§ 4.22 p.m.
§ Lord St. John of Bletso rose to call attention to the case for Government action to promote economic, cultural, sporting and tourist links with South Africa; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am delighted to have the opportunity to introduce this short debate today. I am pleased that so many noble Lords have put down their names to speak in support of this Motion.
§ This is the first debate on South Africa in your Lordships' House since last year's general election, aside from the recent Second Reading of the South Africa Bill. I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Poole, will be making his maiden speech today. His recent experience as a special adviser to the policy unit of the Prime Minister's office will, I am sure, have provided him with a valuable insight into South African affairs. While I am sorry that the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, cannot reply personally to the debate, I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, will respond ably for the Government.
§ Last year the world watched in wonder as South Africa completed an almost miraculous political transformation. From the darkness of apartheid emerged a brand new democracy. Where so many had predicted civil war, peace broke out and the people united in a national surge for reconciliation. I returned from South Africa only two weeks ago and the change from a year ago is remarkable.
§ That political transition can be said to have represented Phase I of the rebuilding process. When the international media left after last year's general election, the businessmen arrived. It is on that issue that I should like to address today's debate. Phases II and III are just beginning; namely, the massive task of satisfying the raised expectations of the underprivileged majority. To that end the new government have launched their cornerstone policy document, the reconstruction and development programme, which I shall refer to as the RDP.714
§ This short debate seeks to move beyond that political question to address the economic and social challenges facing South Africa. It focuses on how Her Majesty's Government can most effectively help to secure South Africa's future as a beacon of stability and success.
§ I am pleased that many of your noble Lords who are speaking today will be addressing specific: issues within the broad remit of the debate. The All-Party Parliamentary South Africa Group, of which I am one of the vice-chairmen, was established last year on the initiative of the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, with the clear objective of forging ever closer working relationships between Her Majesty's Government and South Africa. The group has already co-ordinated a number of projects and will be playing an active role in assisting with the staging of local elections in South Africa later this year. I am pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever, who is treasurer of the group and who returned from a visit to South Africa only today, will participate in today's debate.
§ It is essential that South Africa remains at the forefront of international affairs, constantly assisted and nurtured from abroad. It remains a country of crucial significance: first, because its success is pivotal to the stability and recovery of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa; and, secondly, because it is a substantial economic force and has a well-established and fast-growing infrastructure. Looking at the devastation in countries like Angola and Mozambique, it is to be hoped that that transition will grow from strength to strength.
§ Her Majesty's Government have hitherto made a significant contribution to South Africa. I warmly welcome the various aid packages and initiatives recently announced by the Prime Minister and the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker. While there will always be calls for more aid, it must be accepted that Her Majesty's Government have played and are continuing to play a leading role in the international effort to assist the new government.
§ The quality of aid is as important as the quantity of aid. In my view, financial aid should be targeted as much as possible at specific issues. I shall not raise the recent scandal involving the Reverend Alan Boesak and the allegations concerning Winnie Mandela. All aid has to go through the normal budgetary processes and must be targeted at specific projects, which are fully accounted for.
§ This short debate specifically calls attention to the promotion of economic, cultural, sporting and tourist links with South Africa. The process of renewing international contact in these areas after the long years of international sanctions has already contributed significantly to the raising of national morale. But more can be and must be achieved. I should like briefly to discuss each of those topics. I shall focus on those needs which the South African Government themselves have indicated are of paramount importance by incorporating them in their White Paper on the reconstruction and development programme.715
§ The central economic reality facing South Africa today is that the economy must grow at an annual rate in excess of 3 per cent. if the RDP is to be adequately financed. Without consistent economic growth, the house of cards could come tumbling down. The latest figure on GDP growth is 2.7 per cent., a statistic which reaffirms the need for the Reserve Bank under the disciplined governorship of Chris Stals to maintain tight fiscal control. Inflation, which has become rampant in many of the emerging markets, remains relatively under control in South Africa at below 10 per cent.
§ International trade has been rising strongly since last year's general election with British trade to South Africa up by 27 per cent. in the first nine months of 1994, confirming Britain's position as South Africa's largest trading partner. There have been many high profile trade visits to South Africa, including the trade delegation of the President of the Board of Trade last year, as well as the British Invisibles Delegation which will visit South Africa in March, coinciding with the visit of Her Majesty the Queen. The Department of Trade and Industry plans a further 13 trade missions to South Africa as part of its Opportunity South Africa campaign this year.
§ Several commentators in South Africa have remarked in the past that international trade delegations tend to bring their notepads rather than their cheque books. But I am pleased to note that that trend appears to be gradually reversing. Since the election, many investors have adopted a wait-and-see approach to South Africa, expressing concern about the long term stability as well as on law and order. However, day by day those fears are being eased and an even clearer picture may emerge this Friday when President Mandela will speak at the State Opening of Parliament in Cape Town, outlining his Government's plans for the forthcoming Session. Fiscal policy will also be addressed in next month's budget. Many international investors into South Africa have recognised the need to pursue joint ventures with companies operating in South Africa which are fully conversant with local conditions.
§ Regarding the promotion of cultural affairs, such notable British exports as "Mr. Bean" and "The Two Ronnies" have been enjoyed by large television audiences in South Africa. A broad range of theatre and dance companies have entertained the market opened up by the lifting of the Equity ban. In fact, in two weeks' time the Rolling Stones will be performing at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. There has also been extensive contact between the Department of National Heritage and their counterparts in South Africa. As a result, I am confident that South Africa will continue to find Britain a regular source of top class entertainment. Such developments may not show up on the balance sheet, but they certainly contribute crucially to national morale; and they significantly enhance the ubiquitous feel-good factor during these times of change.
§ The same is true for sport. South Africans have always invested vast quantities of emotion, resources and effort into their sport, and the act of supporting the national rugby, cricket and football teams through their 716 readmission to international competition has been among the most effective means of uniting a once divided people. Recently Steve Tshwete, the Minister of Sport, spoke of sport providing the cement which holds together the bricks that are building the new nation.
§ In 99 days' time, South Africa will host the Rugby World Cup —the third largest sporting event in the world, and the largest sporting event ever staged on the African continent. I believe that many of the international spectators visiting South Africa for the first time will be overwhelmed by the quality of its stadiums and facilities. The tournament will offer an unprecedented opportunity for the country to demonstrate its best qualities to global television audiences.
§ I am pleased to note that the Sports Council has launched an initiative to help South African sport in three main areas: to train more than 1,000 South African athletics coaches; to educate 350 South African soccer coaches; and to train South African administrators.
§ The fourth area of promotion is tourism. With its fine weather, outstanding scenery and game parks, the country has the potential to become one of the most sought after holiday destinations in the world, thereby deriving much needed international revenue and creating many jobs. Numbers of international visitors have risen dramatically since the election. However, the figure of 850,000 foreign tourists last year still compares unfavourably with the 4 million foreign tourists who visited Kenya last year. Tourism currently represents about 3 per cent. of South Africa's GNP compared with a global average of 10 per cent. More than 70 per cent. of tourists in South Africa originate from within the country. To realise its tourism potential, South Africa must and will have to improve its internal transport structure and raise the standards of accommodation and service in major hotels. There will also need to be more assurances that South Africa is a safe and politically stable destination for international tourists. I believe that Her Majesty's Government can help in that area by providing more tertiary education and training in tourist and leisure activities to South African operators.
§ With recent figures suggesting that nine incoming tourists to South Africa correspond to the creation of one job, a boom in the tourist industry could produce a highly positive impact on the economy. Although luring the world's holidaymakers may seem far removed from the task of rebuilding poverty-stricken townships, it can prove a valuable source of income for the RDP. The RDP lies at the heart of the new Government's strategy and has assumed the dimensions of a national mission. International donors have focused their attention on promoting the RDP. The corporate sector within South African has orientated its strategy to complement the RDP's goals, and educational institutions have framed their plans to support and promote the RDP.
In simple terms that programme may seem nothing more than a state sponsored plan to provide jobs and houses for the very poor. But in fact the programme incorporates an extensive range of initiatives. The Government have budgeted 37.5 billion rand—that equates to about £6.8 billion—over the next five years, and have identified five prime aims: to meet basic needs,
such as jobs, land and housing; to develop human resources through education and training; to promote economic growth; to complete the democratisation process; and, finally, to establish a sound structure of government. As President Mandela stated in the White Paper,
The RDP should not be seen as a new set of projects, but rather as a comprehensive reconstruction of existing activities. Growth and development are more than inter dependent. They are mutually enforcing".
§ The RDP is, in short, the way ahead. I believe it is essential that any British initiative to South Africa be framed as closely as possible to the needs set out in that programme.
§ These are exciting times for South Africa. The new country enjoys almost boundless potential. Yet we should not lose sight of the fact that there remains much to be done, and that there could be many hiccups. The jarring contrast between the opulence, say, of gracious homes in Cape Town suburbs of Constantia and Bishopscourt, and the squalor of Khayelitsha, a township just a few kilometres away, are repeated up and down the country. It may be the case that South Africa will only truly settle down when that almighty chasm between the rich and the poor is satisfactorily bridged. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ Lord Poole
My Lords, 33 years ago I sat on the steps of the Throne to listen to my father's maiden speech. I must have been about 17 at the time. I do not think children are ever very kind where their parents are concerned, and I fear that. I certainly was not, because over lunch my acerbic eye was surprised that someone who seemed to me so enormously experienced in speaking could be quite so nervous. I think I understand that better today.
I venture to speak about South Africa because my grandmother, who died in the 1960s, was brought up in the Orange Free State before the Boer War. These had clearly been enchanted years to her; so my childhood was filled with her memories. Spion Kop and Ladysmith, for example, were as real to me as Romney Marsh, which lay before her house. Her old age, however, was saddened by apartheid and what it was doing to her country. She held it in horror. She made me promise not to visit her country until apartheid had come to an end.
When Nelson Mandela left prison, I can assure noble Lords that I quickly booked my ticket. It was not just to visit the area of my grandmother's childhood or the battlefields, which I certainly did—and staggeringly beautiful I found the country to be. My real purpose was to see what could be done to help to rebuild business relationships that had been attenuated or broken by apartheid. At the time I was running corporate finance for a major investment house in the City. We had many connections that I could look up. Visiting those was a profoundly depressing experience. It was absolutely apparent that the impact of years of sanctions had gravely damaged the economy.
718 But much worse, visiting the African townships hugely depressed me. The magnitude of the task of bringing any economic development to the Africans who had been deprived for so long of any of the building blocks that were required had to be seen to be imagined. As I toured around, it became clear to me that virtually none of the educational skills or the infrastructure that would be required was in place—none of the components that were needed to build an economy was really present so far as the Africans were concerned. Whatever was to be done was clearly a task beyond private enterprise alone. Our Government must be congratulated not just on recognising that, but on moving so very quickly to put such a range of imaginative initiatives in place to assist the development of South Africa's economy, as well as assisting on the cultural and sporting side.
There can be no secure future for South Africa without a strong economy which can deliver to the Africans the housing, education, health care and job opportunities that are their right. My main concern here is the role that the private sector can play and how it can be fostered by the British Government. South Africa's economic development will best be driven by the building of a vibrant, broader-based private sector—partly by privatisation, partly by new investment coming into the country. When I talk about investment I do not mean the sort of investment funds that are flowing into the Stock Market and so rapidly and unhelpfully increasing the price of a limited number of listed companies. What is needed is the creation of wealth generating businesses from which the black community will profit as owners, employees and customers.
Since last year's visit by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, much has been put in place to assist British companies and businesses which might participate in that process. We should pay tribute to the Prime Minister's strong personal commitment to assisting South Africa.
I think particularly of the Opportunity South Africa campaign, of the £100 million of development finance to be delivered over three years; and, indeed, for example, of the biggest ever UK trade drive that will follow Her Majesty's visit later this year; as well as all the training and educational initiatives, to mention but a few.
The key to fostering investment is to require our Government to take steps to assist in modifying the political risk that investors will face. I am glad to say that the Government have moved effectively here as well. For example, special ECGD arrangements for up to £1 billion of cover have been specially provided in what I believe is a unique initiative against political risk.
But not quite everything is being done in that respect as might be the case. First, it has to be .said that to potential investors the 1999 elections represent a very serious hurdle. When talking to the investment banks in the City which act for British companies, it is plain that that is the case. As a result, although much know-how is moving to South Africa—a good example would be Eastern Midlands Electric's excellent joint project to wire up Khay-elitsa—the amount of capital for direct investment from the UK is rather disappointing. It is a 719 sad commentary, but I have been told by many of our merchant banks that they are acting for more United States investors in South Africa than for British ones. I believe that that is partly due to that country's excellent political risk coverage. As it happens, there are special ECGD arrangements to provide medium-term political risk coverage to direct investors in South Africa. But for some reason the existence of these arrangements is largely unknown.
Secondly, whatever arrangements there are for protection against political risk must necessarily come with operating rules and guidelines for the officials who will administer them. From my brief time in government, I know how very easily guidelines can atrophy into insurmountable barriers. Perhaps I may be permitted to put in a plea to Ministers to ensure both that the arrangements become better broadcast and that whatever rules are in place shall be interpreted as flexibly as possible—not just in the present climate but to meet whatever future requirements there may be as the economy in South Africa evolves.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ Lord Ennals
My Lords, the House has been privileged to hear two outstanding speeches. Although I am not required to congratulate the opening speaker, I am required—and it is a pleasure—to congratulate the maiden speaker. His father was a very popular Member of this House, and a very powerful man—and his grandmother was obviously extremely wise, because she was one of my supporters, but I do not mean in a party political sense.
My first involvement with South Africa was in the formation of the boycott movement in 1958. We met then, in the basement of dear David Pitt's surgery, with Oliver Tambo and many others. We took the same view as the noble Lord's grandmother; namely, that we ought not to visit, trade, engage in tourism or sell arms, but should wait until the time for which we were campaigning when South Africa would be free.
It was therefore for me a most wonderful experience to be chosen as one of the Commonwealth and UN representatives, as an official observer, and to be in South Africa for five weeks to see happening what we had campaigned for nearly 35 years earlier. The British Government's record at that time was not very good. That emphasises, as the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, said, our special responsibility at this time in every way—governmental, private, or whatever. We have to mobilise our support for South Africa.
South Africa is basically enormously rich. It has so much to offer to those who go there. Eventually it will have so much to offer for those who invest there. South Africa's role is not just qua South Africa, qua southern Africa. I believe that it has a very important stabilising role in the whole of Africa.
It is a very great privilege that the country is now led by men of the quality of Nelson Mandela. I met Nelson Mandela before he went to Robben Island. I knew him as a young lawyer. He is an outstanding man. I saw him walking tall as he came out of prison a free man. He 720 had been behind bars for many years but seemed not to have any bitterness and to care only for the good of his own country and the welfare of his people. I have almost equal praise for Mr. de Klerk, who was at one time the president of the country. It was a remarkable combination of the work of those two men which enabled the people of South Africa to join together.
I believe it was recognised that boycott campaigns and sanctions were extremely important. They hurt but they produced the results. We saw white and black coming together during the elections and it was a wonderful experience. It was not just a matter of the liberation of Africans. It was the liberation of white people and coloured people—in fact, all those who make up the great South African nation. It is right that Nobel peace prizes were awarded to Nelson Mandela and Frederik de Klerk as well as to Archbishop Tutu, who, in his own inimitable way, has had a very powerful influence in South Africa. I admire all of them.
But, of course, Nelson Mandela must take pride of place. He is a man so big, so generous, so charming and witty, with all the right qualities for a political leader, which all too few political leaders possess.
I believe that South Africa, after all these years, is entitled to look for encouragement to Britain, the European Community, the countries of Africa through the Organisation of African Unity and the United Nations. Those four organisations, working together, were able to say after the election was over—and it was a funny old election—that it was a free election. It is a real opportunity for the people of that country, who, as the noble Lord, Lord Poole, so powerfully said, have suffered so much, now to be able to enjoy the privileges that go with independence. People will have to be very patient. It will take a long time. I know that it will take a very long time to turn Khayelitsha into a place that is lovely to live in. There are places like Khayelitsha all over the country.
Finally, I should like to pay tribute to Bishop Trevor Huddleston, who is now over 80 years old. He has made a great contribution to the anti-apartheid movement, in the broadest sense. I was very proud that he was one of my successors as president of the anti-apartheid movement. He embodied, as did Nelson Mandela, the spirit of co-operation. That spirit of co-operation which the Africans have shown must also be shown now by the rest of the world and Britain in particular.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Lord Thurlow
My Lords, I must apologise for having come to the House a few minutes after the beginning of the debate. It started rather earlier than I had expected. First, I should like to endorse warmly what the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, said about the speaker who introduced the Motion and to pay tribute to the very distinguished contribution from the maiden speaker. I was particularly interested by what he said about the failure of the investing community to become alive to the exceptional political cover that ECGD has now offered. I very much hope that that will be put around more widely and taken on board.
721 In the aftermath of a political revolution—whether it is called evolution or revolution, it is part of both in the case of South Africa—I believe that nothing is of more importance than voluntary organisations bringing together expertise from all fields to support the positive proposals of the authorities. The noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, referred Ito the paramount importance of the RDP.
I should like to refer to one of the small green shoots that has sprung up in the past five years, bringing together people from every branch of industry, banking, social life, education and the media to help plan together ways of supporting the Government in their ambitious plans. Five years ago an initiative was undertaken to start up something of that kind. Under the surface it has been growing under the very distinguished and experienced leadership of Mr. Louis van der Meere. Apart from having made a great contribution in turning round one of the great utilities of South Africa, he has also worked abroad in many fields and is in touch with many experts of all kinds. Three weeks ago a meeting was held to launch what has been entitled the National Learning Centre in order to establish a network of influential people with responsibilities. Representatives in every key field seek to create a partnership to support development and, in the first place, to produce a three-year development plan.
That framework includes plans for five subsidiary national learning centres in the main centres of South Africa. There are also links abroad. MIT and the global industry network in California have been very much involved in the planning over the past five years and there have been valuable links with an important associate of the London Business School. That National Learning Centre is now getting off the ground, with leaders of the black community and other ethnic communities, to tackle together the fearful problems of economic and social change. They will use the latest technologies that international business is now increasingly harnessing, including scenario planning, systems dynamics, matrix grids and other techniques with which your Lordships no doubt are more familiar than I am. But they are valuable and help to bring South Africa into the international network of business and social leaders.
A new nervous system can be created by that means. I myself know from my experience what has happened in the, relatively speaking, microcosm of the Bahamas, which experienced its own revolution—a revolution without a background of recent oppression but with its own tensions and difficulties after 300 years of the white community being virtually in charge of everything. In that microcosm we managed to come through successfully with a co-operative community between the different ethnic components. It is possible; it has been shown to be possible elsewhere in Africa, both in some of our former colonies and in some of the former French colonies.
South Africa is a special case; the difficulties are perhaps greater than anywhere else. But they can be solved by people working together and this network sets out to give a powerful boost in that direction. I hope that in the support Her Majesty's Government pledged 722 to give, it may be found possible to contribute some seed corn to this new, important and promising initiative.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ Lord Astor of Hever
My Lords, I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord St. John, has been successful in achieving this debate. No one in this House has such first-hand experience of South Africa, Publicly and behind the scenes he has done an enormous amount to restore British-South African relations to their current excellent standing.
The title of the debate might imply that Her Majesty's Government are not doing enough to help South Africa. Many people I met throughout that wonderful country over the past eight days pointed out that our Government have not received their due recognition for how much they have done for South Africa. South Africans do not forget the crucial role our Government played leading up to the miracle election last year, nor do they forget the substantial sums directed to the Peace Secretariat in the pre-election period for training monitors and for the purchase of essential equipment. A substantial number of election observers were funded during the election, of which I was fortunate enough to be one. We have committed £100 million—an enormous sum—to South Africa over a three-year period in addition to training assistance with the civil service, police and BMATT.
I understand that one of the key aims of our assistance is to help with agricultural and land-use development. Some concern was expressed to me in South Africa that various agricultural loans and assistance to other African countries, particularly from the European Union, were ill-conceived and ignored the environment and eco-tourism as a natural resource of tremendous value. One much quoted example is the Okavango Delta where zealous overstocking and agricultural development, driven by European Union subsidies, is destroying a beautiful part of the Botswana environment.
South Africa desperately needs to boost its economy. Millions are without jobs—there is 50 per cent. unemployment in some areas—and in order to prevent civil unrest in the future something dramatic will have to be done. Only tourism has the potential of creating thousands of jobs, offering numerous business opportunities and attracting foreign exchange on such a scale that it will make a major difference to the lives of many South Africans.
So rich is the country in scenic beauty and wildlife that those facets remain the strongest motivation for overseas tourists to visit South Africa. As an eco-destination, South Africa has an enormous responsibility and there is a growing awareness of that among members of the tourism industry. Parties that are directly involved, such as the national and provincial parks, as well as game reserves, are now including the concept of involving and benefiting local communities in their mission statements. It is therefore a top priority for government and overseas aid agencies to help develop tourism in South Africa.
723 I was contacted yesterday in South Africa by the chairman of the South African cabinet-appointed committee looking into the crucial subject of environmental management. He would like to bring a delegation to meet my noble friend Lady Chalker within the next three to six months to make various suggestions as to how Her Majesty's Government can help the South African tourist industry, with particular emphasis on technical assistance and education for those needed in the tourist industry.
The delegation will also comprise a senior representative of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism—indeed, I understand that the Minister himself hopes to come—the Director of the World Wildlife Fund for South Africa, the Director of National Parks, South Africa, and the head of the ANC Environmental Desk, as well as representatives of private enterprise from all backgrounds and races, dedicated to eco-tourism. Costs would be borne by the individual organisations rather than by Her Majesty's Government and I understand that the High Commissioner and ODA representative in Pretoria will be fully consulted. I was in touch today with the office of my noble friend Lady Chalker and hope that she will give all the representatives a warm welcome and an attentive ear.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ Baroness Wharton
My Lords, I too thank my noble friend Lord St. John of Bletso for introducing this timely debate today. As we know, South Africa has embarked on an ambitious programme of reconstruction and development which will challenge all of its resources. As my noble friend said, the key challenges for the country are to achieve sustainable economic growth in order to create jobs and reduce unemployment; to build homes for the homeless and to raise education standards, thereby enabling more people to find work.
Self-help schemes and owner-build projects can speed the production of homes and bring employment; creative ideas and technology can help transform the education system. Obviously the solution rests primarily with the South African Government and the policies they pursue. But there is much that can be done to support the process in just the same way as it works in the UK, where our leaders rally voluntary effort and resources from the talented and industrious to run programmes which are of great benefit to society at large.
I realise that the ODA gives high priority to small business in South Africa and is currently working together with local business to fund small development projects. In response to an earlier debate on the Commonwealth with reference to South Africa, the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, told us that the ODA already spends a considerable amount of money on education and training scholarships for South Africa as a whole. South Africans too benefit from that fund. I particularly welcome the £2 million the Minister promised on her recent trip to South Africa for tertiary education. However, organisations such as the Prince's Trust and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme could be encouraged to play an important part.
724 Now that South Africa is back in the Commonwealth with Her Majesty the Queen's visit drawing close and in the wake of the Prime Minister's highly successful tour, now could be the moment to form a bridgehead and launch a major initiative to co-ordinate and focus our considerable experience and resourcefulness by helping to solve some of the problems that South Africans, particularly those in rural areas, will continue to face for many years to come.
I recently read with a great deal of interest about an organisation which in many ways parallels the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme; it is called the SIBIKWA Community Theatre Project. It was formed in 1988 as a community-based organisation, helping youngsters up to the age of 25. Funding has come from foreign as well as local South African business.
Basically, SIBIKWA is about education, art and culture. It has a youth development programme which involves full-time vocational training for out of school unemployed youths. Most of the participants in those programmes are from very poor homes with little or no educational skills, and SIBIKWA has managed to encourage many disaffected illiterate youngsters back into the culture of learning, eventually to become useful members of their community.
SIBIKWA provides centres where youngsters can escape township violence and a haven where they can also channel their energy creatively. Students who eventually find work contribute a percentage of their earnings to SIBIKWA, thereby helping it to continue its valuable work. Another SIBIKWA initiative is the street children rehabilitation programme, which speaks for itself. There is also a part-time youth arts development programme for senior school children and a full-time course for children of primary school age. The theatre community programme encourages every aspect of art and drama. Plays have been written and performed and some have also found their way into arts festivals around the country.
I hope that I am not going too far from the essence of the debate, but these ventures, in order to expand and thrive, need funds and by working alongside such projects, we too could benefit. Our own unique trusts have the same objectives and encourage people to use their own initiative rather than just doing the job for them. Is it possible that we could work alongside the indigenous self-help programmes in the new South Africa? The Prince's Trust, with its interest in housing and technology, could have an enormous input. Would the ODA involve itself in those sorts of programmes? Much work needs to be done—for example, community centres need to be built, particularly in rural areas. South Africa is multi-cultural and rich in its diversity. Its art and culture are the sum of its people.
Finally, when I lived in South Africa I felt proud of all things British and I should like some of that feeling to rub off on the new generation.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ The Earl of Lindsey and Abingdon
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, for opening this short debate on four important aspects 725 relating to the new South Africa. Like the noble Lord, I spent most of my early life in southern Africa. As a result, I have taken a keen interest in developments over many years. I also congratulate my noble friend Lord Poole on an excellent maiden speech.
It is now nearly a year since the first fully democratic elections and I for one am not only pleased but at the same time surprised at bow relatively well the peace process has gone. In view of the short time allocated, I shall try to restrict my observations mostly to the economic part of the debate, though at the same time fully realising that the cultural, sporting and tourist activities are all dependent on economic prosperity.
After years of isolation and sanctions, the country is desperate for foreign investment. It has to be said that some extravagant promises were made by the African National Congress leading up to last year's elections, such as the construction of 1 million new low-income homes over a period of five years. If that kind of project is to be met over the next few years and thus avoid the possibility of further unrest, urgent inward investment will be required.
Companies with previous South African experience are beginning to relocate after the lifting of sanctions. Some institutional investors are beginning to take a cautious approach to a market which has shown a rather slow growth over the past year. A lot of trouble seems to centre around the two-tier monetary system, based on the financial and commercial rand. It is said that the former is having a detrimental effect on inward investment. The gap has recently narrowed between the two rands and I should like to suggest that a good first anniversary present to the economy would be to abolish the two-tier system.
Another major problem which has already been referred to is unemployment. Through encouraging inward investment, the other activities mentioned in the debate will benefit, thus helping to eradicate the unemployment problem. It is unfortunate that recent adverse publicity has centred around two well known ANC personalities, together with the news today of a racial confrontation outside a school near Cape Town. This kind of thing must make potential investors hesitate. Prosperity will only prevail so long as there is racial harmony and respect for each other's cultural traditions. It must be remembered that, unlike other southern hemisphere African countries, there has been a European as well as an African presence for over 300 years. I was therefore sad to read earlier this week that the London Philharmonic Orchestra had arrived in South Africa to find itself at the centre of a sensitive debate over African and European cultures. Both should be treated on an equal basis.
In conclusion, I still urge my noble friend Lord Inglewood, who will wind up for the Government, to set an example so that others may follow in establishing links with a country that in the past had a close association with the United Kingdom.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Lord Acton
My Lords, on 17th November last year, South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki wrote to the European Union presidency a letter of the utmost importance. In it he said:South Africa … asks to open negotiations with a view to establishing the closest possible relationship with the Lomé Convention".The case for the Government to take a lead in promoting South Africa's links with the European Union is a powerful one. For reasons of history, investment and trade, Britain has a major interest in the success of South Africa.
The Lomé IV Convention is a 10-year treaty between the European Union and 70 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (the ACP) designed to encourage trade and development and to strengthen political and cultural ties. Because of the enormous importance of the European Union as South Africa's major trading partner, that country now seeks to join the Lomé band.
Although South Africa has a number of developed sectors, its levels of infant mortality, life expectancy, malnutrition, unemployment and illiteracy make it comparable with neighbouring African countries. Ninety-five per cent. of the population of the ACP countries live in sub-Saharan Africa, thus Lomé is largely a treaty between Europe and Africa. To omit from Lomé an African country as critical as South Africa would be perverse.
Trade relations and import duty concessions are the first business of the Lomé Convention. Last month the Institute of Development Studies completed an independent study for the South African Government of 98 South African products identified as being of particular importance for export to the European Union.
The study reports that for three-quarters of those products, friction with ACP countries would be minimal. Moreover, relatively few of those exports would lead to competition with European Union countries. Negotiations therefore need not be as difficult as one might imagine.
At paragraph 87 the report makes the particularly noteworthy finding that the United Kingdom is a significant importer of many of the 98 products concerned and a significant exporter of only a relatively small number of the items. Undoubtedly, this country's overall trading interest is to promote South Africa's relationship with the Lomé family.
One area where Britain should give an urgent lead is in the Lomé IV mid-term review which is due to be completed early next month. A provision should be included in the review which allows for South Africa's eventual accession to the Lomé Convention. A similar clause made some years ago for Namibia provides a model. It would permit South Africa's accession to be ratified speedily once detailed negotiations were completed. Without such a clause, endless cumbersome procedures would have to be undergone and the resulting delay would prove very expensive for South Africa.
727 Another specific area where Britain could take a lead is in the European Union's aid to South Africa. If South Africa were included in the Lomé aid programme, it would compete for funds with the ACP countries, which doubtless would object strongly. Currently, under the European Union's special programme for reconstruction and development, South Africa will receive 125 million ecus (£100 million) for 1995. Britain should ensure that South Africa continues to be aided from that special programme and not from Lomé resources. This exceptional aid needs to be continued at least until 1999, the intended period of the Government of National Unity.
To enable the proper planning of projects in South Africa, this aid should be arranged on a multi-annual basis—in other words, the European Union should commit itself to providing funds over, say, a three-year period.
A key aspect of the convention's trading system is "cumulation" under the Lomé rules of origin, whereby to obtain duty-free access to the European Union, ACP products must be deemed as originating in the ACP. For example, clothing manufactured in Zimbabwe from cloth produced in South Africa is liable for standard import duty on entry into the European Union because South Africa is not an ACP member. To include South Africa within the ACP would undoubtedly open up great new commercial possibilities within the entire region of Southern Africa.
Under the convention, European Union and ACP companies can tender for Lomé-funded works and supply contracts. ACP companies receive a special 10 or 15 per cent. preference. Britain should play a leading role in ensuring that South African companies can bid for those contracts, thus increasing the number of such contracts awarded to African countries. Whether South Africa should get the full ACP preference would be a matter for negotiation.
Britain has played a huge part in the story of South Africa's past. Let Britain now play a huge part in the crucial story of South Africa's future relationship with the European Union.
§ 5.23 p.m.
The Earl of Clanwilliam
My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord St. John Bletso, that I was not present during his opening remarks. I have an excuse in that I was a Member of the Defence Committee of your Lordships' House and was visiting the Royal Yacht "Britannia" where we heard in detail about much of the work which is about to be done. The yacht is shortly off to Cape Town where it will be a base for our Sovereign not only there but in Durban. I know that this is perhaps not relevant to the immediate debate, but perhaps I may make a plea to say how important it is that a replacement for the Royal Yacht is found and arrangements made for the proper representation of the Sovereign not only overseas generally, but particularly in the Commonwealth.
728 I refer also to the words of the noble Lord, Lord Acton, who referred in particular to the Lomé Convention and the ACP arrangements which include everything that I am about to say about the promotion of trade in that country.
My reason for speaking is my experience as an immigrant to South Africa in 1948. That was the year when Dr. Malan arrived and "We are the masters now" were the words which were heard by the Afrikaner. They were only too redolent of remarks that we had heard a couple of years previously in this country. I have some experience at first hand of the Afrikaner. I do not believe that I am going to be too popular, but a word should be said about the Afrikaner, who is a remarkable individual.
I spent some years in an outlying village about 150 miles from Cape Town. It was dominated by a Scots dominey. The society was entirely Afrikaner which lived by the Bible and the gun. It regarded me with great suspicion as an "Engelsman". I am not an apologist for apartheid, but they were in a difficult position. The Afrikaners lived in a country where they were greatly outnumbered and felt beleaguered. They undoubtedly experienced terrible aggression but their response was defensive in order to protect a way of life and not to impose one. Of course, the result of their policy was inhuman to the vast majority of the population. It was imposed out of fear and not out of beastliness. They felt all the more beleaguered as a result of the international reaction. It is a familiar phrase, but they had nowhere else to go. No one in this House today can say that he has nowhere else to go.
That is said on behalf of the Afrikaner, but all that is in the past now. There was the work of Bishop Huddleston and Bishop Tutu and that of the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, who was here just now. Not only that, but there was also the shining light of Nelson Mandela while he was imprisoned on Robben Island. We have been shown all too clearly that the vast majority of Africans could not have been supported or educated and brought up to the standard to which they look forward by the Afrikaner or white population of South Africa.
It is for us, as one of the outside nations, to provide millions of pounds and dollars which will be required to satisfy the aspirations and the needs of the newly enfranchised Africans. It is a subject which is far beyond the scope of South Africa. There are the huge problems of housing, education and health which cannot be solved by South Africa, but by outside help. It requires millions of dollars from the United Nations and help especially from our country.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Lord Alport
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, for initiating this timely debate. For those of us in this House who have had a long association with South Africa, the events of the past few years have seemed almost miraculous. I was born in South Africa as my father was before me. He was medical officer to General Louis Botha's commandos in the German South West Africa campaign before coming to England at the end of 1914 to join the British Army. One strand of my family went to Cape 729 Colony in 1840 and another goes back to the first European settlement under Van Riaback by the Dutch East India Company in 1652. That strand contributed representatives to the Great Trek and to the battle of Blood River. It was therefore when serving as the UK Government representative in Rhodesia in 1962, and learning that South Africa had severed its constitutional links with Great Britain by leaving the Commonwealth, that I felt a very real sense of loss.
I like to think that perhaps the events in Rhodesia of those years—the failure of white-led UDI and the transition into a majority rule state in Zimbabwe—contributed to the emergence of the South Africa of today, now back as a member of the Commonwealth, as a democratic state and without any civil war.
But of course it could scarcely have happened without the extraordinary leadership of President Mandela and the statesmanship of Mr. de Klerk. Now, as the Motion reminds us, we have to look to building a new relationship between Britain and South Africa in all the spheres of common interest which we share. There are many. One of our common interests is the stability of the African states south of the Sahara. South Africa is economically, militarily and now politically in a position to wield great influence in helping to solve problems such as the conflicts that exist in Angola and Mozambique. Previously, the South African Government exacerbated the conflicts in both those countries. We should encourage as much as we possibly can the present and future governments of South Africa to play the role of a strong impartial neighbour there and elsewhere in Africa—perhaps in Malawi if there is trouble there in the future, as there may well be.
The South African Government will, of course, be heavily involved in trying to meet the rising expectations of its African population, as many of your Lordships have said, but we should help primarily to ensure that through its membership of various international organisations, including the Commonwealth, South Africa takes on an effective role as the leading democratic state in Africa today.
It is inevitable that the immediate problems which the South African Government face in meeting the demands of the Africans for better housing, education and standards of living, should have priority. The help that we can give is pretty limited, but we have heard some interesting suggestions in this debate. Her Majesty's Government should examine with the South African Government whether the latter believe that special forms of assistance would be of value. I refer to the areas of professional education and technological training. South Africa's universities and industry are of a very high standard.
I do not think that there will be much trouble in encouraging tourists from this country to go to South Africa to enjoy that wonderful country and its climate or in encouraging the Lions and the Springboks to engage in friendly combat in a variety of sports. However, it may be that when the extraordinary personal influence and judgment of President Mandela have become part of history, friendship and understanding between a new generation of South African leaders and those who will be governing at 730 Westminster will be of vital importance. I hope that the creation of a special relationship between Great Britain and South Africa will be a commitment that will be accepted by the leaders of whatever party is destined to govern this country in the immediate future.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ The Earl of Kintore
My Lords, I too thank my noble friend Lord St.John of Bletso for introducing the debate this evening. My noble friend has been tireless in his efforts for South Africa.
I first went to South Africa in 1947 by boat from Southampton to Cape Town. Most people now fly. My sister and brother-in-law did so at Christmas to stay with relatives and on hearing of this debate suggested that to encourage tourism air fares must be reduced. I am indebted to my local travel agent for delving into the minefield of the estimated air fare element of holiday costs. Flying for almost exactly 11 hours, you can go against the wind to San Francisco for £468, with the wind to Bangkok for £848 and across the wind to Johannesburg for £930, which is the most expensive. But the real expense is at the holiday resort.
South African holidays are incomparable, but suffice it to say that they are considerably more expensive than a similar holiday in Kenya. Those high costs may be deliberate in order to restrict tourists, as the holiday infrastructure is relatively small and popular locations like the Victoria Falls Hotel and the Blue Train are difficult to book. The Government might consider encouraging—even instructing—that another British carrier should cover the South Africa route. They might also assist the South African Government to increase the number of holiday destinations.
The Government are to be congratulated on the DTI initiatives of 1994 and the first one of 1995, from 27th to 31st March, in Cape Town to coincide with the visit of the Royal Yacht. The Scots have been to South Africa as well. On a 1994 trade mission organised by the Scottish Council for Trade and Industry, one of the delegates was the managing director of R. B. Farquhar of Huntly, which is well known for prefabricated modular accommodation. It has a quick-build house which it thinks would be ideal for the planned reconstruction and development programme and in helping to reduce the housing backlog of at least 1.5 million families. It could also help to meet the annual demand for 200,000 houses.
I believe that somewhere in the Cape at Christmas a small town was laid out—with streets, streetlights and lavatory bowls in place, but nothing else. Farquhar's quick-build houses could cover 60 lavatory bowls per day, using a squad of 18 reasonably skilled workers. Farquhar thinks that it has the right product—and South African building firms have confirmed that—but it is at present unable to persuade the South African authorities of the merit of its product. Any assistance or advice that the British Government can give will be welcome.
731 Perhaps the noble Lord who is to reply to the debate would write to me if he does not have the information to hand.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Lord Gisborough
My Lords, the expectations of the black majority in South Africa for progress over the next few years are enormous and those expectations will not be realised unless there is a strong economy backed by increasing international business investment.
As we have heard, the reconstruction to that end is delegated largely to the reconstruction and development programme, which is based in Pretoria, and is the cornerstone of the programme. For all its good intents, the programme suffers from bureaucracy and, above all, from inexperience. As a result, projects are not taking off with the best of speed, and the RDP is a bottleneck in transforming the aid given by outside countries into improvements on the ground for all those millions who are expecting so much so quickly from the new government: houses, education and services.
If, by the next election in 1999, progress has not been achieved, there will be a great danger of a Left-wing challenge to Mr. Mandela that could seriously affect the future of the country. In time South Africa will finish its honeymoon, and it will leave the immediate news stage as some other theatre becomes more in the public eye. The development that by then has not been achieved may become all the harder to achieve as funds are routed elsewhere. But projects have to be identified, business plans have to be drawn up and feasibility studies made to measure the aid benefit. All this takes valuable time.
There is an office of the ODA in Pretoria administering aid and I believe it would speed the process if the ODA were actively to help the RDP in its own administration. This could be done by seconding officials to the latter. I hope that the Government will consider that.
In 1997 there will be a bid for Cape Town to have the Olympics in 2004. I cannot think of a better or more beautiful place to have them. If the bid is successful, it will attract an investment of 58 billion Rand and create 400,000 jobs. I very much hope that it will succeed. Either way, the reconstruction programme will generate a huge market for all sorts of goods, offering terrific investment opportunities.
There are a great many technologies that are peculiarly applicable to South Africa. They can be passed on to the other countries in the region to their benefit. For example, Eskom, which provides the power for the country, has enough surplus generation to supply its neighbours. It expects to be able to supply an extra 2.5 million households by 2000. That huge electrification programme will provide vast business potential for the makers of appliances, household goods and, of course, electrical supply equipment, some of which will be imported. The supply of electricity comes through a prepaid meter on specially developed technology that is a sought-after export product by other African countries.
732 The technology for cheap housing, which has been mentioned, suitable only for that region is another valuable export which will lead to a big demand in white goods. The spin-off from the South African RDP will reach deep into the whole region, so that money spent in South Africa will help to stabilise and benefit the whole region.
Closer liaison between the ODA and the RDP, working in tandem, would give early warning to British firms of opportunities on the horizon. Such a knotting together of the two interests would benefit the regeneration and the trade of both countries, and it would forge links that would last through the decades that it will take to do the job.
Britain may be the biggest investor in South Africa, but the Japanese and the Germans are investing heavily in the country and buying hotels and businesses. We must not allow ourselves to be pushed into second or third place—as has happened in so many other countries—in a country that has such affinity with and good will to us at the moment and one that is the engine of the half continent. We must not miss the opportunity to establish new bases which can then spread out over the continent.
It is therefore reassuring to see that Mr. Major and Mr. Heseltine have led trade and business delegations, and that last, but foremost, Her Majesty is about to pay a visit to South Africa. The Government merit congratulations on taking those initiatives.
The country is now trying to move out of trade protection and into the GATT. That will cause some agony and may prove too painful. However, the UK has a role to play in helping to ease the way and has already helped South Africa with the European Union. The UK could usefully advise with regard to Europe, to everyone's mutual benefit. South Africa will of course compete with us, but the difference in climate and its special position enable it to complement quite as much as to compete in most spheres of trade. But a word of warning: in many countries aid has led to a crippling debt burden that has undone all the benefit of the aid.
It is essential for the good of South Africa that any loans should be channelled strictly into wealth-creating industry so that any debt can be serviced properly. Otherwise, in our generosity, we shall just create another impoverished country. It is that country's industry, not aid, that must create the wealth to improve its own living standards.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Lord Balfour of Inchrye
My Lords, when I first set eyes on South Africa in 1939 as a young teenager, it was from the sea. Before me lay Cape Town harbour with the magnificent spectacle of Table Mountain in the background. Alas, as my noble friend Lord Kintore has just remarked, few go by sea nowadays: everyone travels by the more mundane method of air travel which, in the case of arriving at Cape Town, is not nearly so exciting.
I wondered what lay beyond the mother city. In years to come I was to learn: the arboraceous scenery of the Cape peninsula; the garden route to Port Elizabeth; the 733 beaches and resorts along the Indian Ocean; the drama of the Drakensbergs; the silence and solitude of the Karoo; the awe-inspiring Kimberley mine—the deepest man-made excavation in the world—and the lusher lands of the north and north eastern Transvaal, which contain numerous reserves with an abundance of game of every description. When one considers that South Africa has excellent communications and a first-rate transport system, it is no wonder that it constitutes a veritable paradise for the tourist.
I am therefore pleased that my noble friend Lord St. John of Bletso, to whom I am very grateful for instigating this debate, has specified tourism as one of the links to be promoted between Britain and South Africa.
Whereas politicians often tend to divide and separate people, sport and the performing arts unite and bind them. I may be right in thinking that the Prime Minister partially agrees with me, because I recall that among the party that accompanied him to South Africa last September was that distinguished footballer and splendid ambassador for soccer, Sir Bobby Charlton. His visit to the townships must have been of great encouragement to all the youngsters there. In recent years, African countries have shown remarkable progress in the World Cup, and I note that Leeds United has two black South Africans on its playing staff. Following his visit to South Africa last year, John Barnes, the Liverpool and England player, stated:The skill level was unbelievable, it's an outstanding set-up and best of all they keep stressing the enjoyment factor. In two or three World Cups' time, South Africa is going to be in with a real chance of winning something".That was high praise indeed from such a fine player. So I hope that we can look Forward to regular exchanges between the clubs and national teams of our two countries.
I trust that noble Lords will forgive me, in particular the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, if I admit that compared with my knowledge of soccer, my knowledge of rugby is limited. I confess I watch only when Scotland plays which nowadays is a somewhat chastening experience.
In 1956, I watched the first Test Match at the Wanderers' Stadium in Johannesburg when England, led by the late Peter May, were the visitors. In those days the few African spectators were allocated little space from which to watch, and they invariably used to cheer every boundary scored by the visitors and every wicket lost by the home side. How different it is today! Membership of the Wanderers is open to all, and, amazingly, a new ground has been constructed in the middle of the nearby Alexandra township, which has already been used as a venue for international cricket. There are now black players on the fringe of the national team, so it must be only a matter of time before South Africa follows Zimbabwe in having its first black test cricketer. It is pleasant to record that English professionals have performed valuable work in recent years by coaching in the townships. Now that they will have more time on their hands, perhaps Mr. Gooch and Mr. Gatting can pass on their wealth of knowledge and experience to aspiring young cricketers.
734 I turn now to the cultural scene. Special mention must be made of the Johannesburg Theatre which in the past often proved a thorn in the flesh of the friends of apartheid as well as being a fruitful source of inspiration for many of the country's most distinguished writers. I hope that it may prove possible for it to do a season over here. Musical exchanges have already begun, with the London Philharmonic paying a recent visit, as the noble Earl, Lord Lindsey and Abingdon, mentioned. However, what came as a revelation, to me at least, was a report the other day in The Times of a visit to the first Cape Town opera festival by that paper's opera correspondent, Mr. Rodney Milnes. As he rightly observed, that somewhat esoteric art form had hitherto been almost exclusively associated with the white population, and it is understandable that the Government have other priorities for funding.
One of the festival's four productions was Verdi's "Nabucco", a work in which the chorus plays an important role. In that production the chorus numbered almost 100, with singers of every colour. I find that both moving and thrilling, and the impact of the great chorus Va pensiero must have been truly overwhelming. I wonder what effect even a concert performance of the opera with that choir would have on that most generous and knowledgable of audiences; namely, the London Promenaders.
I realise that while tourism, sport and the arts have a part to play in the new South Africa, there are more pressing ways in which our two countries must be linked; that is, above all, economically. Concerning the latter, I should like to make just two observations in the time available to me. The first is that we must not overlook the commendable part that the South African business community has played in the affairs of the country. More often than not, in its efforts to see justice for all races it has consistently fallen foul of the protagonists of apartheid on major issues. The leading companies have for long had an established policy of social investment on a substantial scale throughout South Africa.
Secondly, it has been repeatedly emphasised how crucial it is that the South African economy should consistently achieve a higher growth rate so that the new government can address the political imperatives of alleviating poverty and extending equality of opportunity to all its citizens, without in any way stultifying growth. But that can be achieved only if the South African Government can reduce the current too-high level of violence and crime so that confidence, particularly among private investors and the international investment and banking communities, can be restored.
Finally, I wish to state a personal belief. We have had close historical ties with South Africa over a long period, which in recent years many would have dearly liked to have severed completely. I submit that we have an obligation to help her overcome the ravages of apartheid and take her rightful place in the world after four-and-a-half decades of darkness and discord. We have had invaluable contributions from all her citizens of all colours during two world wars.
735 When I was in the Navy during the Second World War I often heard my shipmates talking about the wonderful hospitality and kindness that they received whenever they had shore leave. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will play a part in discharging this obligation by helping South Africa towards a future of harmony and prosperity for all her citizens.
§ 5.50 p.m.
My Lords, it is a great pleasure to take part in this debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso. Eighteen months ago we played together in Cape Town in the parliamentary rugby team. I can assure your Lordships that it was most comforting to have such a ferocious wing forward protecting me from a very large former Springbok forward. The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, was also one of my protectors.
I wish to concentrate on sporting links. South Africa is one of the greatest of all sporting nations. Yet a high proportion of the population neither watch nor participate in sport. I wish to make a few suggestions, but first it is important to stress the considerable influence wielded in the South African Transitional Government by the sporting personalities and sporting groups in their Parliament.
I believe that the way to the South African heart in Parliament is through sport. Yesterday I spoke to the Member of Parliament in Cape Town responsible for the Rugby World Cup. One of the main points that he mentioned to me was the desire for a high-level sports fact-finding delegation to be sent from the United Kingdom to South Africa.
Perhaps I may give your Lordships a further example of the influence of Parliament in sport. The South African national rugby team, which recently toured Scotland, Wales and Ireland, was accompanied by some 50 people, 40 of whom were MPs, and two or three Ministers. ANC and Inkatha Members of Parliament, who had never previously seen a game of rugby let alone knew the rules, played for the South African parliamentary rugby team. In fact, that team beat the Scottish Caledonian parliamentary team for which I was playing. Songs were sung in the team coach and they were rendered in Zulu and Xhosa, which is the local language, by all the players. Of course, being rugby songs, I could not understand them and I do not know how polite they were.
There is a great determination and team spirit within the new South African Parliament; a determination to make the new constitution work. I repeat that sport is not only traditionally the greatest of all bonding influences but that that is particularly the case in South Africa.
From an historical perspective, leading developed countries have not had great success in steering many African countries through the transition from "colonial" rule, as it were, to sustainable democratic and reliable free market economies. I am anxious that after the Rugby World Cup in June and after the final 736 constitution of the South African Government is adopted there should not be a waning of global scrutiny and interest in the welfare of South Africa.
How, therefore, can we prevent this? From a sporting point of view, we are of course already playing a small but active part. For instance, two magnificent cricket grounds have been created in Alexandria and Soweto, funded from the UK. Cricket is flourishing in those townships. The Soweto Cricket Club is one of a number of township teams which has been coached by an organisation under the guidance of the West Indian cricketer, Conrad Hunt. This was financed by a charitable organisation.
The Soweto Cricket Club will be touring in England and Ireland in July. It has raised some £35,000 from one large individual sponsor and many donations. It has the support of two famous names; Dr. Ali Bacher and Sir Colin Cowdrey. Perhaps your Lordships will consider the excitement of these young, previously disadvantaged cricketers touring abroad. Consider their return to their homelands and the role models that they will become to their families and friends.
Ian Botham and Frank Bruno—what do they have in common? I know what your Lordships will say—that they both perform to full houses at the pantomime! They are sporting heroes and role models and they wield great influence.
An African township team or individual will, with help, sooner rather than later become a role model, a sports hero. In this way, with sporting heroes and teams at all social levels, will South Africa, through the spotlight of the media, remain in the public eye.
I wish briefly to make three suggestions for government action as regards the promotion of sporting links with South Africa. I also ask whether funds might be available from the Reconstruction Development Board and whether tax incentives might be offered to sponsoring companies. My first suggestion, which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, is the setting up of a national soccer coaching scheme. Football is very popular in South Africa. The second is funding and sponsorship with tax concessions for South African township touring teams from a wide variety of sports. The third, and most important of all, is that funds which have already been pledged towards education and schools in South Africa should be used at least in part on sports facilities in those schools.
I look forward to hearing my noble friend's reply. In the expectation that he will use his influence on the sporting front—and I hope that I shall not disappoint the noble Lord, Lord Balfour—I suggest that he backs England to win the Rugby World Cup.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Viscount Waverley
My Lords, Britain has always enjoyed a special relationship with South Africa, imbued with a shared sense of history, culture and language as well as sports.
Apartheid's demise has rightly revived this friendship, as both nations tackle the challenges posed by a reawakened South Africa. Britain's business community stands to gain a great deal once South 737 Africa's economic recovery gathers momentum. However, the pace of economic ascent can be guaranteed only once favourable socio-economic conditions prevail for all her people.
South Africa's planned Reconstruction and Development Programme, referred to by my noble friend Lord St. John and other noble Lords, will be crucial in restoring the nation's self-confidence and aspirations. Her fledgeling multi-racial democracy can thrive only once decades of mass poverty are progressively reversed. Britain has the technical expertise needed to accelerate the national reconstruction project in both public and private sectors.
I believe that the South African Government appreciate that only by deploying an effective system of local democratic government can both urban and rural areas be beneficially served. The apparatus of good governance will be measured by the strides made in areas such as education, health, housing and employment.
Although expectations run high, they should not exceed realistic projections and thus jeopardise the entire healing process. Essentially, the RDP's eventual success depends as much on the people as it does the current administration. Impatient dissension and back-biting has no role to play in the building of a new South Africa.
Human resource development must spearhead the nation's renewal. Apartheid starved South Africa of a skilled workforce and suffocated any hopes for small or medium-sized black enterprise. Joint ventures with black businesses will be vital in safeguarding their prosperous reintegration into the commercial world as well as bolstering much needed capital investment.
However, South Africa's long-term prospects will be determined in the field of education, where the nation's intellectual and practical training has already started. British governmental and non-governmental organisations, such as Research on Education in South Africa and the Professional Development Fund, are providing substantial assistance. Such trends must continue in the pursuit of universal education in South Africa.
The infrastructure must be in place so that the economy can be built upon firm foundations. British experience in health service management will be needed as South Africa focuses on the development of primary health care services. British building companies are already actively involved in South Africa's housing construction campaign, which aims to remove the deprived living conditions still facing many. A vibrant economy provides the most appropriate context for the fulfilment of such wide social goals.
We share deep personal ties with South Africa, but ultimately British strategy must be shaped by entrepreneurial perspicacity rather than by historical sentimentality. We have already acknowledged the importance of developing that economic relationship. Our deep-rooted commitment was underlined by the visits of both the President of the Board of Trade and the Prime Minister last year. Indeed, Britain's pledge of £1.25 billion to South Africa in the form of trade 738 support and aid underlines our dedication. Expanding trade and investment also remain a pressing priority for South Africa.
British sponsored initiatives such as "Opportunity South Africa" have served as timely catalysts. And 1995 signals the year of, "Britain Means Business in South Africa". Those promotions, in conjunction with other trade missions, must be encouraged as market competition intensifies. South Africa is transforming into one of the world's most attractive emerging markets and Britain must not lose the comparative advantage she holds over other established economic rivals.
South Africa is currently enjoying a high level of economic optimism. Present ECGD rates reflect the upbeat mood now sweeping through the international community. Cape Town's bid for the 2004 Olympics, articulating generally the immense potential for South African tourism, embodies the nation's breadth of economic vision. That proposed enterprise alone promises to generate well in excess of £1 billion for South Africa.
Parallels can be drawn with the successful Indo-British partnership and we should pursue a similar line with South Africa. Britain is still her principal foreign investor, but a moment's complacency will see us overtaken by competitors. The key to our market leadership lies in unflinching commitment. Efficient and co-ordinated market intelligence-gathering on the ground in South Africa will predetermine the level of our commercial success on her new economic playing field.
It would be inappropriate to close without thanking my noble friend Lord St. John for taking the initiative with this timely debate. South Africa has a true friend at Westminster.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ Lord Redesdale
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, for initiating this debate. It does not seem so long ago that I had the privilege of staying with the noble Lord in his home at Cape Town. Over breakfast, we looked over Cork Bay to watch whales mating. I mention that only to illustrate the remarkable breadth of activities that one can undertake in South Africa.
As a development spokesman, I find that I am in a rather peculiar situation in this debate and it is one in which I hope to find myself again: I wish to congratulate the Government on the money that they have pledged for aid to South Africa. Indeed, on a recent visit, the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, pledged over £8 million to the first of the commitment projects which encompass such areas as business, education, rural development and development in the townships.
While I welcome that aid, there is one question that I should like to ask the Minister. Although £100 million has been pledged to South Africa, will the Minister give an indication of the kind of projects on which the European Union money pledged in aid will be spent?
There is a desperate need for aid in South Africa. Anybody who has visited the townships in South Africa will be struck by the enormous gap between the wealth 739 of the towns and the cities and the dire poverty of the townships. I worked on the borders of KwaZulu and in the local township there was a small hut in which 19 people lived.
Although I call for aid, I do not believe that aid is the answer for South Africa. The noble Lord, Lord Poole, in his excellent maiden speech, put his finger on the eventual means of economic liberation for South Africa; that is, private investment. Only through massive private investment from outside will South Africa realise its economic potential.
Many people have talked about the lack of investment in South Africa. I must admit that I do not find that lack of investment surprising. As I have told the House before, I had the privilege of monitoring the elections there in April last year. One outcome of the peace in South Africa is that we take it for granted that the elections took place peacefully and were so successful. Just a few days before I went to South Africa I was quite scared by the prospect of monitoring the elections in Natal and KwaZulu. At the time, with Inkatha refusing to take part in the elections, it did not seem that they would be as peaceful as they turned out to be.
This is a very wide-ranging debate and I should like to deal with a few of the other points mentioned in the title. I should like to refer to the three major sports played in South Africa. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Balfour, I know very little about cricket and I shall not say a great deal about that. However, I should like to mention the sport referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Rennell—football. Facilities for playing the other sports that were mentioned are very expensive. Obviously to play rugby in South Africa a proper pitch is needed, as those members of the inter-parliamentary rugby team who went to South Africa in September the year before last know very well. Indeed they will have the opportunity to find out again. I must declare an interest in that I am vice-captain of that rugby team. There are still places available on the team. If the Minister would like to volunteer, he would be most welcome on our trip to South Africa in May, although I am not sure in which position he should play.
The sport which needs least investment—and I have seen it played in the townships—is football. It is a very popular sport and it needs only a ball to play it. There are flat grounds in South Africa on which it can be played. I received a briefing from the Sports Council and I welcome the measures that it is taking to promote sport there. I notice that as a contribution to promoting football in South Africa, we sent Sir Bobby Charlton as one of our ambassadors. However, it is not a one-way trade. I should like to bring to the attention of the House a recent export from South Africa, Mr. Philemon Masinga. He left Sundowns, was bought by Leeds United Football Club and, indeed, has been a remarkable success. He recently scored a hat-trick in the FA replay against Walsall.
One of the sports that is incredibly popular in South Africa and which leads to a degree of fanaticism is rugby. I believe that that encompasses the point of tourism that has been mentioned in the debate. The Rugby World Cup to be hosted in South Africa is a 740 dream come true for many South Africans. In fact, on my trips to South Africa, and while talking to South Africans, it appears that it has only recently become a certainty that it would ever take place. It is an indication of the strides towards peace that South Africa has made that it is now, without doubt, going to take place in South Africa. However, it will also make many people's minds focus on South Africa. The noble Lord, Lord Ennals, mentioned the point that, for many people, apartheid closed the door on South Africa; but that closed door led to the end of apartheid.
I was in Mozambique when the referendum took place in 1991. One of the arguments used to convince the white voters to vote for multi-racial elections was the fact that, if they did not do so, they would again be shut out of the international community. However, closing the door on South Africa meant that many people closed their minds against the country as a destination.
I originally went to South Africa in 1990. As a student, I considered it one of the places on earth that I would never visit. I went there due to the fact that I was in Zimbabwe at the time. I had the privilege of seeing Nelson Mandela addressing a crowd in the football stadium in Harare. That was his first public appearance outside South Africa. It convinced me that it was time to visit South Africa to see the changes taking place.
The World Cup will bring a great deal of tourism to South Africa. The country has immense potential for tourism. I believe that that will be one of the growth areas in the future. Indeed, South Africa is not an expensive country to visit. The noble Earl, Lord Kintore, suggested a figure of around £900 for such a visit. It is, perhaps, because I spent a large period of my life back-packing that I know one can actually get to Johannesburg for a great deal less than £500 and then travel on from that point. Moreover, with an exchange rate, when I was over there—and I believe it is still most favourable—of five rands to the pound, it is not an expensive tourist destination.
I believe that there is one area which really needs to be considered. I refer to the development of eco-tourism through the game parks such as Kruger and through the amazing national parks such as the Drakensberg which I had the joy of spending a good deal of time in. Those reserves will attract a great many tourists from outside South Africa. However, with the change in apartheid, there must also be a change in policy as regards those national parks. The local communities can no longer be shut out and fenced out of the game parks. The camp-fire policies that have worked so well in Zimbabwe to include the local communities within the game parks must be embraced. Indeed, embracing the local communities actually helps the wild life. It cuts down on poaching and gives a source of sustenance to the local population.
I should like to conclude by referring to one area in which I believe South Africa will serve a role as regards the rest of Africa. As an economic power, there is no doubt that South Africa will be the engine that leads to the development of many of the countries bordering South Africa. I should like to mention the prospect of an African defence force. South Africa will have a 741 growing role in peace-keeping forces under the UN. I hope that the Minister will give some indication of his support in that respect.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Lord Clinton-Davis
My Lords, Perhaps I may, like other speakers, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, on his splendid introduction to today's debate and on selecting the item for discussion. The noble Lord gave us an eloquent, informed speech which illustrated his passionate concern for the new South Africa. Indeed, we have heard some fascinating speeches, not least the maiden speech from the noble Lord, Lord Poole. I gather that, these days, one is not allowed to say too much about maiden speeches. However, I enjoyed it, as I am sure did the whole House.
The noble Lord, Lord Alport, referred to the current situation in South Africa as a miracle. It is very close to being a miracle, is it not? It is a miracle which few of us, committed though we were to protesting against apartheid —indeed, I remember on many occasions going with my noble friend Lord Ennals to South Africa House; that is, not inside it but outside—would have believed would happen in such a short space of time.
Proper tribute has been paid during the debate to many people—for example, Bishop Trevor Huddleston, Archbishop Tutu, and, rightly, Vice-President de Klerk; but, most of all, the President of South Africa, Mr Nelson Mandela. I do not have to go any longer to stand outside the gates of South Africa House because a different sort of High Commissioner has been installed. I am delighted about that. Indeed, I gather that he is not too far from us at the present time. All those people showed a great measure of heroism, but nothing could excel the heroism of Mr Nelson Mandela. He, of course, was inspired by the courage of an entire people who, despite appalling privation and state terrorism, never lost their faith.
Is it not remarkable how that man has no feeling for revenge after his terrible years of incarceration? In his recently published autobiography, Nelson Mandela says:No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going".Does that not encapsulate the spirit of the man since his release and his assumption of the presidency? Together, he and Vice-President de Klerk, along with his team, are co-operating and beginning to dismantle those hated structures of apartheid. I believe that they are committed to demonstrating how ethnic and national cultures can be mutually reinforcing and can contribute to the establishment of a society based on justice and freedom.
As my noble friend Lord Ennals, said, none of that could have happened without the use of economic sanctions, not least by the United States, which precipitated the situation —a policy that was opposed for a very long time by the noble Lady, Baroness Thatcher, when she was Prime Minister. I am delighted that the present Government are taking a totally different 742 attitude. No longer are members of the ANC regarded as terrorists or pariahs; they are regarded as people with whom we are very willing to deal in the new government. However, tensions and difficulties are bound to arise. The very sad events of today exemplify that situation. Indeed, there is a whole range of daunting problems confronting the government in South Africa.
The per capita income of whites is still about eight times higher than that of the Africans. A jobless rate of 39 per cent. exists among the African peoples. About half the population is functionally illiterate as a result of the operation of the Bantu education acts. Two-thirds have no access to electricity. In rural areas something like 70 per cent. of the people eke out an existence below the minimum living level as defined by the Department of National Health. Squatter camps in Cape Town exemplify the joblessness and the homelessness which undermine the Government's endeavours to achieve reform on a peaceful but necessarily gradual basis.
Some minority elements in. the white community continue to harbour hostility to change, although thankfully far fewer than one might have imagined just a few months ago. Substantial elements in the black community are desperately and understandably impatient for change. I think we appreciate all this and it is good that our Government are resolving to play their part in achieving the necessary scale of change in the country. But how is it all going to be achieved? There is an understandable wariness on the part of the present Government of South Africa about taking extensive loans from international institutions because of the consequential debt burden referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Gisborough, and also the impairment of sovereignty.
The government of course do not wish, and could never wish—they could not afford—to turn their back on the millions of their supporters who have achieved their freedom. The government, or at least the ANC part of the government, is opposed to the old "trickle down" economic philosophy. However, they recognise that they have to strike a balance between personal incentives and social redistribution markedly different from the policies followed in the old South Africa.
The policy referred to by the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, at the beginning of this debate that is set out in the Reconstruction and Development Programme has to be the foundation of the economic and social revolution which must follow the political revolution. This programme seeks to combine the benefits of growth and redistribution in setting the path towards a more just society. It provides a framework for socio-economic development referred to by the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley. It sets out objectives for the first five years in, among other things, employment and social policies. It speaks of the need to redistribute 30 per cent. of land holding. I would say in parenthesis that I understand that only about 13 per cent. of the land had under the previous oppressive laws been allocated to blacks. Millions of people had literally been brutally uprooted to eliminate what were called "black spots" from white areas.
743 The task in the economic sense is to create half a million new employment opportunities in the public and private sectors. That requires the electrification of something like 2½ million houses. There needs to be better provision for education, health and social welfare. Again that was touched on by the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, in his contribution. One of the most impressive priorities set by the government is free medical attention for children under six and for pregnant women. One cannot create the necessary stimulus for enlarging employment and economic opportunity in the country as long as "slumdom" is allowed to be perpetuated. The avowed aim of the government, while recognising these problems, is nevertheless to redirect rather than to increase the budget. That is a hugely difficult purpose in view of the urgency of redressing wrongs which have been suffered for so long.
A number of your Lordships have referred to the opportunities which will be provided in terms of cultural and above all sporting links. I have no intention of accepting any invitations to join any rugby teams. It is an uncivilised game which, as a football supporter and player in my youth, I would never dream of undertaking, and certainly not at the age of 66. Nevertheless it is good that the parliamentary team is playing. How well it plays I am not sure, but it is playing. I am glad that the sporting links exemplified by the recent test matches are being built up. I look forward to the time when there will be sufficient experienced black South African players able to bowl and bat with the best of them, and keep wicket too. That will take time but it will happen. This is all about building on the self-confidence that has been created by the recent scenario in South Africa among the overwhelming majority of people. There is a degree of self-confidence too among the white community which is so pleasing to behold. So much of the fear has gone out of the scene. The black community and the white community overwhelmingly, I believe, want reconciliation.
How do we go about trading with South Africa? A number of useful suggestions have emerged in this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Acton, referred to the clear need to renegotiate the relationship with the European Union because South Africa is probably too well off to be admitted to the Lomé agreement, but some new arrangement has to be devised. While South Africa may not be in a position to acquire the swiftly earned prosperity of South East Asia, it is unlikely to be in the position of some countries in Latin America such as Brazil, which is trapped in apparently permanent and massive inequalities of income, not at least in the long term.
South Africa has a high ratio of overseas trade and dependence on foreign markets for its main products, and on foreign investment for growth. It has substantial mineral resources. It has an experienced business community. It has a legal framework which is now widely supported and practised by both Africans and white lawyers of great distinction. It has great natural beauty to attract tourists. It has a strong infrastructure in terms of transport, services and communication. In some industries it has high technological skills. Indeed it even 744 has a strong educational system compared with most other countries of the developing world. All these represent good auguries for the potential influence of South Africa—an influence which I believe will be enormous in the whole continent of South Africa. It is clearly in our interests to align ourselves alongside that country.
There are some faint hearts of course. As the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, said, there is the "wait and see" brigade. It is not unreasonable, in a way, to adopt that point of view because of the considerable uncertainties that continue to exist. But the penalties for standing aside could be high in the long term and we would risk being left behind. The United States is adopting a positive attitude. It promises to double United States aid and to encourage investment by American industry. If that happens, and if we are part of it, I like to believe that the favoured scenario is that, in the years to come, South Africa, with its substantial white community, with a standard of living considerably better than that of communities in Western Europe and with a majority of Africans closing the gap and closing it rapidly, will have less poverty, much less racism and less pessimism about the future than there is among so many of its neighbours. It will, I believe, be able because of that to influence its neighbours and its natural allies to follow the right course. Together I think that we can look with optimism to the future of Africa.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Lord Inglewood
My Lords, I am delighted that it now falls to me to reply to this debate on our ties with South Africa which was moved so lucidly by the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, and which has included so much of the expertise which exists in this House.
I am also very pleased to welcome my noble friend Lord Poole in making his maiden speech. He brings wide-ranging experience from the Prime Minister's policy group and the City as well as heartfelt personal feelings for South Africa. I understand that he is also an enthusiastic yachtsman. His contribution to this debate shows that he will not be at sea in your Lordships' House, and we look forward to hearing more from him.
Britain has an enormous admiration for all the South African people and the way they are handling their transition to democracy. They have provided the rest of the world with a fine example of a country moving towards justice, peace and reconciliation.
Last month your Lordships debated the South Africa Bill, which addresses the outstanding legal issues pertaining to South Africa's rejoining the Commonwealth. As I said during my summing up on that occasion:the themes that ran through the speeches were those of joy, which must be right, and those of respect for the leaders in South Africa who have effected a most dramatic and historically significant transformation".It is fitting that the Second Reading of that Bill has been followed by tonight's debate, which looks more closely at Britain's relations with the new South Africa, which, as both the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, and my noble 745 friend Lord Alport recognised, holds one of the keys to the future well-being of the southern part of the African continent.
In this House there is a great deal of consensus on all sides—not least on the Opposition Benches, reflected in the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Redesdale and Lord Clinton-Davis. Britain is committed to supporting South Africa's peaceful transformation. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister expressed that intention clearly in the speech he made in Cape Town. He promised South Africans that Britain wanted to forge a fellowship for the future with them. I can reassure my noble friend Lord Alport that we are committed to links with South Africa.
Last week my noble friend Lady Chalker went to South Africa to meet the responsible South African Ministers, to develop the dialogue we have established and to discuss the practical details of the help we are giving to that country. She came away with very positive impressions of the efforts being made and of the warm appreciation in South Africa for what Britain is doing.
Britain has close, important and long-standing trade and investment links with South Africa, which of course has the most modern and effective economy in Africa and which is endowed with many human and natural resources. In 1993 South Africa was our 20th largest market, .the fourth largest outside the OECD. Our exports have been over £1 billion for each of the past six years. Our invisible earnings are worth around a further £1 billion a year. During 1994, our visible exports to the end of November had increased by 24 per cent. over the previous year. South African exports to this country are in the region of £1 billion a year. The UK is the largest overseas investor in South Africa. Our investments have an estimated book value of £2 billion and an estimated market value of between £8 billion and £10 billion. All this is a very solid platform from which increased trade can grow.
In July last year my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade quickly demonstrated Britain's wish to strengthen trade and investment links with South Africa by leading a party of 57 British businessmen on a week-long visit. There he launched a trade and investment campaign—Opportunity South Africa. It is estimated that new business opportunities amounting to £500 million, ranging from the straightforward sale of equipment to large-scale investment and infrastructure projects, are there to be grasped. My right honourable friend also announced an additional £1 billion available in ECGD cover. He also announced a British investment promotion scheme to encourage more small and medium-sized UK companies to invest in that country by providing grants towards the cost of pre-investment feasibility studies and the training of local employees. The scheme is administered by the Commonwealth Development Corporation and British Coal Enterprise. It was launched formally by my noble friend Lady Chalker last week in Johannesburg with £2 million of British money.
My right honourable friend the Prime Minister, on his visit to South Africa last December, took with him 16 senior businessmen. During that visit he and President 746 Mandela signed an investment promotion and protection agreement which is aimed at creating favourable conditions for investment by British and South African companies in each country. It will be ratified by both governments later this year. In addition, on 24th January, a full-scale trade promotion campaign called Britain Means Business was launched in Johannesburg amid widespread publicity.
The future of South Africa provides a huge challenge for British business. We must prove that we are equal to that challenge. I am sure that we can be.
The noble Lord, Lord Acton, raised a point about the relationship between South Africa, our own country and the LoméConvention. We in Britain are committed to pressing within the European Union for the closest possible trading relationship between South Africa and the Union. In particular, we are pressing for maximum South African access to European markets. Whether the needs of South Africa would be best served by accession to Lomé or by bilateral trade agreements with the EU is a matter for them to decide. Either way, we shall continue to press for the maximum possible benefit from EU aid programmes to be extended to that country.
As a number of noble Lords said, we and South Africa have important shared elements in our cultures, which in turn are an important component in developing relations between us. The British Council is at the forefront of our cultural relations. Its work is in two main areas. The first is in support for training, educational and collaborative projects in the arts. That is the kind of project which the noble Baroness, Lady Wharton, described when she spoke about the SIBIKWA project, which the British Government do not know about. I am advised that if the noble Baroness were minded to approach the High Commission in South Africa it may be able to help. The second aspect of our cultural programme is high profile. We have instituted a series of high impact arts initiatives, both in this country and in South Africa.
Another important area of cultural relations between Britain and South Africa is our scholarships programme. The latest figures which are available, for 1992–93, show that there were 609 South African students in Britain, of whom 556 were supported by her Majesty's Government, at a cost of £1.2 million. Most of the students were funded under the ODA's technical co-operation training programme. In addition, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office funds Helen Suzman Chevening awards.
As a number of noble Lords said, Britain and South Africa have deep and long-established sporting ties. We enjoy friendly rivalry. These stretch from league levels to the grass roots. As both the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, and my noble friend Lord Rennell pointed out, these are a unifying influence. There are numerous examples of British support for South African and Southern African sports development.
In South Africa British sporting assistance has included the financing of the Alexandra township cricket ground, part funding of the Vision for Sport conference in Johannesburg in 1993, secondments to the Sports Council of sports development officers from the Johannesburg and Cape Town municipalities, and 747 training for junior sports development officers in sports centre management. In September last year my right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced a UK-South Africa sports initiative to help develop sports training skills in South Africa. A total of £148,000 has been committed to that programme, which is backed by the British Council, the ODA and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The case for sport as a development tool was made by the Commonwealth heads of government meeting Committee on Co-operation through Sport which reported to the 1993 Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Limassol. Its report specifically recommended that the developed countries of the Commonwealth should include sport, particularly in the educational field and using a community-based approach, as part of their assistance packages to Commonwealth developing countries. In South Africa's case, Britain has taken on that responsibility.
Tourism is one of South Africa's fastest growing industries. In 1993, 618,000 people visited that country. This year over 800,000 visitors are expected, with the peaceful change to democracy and the rugby world cup. It will be interesting to see how the teams from the British Isles and South Africa compare. As an Englishman, I was reassured by the prognosis of my noble friend Lord Rennell of what would occur.
I should also like to explain to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, that at one time in my career I played fullback, but I ended up in Addenbrookes Hospital with a punctured lung. I thought that it was time to call it a day. Despite the prospect of a trip to South Africa—where I have never been—I had better stand by that decision.
Most of the increased tourism is likely to come from Britain and Germany, which are South Africa's two top sources of visitors, and from North America. The Department of Trade and Industry has identified the tourism sector as offering significant opportunities for UK involvement, as well as being a significant area of growth in that country's economy offering jobs and prosperity. Companies are actively being encouraged to pursue those opportunities within the context of the DTI's Britain Means Business trade and investment promotion. If my noble friend Lord Astor of Hever submits the proposal for the kind of project he described to the High Commission, he may well find that we can proceed and bring matters forward.
Immediately after the South African elections in April 1994, we committed a total of £100 million over three years as the latest chapter in our aid programme to South Africa, which goes back to 1979. Of that, £60 million is bilateral aid and the remainder is our contribution to European Union funds and Commonwealth Development Corporation investments. That is a substantial co-operation programme. It is clear that the South African authorities regard our assistance as a positive and effective contribution to South Africa's reconstruction and development. We are one of the largest bilateral aid donors. On top of that, let us not forget the work of the British NGOs and other voluntary organisations.
748 Our assistance to South Africa is driven by the needs of the South African people. It has always sought to help directly those hurt by apartheid and to enable them to play a full role in South Africa's social, economic and political life. In June 1993, we took a decisive step forward, focusing our aid to South Africa where it is most needed, when we opened the British Development Division in Pretoria. That division works closely with the office of the South African Government's Reconstruction and Development Programme to ensure that our projects and programmes are fully in tune with the Government's priorities. Our assistance is targeted in support of the Reconstruction and Development Programme and is channelled through both non-governmental and governmental organisations. There is much to be done, and we shall play our part fully.
On 20th September last year, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and President Mandela signed a memorandum of understanding on development co-operation which set out agreed areas of focus for our bilateral aid. Those areas are: education, health, good governance, including assistance to police reform, enterprise development (which is especially important given the high level of unemployment to which a number of noble Lords alluded), land and agriculture.
The noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, visited South Africa last week to sign a further memorandum with Mr. Jay Naidoo, the Minister responsible for the reconstruction and redevelopment programme, setting out the arrangements to deliver that help. It is the first agreement of its kind concluded between South Africa and a donor country. She also emphasised the overriding requirement for the programme to be backed by sound macroeconomic and administrative policies, without which it cannot succeed. My noble friend also announced that Britain would provide £2 million to help strengthen capacity at provincial and local government level to implement the Reconstruction and Development Programme and over £1 million to support the establishment of a rural strategy unit within the Orange Free State. Those are the first major aid projects to be announced under our bilateral programme.
About a third of our funds in South Africa are currently spent on education—a point raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley. Our assistance is intended to increase access for disadvantaged South Africans to education and training opportunities and to help improve the quality of education. Agreed areas of focus for support are, first, enhancing the capacity to develop, improve and manage national provincial education policy; secondly, improving the quality and content of maths, science and language education at school level; and, thirdly, increasing provision of education and training for those previously disadvantaged by apartheid.
Examples of current initiatives are projects to improve the quality of English language teaching in black schools in rural areas and to improve science teaching in secondary schools through improved classroom materials and better training for teachers. We also support a number of schemes for scholarship and training. The noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, announced 749 during her visit to South Africa last week a further contribution of over £2 million to the tertiary education fund of South Africa. I hope that that will meet some of the concerns of the noble Baroness, Lady Wharton. Those will provide bursaries and loans to some 1,200 students in 1995. They are earmarked for those students from the traditionally disadvantaged communities pursuing studies in the fields of science, education, engineering and medicine.
The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, asked me to relate the European Union's aid policies with those of the Government in their bilateral aid. Bearing in mind the time, if the noble Lord will forgive me, I shall write to him to explain that.
Of course, it is not only aid which helps the South African people. It is trade and the workings of the market economy, as the noble Lord, Lord Poole, pointed out. I have already mentioned the wide-ranging steps that the Government are taking to assist trade with South Africa which we are linking with an additional £1 million worth of export credit guarantees. That expansion in bilateral trade will be a major catalyst in helping all South African citizens to improve their lot. As the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, commented, growth is the key to South Africa's success, and trade will be an essential engine to generate that growth.
A significant programme of parliamentary links is being developed. As noble Lords are aware, British South African and British Southern African parliamentary groups have been set up to re-establish and develop closer ties between our Parliaments. Another area where assistance and links are building is that of military assistance, where Britain provides a military advisory and training scheme (BMATT) to help the integration of South African armed forces, transforming erstwhile enemies into colleagues all committed to supporting the new non-racial democratic South Africa. As I am sure your Lordships can imagine, that is a difficult and daunting task.
The question was raised about the role that South Africa might play in the future peace and stability of the Southern African continent. Since South Africa's return to the international community, its new government have committed themselves to playing a major role in the preservation of peace and stability within the UN framework, in particular in the Southern Africa region. South Africa has already given strong diplomatic support to conflict resolution, as was shown, for example, in the resolution of the recent crisis in Lesotho, and will surely, once the integration of its armed forces is complete, play its full role in peace-keeping operations.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Cabinet Minister responsible for Science and the Public Services, is to visit South Africa from the 26th February to 2nd March. His visit follows the Prime Minister's trip to South Africa last year when he stressed the importance of close scientific links between the two countries. The Minister will be accompanied by Sir William Stewart, the Prime Minister's chief scientific adviser, and a high delegation of British scientists and business people. The visit will build on existing scientific trade links between our two countries and will 750 establish areas for future joint scientific work which, as my noble friend Lord Gisborough pointed out, has great potential.
I have now explained in some detail what we are doing. We are seeing a steady expansion and flowering of relations between Britain and South Africa, which is warmly welcomed on both sides. At the end of March, Her Majesty the Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, will pay a state visit there, the first such visit for nearly 50 years. We believe that this visit, which we know is eagerly awaited in South Africa, will set the seal on the revival of an old and mutually beneficial friendship between our two countries.
Let me conclude by quoting a senior South African official, speaking at the recent launch of a training course for athletics coaches in Johannesburg. He mentioned the large number of overseas visitors South Africa now receives and the extravagant promises they make, and added, "But the Brits deliver". I am sure that all noble Lords share my pride in this confirmation of the esteem in which our country is held, which is evidence of the concrete value of our endeavours in South Africa.
South Africa and its people have behaved magnificently in overcoming racial injustice, bitter division and human folly. This all points the way towards hope and reconciliation among its people. They have the heartfelt good wishes of the British people, as has been so clearly reflected in the debate. We in Britain have shown our willingness to help. They deserve our support, and they will continue to receive it.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Lord St. John of Bletso
My Lords, this has been a most informative debate. I am extremely grateful to all noble Lords who have participated. I would like to join in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Poole, on a most interesting maiden speech. I hope that we shall hear more from him in the years to come. I am also delighted that the new South African High Commissioner, His Excellency Mendi Msimang, has been present to listen to the debate today. I wish him every success in his posting in this very important time for South Africa.
It has been a classic debate for hereditary Peers representing all age groups and all professions, from the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, who was an international rugby player and played against the Springboks in 1962, to my noble friend Lady Wharton, who was at my sister school in Cape Town. However, that is not in any way to decry the valuable contributions of the two life Peers, the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, and the noble Lord, Lard Clinton-Davis, both of whom made most interesting and valuable contributions.
I should like to have made further mention of individual contributions, but that ground has been admirably covered by the Minister. I note that I have precisely two minutes in which to wind up this debate that has taken a full two-and-a-half hours. I would like to thank the Minister for his extensive reply and also the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, for his valuable contribution. I also pay tribute to the noble Baroness, 751 Lady Chalker, who has played such an important role in fostering and developing British relations with South Africa.
Clearly, there is a general appreciation that South Africa has made remarkable progress in recent months and over the past year—not least in going so far in reconciling what was only recently a bitterly divided society. I very much hope that Her Majesty's Government will continue to assist the new government in every possible way. I am confident that, with a little luck, South Africa will eventually repay such support with interest.
The South African Government must meet vast expectations in terms of providing housing, jobs, education, improved health care and land reform, all of which are incorporated in the reconstruction and development programme. This is a tall order in the short term. But with the continued support of the international community, I am confident that these targets can be achieved. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.