The Rhodesia Herald,
November 24, 1965
THE Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr George Rudland, said yesterday that it was too early to talk about a common market for Southern Africa.
He had been asked to comment on the effect of Rhodesia’s independence on such a development.
Mr Rudland said: “The answer is that it is too early to talk about a common market, but owing to the geographical proximity of the countries concerned, future increases of trade between them are very probable.”
Rhodesia’s Accredited Diplomatic Representative in Pretoria, Mr John Gaunt, said in an interview yesterday that it was his personal opinion that some kind of common market would develop in time between the two countries. But he would not comment on suggestions that a defence pact might be negotiated or on speculation that a direct rail link to Beitbridge would be built.
Mr Gaunt said he thought South Africa was bound to become the main source of capital goods for Rhodesia.
“After all, there is going to be a considerable vacuum through the imposition of sanctions,” he said.
“Who is going to fill that vacuum? There are other countries we are pretty certain will try to help fill it, but South Africa is the natural one.”
Mr Gaunt said the people of South Africa had made it clear that they were 100 percent with Rhodesia and would help in any way possible.
He would remain the Accredited Diplomatic Representative as Dr Verwoerd had made it plain it would be business as usual between South Africa and Rhodesia.
Someday there would be a Rhodesian Ambassador, but this was only a question of time and this could wait until the difficulties had been sorted out.
Mr Gaunt was asked if the ties between the two countries might not become much closer – possibly some form of federation.
He replied: “I have not heard talk about that in responsible circles at all. I have heard odd persons say perhaps we should have a federation but there is no real feeling about it and quite frankly I do not believe either side wants it, for different reasons, possibly.”
Mr Gaunt returns to South Africa today.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is now a reality and is currently the largest regional economic organisation in Africa, with 19 member states and a population of about 390 million.
COMESA has a free trade area, with 19 member states, and launched a customs union in 2009.
Trade between Zimbabwe and South Africa has remained very strong. South Africa remains one of the country’s biggest trading partners; with the country importing 40 percent of its total imports and exporting 75 percent of its total exports to South Africa.
Beitbridge Border post that the country shares with South Africa, is the busiest land port in the region handling millions of people and cargo.
The Beitbridge-Bulawayo Railway also constructed a railway line linking the two countries via the border post, and it shortened the distance between Bulawayo and South Africa to 317 kilometres. The line is being used primarily for freight transportation.