The Lusaka talks and prospects for Namibian independence

This document gives background to the talks held in Lusaka between 11 and 13 May 1984. Previous talks between Angola, South Africa and the United States on 16 February resulted in the Lusaka Agreement which created the Joint Monitoring Commission, with South African and Angolan troops to monitor the South African troop disengagement and ensuring that neither SWAPO nor UNITA take advantage of the process to further their causes. The disengagement process has been beset by problems, but the two governments displayed the political will to keep up the momentum. All obstacles to implementation of UN Resolution 435 had been resolved, with the exception of the presence of the Cuban troops in Angola, but it was unclear whether this was an absolute precondition for a SWA/ Namibian settlement, or merely an obstacle. South African policy on Namibia was to neutralise SWAPO’s military and force SWAPO to negotiate with the MPC. Some progress was made at Lusaka but distances between the parties remained large. It is difficult to conceive of SWAPO accepting the open-ended type of scenario implied by a government of national unity and a period of reconciliation, nor to accept that the Frontline States and the international community will countenance such a delay - the desire for independence in the short term seems too strong for that. Since the talks, there has been an intensification of diplomatic activity. Time and major concessions on all sides will still be required to produce a settlement.