HL Deb 17 March 1980 vol 407 cc1-5

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what conclusions were reached at the renewed discussions at Cape Town between representatives of the United Nations and of the South African Government regarding the future of Namibia.


My Lords, officials of the United Nations Secretariat held four days of useful and wide-ranging discussions with South Africa. The United Nations team then went to Botswana, Angola, Zambia and Tanzania for further consultations. Dr. Waldheim will report the conclusions of these talks to the Security Council in due course.


Yes, my Lords, but is it not the case that very little progress was made? In view of the fact that the United Nations Security Council as long ago as August 1969 called on South Africa to withdraw immediately from Namibia, is it not now time that strong pressure were exerted upon South Africa to meet the proposals of the United Nations Mission?


My Lords, I understand that some progress was made, but, as the noble Lord knows, Her Majesty's Government were not directly involved in the consultations, which were confidential, and I think that we had better wait to hear what Dr. Waldheim has to say.


My Lords, before I put a supplementary question to the Foreign Secretary, may I say how delighted we are to welcome back home the noble Lord, Load Soames, who is looking so well—unaccountably well—after a very trying, yet very successful time spent in the service of this country in Zimbabwe. May I also say how much we appreciate the way in which he has responded to, and encouraged, the new Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, who by word and deed has given a very good example to everybody in Africa as to how to proceed in the future?

That leads me to the point that I wanted to put to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who has been such a tower of strength to the noble Lord, Lord Soames, in his difficult task. Would the noble Lord agree that what the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe has done by word and deed, since he was appointed by the Queen's Governor-General, should serve as an encouragement to the South Arican Republic to be considerably more forth- coming about co-operating in the emergence of Namibia to an independence similar to that of Rhodesia? Would the noble Lord also agree that, similarly, the new Zimbabwe, in co-operation with this country and others, could exercise a beneficial influence on the leadership of the Namibian people, including SWAPO, so that a movement to peaceful, orderly independence in that country, similar to that which the noble Lord has promoted in Zimbabwe, could take place in South-West Africa?


My Lords, I think that it must be rather easier to be Governor of Rhodesia than to be Leader of your Lordships' House. My noble friend has not had to deal with the unilateral declaration of independence which your Lordships declared last week. With regard to the supplementary question that the noble Lord has asked me, I think that one must recognise that events in Rhodesia need a little time to be assimilated in South Africa, and I believe that it would be as well if both countries in Africa, and in the United Nations, showed a little patience about events in Namibia.


My Lords, may welcome back the Foreign Secretary from his latest, effective journey to the Middle East. In view of the fact that Russian-sponsored SWAPO is regarded by the United Nations as the true representative of the people of South-West Africa, is it not confusing, or perhaps even regrettable, that we continue to have a representative on the Committee of Five appointed by the United Nations, which appears contemporaneously to put us into direct conflict with the South African Republic, which of course could not accept SWAPO as it is considered to he Russian-dominated?


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government do not recognise SWAPO's claim to he the sole representative of the Namibian people; that is for the people of Namibia to decide—and no one else. The Contact Group of Five has, in my judgment, as well as in the judgment of the previous Administration and that of this Administration, proved a very useful way in which to seek and attain peace in Namibia.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that I myself returned with the United Nations officials on the same plane on Friday of last week, and that there is very deep despondency in Central Africa over the prospects in Namibia, for two reasons: first, that there appears to have been a strengthening of resistance within Namibia by the Turnhalle alliance since the Rhodesian elections, in the fear that elections in Namibia might follcw the same course; and, secondly, that the Western nations appear still to be encouraging the export of minerals from Namibia despite its being in contravention of the United Nations resolution on this matter? While I am on my feet, may I belatedly congratulate the Foreign Secretary on his success in Rhodesia? I was not able to do so previously because I was otherwise engaged.


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord. No, I was not aware of what the noble Lord has said; nor do I agree with it.


My Lords, may I ask the Minister this question: Is not the situation in Namibia very dangerous, as was the situation in Zimbabwe before the successful meeting at Lancaster House and the elections in Rhodesia? Is not the recalcitrant feeling of South Africa and white economic interest in Namibia itself due to the fact that there is fear that in an election SWAPO would win, just as Mr. Mugabe has won in Zimbabwe; and, in view of the fact that we have 7,500 monitoring troops there—many more than there were in Zimbabwe— can we look forward to an election which will be carried out freely and fairly?


My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord that it is very necessary that there should be a settlement in Namibia, and we have gone some way along the way towards finding one. What I was saying to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, and also in answer to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, is that I think the events in Rhodesia of the last few weeks have made it necessary for the time being, at any rate, to exercise a little patience.

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