A South African delegation was due to arrive in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday (14 November) to take part in talks on the future of Namibia (South West Africa).
A South African delegation was due to arrive in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday (14 November) to take part in talks on the future of Namibia (South West Africa). The discussions are the latest stage of the attempt to resolve a protracted argument between South Africa and the United nations and five western powers over the ending of South Africa's disputed mandate to administer the country.
SYNOPSIS: Namibia is a large, mostly empty area, about the size of Pakistan. The population numbers under one million; an average of one person to each square kilometre. In its soils lie a large variety of valuable minerals, including diamonds and one of the world's largest uranium deposits.
It was once a German colony .. until South Africa was given control by the League of Nations after World War One. It has been South Africa's unwillingness, so far, to relinquish its control of the territory that has been a point of dispute between it and the United Nations. For almost ten years now, South African troops have been involved in guerrilla warfare with the South West African People's Organisation, SWAPO, who are seeking independence. SWAPO's bases lie inside friendly neighbouring black African countries. five African 'Front Line' states, Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, are also taking part in the Geneva talks. These prisoners are fighters for SWAPO .. an organisation which the United Nations recognises as the representative of the people of Namibia, and whose leader, Sam Nujoma, is also at the Geneva talks.
Discussions aimed at finding an internationally acceptable independence formula for Namibia have centred on contact by five western nations with interested parties. Last October Foreign Ministers of three of the countries visited Namibia. A new proposal by the five nations has now been put forward. It involves setting up a demilitarised zone on both sides of the Angola-Namibia border as part of a plan for a UN-supervised ceasefire and elections in the country. The demilitarised zone is a new element. Previous proposals had failed to win support from South Africa and SWAPO.
Last year, elections sponsored by South Africa were held in Namibia and contested by internal political parties, including multi-racial ones. These were dismissed by the United Nations, itself involved in attempts to organise pre-independence elections. Representatives from Namibia's political assemblies are now expected to take part in the Geneva talks. South Africa had refused to attend the talks unless a formula was found which would allow the internal Namibian parties to take part. This has now been achieved and all the groups will now be represented at Geneva.
Recently, Namibia has seen almost all aspects of apartheid policy abolished. Mixed marriages are now possible and blacks can buy homes in white areas. But the 100,000 whites still dominate to country, as they have for st 60 years. For how much longer may depend on the outcome of the Geneva talks.