FROM A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
CHURCH leaders in Rhodesia were told on. Monday by Mr. Ian Smith that they would not after all have to register as "voluntary associations" in terms of the controversial Land Tenure Act, which divides the country in white and black areas.
Although Mr. Smith -has conceded one of the Churches' major demands. it is not yet certain whether the crisis between Church and State has been resolved.
The Churches have given notice that they would not only refuse to register under the Act but would refuse to accept racial discrimination in their affairs. A statement detailing the concessions by the Government was expected later this week.
A delegation of Church leaders who met Mr. Smith on Monday said there had been "friendly and constructive discussions."
The deadline for the Churches' registration in terms of the Act had been set for next Wednesday. After this they risked prosecution if a majority of their members of one race occupied an area designated for another.
A statement by the Church delegation issued after Monday's meeting said that they "drew attention" to the closeness of the registration deadline and went on: "Mr. Smith indicated that this aspect would also he covered in his statement."
Apart from the demand for registration, the Land Tenure Act requires Churches to seek permission before they can, for example, allow black pupils to attend a private school in a white area.
If Mr. Smith does exempt the Churches from registration as "voluntary associations" this might not affect the legal requirement calling on them to apply individually before admitting pupils, hospital patients or other people of one race into Church institutions situated in "alien" areas.
Welfare Council appointment
DAVID HOBMAN, chairman of the Commission for Social Welfare of the Bishops' Conference, has been appointed the first Director of the National Old People's Welfare Council. He takes up his appointment in December.
Mr. Hobman has been chairman of the Commission for Social Welfare since its formation in May 1968. He is a United Nations consultant, has been responsible for various B.B.C. programmes on social work and is the author of "A Guide to Voluntary Service" published by the Stationery Office.
The National Old People's Welfare Council has in the past been a department of the National Council for Social Service, but is now an independent body.