Seanad Éireann - Volume 115 - 11 December, 1986
Third Report of Joint Committee on Co-operation with Developing Countries — Apartheid and Development in Southern Africa: Motion (Resumed).
Debate resumed on the following motion:
That Seanad Éireann takes note of the Third Report of the Joint Committee on Co-operation with Developing Countries: Apartheid and Development in Southern Africa.
Mr. McDonald Mr. McDonald
 Mr. McDonald: I was mentioning in passing that I thought a disadvantage in South Africa was that the Government had handed over the area of education to the Bantu system, to the black population themselves. That does not equate with the facilities and the services available to the white population. This, in itself, gives the black population a slower rate of development and a slower rate of progress which tends to compound the problem there.
I recognise the role our Minister for Foreign Affairs has played at EC level and in the United Nations on this topic. He has played a very significant role in focusing the attention of the international fora on the underlying injustices in that State. The Minister can justly say he has portrayed the wishes of the vast majority of the people of this country. While it is a very difficult question and one that brings great sorrow to people when they comprehend it, I want in conclusion to appeal to my colleagues who have made such moving speeches on this very clear and very strong cause for all-out trade sanctions against this republic, in whatever action they feel justified in advocating to have regard to the poor people, the people at the lowest levels of the economic ladder and ensure that our actions do not make their position worse even in the short term. That is important. When we examine the marvellous work development aid — even though it may be relatively small in itself — can achieve for areas in countries like Lesotho and see the developments in Swaziland, in that region in general, I believe that in those areas we can do more to encourage this regime to adapt a more human face and to guarantee the equality of all its people.
Mrs. Bulbulia Mrs. Bulbulia
Mrs. Bulbulia: As proposer of the motion concerning this report of the all-Party Committee on Development Co-operation, it falls to me to reply briefly to the excellent debate which has been in progress in this House over the past couple of weeks. I thank the Minister of State for his attendance and for his own contribution to the discussions and  Senators from all sides of the House who made contributions, all of them unequivocally condemning the vicious, immoral, utterly discredited regime of apartheid in South Africa. Apart from the last speaker, all of them called for the fullest possible sanctions in order to assist as rapid and as peaceful a change as possible in South Africa. I thank Senators Michael Lanigan, Eoin Ryan, Bríd Rogers, Michael D. Higgins, John Connor, Andy O'Brien and Charlie McDonald for their contributions to the debate and I express my thanks and appreciation to the Minister for his attendance during the course of the debate.
By way of reply to my colleague Senator McDonald, with whom I have in the past had differences of emphasis in matters of foreign policy, I would like to talk about his call for a more moderate type of approach towards sanctions. I am afraid I must accuse Senator McDonald of being somewhat dated in his attitude towards South Africa and in particular in his attitude towards Chief Buthelezi and his half-hearted approach towards sanctions. I can do no better than quote various other African leaders who, far better than any of us, have a pertinent knowledge and a distinct and clear appreciation of apartheid and of sanctions and of the effects sanctions will have on various countries in South Africa who live regularly day by day, week by week, cheek by jowl with this vicious, oppressive regime.
The Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has gone on record inviting the international community to take immediate steps to isolate South Africa by imposing mandatory economic sanctions. He appealed and I quote “to all who love democracy to support the cause of the people of South Africa.” In the first instance sanctions were called for by Chief Albert Luthuli, Nobel Peace Prize winner, many years ago. It is really rather sad that 25 years later we are still in the position of calling on the international community and in particular the US, Britain and Germany, to cease being selfish and to cease having a narrow view of sanctions and to get out there and  assist in the peaceful evolution of change in South Africa.
Chief Albert Lithule, the Nobel Laureate and President of the African National Congress, 25 years ago made the first call for sanctions and issued a demand for isolation of apartheid based on his experience and an appreciation of how international connections have operated to give political creditability and, indeed, military strength to this racist regime in South Africa.
The former West German Chancellor, Herr Willy Brandt, spoke about the matter of sanctions in an unequivocal way and nobody can accuse Herr Willy Brandt of not having the greatest knowledge, appreciation and awareness of developing co-operation which was the context which perturbed Senator McDonald. Indeed, Herr Willy Brandt is a world expert on development co-operation matters. North-South, his seminal work is quoted in the course of every debate on development co-operation. He urged Britain, the US and West Germany to impose economic sanctions and he said:
The majority in South Africa demand that apartheid is brought to an end. Many expect pressure from abroad and are willing to pay the temporary price.
He added then that economic sanctions against Pretoria had failed because its principal backers, the US, Britain and West Germany, refused to take action and Herr Willy Brandt went on to say:
The governments of these nations should be told that it is their duty to use their great possibilities to exert leverage on South Africa.
I think we have to take the words of somebody like Willy Brandt, Chief Albert Luthuli, Robert Mugabe and, indeed, Archbishop Desmond Tutu into account when we are speaking of adopting a lesser attitude towards the pursuit of economic sanctions.
Archbishop Tutu, who has become a world figure as a result of his avowed espousal of the cause of his native people in South Africa and who risked arrest for  treason when he openly called for all-out mandatory sanctions, said:
Our children are dying, our land is burning and bleeding. I call on the international community to apply punitive sanctions against this government to help us establish a new South Africa — non-racial, democratic, participatory and just.
I will also quote somebody else who looked for all-out economic sanctions. Bishop Serotse of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Africa said at an emergency convention held in Northern Transvaal and presided over by Bishop Serotse:
I call on the international community to apply economic sanctions against the government of South Africa to pressurise it to surrender the reins of power to the oppressed majority.
Since we spoke on South Africa in the context of this particular debate a fortnight ago in this House, I had the opportunity — courtesy of Trocaire, the Catholic Agency for Relief and Development Work — to meet with representatives of a Catholic Archbishops' Conference of South Africa who were visiting this country as part of an education seminar under the auspices of the Irish Anti-apartheid Movement. It was my privilege to meet with Bishop Wilfred Napier of South Africa and with Bishop Slattery of Northern Transvaal, an Irish, Tipperary-born missionary and both of them had recently been part of a delegation to meet the State President Botha. They had hoped to put before him their appreciation of the problems being experienced by their community in South Africa and their wish to see a more rapid, incisive and meaningful reform of the system. They were accompanied by Cardinal McCann, and Archbishop Hurley of Capetown also an Irishman who has been courageous and unequivocal for many, many years in his condemnation of the condition to which his people are reduced by the oppressive régime of apartheid.
 The delegation from the South African Catholic Archbishops Conference were cruelly disappointed by the reaction of President Botha. There had been a certain perception that President Botha was prepared to move more swiftly and rapidly in the area of legal changes to accommodate the anxieties of the non-white population of South Africa, but it was the considered view of the delegation from the South African Catholic Bishops' Conference that, in fact, this is some sort of media myth.
President Botha was quite determined, quite unwilling to accept the points they made, totally lacking in a facilitating attitude and, in fact, the bishops emerged feeling completely let down, disheartened and devoid of all hope or feeling that there would be any change brought about constitutionally by means of Government to redress the manifest injustices which are being experienced by the non-white community in South Africa. They talked about it being in the South African context now past midnight, and by that they meant that it really was too late to pursue change in a constitutional way — I think that is a fair interpretation of what was meant.
I must again repeat that I feel that my dear colleague, Senator Charlie McDonald, is somewhat out of date in his support of the line being taken by Buthelezi in his call for more moderate, selective type of sanctions which would be effective in his view because they would in some way assist development in Southern Africa and not be too harsh on the black population of South Africa.
Winnie Mandela has sprung to world separate attention as the wife of the imprisoned black leader, Nelson Mandela, who has languished now for more years than I care to remember in South Africa. When Winnie Mandela was asked what her views were on sanctions she had this to say:
My own views have always been well known. I have always been quoted as one of those who are calling for sanctions against this country. I have called for total sanctions, mandatory sanctions.  We are asking the international community to assist us in saving the lives Ian Smith could have saved if he had listened during the HMS Tiger talks. We believe sanctions are the only other road open for us, the only measure that is peaceful. Anyone who says anything to the contrary is a benefactor of apartheid. One can understand why: those whose pockets are filled with gold from Pretoria's coffers obviously oppose sanctions and hypocritically pretend sanctions will hurt blacks. We bury people every day, we see blood flowing around us. With all that is happening, with us living in ghettoes and owning 13 per cent of our land, are we still supposed to suffer when sanctions are applied to this land, when we have suffered so much? Those whose pockets get fatter and fatter, who get their reward from Pretoria, will talk that kind of language.
That is tough, unequivocal and it might be considered too full blown by many, but it is spoken with feeling and emotion.
The Minister in his speech, subliminally perhaps, or subtly, gave an indication that perhaps emotion was misplaced. I hope I do not in any way give an incorrect indication of what I felt about this comment in his reply to this debate. I felt he thought that emotion was somehow misplaced when we were speaking about South Africa. I can understand why perhaps many people would think this is so. One would wish to see the debate conducted in a rather desiccated, objective, cool, analytical fashion. All of those attitudes towards such a debate, of course, are praiseworthy and necessary if one is to arrive at a reasonable, reasoned and considered conclusion. Nevertheless, I contend that in the context of apartheid and in the context of oppression, denial of civil rights, human liberties and in a context of total inequality based on skin colour, emotion — by emotion I mean fine emotion, not over-the-top, full blown ranting emotion, but emotion based on feeling and on an appreciation of what the situation is about — is necessary in a  debate on apartheid in any forum where such debates take place. I make no apologies for introducing that kind of emotion into whatever contribution I ever make an apartheid either in this House or elsewhere.
Perhaps more than any other Senator who has contributed to this debate I have unique insight and particular perceptions and sensitivities in the area of apartheid and in what I am actually talking about. I bring what I hope is an added dimension because of that awareness and that sensitivity, to this debate and a dimension which is worthwhile, which challenges, which focusses, which invites Senators to get stuck in and to make contributions which are meaningful, perceptive and challenging. There was a growing number who contributed to this debate. In general debates on developing co-operation in this House have tended to be predictable as to who will make contributions. Members of the all-party committee generally try to speak and those charged with responsibility for Fine Gael for development co-operation matters. This time I noticed some additional speakers contributing to the debate. That is good and has to be welcomed as wholesome. I certainly feel it is one of the functions of the all-party committee to reach out to Members of the Oireachtas and to stimulate the debate which will in turn one hopes reverberate outside this House and be heard in the community outside.
I am still somewhat unhappy about our approach at international level in the UN and particularly in the EC on the matter of sanctions. I do not for a moment doubt the fact that we are absolutely and totally opposed to apartheid. Our voice has been raised in all fora firmly and clearly in denunciation of the regime in South Africa. I feel that the fact that we are the only officially neutral country in the EC must prompt us to have an officially neutral stance on South Africa and to be out there giving a moral lead, a coherent lead calling for greater change and pointing out the hypocrisy which surrounds the stance towards all-out sanctions of  Britain and West Germany and indeed in the UN, the hypocrisy of the United States whose foreign policy over the last few weeks is being internationally and publicly seen to have elements within it which are highly questionable and indeed suspect. There is something extraordinary in an attitude which allows for sanctions to be ok in the context of Nicaragua, Syria and Libya but which will not countenance sanctions in the context of South Africa and that is precisely and clearly as Senator after Senator has said because vital national interests of the UN, of Britain and of West Germany are threatened when all-out mandatory sanctions are being considered against South Africa.
I think as a neutral country and as a country small but with moral force, we should be in the business of pointing out that kind of hypocrisy and of refusing to, in any way, even appear to collaborate with it or to go along with it or to countenance it or to, by our silence, appear to condone it. That does concern me and it concerns me very deeply. I hope it does not sound like the Skibbereen Eagle but I will continue to keep a very close eye on what happens when motions concerning South Africa are debated in these world fora and I shall not hesitate to speak up if I feel that in any way we could have a stronger voice, say more, have more foresight and be more unequivocal in our attitude towards sanctions. As the Catholic bishops said, it is past midnight. This regime, as I said in my earlier contribution, is rising in a death agony before the world. We have stark choices. We can assist a peaceful evolution towards change by running with the sanctions option or we can wring our hands and sit back and witness what will be a violent bloody revolution which will have repercussions throughout our world, our one world.
In saying that, I would make it clear that I do not want it to happen in that way; I care too much about South Africa and about the people of all races and of all colours and creeds who make up that living vibrant, exciting community and who are part of what is one of the most  beautiful countries in physical terms in the entire world and one of the richest countries in mineral wealth and in natural advantages.
I would conclude by thanking Senators once again and thanking the Minister of State with special responsibility in this area for being present during the debate and by saying that once again it is my contention that the Seanad distinguished itself by debating an all-party committee report from the Houses of the Oireachtas. I do wish that the same scrutiny and examination were given to these reports in the other House because there is really no point in setting up these committees and encouraging people to submit presentations to them and in having Members and staff get involved in various work if the reports are to be gathering dust on shelves. That is not good enough. Certainly in the context of the cauldron of South Africa such an approach would be reprehensible. Thank you very much indeed.
Question put and agreed to.
Sitting suspended at 1 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.
Seanad Éireann 115 Third Report of Joint Committee on Co-operation with Developing Countries — Apartheid and Development in Southern Africa: Motion (Resumed).