Southern Africa

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1991.

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Photo of Martin Smyth Martin Smyth , Belfast South 12:00 am, 24th July 1991

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has held recently with other southern African leaders, in addition to the African National Congress, the Pan-Africanist Congress, Inkatha leaders and the President of South Africa.

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

In recent months I have met President Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Dr. Savimbi of Angola. During my recent visit to South Africa I met a range of leaders, including some from the Democratic party.

Photo of Martin Smyth Martin Smyth , Belfast South

I welcome the conversations that the Secretary of State has been having. However, if he has been meeting a range of leaders, from the ANC to Dr. Savimbi, does he agree that it may be time that Ministers met people such as President Mangope of Bophuthatswana, on the ground that moderate people as well as those who engage in terrorism should be listened to?

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

I agree that a wide range of opinion is necessary and I have thought about the hon. Gentleman's point. The trouble is that Bophuthatswana is a product of a so-called grand apartheid policy which we have never accepted and it would not be sensible for Ministers to meet its president at a time when that whole policy is being changed.

Photo of Mr Peter Blaker Mr Peter Blaker , Blackpool South

Would my right hon. Friend care to tell the House his reaction to reports that the South African Government have been giving aid to Inkatha at the expense of the ANC?

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

Like everyone in the House, I am troubled by those reports. This morning I telephoned the South African Foreign Minister and spoke to him for more than half an hour to express our concern. I urged that the South African Government should be clear and open about what had occurred and that for the future they should make it clear that old policies had been discarded and that the policing of the country would be politically impartial and effective. In reply, Mr. Botha assured me that there had been no connivance by the South African Government at violence in the townships originated by Inkatha or anybody else.

Mr. Robert Hughes:

Although the Foreign Secretary and I may disagree on many things, does he at least agree that it is absolutely imperative for the peace process to proceed? That being so, will he go even further than his conversation this morning with the South African Foreign Minister and say clearly to President de Klerk that the covert funding of Inkatha and the covert and overt collusion by the police and defence forces in the violence in the townships greatly endanger the peace process and must stop? Will he make it clear that there will be no question of this country or any other lifting sanctions until this process is completely clear?

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

It is certainly true that there has been a setback to confidence in the process which, as the hon. Gentleman rightly says, must proceed, because there is no alternative. As I have said, it is important for the South African Government to be clear about the past and they must re-establish confidence about the future policing of the country.

Photo of Mr William Powell Mr William Powell , Corby

My right hon. Friend may be aware that his answer to the supplementary question by the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) will be received with some disappointment in parts of South Africa. Would not my right hon. Friend consider it appropriate for members of his staff in the embassy in Pretoria to talk to Bophuthatswana and the other South African homelands, if only to tell them that their future very much depends on the political settlement that must be made in South Africa in due course and that they must join in the process?

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

I welcome the opportunity to make that clear, but I am not sure that talks are needed to do that. Plainly, the future of the people living in the so-called independent homelands must be considered together with the future of all South Africans.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Shadow Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the revelations that have been admitted and which have caused great perturbation within the South African Government, about their funding of Inkatha, must cast a very worrying light on the good faith of the South African Government in their negotiations with the African National Congress? The Foreign Secretary's response to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) was simply not precise enough. Does not he now agree that it would be folly precipitately to lift sanctions as long as the good faith of the South African Government remains in doubt?

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

I am sure that we have been right to move on sanctions in the way that we have. We are talking not about the rewarding of this or that party, but about nation-building in the new South Africa. Anyone who has been to the townships, as I did recently, sees what needs to be done; that can be done only by investment which, in turn, can come only from economic growth. That is as plain as a pikestaff.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about the financing of Inkatha. Such funding as has so far been declared and admitted belongs to an earlier stage and was brought to an end in the early part of last year. Much more serious are the allegations of connivance with violence. When I was in South Africa, Mr. Mandela spoke to me with clearly genuine passion on the subject. That is why it is crucial for the South African Government to repeat the assurance that was given to me today that they have not connived at such violence. It is also crucial that the policing of the country should be in a different tradition from that which President de Klerk's Government inherited.