HC Deb 12 May 1993 vol 224 cc793-4
7. Miss Lestor

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with representatives of the South African Government following the murder of Chris Hani; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

We have made every effort to help minimise the effect of the tragic assassination of Chris Hani on the negotiating process in South Africa, including the provision of a senior police officer to help with the investigation.

Miss Lestor

Following the distinguished and dignified address given by Mr. Nelson Mandela during his recent visit to this country, as well as the death of Chris Hani and the revelation of the alleged plots against other people involved in the constitutional process, will the Minister press on Mr. de Klerk and all others the urgent need to secure an early settlement in the constitutional discussions so that the next stage may be reached? Will the Government also make it perfectly clear to Chief Buthelezi that they will provide no support at all for his proposals concerning separatism, which at best would delay the constitutional talks and at worst could create in South Africa the sort of tragedy now engulfing Yugoslavia?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I wholly endorse the hon. Lady's words about Nelson Mandela's visit last week, which was interesting and remarkable to us all. With regard to the constitutional process in South Africa, the hon. Lady will be aware that negotiations reopened on 26 April—a week after Chris Hani's dreadful assassination. The negotiating council has now agreed that a date for the election should be set before June and that the election should be held before the end of April 1994. Substantial progress has been made. The constitutional process is, of course, a matter for and between the various parties in South Africa. That is all that I can say about that aspect of the matter.

Mr. John Carlisle

While my hon. Friend is right to offer the South African Government support for their move towards multiracial democracy, may I ask him to urge on them some caution with regard to the pace of reform? Does he agree that until all parties—including the Inkatha Freedom party and, despite current circumstances, members of the Conservative party—are involved in the decision-making process and the discussions, any move towards an early general election would be fatal for South Africa?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As I have already indicated, the negotiating council has tentatively agreed arrangements for setting a date for a general election in South Africa. Clearly it is for the negotiating council to proceed at such pace as it collectively judges would be wise in all the circumstances facing that country.

Dr. John Cunningham

Was not Nelson Mandela's persistence in calling for peace and reconciliation quite remarkable, and should it not be applauded, especially in the light of the assassination of his colleague Chris Hani and the known assassination threats faced daily by other leading members of the African National Congress? Would it not be beneficial to all parties in South Africa to move quickly to the formation of a transitional executive council, thus allowing all-party supervision of the defence and police forces in South Africa? Would not that, in turn, help to batten down the violence—if not end it, at least in the beginning contain it—and thereby hasten the achievement of non-racial democracy?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am happy to endorse the hon. Gentleman's comments about Mr. Nelson Mandela, whose call for calm and measured reactions in the light of what must be dreadful provocation for so many people in South Africa is greatly to be applauded. The security situation in South Africa is primarily the responsibility of the South African Government, but it behoves all other people of influence to seek to restrain emotions which must be running high. As to the transitional executive council, I agree that its establishment will be beneficial. It will also enable the lifting of all sanctions to take place, as recommended by the ANC.