Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda warned the West today that the racial situation in southern Africa is steadily getting worse and that the next six months will be "very crucial" in determining whether "total war" will break out over Rhodesia.
Speaking to a group of visiting Western European Socialists, the Zambian leader said that until the West makes a "deliberate and conscious decision to do away with racism in southern Africa, we cannot expect that there will be a change in this part of the world."
Kaunda said that because Africa does not produce its own arms and the West refuses to provide them to the nationalist movement sin southern Africa, African nations have been obliged to turn to the Communist countries for assistance. "This directly involves us in your East-West confrontation," he added.
But he indicated that all this could "be avoided if the Western nations took a firm stand against the racist governments of this region and began by imposing an oil boycott to force the downfall of the white-minority Rhodesian regime and its prime minister Ian Smith.
At a lunch yesterday for the visiting Nigerian chief of state, Lt. Gen. Olysegun Obasanjo, Kaunda spelled out his attitude toward the latest Anglo-American proposals for a peaceful settlement of the Rhodesia dispute. He took sharp issue with what he called its main underlying premise that Smith would agree to surrender power peacefully to Britain, the former colonial ruler there.
Calling this a "glaringly false principle," the Zambian leader called the Anglo-American plan a "non-starter . . . Twelve long years are enough for anyone even with the dimmest understanding of that madman to know that he will not surrender."
He said the British and American governments had made no provisions for what to do if Smith does not surrender.
Kaunda called on the Western nations to fix a precise timetable for Smith to comply with the plan. If he refuses, they sould "seal off the oil lines and immobilize both his military and civil machinery and freeze the blood of his rebellion," he said.
Noting that neither Rhodesia nor South Africa, its main foreign backer, has any oil resources, Kaunda said that the West should also make it clear that any country, including South Africa, would be subject to a Western oil boycott if it aided the white-minority government in Rhodesia.
The Zambian president did not criticize the seven main points of the latest Anglo-American proposals for a Rhodesian settlement. In fact, he asserted that six of them had been approved by African leaders beforehand, with the only exception being the proposal for a Zimbabwe Development Fund to spur Rhodesia's economic development under a black-majority rule. Zimbabwe is the African nationalist name for Rhodesia.
Kaunda also warned the British and Americans that SMith would now seek to entangle them in a "futile conversation" so that he could buy time for the implementation of his proposed "internal settlement" with moderate black nationalist leaders inside Rhodesia. Kaunda said that this could only lead to civil war among rival black factions seeking to replace the white-minority government.
(Spokesmen for the two biggest black nationalist organizations based in Rhodesia - Bishop Abel Murzorewa's United African National Council and the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole's African National Council - rejected Smith's plans for an internal settlement Tuesday but reacted favorably to the Anglo-American proposals, Reuter reported from Salisbury.)
Kaunda called on Nigeria and other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to help force a settlement in Rhodesia by imposing a boycott on oil companies sending supples to Rhodesia.
The Zambian media quoted Obasanjo as commenting on the Anglo-American proposals in these terms:
"I have no reason at this stage to question the cornerstone of the peace move, but I am aware of the fact that great difficulties lie in the way of successful implementation" of the plan.
Nigeria, which is taking an increasingly active role in efforts to solve the Rhodesian problem, would provide some of the troops for a U.N. peace keeping force proposed by the Anglo-American plan. The The U.N. force would be used to help stabilize the situation during an interim period leading to the formation of an elected black-majority government.
Obasanjo was also quoted as warning the white Rhodesian government that Nigeria would "not fold out hands and watch reckless violations of territorial integrity by attacks on independent African countries."
This appeared to be a signal that Nigeria is ready and willing to help Zambia defend itself against attacks by the white Rhodesian army. Ten days ago, Kaunda announced that Zambia was expecting the first air raids against its positions along the Rhodesian-Zambian border.