« PreviousContinue »
team at The Hague, has said that he would find it incomprehensible that South Africa's critics should spurn the offer. He added that while he could not commit South Africa to accept the outcome of a negative vote, this would be a “tremendous setback to the stance of the South African government”.
Will It Come to a Vote? We doubt that the South African government expects that its offer will be accepted, and we believe the South Africans would be content with the political gains inherent in the offer itself. But they also believe that they would not be taking much of a political risk, should the matter come to a vote under mutually agreed conditions.
How Would a Vote Go? South-West Africa has a population (according to 1966 estimates) of 610,000. By far the largest group are the 270,000 Ovambos grouped along the northern border. Ovamboland, South-West Africa's only functioning Bantu “homeland," has received a very limited measure of local self-government, and South Africa has devoted substantial resources to the improvement of its infrastructure, social facilities, and agriculture. At the same time, South Africa has entrenched a political structure controlled by government-paid chiefs and has emasculated political opposition through police presence and application of South Africa's notorious Terrorism Act. Given these carrot-and-stick conditions, plus South African willingness to offer favors to cooperative Ovambos, a majority of the Ovambos would probably vote for continued association with South Africa rather than the UN.
Virtually all of the 96,000 whites, who form the second largest group in the territory, would also vote for association with South Africa; the Ovambos and whites together comprise 60 percent of the population. Among the other inhabitants, only the Hereros and the Rehoboth Basters are presently in outright opposition to South African rule—but this does not necessarily mean they would prefer UN rule.
Much would depend on the manner in which the plebiscite was organized and conducted; in particular, how much time would be allowed to educate the people to the issues involved and how much free discussion permitted. Officials of the South-West Africa Peoples Organization (SWAPO) have expressed full confidence that, given freedom for 9–12 months to work within the territory and explain the issues to the people, the result would favor the United Nations. This very possibility makes it most unlikely that South Africa would permit such a campaign.
Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for
Washington, March 29, 1971.
Relations with South Africa-Action Memorandum
The attached proposed instruction' to Ambassador Hurd in South Africa is being brought to your attention because it involves a fundamental issue relating to our approach to that country.
We have made it clear by our declarations and our actions that we desire a policy of communication with South Africa. At almost the same time that we have been stressing this theme, the South Africans have expelled a number of American citizens engaged in religious and humanitarian work in that country. These have brought Congressional inquiries and letters from significant church groups in the United States.
Prior to his departure from South Africa, Ambassador Hurd lodged an official protest over the manner of the expulsions. The South African Foreign Minister's response reflected some embarrassment and suggested that the action may have been taken by Interior and Police without wider consultations.
We are proposing that, upon his return from consultation, Ambassador Hurd raise the matter again, emphasizing the problems such actions create in our relations with South Africa. We feel that:
(a) his failure to raise the issue after his return from Washington and after indicating to them, as he did, that he would discuss the matter here might suggest to the South Africans that we consider it, after all, of little importance;
(b) a response to their obvious desire for better relations requires occasional frank discussion of some of the problems we face; and
(c) such an approach might well strengthen the hands of the Foreign Ministry in dealing with other government agencies in future actions affecting us.
Ambassador Hurd has agreed to the instructions as attached. However, after our first discussion with him, during his routine call on
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL S AFR-US. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Newsom on March 27 and cleared in L.
2 Attached but not printed.
Marshall Wright of the NSC staff, he mentioned our intention to raise the issue. Marshall Wright has since called me to ask about this matter and I have explained our rationale as above, making it clear, however, that this was solely at that time the view of AF, SCA, and L. He has suggested to me that such an approach, in his opinion, is not compatible with what he understands to be the President's view on our relations with South Africa. He describes this as one which maintains our official posture of abhorrence for the system but avoids having the United States Government involved in direct pressure against the system, leaving this to private groups involved (as in the Polaroid case.)
In our view our official pronouncements on South Africa will not have credibility with that government if we do not raise with them in frank terms matters bearing on the total relationship of our two countries.
I believe, therefore, that the approach we have suggested is not only appropriate but necessary for the kind of relationship we seek.
In view of Marshall Wright's intervention, perhaps you may feel that the matter should be formally submitted to the White House. It is my belief, however, that this is a matter which could normally be decided here without White House clearance.
That you approve the attached telegram to Pretoria.3
3 A handwritten notation on the last page of the memorandum reads: “Tel sent 4/1/71 3:30 pm." It was sent as telegram 54780 to Cape Town. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL S AFR-US)
Telegram From the Department of State to All African
Washington, April 2, 1971, 1738Z.
55581. Subj: African Contacts with South Africa.
1. In view of current movement and direction relating to black African contacts with South Africa, it is important that all posts have clearly in mind in conversation with Africans position of US with respect such contacts.
1 Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 1 S AFR-US. Confidential. Drafted by Newsom on March 31, cleared by Eliot, and approved by Rogers. A handwritten note reads: "Inform Consuls."
2. US has consistently taken position that improved atmosphere between South Africa and black Africa is desirable from standpoint stability and peace of continent. It welcomes moves in this direction as indicated by its recognition of the Lusaka Manifesto issued by the OAU countries in 1969.US however endorses no particular initiatives, believing that African nations themselves must judge conditions under which such improvement is possible as well as form and timing of contacts.
3. Recent discussion of "communications" with South Africa by US was solely in defining context US relationship to South Africa and should not be construed as endorsing any specific moves by African nations themselves.
2 See Document 9.
Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in
Washington, May 1, 1971, 2002Z.
75658. Cape Town for Ambassador. Addis for Newsom.
1. Appreciate rundown reftel on background Opera House controversy, its role in tenth anniversary celebrations, and considerations relating to US attendance at inaugural performance.
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, SOC 14 S AFR. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Pletcher, cleared in AF, and approved by Johnson. Repeated to Addis Ababa, Pretoria, Tananarive, Durban, and Johannesburg.
2 In telegram 673 from Tananarive, April 30, the Embassy provided background on the opening of the Malan Opera House in Cape Town, where only whites were allowed to attend, and the pros and cons of U.S. attendance. Marshall proposed two possible courses of action: attendance with an explanation to the South African Government of the difficulties created by the situation; alternatively, the Ambassador and Consul General could be out of town and unable to attend. (Ibid.)
2. Believe that neither you nor any other US official should attend inauguration Opera House. In view attention and controversy now focussed on Opera House and the backward step it represents in race relations, attendance would be counter our stand on SA racial system and our efforts keep US association with anniversary celebrations to minimum and in low key.
3. Recognize your absence will be conspicuous, may interject irritant in your relations with SAG, and risk impression it is reaction to Congressman Diggs' rather intemperate telegram.» Believe that best course is your absence from Cape Town at time of Opera House inauguration as suggested in second alternative outlined reftel and we plan inform Diggs of your absence accordingly. As noted reftel, this avoids necessity of making substantive issue of matter.
4. Regarding Diggs demand for policy against attendance at any events in segregated facilities, we would note that such policy generally not feasible as long as we maintain diplomatic relations with South Africa; in South Africa and elsewhere we have made amply clear in many other ways—and will continue to do so—that we are absolutely opposed to racial segregation and discrimination.
In telegram 72440 to Cape Town, April 28, the Department included the text of a telegram sent by Diggs to the Department in which he questioned the Department's commitment to opposing apartheid: "Demand Dept show cause as to why US Ambassador should not reject invitation with appropriate public statement. Further demand Dept establish policy against attendance by our diplomatic representative of any event in facility that is racial, exclusive or segregated. Otherwise such insensitivity blatantly hypocritical in view of our expressed opposition to apartheid.” (Ibid.)