The first major U.S. government-sponsored study on Rhodesia and Namibia calls for a radical departure in present American aid thinking and urges the Carter administration to initiate training programs to prepare the African nationalists to govern these presently white-ruled countries.

The nine-month study on Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), and Namibia (Southwest Africa) carried out by the Washington-based African-American Scholars Council for the U.S. Agency for International Development says that for neither "does it appear that a traditional external assistance approach would be appropriate," primarily because of their vast mineral resources and special immediate post-independence problems.

Instead, the council concludes that general American policies as they affect international trade, investment and in particular the operations of the multinational corporations in southern Africa will be far more important in helping a newly independent Zimbabwe and Namibia.

"Perhaps one of the most important things the United States might do would be to push its nationals who will be operating in [independent] Zimbabwe and Namibia to the maximum extent toward furtherance of human rights," the council states in the introduction to its 338-page report.

"The most tangible expression that recognition of the importance of human rights might take would be in matters of jobs, wages and the elimination of job classification inequities based on race. United States firms benefiting from investment guaranty programs could have their performance evaluated in biannual reviews."

The report, formally submitted to AID's office of East and Southern African Affairs March 15, appears to provide the basis for a new American plan of economic assistance to Zimbabwe and Namibia, in effect replacing the $2 billion international trust fund proposed by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger to help Rhodesia make the transition to majority rule.

Zimbabwe, the African nationalists' name for Rhodesia, is a former British colony that has been ruled by a white minority government under Prime Minister Ian Smith since it illegally broke away from Britain in 1965. Namibia is a former German possession that has been administered by South Africa as a de facto province since World War I.

In both countries, African nationalists are waging a guerrilla war to oust the white minority regimes.

The African-American Scholars Council's report on southern Africa is coming out just as the Carter administration is hinting at a greater American role in helping Britain to reconvene the Geneva conference on Rhodesia in a renewed search for a peaceful settlement to that dispute.

The council argues that the main thrust of any U.S. assistance program in Zimbabwe and Namibia should be to train administrators. In addition, it forsees the possible need for short-term emergency financing where the United States might contribute.

The study was carried out under Samuel C. Adams Jr., former AID director for Africa, and the investigating team included Goler T. Butcher, a Washington lawyer who is reportedly being considered for that post.

The $340,000 study was contracted out to the African-American Scholars Council last August and the final report was initially scheduled to be ready Jan. 15 for immediate consideration by the new Carter administration. The council, founded in 1971, describes itself as a nonprofit educational group "devoted primarily to further research and programs which promote the economic, social and resource development of the African continent."

Its chairman is Elliott Skinner, chairman of the anthropology department at Columbia University, and its board of directors includes a number of well-known black American scholars. But the southern African study also involved a number of white scholars, such as Robert I. Rotberg of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Elliot C. Berg of the University of Michigan.

Last September, the AID-sponsored council study came under sharp attack from the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), one of the nationalist factions in Rhodesia. It charged that the study was an American blueprint "for eliminating the revolutionary forces in Zimbabwe and Namibia" and was intended as the basis for a "recolonization scheme."

Apparently sensitive to these charges, the council has avoided any discussion of which faction within the Zimbabwe nationalist movement may eventually come to power and simply starts with the assumption that the two countries will have achieved majority rule when the bulk of American and other international assistance is needed.

The study claims to make no assumptions about the future economic policies of the two countries -- whether the nationalist leaders will opt for socialism or capitalism. In fact, the study seem to regard a sweeping land reform involving mass resettlement of Africans as a near certainty and hints strongly at a government takeover of white-owned mining interests in Namibia.

Curiously, however, in the case of Zimbabwe, the study seems to assume the contrary, namely, "the new government's willingness to accept foreign investment." It also notes that in such circumstances the inflow of new capital "should be considerable."

For both countries, the report lists a wide variety of possible U.S. government aid projects once the countries become independent and even in the transition period to black majority rule. Many of them seem "traditional" despite the call for a new aid approach.

Washington, it says might play "an instrumental role in facilitating the financial underpinning of an African government during the immediate period following independence if a crisis resulted in lack of working capital or foreign exchange."

This is what Washington has already done in the case of Mozambique.

The report's proposals for aiding the nationalists in Nambia places even more emphasis on the need to help them develop administrators because of the territory's more underdeveloped status. It also lists various areas --health, mining and land reform --where the U.S. government might provide assistance after the advent of black majority rule.