The implications for Southern Africa of a conservative government in the United Kingdom

This report assumes that the Conservative Party will win the British general election of 3 May 1979. Recent Tory pronouncements on Rhodesia, South West Africa/Namibia and South Africa have created hopes of a more sympathetic British attitude towards South Africa. These statements need to be viewed with caution. There is no guarantee that a Tory government would pursue such policies. A Tory government would approach Southern Africa under constraints from the United States, the EEC, the Commonwealth, Third World states, the Soviet Union, and British domestic opinion, as well as a Foreign Office with established views on Southern Africa. Southern Africa could expect a future Tory government to perpetuate the status quo in its foreign relations. It is doubtful if they would outright recognize a Zimbabwean government and questionable whether they would step out of line on SWA/Namibia. A Tory government would be committed to change in South Africa, but diplomatic pressure would continue, with little chance of them supplying arms to South Africa. South Africans need to view a future Conservative government with scepticism and realism, and it seems that local expectations are realistic. However much the Labour Government may be disliked in South Africa, it may prove easier to deal with a Socialist government which knows what it wants in Southern Africa, than with a Tory government with conflicting interests.