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Mr. Hurd : I shall gladly elucidate. The decisions made in September 1986 were to place bans on new investment, imports of iron and steel and imports of certain gold coins. The bans on those imports were implemented through Community legislation, but the ban on new investment was not--it was a separate decision by member states outside the framework of the treaties. Its implementation was left to the decision of individual member countries. We have no capital controls in this country, and therefore we could only discourage companies from new investment. That was done in a written answer by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The last paragraph of that written answer stated :
"Meanwhile, if the South African Government were to take those steps for which we and our partners have called, in order to establish a process of dialogue across racial lines, we have made clear in the Commonwealth communique that we stand ready to review and, if appropriate, to rescind the measures we have adopted."--[ Official Report, 30 October 1986 ; Vol. 103, c. 220. ]
We seek to lay before our Community partners--I shall do this in Dublin next week--a reasoned case, to consult them on our proposals and to explain why we think there is no logic in the continuance in present circumstances of this voluntary ban on new investment.
Mr. Hurd : I think that I should continue. Perhaps I can clarify the matter further. We shall not, of course, instruct companies to invest in South Africa, because Governments do not direct such decisions. We would simply say to the companies, "Make your judgment on straightforward commercial grounds in either direction, free from politically motivated pressures." Companies will look to South Africa's long-term prospects as a stable and prosperous country. South Africa will have to satisfy that requirement, which will remain a powerful incentive for all South Africans to make further progress. South Africa needs to restore its valued place in development if it is to satisfy the aspirations of all its citizens. It will need help from abroad. That is what led the Commonwealth at Kuala Lumpur to call on international financial institutions, particularly the International Monetary Fund, to examine how resources might be mobilised once there is evidence of clear and irreversible change. That evidence is now before us.
Mr. Kaufman rose--
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West) rose--
Column 285Mr. Nellist rose--
Mr. Kaufman : The right hon. Gentleman has not answered clearly the question that I put to him. Can he take the action that he has described-- withdrawing the guidance to the companies unilaterally--or can he do that only if he secures agreement in Dublin next Tuesday?
Mr. Hurd : We are doing what I am advised we need to do--consulting our partners. There is no written answer and no statement rescinding that decision. We will point out that the logic of the voluntary ban on investment has run out. In the light of the September 1986 decisions, there is no further purpose in carrying on with that. At the same time, we remain fully engaged on the ground in South Africa. Part of the trouble in these debates is that they are all about sanctions, whereas sanctions are only part of the answer. We are continuing our bilateral aid programme and are thereby proving in a thoroughly practical way our commitment to help ease the transition to a post-apartheid society.
I should like to give the facts. The right hon. Member for Gorton has visited some of these projects and knows how important they are. Together with our contribution to the European Community programme, we expect to spend about £40 million in the period 1987 to 1992. Most of this will be spent on supporting education and training. By the end of this year, we shall be funding more than 1,000 scholarships for South African students. We are supporting education projects throughout South Africa. Last year, we played a leading role in helping to set up a scheme run by the Urban Foundation which will enable 40,000 South African families, who would not otherwise have the chance, to buy their own homes. We are contributing to hundreds of community projects that will help to improve standards of health care, education, community support and so on.
Mr. Tony Banks rose--
Mr. Nellist rose--
It is true that mitigating the hardships caused by apartheid is no substitute for working for its abolition--we must do both--but I hope that the persistence of apartheid will not be used as an excuse for not getting involved. Through our focus on education at all levels, we are helping to prepare the generation that we hope will inherit the post-apartheid South Africa.
Mr. Speaker : Order. The hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) wishes to participate in this debate. It will not improve his chances if he does not listen to the Foreign Secretary and delays proceedings.
Mr. Hurd : I have given way extensively, and I shall not give way again. Hon. Members who are seeking to interrupt me will be able to make their own speeches, if they catch your eye, Mr. Speaker. Some people argue that when the Securitate starts to crumble, one should not make concessions to it. That is a false and over-simple analogy. There are lessons for South Africa in eastern Europe, as President de Klerk has acknowledged, but anyone who thinks--this view was apparent in some of the comments of the right hon. Member for Gorton--that the South African Government are about to surrender power for fear of having it wrested from them is deluding himself about the real position. No one who really cares about the future of South Africa would advocate a policy that would set back reform and lead to bloodshed. It is very easy for people to warm themselves with their rhetoric on this subject, but we do not intend to do that. We shall continue to take measured steps to contribute to a peaceful solution inside South Africa.
Of course, it is true that apartheid has not yet been abolished and that the Group Areas Act, the Land Acts and the Population Registration Act remain in place. The South Africans are not yet at the end of the road, but they have taken the first steps upon it. The South African Government have made it clear that all the so-called "pillars of apartheid" are open for negotiation. They are setting no limits on the agenda. By any reasonable standard, it is now for their opponents to respond.
If there is no response from the international community of the kind that we have suggested, there will be--as my right hon. Friend the Minister of State said the day before yesterday--a danger of a Right-wing reaction, even though those opposing President de Klerk can offer South Africa nothing but increasing strife in a hopelessly divided society.
If we wanted to snuff out the present process of reform, condemn the black majority to greater poverty than the right hon. Gentleman described, and condemn the white minority to extremist white Government, we would follow the right hon. Gentleman's advice and make no response to President de Klerk's initiative. But we do not intend to do that. That is the wrong way around.
It is reasonable to look to the many opposition groups in South Africa to take this opportunity. A chance now exists to bring about genuine change through peaceful negotiation, involving not only the ANC but the PAC, the black consciousness movement, the Inkatha movement, which has already been referred to, and all the other political organisations that have struggled against
Column 287apartheid for so long. They should take up the challenge and heed the many calls, most recently from President Kaunda, to suspend violence and enter negotiations.
In his speech on 2 February, President de Klerk called on his opponents to walk through the open door and take their place at the negotiating table. I was heartened by that, and I am heartened by Mr. Mandela's belief that the negotiations will begin very soon. I sincerely hope that that is the case. That is the way to speed the end of apartheid. The prize of a free, democratic and prosperous South Africa is one for which we have worked for a long time. 4.50 pm
Sir David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale) : The whole House will feel some sympathy for the Foreign Secretary because he had to make that speech today. I remain one of those who are convinced that we would not have had this debate had it not been for the Prime Minister's maladroit remarks over the weekend in response to President de Klerk's press conference and Nelson Mandela's release. One could almost hear the tearing of hair in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at the time. That explains why the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was so uncomfortable at the Dispatch Box on Monday.
I do not dispute for a second that the Prime Minister is opposed to apartheid, but we all know--more important, the people of South Africa know --that her denunciation of apartheid has always been ritual, while her denunciation of sanctions has always been passionate. That has always been the impression gained by people in South Africa. My party would not object to the Foreign Secretary laying down a reasonable programme of looking ahead to the lifting of pressures and sanctions. Of course that is sensible in response to the changes that will come about in South Africa, but we object to that being done prematurely and not in concert with our European and Commonwealth partners. I noticed that the Foreign Secretary did not pray in aid this afternoon, as the Prime Minister attempted to do yesterday, President Bush, the Archbishop of Canterbury or anybody else. They, too, have made it quite clear that they are talking about a future programme of lifting sanctions, not about prematurely lifting sanctions. I again quote to the Foreign Secretary the words to which the Government are committed. At the Council of Ministers meeting on 10 September 1985 it was agreed that the objective of European Community measures was
"the complete abolition of apartheid as a whole and not just certain components of the system."
That is an important recollection to which the Government are wholly committed.
At the Commonwealth conference at Kuala Lumpur, the Government entered many reservations about the communique , but there was no reservation about paragraph 7. It was one of the paragraphs to which the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister assented. The communique states that the Heads of Government
"agreed that the only justification for sanctions against South Africa was the pressure they created for fundamental political change. The purpose was not punitive, but to abolish apartheid by bringing Pretoria to the negotiating table"--
I stress this--
"and keeping it there until that change was irreversibly secured. In this respect Heads of Government noted that leading personalities in the South African Government had themselves acknowledged the increasing pressure on the
Column 288South African economy, and that those pressures would not be diminished until fundamental political change had taken place." That is in the Commonwealth communique to which the previous Foreign Secretary assented.
I have been to South Africa since President de Klerk came to office. There is no doubt that there is a major change in attitude, mentality and objective between the de Klerk Government and the previous Government. That is not in dispute. It was put to me time and again, particularly by sections of the black population, that once Nelson Mandela was released and the state of emergency was lifted, the country would just be back to bad normality--the apartheid system would still exist. That is the position that we face today. Of course we must look forward and hope for the best, but the change has not yet happened, and it will take a little time.
Moreover, those who doubted, including the Prime Minister, whether sanctions would be effective should look at what was said in the National party manifesto in the elections in the autumn. It states : "boycotts, sanctions and disinvestment, have strained the economy of the country and of every business and household."
We do not rejoice because that has happened, but it is an open acknowledgment of what many of us knew was happening--that the pressure inside the National party and inside the business community led to the removal of President P. W. Botha and his replacement by President de Klerk. There is no question but that they played a major part.
Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East) rose --
Mr. John Carlisle rose --
Mr. Dykes : Is not one of the problems vis-a-vis the majority of the population that, although President de Klerk is an enormous improvement on the previous state President, there is still anxiety? Botha originally promised a great deal of reform, but he did nothing about abolishing the Population Registration Act, the Land Acts and the Group Areas Act.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister quoted the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has been forced to elaborate on what he said in Bangladesh. In his press release this morning, he said :
"But the hardest work--and the hardest tests--lie ahead. When those tests-- such as the legislation that enforces apartheid--are tackled, the government of South Africa will need encouragement so that they can show their electorate that the dismantling of the system is good for all the people of South Africa. That, after all, is the whole point of the existing sanctions."
Column 289The archbishop concluded :
"We should applaud President de Klerk for taking the essential first steps and be ready at the right time to respond with the easing of sanctions. I pray that time may not be long delayed."
That is precisely my party's position also. I do not believe that the Government are right to rush unilaterally ahead of our allies in taking unjustified steps.
In November, when I was last in South Africa, it was quite clear that every section of white opinion--even those who, slightly to my surprise, did not agree with the imposition of sanctions, including colleagues and friends in the Democratic party who have always disagreed with us on this issue-- acknowledged that international pressures had played their part in bringing about the change. Equally, I could find nobody of any particular persuasion in the black community who believed that the Prime Minister had done anything but hinder change. In a sense, that is rather unfair. The Foreign Secretary and I know that her private pressures have been helpful. The work being done by our embassy in Pretoria and by our consulate in Johannesburg on the ground and the projects to which the Foreign Secretary referred are wholly admirable. The trouble is that we have been doing good by stealth. The overall impression among the black population of South Africa is overlaid by the Prime Minister's repeated and isolated antagonism to bring effective pressure to bear.
I welcome President Mandela's first speech-- [Interruption.] I am moving too far ahead. I welcome Mr. Mandela's speech on the balcony in Cape Town, when he paid tribute to the sections of the white population who had played their part in the struggle. He mentioned the black sash movement and the National Union of Students in South Africa. He could have mentioned others also. All the churches have played a significant role.
I should not like the chance to go by without paying tribute to our colleagues in our sister Democratic party in opposition within the South African Parliament. I refer to Helen Suzman, Colin Eglin, van Zyl Slabbert and others who have a record, admittedly within a limited white parliamentary system, of trying to mitigate the effects of apartheid.
The challenge facing Nelson Mandela is difficult, but he is the one person who can reunite the black movements. It is essential that Inkatha--Chief Buthelezi's movement--be brought back into a reconciliation with the ANC and the other movements, and Mr. Mandela is the only man who can do that.
In November I had the extraordinary experience of talking with Walter Sisulu at his home in Soweto. I was deeply impressed and moved by the fact that a man who had spent a quarter of a century in gaol could talk for an hour calmly, reasonably, realistically and with no bitterness about how it would take time for the changes to come about in South Africa and about how they would be under pressure from younger people with rising expectations of instant change. That is a frustration with which the ANC leadership and others will have to deal. In
Column 290the meantime, while that is happening, there should be no let-up from the outside world in keeping the pressure going.
Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion) : I should at the outset declare an interest. I have been associated for many years with the Anglo- American Corporation of South Africa. I have no reason to regret that. Indeed, I have some reason to be proud of it, as it has pressed for many years for dialogue between the South African Government and the different African organisations. Indeed, the present chairman of the corporation undertook a journey to Lusaka to talk to the ANC leaders some months ago.
We must, however, face the fact that until the last year there was no basis for dialogue. Under the Brezhnev regime in the Soviet Union, central and southern Africa were turned into a major theatre of the cold war. Cuban troops were sent to Angola, and SWAPO and ANC forces were equipped and encouraged to attempt to overthrow South African rule by force. Only in the last year has western diplomacy, and American diplomacy above all, succeeded in convincing Mr. Gorbachev that he was on to a no-win situation in central and southern Africa and that there was no possibility of overthrowing by force the white regime in the South African Republic.
Only in the last 12 months have we got agreement for the withdrawal of Cubans from Angola, for SWAPO being prepared to come in peacefully in the South-West African--Namibian--elections. Only in the last few months has the ANC leadership, including the Communist leader, Mr. Joe Slovo, accepted the idea that they could make progress only by negotiation and no longer by violent force. That has been a tremendous change, and it has created a situation in which dialogue should be possible. It has gradually sunk in on the black and white sides.
I join in saluting Mr. Mandela on his release and for showing great dignity since then. I praise Mr. de Klerk because he has taken a tremendous risk, in domestic and global politics. He has opened a gate and he cannot be sure whether, at the end of the day, there will or will not be fruitful negotiations. He deserves our
I regret that the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) is not in his place, because I intend to be rather harsh towards him. I have attended and taken part in many debates in the House under what might be described as the broad heading of decolonisation. Although we no longer have dominant influence, we have some influence as we deal with the future of 25 million people. This is not the occasion for a cheap solicitous speech, which is what we heard from the right hon. Member for Gorton. Had the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) been here, he would have raised the level well above that.
Because we are dealing with the future of so many people, this is not an occasion for scoring cheap debating points about whether a particular sanction was or was not an international commitment. There is a case to be made, although I do not hold with it, for retaining sanctions, and there is a case for lifting them, but the issue should be dealt with in a more measured and statesmanlike way than we heard from the right hon. Member for Gorton.
The right hon. Gentleman's remarks left me with the impression that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was absolutely right in her stricture about him yesterday,
Column 291which a leading article in The Times this morning tended to confirm. Analogies are always dangerous, but it seemed as if the Labour party was committing itself to the point where its South African policy would be dictated by the ANC.
That happened before, in Mr. Attlee's time, with the Indian Congress party. The result was the partition of India, first into two and later into three, with 2 million dead and with chaotic consequences visible still in Kashmir and Karachi. It is dangerous for a great party such as the Labour party to commit itself to one particular faction in another country. Luckily, its influence--indeed the influence of the Government--is limited today.
It is equally important to remember that, while the ANC is an important factor in the equation, it is not the only one. There are other important black African factors. There are also the Indians and coloureds, together about 3 million people ; and at the end of the day, whatever negotiations are achieved, the conclusions will have to be submitted to the white electorate, whose views we must also have in mind.
I am not sure that sanctions have played a great part in leading up to Mr. de Klerk's speech--the withdrawal of Soviet support from the revolutionary elements has been far more important--but I would not deny that sanctions have had an important symbolic effect, because they have made the South African whites feel isolated. It is important, if we are to carry them in the general movement for reform, that they should realise that sanctions will be lifted and that they will be less isolated, as already they are, as they move towards reform.
It is important to remember that President de Klerk has already been received by several African heads of state, that trade between South Africa and black Africa has increased by leaps and bounds, and that even relations with the Soviet Union are progressing. No wonder, since they are both gold and diamond producers and both are benefiting from cheap labour.
We should have made some gestures in the time of President Botha, because he started the reform process. Let us not under-estimate what he did. It was regarded as revolutionary at the time in white South Africa, and what is happening now goes a long way forward from those steps.
We must always have in mind the wider objective of our policy in southern Africa. The dismantlement of apartheid is no doubt a worthy goal, but it is not in itself a great objective of British policy. We are really concerned with reviving the economy of southern and central Africa as a whole.
The report of the World bank shows that this area of Africa is dying, and there are many reasons why that is the case. It is clear that we shall not be able to revive it--to rescue it from its present decline--without co- operation from South Africa, which is the only modern industrial country in that part of the world.
Until now South Africa's stance has inhibited its co-operation with its neighbours. The real reason why I should like to see apartheid dismantled is to enable South Africa to fulfil what should be its right purpose--to develop and bring forward the economies of its neighbouring countries.
We want to see progress towards democracy but, as we keep saying about eastern Europe, it must be based on a market economy and private enterprise. The ANC has not yet come round to that view. I hope that it will. It is clear
Column 292that, unless it does, it will not only bring destruction to what is still a prosperous economy in South Africa but will abort the possibility of the constructive work which the South African Republic could bring about in southern or central Africa.
Mr. Bernie Grant (Tottenham) : I have just returned from South Africa. South Africa is a beautiful country, full of resources, but it is a tragic country. One gets the feeling when one goes there that the situation is extremely tense and that unless something of substance happens reasonably quickly there could be an almighty bloodbath.
I was a member of Rev. Jesse Jackson's party invited by the South African Council of Churches and the ANC to South Africa. On our way, we visited Zambia, where we were the guests of President Kaunda. In Zambia, we had meetings with the ANC leadership in exile. We then went on to Johannesburg and Cape Town, where we met various people, including the South African Council of Churches, clergy from all the South African churches, including the Catholic, Presbyterian, Anglican, Methodist and African independent Churches.
We also met the Pan-Africanist Congress, the United Democratic Front, Soweto People's Committee, Soweto teachers, NACTU, the Azanian People's Organisation and representatives of the British Council, lecturers in the university of the Western Cape, the National Sports Congress, the Western Cape Traders Association, several ANC and Church leaders such as Oscar Mpetha, the Rev. Allan Boesak, Archbishop Tutu and Mr. Frank Chicane. We also met the mayor of Cape Town and, of course, Mr. Nelson Mandela.
All those people, except the British consul officer--I did not ask him for his opinion--agreed that sanctions had to be maintained and asked me to take that message back to the United Kingdom.
Mrs. Edwina Currie (Derbyshire, South) rose--
Mr. Grant : I saw the oppressors at first hand. [ Hon. Members :- - "Give way."] Last Saturday at Crossroads, just outside Cape Town, we held a peaceful rally attended by some 2,000 to 3,000 people. As soon as our party got into our vehicles, vigilantes started shooting at the crowd. The police then started shooting. The Kitzkonstabel, the paramilitary police, who are given three weeks' training and then given rifles and shotguns, surrounded our vans as we were assisting into a lorry a man who had been shot in the stomach. I have spoken about the Kitzkonstabel before in the House. As they pointed their guns at us, I could not help hoping that they had not read Hansard.
Several people were injured and I witnessed a perfectly peaceful rally being fired on by the security forces. The whole incident was witnessed by the television cameras and a dossier has been submitted to the Minister of Justice for his investigation.
I was told by the British consul officer that the day before a peaceful crowd had gathered outside the British consul to protest at the Gatting cricket tour. They had been refused permission to demonstrate outside the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg. The deputy consul-general himself had agreed with the police that the protesters could remain, but as soon as his back was turned the police immediately baton-charged the crowd. Several injuries resulted. One got the impression that, as
Column 293soon as anyone of any substance turned his or her back on a peaceful situation, the security forces immediately went in to deal with the people who were doing nothing but enjoying themselves peacefully.
The continuing state of emergency in South Africa allows such atrocities to take place because it empowers the police and security forces to act without any accountability whatever. That is why the ANC and other liberation movements have called for the cancellation of the state of emergency as one of the prerequisites for talks.
Mr. John Carlisle : I have listened with sadness to the hon. Gentleman's account of what happened in that demonstration, and I have no reason to doubt his word. As he was an eye-witness to that incident and is well aware of other incidents, would it not have been sensible for him to seek a meeting and discussions with members of the security forces and, indeed, members of the South African Government? He gave us a list of the people to whom he spoke when he was in South Africa, but, if I ascertained it aright, there was not one Minister or Government official. Would it not have been prudent to have the other point of view put to him? He may not have liked it, but at least he could have come back to the House better informed.
Mr. Grant : We submitted a dossier to the Justice Minister. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was the head of the delegation, tried to have a meeting with him, but he was out of town. On the day that I returned to Britain, meetings had been set up with Mr. de Klerk, Mr. Pik Botha and Mr. Viljoen, who are senior members of the Cabinet. Those meetings took place. I am here to give an account of what transpired at those meetings. It was clear that our party intended to meet as many people as possible. It also intended to meet representatives of the Dutch Reformed Church and Mr. Gatsha Buthelezi and other people.
The situation in South Africa is complex and new. The state has been maintained on the basis of violent and evil oppression of black people by a minority white population. Now we have a chance to do something about creating democracy in that country.
It is important to understand how South Africa has reached this point and what worldwide pressures have prevailed on both the Government and the democratic forces. There can be no doubt that sanctions and the armed struggle have had a major part to play. In just one example of the armed struggle, at the battle of Cuita Cuanavale, the combined forces of the Angolans and the Cubans forced the South Africans and the forces of Savimbi into retreat, to such an extent that now, for the first time after decades of struggle, we have a newly-emerging independent Namibia. The battle of Cuita Cuanavale also assisted the South African Government in changing their mind.