HC Deb 04 May 1977 vol 931 cc428-30
3. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further initiative he proposes in association with other permanent members of the Security Council, with a view to ending the illegal occupation of Namibia by South Africa.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Dr. David Owen)

Following a démarche to the South African Government of 7th April the five Western members of the Security Council have begun discussions with the South Africans on how to achieve the aim of early and peaceful independence for Namibia on a basis that will meet with international acceptance.

Mr. Hooley

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that the policy of amiable conversation with Mr. Vorster, plus massive economic support for South Africa from the Western world, has brought no results in terms of the diminution of apartheid or the end of the illegal occupation of Namibia? Is it not high time now that Chapter 7 of the Charter was invoked and that the Western Powers made it clear that they were serious in this matter?

Dr. Owen

No, I do not think that it would be in our interests to invoke Chapter 7 determinations. They could lead to mandatory economic sanctions against South Africa, which, as I said before, would have not only economic consequences but adverse political consequences for this country, forcing the South African Government totally into a laager mentality and building up even more reactionary and racialist policies than they have at the moment. I think that this unprecedented démarche of the five Western Security Council Powers is one of the best ways of bringing the collective strength of the Western democracies to bear on South Africa, and I am hopeful that it will produce some results.

Mr. Thorpe

May we take it that the five permanent members of the Security Council are all agreed that Resolution 383 provides only the minimum basis on which an acceptable formulation of a solution could be found?

Dr. Owen

I think that the right hon. Gentleman means Resolution 385. It is on the basis of Resolution 385 that the démarche is in fact being conducted. We strongly believe that this offers the best prospect of achieving independence in Namibia.

Mr. Ford

What value does my right hon. Friend place upon the Turnhalle conference? Does he recognise that some of us would not feel it proper to recognise SWAPO as the sole and authoritative representatives of South-West Africa?

Dr. Owen

The whole question of the Turnhalle conference and, perhaps more important, the Turnhalle Government is obviously one of the factors that will have to be borne in mind in these discussions. Certainly, if we are aiming to get Resolution 385 implemented, this would require electoral machinery that would allow all the representatives of opinion in Namibia to express themselves.

Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler

What does the right hon. Gentleman make of the report in The Times yesterday, which suggested that if open elections are to be proposed for Namibia SWAPO would not agree to take part in them, for fear that it might lose?

Dr. Owen

It is not for me to comment on reports in The Times. I discussed this question with representatives of SWAPO in Lusaka and I did not find that they were afraid of elections. They wanted to make sure that the elections would be held in circumstances in which they could fully participate and have an effective democratic voice, which is far from being the case at the moment.

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