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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32. No. 25. October 9, 1969

Blacks kept at arm's length

page 3

Blacks kept at arm's length

The electoral system in Rhodesia was designed to keep Africans at arms' length from Parliament, said Miss Judith Todd, daughter of a former Prime Minister of Rhodesia, who spoke at Victoria as part of a country-wide lecture tour.

"There are two ways to rig the ballot box," she said.

"You can rig it from the voting box end or at the other end by fiddling with the constitution."

Miss Todd referred to the new constitution as an "ingenious document".

She said there were 16 Africans in the 66 member Parliament.

Under the new constitution the degree of representation would be equivalent to the total sum paid in income tax.

"The African will gain equal representation in about 300 to 400 years time." she said.

"Because the overwhelming number live at a subsistence level.

"They handle little actual money let alone pay income tax.

"The new constitution has held back equal representation for all time because of the poverty of the rural African."

In reply to a question on the possibility of the overthrow of the Smith regime, Miss Todd said five per cent of the population could not hold down the rest of the country with laws for a long time.

"There is absolutely no choice for the Africans to pick up the same sort of weapons which are being used against them," she said.

After a further question as to the number of, and the justification for the guerilla forces in Rhodesia, Miss Todd said the guerillas weren't "motherless and fatherless vermin who have crawled out of the ground."

"They have come to the conclusion that the only way is through force," she said.

"I find it difficult to withhold my sympathy and support for people oppressed for so long, to use the only avenue left open to them."

Asked whether sanctions against Rhodesia hurt the African rather than the whites, she said that it was because of this that the employment rate was lower now than it had been for ten years.

"It is a very dangerous situation for Mr Smith," she said.

Asked what effect the All Black tour of South Africa would have on apartheid. Miss Todd said she was "sure the All Blacks would be used by the Government."

"It would indicate to the world that New Zealand's attitude to South Africa and Rhodesia was "basically friendly."

Photo: J. Miller.

Miss Judith Todd speaking at the Memorial Theatre on Monday.