HL Deb 19 July 1993 vol 548 c32WA
Lord Cochrane of Cults

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they have taken to encourage and support the transition to non-racial democracy in South Africa.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey)

The British Government have been following the multi-party negotiations in South Africa closely, and is glad that agreement have been reached to hold fully democratic elections on 27th April 1994.

My right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary had useful talks with both Nelson Mandela and Chief Buthelezi during their recent visits to London. We made clear that the British Government strongly support the need for a successful outcome to the constitutional negotiations and will help where we can. We are in regular touch with President de Klerk.

The British Government are already helping in practical ways. We helped to arrange the sending of international observers to South Africa—from the UN, EC and Commonwealth—and led the troika visit of EC Foreign Ministers last Autumn, which set the seal on the EC observer mission. We have contributed the services of five senior policemen: two with the EC mission, one with the Commonwealth mission, one to help the Goldstone Commission Task Force, and another to help with the investigation into the assassination of Mr. Chris Hani. The mandates of the UN, EC and Commonwealth missions to South Africa have all been extended. Their work is greatly appreciated in South Africa and they are making a significant contribution towards containing the voilence. We have also made clear, through the EC, that we would be willing to join in any international effort to provide observers for the elections if this is the wish of all the parties.

We are also heavily involved through our aid programme. Last financial year we spent over £11 million in bilateral aid, plus a similar amount as our share of the EC positive measures programme. We expect our aid to increase during the transition. Our aid provides for the training of over 1,100 black South Africans in the UK and South Africa, including tailor-made courses in public administration for future senior black civil servants. It also supports many projects in education, health, and the promotion of small businesses in the townships, and in rural development. Last month we opened a new regional aid office in Pretoria to run our aid projects in South Africa.

Only South Africans themselves can build a new, united non-racial, democratic South Africa, but we are doing what we can to help.