HC Deb 28 June 1978 vol 952 cc1365-7
1. Mr. Tim Renton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has any plans to visit Zambia.

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

I have at present no plans to do SO.

Mr. Renton

Does the Foreign Secretary consider that the Zambian copper fields are as vulnerable to attack by Angolan rebels as are those in nearby Zaire? Does not that possibility underline the essential vulnerability of raw material supplies from Southern Africa to Western Europe? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear that in mind in the Anglo-American talks, since the United States is far less dependent on external sources of raw materials than we are?

Dr. Owen

The hon. Gentleman is right to point out that Southern Africa is a very important source of many crucial raw materials. He is also right to point out the vulnerability of the copperbelt in Zambia, particularly as a result of what has happened in Zaire. It is common knowledge that forces crossed through Zambian territory into Zaire. The Zambian Government had no knowl- edge of this and they have deplored it, but in that remote part of the country they were unable to stop it. There is a danger of law and order breaking down in Zaire, Zambia and that part of Angola, and that is why it is important that the politcal heads of those countries should come together.

Mr. Thorne

What action has the Foreign Secretary taken over the massacre on 4th May by South African troops of 600 Namibians, many of whom were teenagers who were subsequently buried in mass graves in Cassinga?

Dr. Owen

There is no doubt that that raid has made it very much harder to seek agreement for a transition to independence for Namibia, but we have pursued our objective in the five-Power initiative. There is another Question about Namibia on the Order Paper.

Mr. Luce

Since the future prosperity of Zambia depends upon a peaceful solution in Rhodesia, may I widen the question a little? While it is essential that the Patriotic Front should renounce the use of force and participate peacefully in the affairs of Rhodesia, and it is essential that rapid progress should be made by the internal leaders towards the implementation of the principle of majority rule by, for example, dropping race discrimination laws, does not the Foreign Secretary acknowledge that the passive approach that has been adopted by the Britsih Government towards the Rhodesia problem in the last few months has, however unintentionally, helped to jeopardise—

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the hon. Gentleman will link his question to Zambia, I shall be very grateful.

Mr. Luce

I believe that the future prosperity of Zambia depends upon a peaceful settlement in Rhodesia. Will the Secretary of State give active encouragement to a peaceful solution in Rhodesia by, for example, giving practical assistance in the preparations for the elections in Rhodesia?

Dr. Owen

There are some critics of our policy among the Opposition, but I do not think that their main criticism is that we are passive. The question of Zambia is the central issue here. That is a crucial country in regard to achieving peace in Rhodesia, and it is important that we should listen to the views of people such as President Kaunda, who, over the years, has shown a great willingness to take personal risks to try to achieve a negotiated settlement and, I believe, still intends to do so. Zambia has a role to play and it is important that we should recognise that.