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African National Congress

Volume 176: debated on Wednesday 11 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to meet representatives of the African National Congress; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer that I gave some moments ago.

In view of the historic fact that a previous British Government sowed the seeds of apartheid when the House voted for a racist constitution for South Africa in 1909, and that in more recent years the apartheid regime has been propped up by British investment and trade, would not it be better for British politicians now to maximise pressure on the South African Government to expedite the end of apartheid and the introduction of democracy, instead of attempting to lecture the ANC about the ending of sanctions? As the ANC has been in favour of a negotiated settlement since its foundation in 1912, is not it about time that we had a public apology from the Government for the statement by the Prime Minister less than three years ago in which she tried to denounce the ANC as just a typical terrorist organisation?

At this distance I cannot be held responsible for the Liberal Government of 1909. It is clear that the negotiations that have now begun and to which Mr. Mandela is as committed as Mr. de Klerk need our support. If we damage the economy of South Africa the background to those negotiations will be more bitter and more polarised.