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Swapo And Un Resolutions

Volume 414: debated on Monday 3 November 1980

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2.53 p.m.

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government in what manner they have recorded dissent from the United Nations resolution that the Marxist inspired and supported SWAPO is the sole voice representative of black Africans in South West Africa.

My Lords, Her Majesty's Government have often stated that they do not accept the description of SWAPO in resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly as the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people. Successive British Governments have either abstained on, or voted against, resolutions containing such assertions.

My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether it would have made any difference if my Question had referred to "authority" instead of "representative" since he used it in his reply? Secondly, would it not seem from that that the Government did not adequately dissociate themselves from the position of the United Nations resolutions? May I also ask him whether it is to be understood that the full diplomatic recognition of Angola by the United States is dependent on the total removal of all Cuban troops? And can he give any indication as to when we might expect the contemplated elections in South West Africa to take place?

My Lords, I think the second supplementary falls a bit outside the scope of the Question on the Order Paper. As to my noble friend's first supplementary, I am sorry that my original Answer did not make clear that our view is that SWAPO cannot claim to be the sole representative of the Namibian people because in due course that will be for the people of Namibia themselves to decide. As for when they will get that opportunity, we hope it will be soon, but of course that remains to be determined with the conclusion of the present negotiations.

My Lords, can the Minister say in more detail in what way the dissociation from the United Nations resolution actually occurred? Also, can he give replies to my second and third supplementaries?

My Lords, I did reply to the final supplementary; the noble Lord asked me when we could expect elections to take place and I told him that would have to depend upon the result of the present negotiations. I also said in my main reply that we have always either abstained on or voted against resolutions which suggest that SWAPO is the sole legitimate representative of the Namibian people.

My Lords, can the noble Lord indicate whether there is any hope of the South West Africans coming to negotiation in the fairly early future? Is the noble Lord aware that all parts of the House are deeply worried about the fact that this issue is dragging itself on with no resolution at the end of it?

My Lords, a United Nations mission was recently in Pretoria and we hope that the Secretary-General's report arising out of that mission will be put before the Security Council fairly soon.

My Lords, I know the noble Minister is not responsible for the reports following the visit of the United Nations team there, but the reports appeared to be extremely negative. Will he tell us whether he agrees that the renewed invasion of Angola by South African troops is handicapping the efforts of the five Western powers in this matter? Is it not consistent with the obstruction that the South African Government has been putting up to the suggestions made by the Western group and the United Nations over the last few years?

My Lords, the various military activities taking place to which the noble Lord refers are of course a difficulty, but so too is the violence coming from other quarters, and in particular SWAPO, which form the subject of the Question on the Order Paper. As for the general charge of South African delay, I think it would be better if we awaited the Secretary-General's report to the Security Council, to see how they got on at their recent meeting.

My Lords, if SWAPO is not regarded as the sole representative voice of the black South Africans, can the Minister say which group or groups do the Government regard as the representative interests of black South Africans?

My Lords, is the noble Lord talking about black South Africans? If so, I think that is another question.

The question of who is the sole legitimate voice of the Namibian people will have to be determined at an election.

My Lords, is the Minister aware that not only the reports in the press but also information which one has received in other ways indicate that the recent discussions at Pretoria broke down and that there will inevitably be further delay in reaching a solution of this urgent problem? Will Her Majesty's Government do everything possible to intensify efforts to obtain a solution of this problem?

My Lords, we agree that there is an urgent need for a solution to this problem, but we think that the best way forward is through the implementation of the United Nations plan, and that is now happening. The next stage will be to study the Secretary-General's report to the Security Council, which we expect to be received shortly.