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Namibia: Future

Volume 415: debated on Thursday 27 November 1980

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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 whether they will make a statement on the negotiations between the United Nations, the British Government and the Republic of South Africa regarding the future of Namibia.

My Lords, as I told your Lordships yesterday, Her Majesty's Government welcome the United Nations Secretary-General's report of 24th November to the Security Council and the prospect it holds out for Namibian independence in 1981. We support the proposals contained in the report for a pre-implementation meeting in the week beginning 5th January. As a result of the admirable work of the United Nations mission to Pretoria last month, and subsequent consultations, we are close to agreement on March 1981 as the date for implementation. In conjunction with our partners in the group of five Western countries, we shall work to bring the Namibia negotiations to a successful conclusion through the pre-implementation meeting. I hope all the parties will approach the meeting in a positive spirit.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply. Is the difficulty not this, that while Dr. Waldheim has proposed a multi-party conference from 7th to 14th January, a cease-fire in March followed by supervised elections and independence, and while this has been endorsed by the South-West Africa People's Organisation and four out of five of the frontline African states, it has been rejected by the Republic of South Africa, who do not want arrangements until President Reagan has been inaugurated?

No, my Lords, it has not been rejected by the South African Government and I hope the meeting will take place.

My Lords, may I in supporting my noble friend in his purpose of speeding up the settlement of the Namibian question, welcome very much the tone and content of the Foreign Secretary's statement today? We all hope very much indeed that the Security Council will be able to convene all parties concerned in a meeting in January, moving in March if possible to the beginnings of the implementation of the independence programme.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for those remarks. Of course, there have been difficulties about this—there have been difficulties for the last four years—but I hope we are now on the road to getting a solution. Let us not do anything to stop it.

My Lords, arising out of the noble Lord's previous reply, may I ask him whether it is not the case that, on the day following Dr. Waldheim's statement of his plan, the Republic of South Africa rejected arrangements for a multinational conference until the new President of America had been inaugurated? Has not the South African plan for a Bantustan state in Namibia been destroyed by the decision of a 56 per cent. majority of the white ethnic group to reject any sharing of powers with the blacks? Will Her Majesty's Government support the proposal for a unified state harmonising the tribes?

My Lords, for someone who has advocated a conference and a settlement on Namibia over the months, both the tone and content of the noble Lord's questions are hardly helpful. It is not true that the South African Government have rejected it, and I very much hope they will accept.