President Kenneth Kunda of Zambia emphasised on Wednesday (18 December) that his role in Southern Africa is to bring the warring factions of Rhodesia together around a peacemaking table and not to dictate any constitutional changes.
MV Kaunda enters room, walks to table
SV Journalists seated
MV Kaunda speaking to press
MV Journalists listening (3 shots)
MV Kaunda speaking
MV Journalists (3 shots)
MV PAN Journalists TO Kaunda speaking
Initials ET/1918 ET/1938
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: President Kenneth Kunda of Zambia emphasised on Wednesday (18 December) that his role in Southern Africa is to bring the warring factions of Rhodesia together around a peacemaking table and not to dictate any constitutional changes.
Dr. Kaunda was responding to a British press report that Zambia is trying to find a quick solution to the Rhodesia question because of its own economic problems.
"As far as I know", the Zambian leader told a press conference in Lusaka, "the discussions of constitutional changes are for Rhodesians themselves, both black and white."
Dr. Kaunda told the conference that his government has not even raised for discussion at the cabinet level the issue of reopening Zambia's border with Rhodesia, Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith closed the border last January because he claimed the Zambians had failed to observe warnings from his government about what Mr. Smith called tacit support for nationalist guerrillas.
The Zambian president said his country was doing all it could to find a solution to Rhodesia's constitutional problem based on the principles of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations.
At another press conference a day earlier, (17 December), Dr. Kaunda had warned white and African Rhodesian leaders not to conduct their business through the press because, he said, they might make statements they would live to regret. He was referring to recent press statements by Prime Minister Smith and Rhodesian natiobalists regarding their differences on whether Rhodesia should be given black majority rule under one man-vote or maintain the status quo under a franchise that would increase black representation in Parliament.
Both press conferences took place at the close of a National Council meeting in Lusaka of the United National Independence Party (UNIP).