South Africa

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 12th February 1990.

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Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Shadow Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs) 3:30 pm, 12th February 1990

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, having consistently called for the release of Mr. Nelson Mandela for many years, we in the Labour party express our profound satisfaction that he is no longer in prison? We emphasise that he should never have been in prison in the first place. We welcome his release and other recent steps taken by President de Klerk. We trust that successful negotiations will soon begin to bring about a South Africa with a vote for every man and woman on a common roll.

Is the right hon Gentleman aware that although Mr. Mandela is no longer in prison, he is not a free man? He cannot live where he chooses. He has no vote. For him and for the rest of the non-white majority in South Africa, that country continues to be a prison and it will be until apartheid and the police state are completely dismantled.

Does the Secretary of State recollect the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kuala Lumpur last October.? The Prime Minister signed up—to use her phraseology—a statement which affirmed that the: justification for sanctions against South Africa was to abolish apartheid by bringing Pretoria to the negotiating table and keeping it there until that change was irreversibly secured". As that objective to which the Prime Minister put her signature has clearly not been achieved, how can she call for relaxation in sanctions—particularly the ban on direct investment, to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred?

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the ban has been responsible for one third of the 100 billion rand of losses to the South African economy caused by sanctions over the past four years? It is by far the most effective sanction. Is not that precisely why the Prime Minister wants to end that sanction?

Mr. Mandela has called for sanctions to be maintained. Should we trust the British Prime Minister, whose every action has been to prop up apartheid, or should we pay heed to Mr. Mandela, who has given more than 27 years of his life fighting the injustice of apartheid?

The world has made its choice, and that is why the Prime Minister is isolated in the United Nations, isolated in the Commonwealth and isolated in the European Community. It is no thanks to her, but with all thanks and praise to Mr. Mandela and the millions of other Africans fighting for justice, that apartheid is doomed and will be destroyed.