern Rhodesia and Portuguese East Africa was cancelled and the two Governments have employed an independent United States engineering firm to make the required survey.
There is enclosed2 an editorial published in the Rhodesia Herald of July 21, 1951 with respect to obtaining the necessary money to proceed with the Kariba Gorge hydro-electric project. The editorial quotes Mr. Whitehead, Minister of Finance, as saying: “It would be sad to see the financing of development in the Commonwealth pass across the Atlantic to any considerable degree.” The editorial also comments on the article which appeared in the English journal “Truth” which describes the EGA loan of £5,000,000 as the start of “taking over the Empire” because of provisions attached to the loan which it felt implied a detailed supervision of the Central African economy by ECA.
While this criticism is not generally held, there is a small school of thought which believes all money for development of Central Africa should come from British sources and that ECA loans or even the investment of private American capital in Central Africa is a means of American penetration into this part of the world, and eventually Central Africa will be lost as an integral part of the Empire.
There is another and more general school which believes that Central Africa must be developed, regardless of where the funds come from. They would prefer it if the funds did come from United Kingdom sources but if they are not forthcoming they welcome American capital, whether from Government or private sources.
There is also transmitted as enclosure No. 22 an editorial which appeared in the Rhodesia Herald on July 7, 1951 which demonstrates the point just made. It underlines the fact that American investment in Central Africa is not being supplied on a strictly charitable basis, but that the United States will benefit from such investments by obtaining increased raw materials which are in short supply in the United States.
In summary, press, radio and unofficial sources approve of ECA Aid for the development of Central Africa. As indicated above, Southern Rhodesia official opinion is somewhat reserved in its desire to have large-scale American investments in Central Africa. For reasons set out in this despatch it is not believed that a general publicity campaign with respect to ECA aims and projects would be of any value; in fact [Page 1232] it might have just the reverse effect and would possibly increase the number of people who look on American investments in this part of the world as being made for ulterior purposes.