American Policy in Southern Africa || Lesotho and Botswana: Challenge to American Policy

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  • Lesotho and Botswana: Challenge to American PolicyAuthor(s): Richard P. StevensSource: Africa Today, Vol. 14, No. 5, American Policy in Southern Africa (Oct., 1967), p. 4Published by: Indiana University PressStable URL: .Accessed: 16/06/2014 03:57

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  • Lesotho and Botswana:

    Challenge to American Policy A few months before the accession to inde-

    pendence of Botswana (September 30, 1966) and Lesotho (October 4, 1966), South Africa's prime minister, Dr. H. F. Verwoerd, scathingly de- nounced an "Anglo-American attempt to gain in- fluence in the High Commission Territories" by excluding and undermining friendship with South Africa "through the officials they appointed there." Both Britain and the United States, he charged, "were creating spheres of influence despite the fact that the prosperity of these coun- tries depended upon their maintaining close re- lations with South Africa." About the same time, the Deputy Minister of Bantu Administration and Development, Mr. M. C. Botha, was discussing in the Assembly a possible "land deal" with South Africa's soon-to-become independent neighbors on condition of the Republic "being able to play a part in guiding their future economic and politi- cal development."

    These blunt admissions of South African in- terest seemed to auger ill for the new states. As the Cape Argus observed, if such dictation "is to apply to countries which South Africa has never administered, it will apply even more to the fu- ture Bantustans ... The danger lies in saying that countries are independent and acting as if they are not." Considering, however, that the High Commission Territories had figured in the 1956 Tomlinson Commission Report as essential to the implementation of the Bantustan proposal, South African interest in the future of the Territories could be assumed. Whether this interest would result in overt forms of intervention despite of- ficial South African acceptance of their independ- ence had not been clearly demonstrated before Dr. Verwoerd's assassination.

    With the passing of power to Dr. B. J. Vor- ster, the Nationalist government gave the ap- pearances at least of undertaking some unexpect- ed initiatives with several African states. Very proper receptions for delegations from Lesotho and Malawi as well as permission for a multi- racial team to represent the country in the 1968 Olympics suggested to some that South Africa was not impervious to change. The independence of Lesotho and Botswana, said Allister Sparks of the Rand Daily Mail, meant the beginning of of some adjustments in thinking and attitudes- a catalyst, "helping little by little to provide the opportunities for contact and a gradual growth of understanding." The South African government has itself undertaken to push the idea that a freshness has been introduced in her froeign rela- tions.

    The burden of proof that a meaningful change has occurred yet remains for South Af- rica to shoulder. That it is more than semantics is the fervent hope of South Africa's neighbors.

    But something more than South African declara- tions of friendly interchange and offers of eco- nomic support are required if Lesotho and Bot- swana are to enjoy meaningful independence. The continuation of near complete economic de- pendence on South Africa will hardly provide the basis for diluting that country's racialism. Thus the urgency of expanded sources of aid.

    Despite Dr. Verwoerd's sounding of the alarm with respect to American "designs"- which possibly had the merit of indicating a genuineness in the threat which the real inde- pendence of her neighbors would pose to South A f r i c a n institutions-American involvement scarcely merited such flattering criticism. An annual grant of $100,000 since 1963 to the inter- territorial university in Lesotho, the establish- ment of an information and consular office in Lesotho, emergency food feeding in Botswana, and Peace Corps contingents for both countries constituted the bulk of American aid. Although in terms of populations involved and against the general background of minimal African aid, the American programs might appear reasonable, aid to Lesotho and Botswana must be judged in torms of the total situation in southern Africa. Over many years the United States government has expressed its abhorence for South Africa's racialism. Always, however, demands for positive action against South Africa have been warded off on the grounds that intervention in the do- mestic affairs of a sovereign state was incon- sistent with American policy. Meanwhile, the ordinary non-white South African has seen only an intensification of racial policies as they affect his personal existence.

    If indeed any policy other than violence has yet a chance to bring about peaceful change in South Africa, then there is an opportunity on the Republic's borders. Prosperous and self- respecting non-racial democratic neighbors may offer unexpected hope. But non-racialism cannot, as President Seretse Khama has indicated, "sur- vive on the strength of a moral sense of superior- ity"; it must also require an economically prosperous people. Very substantial sums of money in the form of limited free grants and soft loans are required. The regional approach to economic assistance outlined in the Korry Re- port has no relevance in the southern African context. A policy of inaction can only reveal the superficiality of American protestations. On the other hand, a meaningful assistance program to Lesotho and Botswana can lessen the possibil- ity of racial conflict in southern Africa, the tremors of which would of necessity spread far beyond that region.

    'Richard P. Stevens


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    Article Contentsp. 4

    Issue Table of ContentsAfrica Today, Vol. 14, No. 5, American Policy in Southern Africa (Oct., 1967), pp. 1-36Front Matter [pp. 32-32]Washington Memo [pp. 24-26]CommentariesSouthern Africa and American Priorities [pp. 1-2]The East African Community [pp. 2-3]Lesotho and Botswana: Challenge to American Policy [p. 4]

    Southern Africa and United States Policy: A Consideration of Alternatives [pp. 5-13]United States Policy toward the Rhodesia Rebellion [pp. 14-17]South Africa and the Future: Illusion and Necessity [pp. 18-22]Rethinking the Rail Link [pp. 22-24]LiteraryNigerian Novels of 1966 [pp. 27-31]

    Action Notes [p. 33]Book ReviewsReview: untitled [p. 34]Review: untitled [p. 34]Review: untitled [pp. 34-35]Review: untitled [p. 35]

    Letter to the EditorThe Biafra Secession [pp. 35-36]


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