54. Memorandum From the Officer in Charge of Southern Africa Affairs (Dumont) to Terence Todman of the Office of Dependent Area Affairs2


  • Mr. Mason Sears’ Comments Regarding Status of Principal United States Foreign Service Representative in the Central African Federation

I want to thank you very much for passing on to me Mason Sears’ comment to you by telephone regarding his views on elevating our post at Salisbury to Career Minister status. I think there is merit to Mason’s criticism that some Africans, particularly those in Nyasaland, might consider this action by the United States as constituting in some way an endorsement of the Federal Party’s present policy on race relations in the Federation. Let me explain herewith just what action the Department did take in this matter and why this action was taken.

Not very long ago we raised our post at Salisbury to that of Career Minister status for the sole purpose of permitting the United States consular representative there to have equal prestige status with that of any other foreign government represented at Salisbury.3 In short, we thought it improper that France, India, or any other country should outrank the representative of the United States. As you probably know, a number of foreign consular representatives at Salisbury had Career Minister status or the equivalent; this situation represented a distinct disadvantage to the United States because it [Page 211] meant that the United States representative, by lacking equal status with other foreign governments, would thereby not be able to have the same access to and thus exercise the same influence with high Federation officials as some of his colleagues.

It so happens that the present incumbent of our post at Salisbury is an FSO–1. He is not a Career Minister but it is quite possible that a Selection Board may recommend that he be promoted to such class.4

Now I would like to venture that there is another side to the coin that Mason has seen and I hope Mason will agree that it looks more lustrous than the side which has to date appeared to him: If the United States Government’s representative at Salisbury is going to be in a position where he may, through personal contacts with high Federation officials, be able to bring to bear friendly and wise counsel and make suggestions regarding the future of the Federation, he cannot effectively do so if he is to play second fiddle, diplomatically speaking, to the representatives of other foreign countries stationed at Salisbury. I am satisfied, on the contrary, that with the Principal Officer position now being of Career Minister status, our Consul General in Salisbury may be able to exercise a more positive and constructive influence on such people as Lord Malvern, Sir Roy Welensky and Garfield Todd than he has been able to do in the past. This is by no means to depreciate what Consul General Steere has already accomplished thus far. You will be interested to learn that upon two occasions within the last year Mr. Steere delivered public addresses in which he, in effect, criticized the apparent lethargy characterizing the manner in which the Federal Government was implementing its policy of multi-racial partnership. Strictly speaking, Mr. Steere was somewhat out of order in venturing to speak publicly on a burning political issue in the Federation and Lord Malvern’s Government could, from a legal point of view, quite properly have protested Mr. Steere’s conduct as being outside the province of his proper consular functions. The Department did not take a strict and narrow position on Mr. Steere’s conduct because it felt that a pretty liberal interpretation of the Foreign Service Regulations in this case was justified and that it had not been inappropriate for the United States representative at Salisbury to speak out rather clearly to remind the Federation Government that it had a lot to do [Page 212] yet before Africans would begin to be impressed by its high sounding statements on racial partnership.

If you think a copy of this memo would be of interest to Mason, why don’t you send one along to him? I enclosed a copy for this purpose if you so desire.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 122.824/9–756. Limited Official Use. Regarding Sears’ trip to the Federation, see Document 10.
  2. Steere told Lord Malvern May 17 of the action the United States had taken to raise the status of the post. The Prime Minister replied that he had considered it anomalous that the United Kingdom and South Africa should be represented in the Federation by High Commissioners and the United States by a Consul General. (Despatch 351 from Salisbury, May 19; ibid., 745C.13/5–1956)
  3. Steere was notified on October 2 that he had been given Career Minister status for the duration of his assignment to Salisbury. On February 4, 1957, the Federation made public its intent to appoint Sir Edgar Whitehead Minister to the United States and head of a Federal Government Mission attached to the British Embassy. Whitehead, a former Minister of Finance in Southern Rhodesia who resigned because of health reasons in 1953, became the Prime Minister in 1958.