HC Deb 30 March 1994 vol 240 cc923-5
12. Mr. Grocott

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to discuss with the South African Government the extent of international support for the democratic process in that country.

13. Dr. Goodson-Wickes

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance has been offered by the United Kingdom for the proper administration of the forthcoming general elections in South Africa.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

We are in regular contact with the South African Government and other main parties to discuss international support for the transition to democracy. We have so far pledged 75 election observers to the United Nations, European Union and Commonwealth operations.

Mr. Grocott

Is not the crucial lesson of the tragedy in Angola—and, it must be said, the dreadful failure of the international community in Angola—that it is no use sending observers before elections and monitors during them unless there is full support from the international community for the democratic decision once it has been made?

While those who decide to abstain in the South African elections will have made their decision, will the hon. Gentleman and the Government do all in their power to ensure that once the people of South Africa have made their decision on election day, the full and unequivocal weight of the international community will come in behind that democratic decision?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The hon. Gentleman knows full well that we give full support to the democratic process in South Africa and we will give full support to the people's democratic decision when it takes place. That is why we are doing so much to help bring that about.

The hon. Gentleman talks about other matters which must be done before elections. One thing to bear in mind is the help—in a small way, but none the less significant—that Britain is giving. Seventeen British police officers have been attached to groups involved in electoral administration, and a further nine for other electoral matters. Seven Army officers are involved and help with the media is coming from the BBC and from other consultants. We are giving practical help to the South African election process in that way.

Dr. Goodson-Wickes

Speaking as somebody who has lived and worked in South Africa, I am conscious of the significant role that has been played by the Government in dismantling apartheid. I hope that that will be recognised one day in the history books.

In welcoming my hon. Friend's answer, may I ask him to assure the House that he will react positively to any further requests from the South African Government for civilian, police or military aid, which this country is so superbly equipped to offer?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

My hon. Friend may rest assured that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is considering sympathetically requests of that nature. When they are made, they may well be accommodated in the way that he would wish.

Mr. Gapes

Will the Minister make the strongest possible representations to Inkatha and make it clear to that organisation at this stage that its behaviour, its murderous activities and its refusal to participate in the elections will mean that there is no question of support of any kind from his Government, or even from some of the voices on the Conservative Back Benches?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has referred to a meeting that he and I hope, and I am sure the hon: Gentleman hopes, will take place shortly between all the leading representatives, including Inkatha, Chief Buthelezi, the South African Government, the African National Congress and others.

Mr. John Carlisle

Given the wide range of political activity in South Africa, from active communists in the African National Congress to the so-called neo-fascists in the AWB, does my hon. Friend agree that many people will feel ostracised after the election in April and that, therefore, international support could be given to the idea that my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) proposed, of some sort of federal state, so that there will not be too many people outside a system which many will find distasteful and, indeed, extremely dangerous?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said in answer to earlier questions, all these matters must be for the South African people. As I have repeated, and repeat now for the third time in the House this afternoon, there is shortly to be a meeting between all the leading parties at which we hope, and I am sure my hon. Friend hopes, outstanding issues such as he mentions will be resolved.

Mr. Worthington

As members of the party that helped to build up Chief Buthelezi during the 1980s, will the Government use their influence in South Africa to tell him that there is no sympathy whatever for his posturing, and particularly for his role in the killings on Monday in Johannesburg? Will he say that there is no sympathy whatever for the posturing of King Goodwill in delaying the meeting that is crucial to agreement between the major parties in South Africa, and urge on them both that there have to be free and fair elections? Then we can see the true extent of Chief Buthelezi's support.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The hon. Gentleman has made his point. The British Government's position has been clear for some time and it has been repeated several times in the House this afternoon.

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