Page 3, 18th November 1977

18th November 1977
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Page 3, 18th November 1977 — Danger of antagonising the South Africans on apartheid
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Danger of antagonising the South Africans on apartheid

Kevin McNamara

LAST WEEK I argued that if there was to he any hope of a peaceful solution to the problems of Zimbabwe and Namibia, then it was necessary not to antagonise unduly the South Africans by continuous attacks upon apartheid.

It is not an easy conclusion to have reached, not am 1 particularly hopeful about the possibility of a peaceful solution to the affairs of those two former colonial territories: but a democratic politician must put off until the last — the very last — resort any recourse to violence.

Last week the United Nations Security Council voted for a mandatory arms embargo to be applied by members of the United Nations against South Africa. The United Kingdom already had a voluntary arms embargo, andI had played some small part in Harold Wilson's second government to ensure that the policy was never renegued upon.

Today the question of an arms embargo is very much a cosmetic exercise to show the world's distaste for the internal policies of the South African Government: cosmetic because South Africa is almost selfsufficient in arms and because it does not hit at the real economic interests of the Western nations in the South African economy.

The current argument is that the Western world should use its large economic stake in South Africa to persuade the South African Government of the error of its ways and that economic necessity quite apart from basic human rights, will secure the advancement of the African in South Africa.

In the meartime, through the Code of Conduct of the Nine EEC countries issued to their companies with investments in South Africa, there can be a gradual improvement of the condition of the African, This is certainly a policy for change, but if past experience is any guide, it will make the approach of the Fabian Society positively revolutionary.

At present any vehement outside criticism of the South African Government in the runup to the General Election of November 30 only strengthens the hand of the ruling Nationalist Party and threatens the annihilation at the polls of its opponents who favour change. Western criticism may drive the English and Afrikaansspeaking South African together, leading to the crea

tion of a complete one-party State in South Africa and the crushing of all progressive while voices calling for reform. South Africans are saying that the choice is between Carter or Vorster.

If we assume — and it is a fairly safe assumption — that there is no change as a result of the elections and that the position of the Vorster Government is considerably strengthened, what success can there be in a policy of sanctions?

I can imagine immediate demands that there should be a complete severance of all economic links with South Africa — a fine gesture, but scarcely one likely to have an immediate or necessarily lasting effect upon the situation in that country. and unlikely to lead to any hope of influencing the South African Government's attitude.

This is precisely the issue on a national level to which Mgr Bruce Kent referred on a personal level when he wrote: "The ,issue is how to bring the greatest influence to bear as a shareholder on the policies of companies — not simply to sell or not to sell. To exercise effective influence by selling out may he an inevitable last step. it is certainly not the first step, yet so it has been presented."

The arguments for peaceful persuasion do carry some force, but there comes a time when, Hall moral persuasion on the existing status quo fails, then other steps can be taken to influence the situation as a mandatory oil embargo or mandatory economic sanctions.

If it came to the hard economic choice between South Africa and the rest of Africa, it is worth noting that our trade with South Africa was only worth £600 million last year but our trade with the rest of Africa was £1,300 million, and Nigeria, our largest singletrading market in Africa is a growing oil-lubricated market.

The solution therefore is not economically so simple. If forced to make the choice of vetoing mandatory economic sanctions or losing other African markets it would be in our own economic interest in black Africa not to veto such a proposal, putting larger and greater markets than South Africa at risk. Despite the calls for economic sanctions, vetoed by the West at the United Nations, the pressure was not really 'applied to the West by the African States, but it will come.

What if peaceful persuasion fails? Can we go on endlessly hoping for a miracle? I think not. After the South African elections are over (and Zimbabwe and Namibia settled), a timelimit must he agreed, formally or informally, among the nations of the West on what they would regard a reasonable time-scale for positive progress to the achievement of full human rights for all citizens in d

South T hisAfrica. w o ulentail not only getting rid of the institutionalised evil of apartheid, but also progress to an ever increasing widening of the franchise.

If in a period of three years no noticeable progress has been made, then various escalating sanctions could be made mandatory. The first would be an oil embargo coupled with the forbidding of any further private investment within the Republic of South Africa, and the ending of any international financial credits, private or public, to the South African Government.

Provision would have to be made for those countries which are either completely enclosed within South Africa's borders or so adjacent to it that they themselves would be severely crippled by economic sanctions against South Africa.

If by the end of the three year period that policy had failed to produce the necessary results then there would have to be a policy of withdrawal of capital and a complete trade embargo. It would not be an easy policy to apply, or one that would necessarily bring results.

Hand in hand with economic sanctions must be a positive policy of ensuring that there will still be a future for the Afrikaaner within South Africa.

In fear and frustration they

may be of to take on the rest ot the world, a last desperate throw to preserve that position or to bring all down avoid this n waivthothem.

To is possibility Afrikaaners must be encouraged to stay outside their laagers and to work for peaceful solutions in Zimbabwe and Namibia and be assured that it is in their own long-term selfinterest to dismantle the barriers of apartheid and work for a full implementation o; human rights in the Republic.




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