The Cabinet Secretaries' Notebooks (CAB 195/7)

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Bechuanaland: Chieftainship of Bamangwato Tribe

Bechuanaland: Chieftainship of Bamangwato Tribe

P.M. 

V. diff. to accept conclusion on arguments adduced.  Seems mainly directed to appeasing opinion in Union & S. Rhodesia.

N.B. 

Carefully considered. V. disagreeable. And recommend disagreeable concln.
Cab.'s provisional view of July - as quoted in memo.
Enquiry - conclns, as in memo. But their reasons are v. diff. to accept.
                 i) prohib. immigrant. Can't accept that.  H.Q. in Mafeking - wd. produce a row. We shd. have to get round that one.
                ii) hostility of Union & S. Rhodesia. Cdn't accept. 
     a) The real case is tht. (p. 12) Tribe has never shown it wants  Seretse & wife. They welcomed him only to get rid of Tsekedi. He wd. have to go anyhow.
     b)  A white wife wd. disrupt the tribe. Internal discussion: & trouble from neighbouring Tribes.
     c)  Seretse wdn't make a wise chief.  Hasty & irresponsible over marriage - adviser - drink.
     d)  A v. unhappy future for him & his wife, if he went on.
Much African opinion v. him.
C.O. say we mustn't put W. African opposn too high.
Tho' Comm. will exploit our action.
     e)  Transfer of H. Commn territies. That is taken as test of faith on our part by Tribes. W'in Union more opposn than usual to this. Malan has much opposn. But our recognition of Seretse wd. throw much opinion over to his side.
Have recommended tht. Seretse & wife shd. come to U.K:  That Tsekedi shdn't return:  tht. we shd. administer directly for a time & introduce constitutional reform in Tribe.
Draft W. Paper - to make real case, instead of Enquiry arguments.
Subject to amendmt to meet C.O. view.

C.J. 

Support N.B.'s concln.
Not because S. African views.  But because in best interests of Tribe.
Tribe wd. be divided if Seretse confirmed.
African opinion divided:  but substantial weight of opinion v. Seretse.
Means a period of direct rule.  V. diff. to handle.

P.M. 

On what basis? What reasons? Mixed marriage?

C.J. 

Hampered by most unfortunate report.
Basic reason = long-term interests of Tribe.

N.B. 

My reasons are extracted from Rpt.  Facts are there.  But their arguments are wrong.

P.M. 

Legal points?

S.G. 

Enquiry is advisory.  Decision is for High Commr.  He can decide on grds. other than those recommended by Enquiry.

J. 

Deplorable Rpt.  Their reasons are excuses - bogus.
If a White Paper, let us throw over those reasons more a/ definitely & base decn on interests of Tribe.
Can't you get Seretse over for discns before decision?  May he not w'draw, after hearing our views?  Then it wd. be much easier all round.

N.B. 

Wd like to do that.  Want to bring him home.  He expects adverse decision.
Don't intend to publish W. Paper until he has come home.
As regards a/ I propose some re-drafting.  But it's called a Judicial Enquiry.  cf. Pakenham row.  I wd. like to suppress Rpt. altogether, if I could.

H.W.

What is our final reason?  P.8. says tht. apart fr. marriage he is fit.
Do we think him unfit, apart fr. marriage?
Will then not be dissension in Tribe if we press him to w'draw.

Baring. 

Danger of disruptn whatever we do.  But danger greater if S. is recognised.  We disagree with rpt. on that.  They are too tepid.

A.B. 

Yet, on p. 13. top para., re-call of Kwatla wd. produce the same result.
This Enquiry has found all in order - on only "judicial" matter wh. they were competent to deal with.  On the other considns, we really disagree with them in toto.
Cdn't we talk to Seretse.  Then, after delay, re-call Kwatla who might take diff. view now Tsekedi is out of way.

N.B. 

Thro'out Rpt. they say decn wd. have bn. diff. but for Tsekedi.
If Kwatla re-called - no-one cd. say what they wd. now decide.
V. unsatisf. body.

A.B. 

But constitutionally it has the power & right to decide.

N.B. 

But 100.000 in territory:  only 18.000 repd in Kwatla.

P.M. 

But we shd. have accepted it if it's decision had bn. acceptable to us.

A.B. 

Want to press suggn of refce back to Kwatla.  Cd. you not broaden it's basis?
Then, if they do select him, gt. trouble in unseatg. him.

J. 

P'pone decision on this until we've seen Seretse.

A.V.A. 

What are we to say to him.  Advice him to w'draw?
It will come out.

H.M.

            i)  We can't accept reasoning of Rpt.
           ii)  On merits - what are we to do? If a black chief (heir apparent) marries a white woman, it's asking for trouble. Colour bar in reverse. Bound to cause controversy in Tribe.  From Br. pt. view, how wd. public opinion re-act to Pr. Margaret or Eliz. marrying coloured person.
On substance, surely N.B. and C.J. are right.
Ques. is - how deal with this Rpt.
If  S. can be persuaded to w'draw - prs. Rpt. mayn't have to be published.  If it has, we must dissociate ourselves fr. arguments.
Have we got to publish?

S.G. 

Not in law.

C.E. 

There will be demand for publicn - even if S. is prevailed upon to w'draw.

A.B. 

If this will create dissension in Tribe, why not allow that to happen as illustn of unwisdom of mixed marriages.  Only 100.000 people.
And prs. it may work.

C.J. 

Risks are far too great.  Surrounding prejudices of S. Africa & S. Rhodesia.  Can't expose Tribe to those risks.

P.M. 

Not a lab. condn because of that contiguity.

T.W. 

And fact tht. he is a Chief makes a v. big difference.

N.B. 

Cab. was right in July in saying we shdn't base decision on mixed marriage ques.

P.M. 

Practical step is to get Seretse & wife home.

A. 

Agree with that.
But we must keep in mind tradns of Tribes.  Whatever our views on mixed marriage, we must be guided by their views.
Don't rush into publishg. Rpt.
Baring. Chances are tht. S. wd. w'draw.
But what do we do, if he persists.

H.M. 

Authorise N.B. to say in that event High Commr. won't confirm.

P.M. 

No: that wd. be under pressure. Prefer to get him to go in genl. interests of all.

T.W. 

Can confront him with conclns of Rpt.  W'out bullying him out.

A.V.A. 

He is educated man:  he will prob. demand publn of Rpt.

A.B. 

At present Cab. can't agree to more than have him over & put it to him tht. it's in interests of all tht. he shd. w'draw.  No commitmt to anythg. beyond that.
Baring. Allowance & help to get a job.  On understandg. tht. he doesn't return.
Agreed.

N.B. 

If he says no:  we detain him pending another Cabinet.

McN. 

Try to keep his wife from Press.

N.B. 

W'draw copies of Cab. memo.  To avoid Press stunt.

N.B. 

Organisations supportg. nature rights (liberal opinion) will support a decn tht. he shdn't become Chief.

J. 

Bring him by boat - to carry beyond Election.
McN. Anyway, don't hurry this.

N.B. 

Reasons in memo.

P.M. 

Malan won't make his request until after Electn.

C.J. 

Points in Rpt.
 a)  Seat of adminn in Mafeking.  Shd. be brought into terries quick.
 b)  Shd. be proper Council.

N.B. 

Agree on both points.  Whatever the cost of a). b) will be slow.

Taken from C.M. 3(50) - Meeting held on 31 January 1950.