HC Deb 03 June 1992 vol 208 cc815-6
6. Mr. Hain

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the prospect for a democratic settlement in South Africa.

Mr. Hurd

In spite of the lack of final agreement at the CODESA 2 conference, some real progress has been made in the negotiations. We welcome the commitment by all parties to continue those negotiations and will continue to give full support to the process of reform. We are deeply concerned about the amount of violence. We urge all political leaders to support the peace structures which are now in place.

Mr. Hain

Does the Foreign Secretary agree that the South African Government's dogmatic insistence on a 25 per cent. blocking veto for whites is totally undemocratic and that it calls into question President de Klerk's sincerity, especially since his security services are involved in political killings which are running at 12 a day? Surely the South African Government would be best advised to pursue the majority rule course which successfully accomplished the transition in Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Mr. Hurd

One would not guess from what the hon. Gentleman said how narrow the point of difference is. On the majority necessary for regional devolution in the constitution-making body, the ANC proposes the decisions being taken by 70 per cent. and the South African Government by 75 per cent. That is an important, but relatively narrow, point of difference. I very much hope that it can be bridged, but I do not think that it will be if we, or anyone from outside, start to lay down the law about it.

Sir George Gardiner

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the cause of democracy in South Africa is ill-served by those in this House who champion the negotiating position of one of the parties to the negotiations—the ANC—to the total exclusion of other, equally legitimate interests? Is it not by far the wiser course for us to leave the South Africans to settle it among themselves?

Mr. Hurd

The constitutional negotiations must be concluded between themselves. The line that we have taken on the matter under two Prime Ministers has been vindicated by events. As a result we have an ability to help, which is accepted on both sides, and we are giving help, for example, by encouraging those involved in the peacekeeping process to take advantage of policing experience in this country.

Sir David Steel

While the Government have a commendable desire to give every possible assistance, including economic assistance, to South Africa during the transition to democracy, is the Foreign Secretary aware that there is some anxiety among South Africa's neighbours in the South Africa Development Coordination Conference—all of which are poorer countries —that their needs might be forgotten. Can he lay those anxieties to rest?

Mr. Hurd

There is something in what the right hon. Member says. We are especially concerned because of the present drought, which is savagely affecting countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia. The right hon. Gentleman may know—if not, we can tell him—of the extent of the help that we are giving, and encouraging others to give, in those circumstances.

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