Namibia and the sanctions controversy
The Foreign Minister’s European visit culminated on his return with statements about possible sanctions. The controversy obscured the realities of continuing negotiations on Namibia, and confused the public by implying that negotiations will be pointless, because sanctions will happen anyway. Searching for a solution to the SWA/Namibia dispute has focused South Africa’s insistence not be coerced into a settlement leading to a Marxist regime, and its assertion to adhere to this position, even risking sanctions. However, these views are based on questionable assumptions, firstly that a Marxist SWAPO government will threaten South Africa and foment instability in southern Africa. It ignores the various opinions within SWAPO and its nationalist origins and aims. A future Marxist SWAPO government does not preclude peaceful co-existence with South Africa. The second assumption concerns whether sanctions will be imposed due to South Africa’s stand on Namibia. Some in the West will welcome further sanctions because of Namibia as a trial run for eventual sanctions over South Africa’s domestic policies. The third assumption is that stability could be maintained in Namibia in the absence of an internationally recognised settlement. This will not ensure stability - the guerrilla war will continue, and South Africa’s options become more limited. Preference for a non-SWAPO is not unreasonable, but this possible development cannot be avoided by not dealing with SWAPO. South Africa needs to look at alternatives and clarify its objectives in the region. In conclusion, any South African decision carries political risks. The Government has to weigh these against national and international considerations.