South African Prime Minister John Vorster rejected a united Nations' Security Council ultimatum to state his Government's intention of withdrawing its "illegal administration" from South Africa (Namibia) by 30 May in a speech in the disputed territory's capital, Windhoek, on Tuesday (20 May).
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Windhoek...desert capital of the disputed territory of South West Africa, or Namibia. On Tuesday it was the scene of a long-awaited speech by South African Premier John Vorster only ten days before the expiry of a United Nations' ultimatum for his Government to declare it will give up control of the territory. At the Windhoek High School Mr. Vorster addressed Afrikaans businessmen.
Mr. Vorster subjected both a specified withdrawal time-table of his allegedly "illegal administration" and a demand for United Nations' supervision of any progression toward independence. He said: "We are not occupying the territory. We are not forcing ourselves on the nations of the territory and in this respect we take note only the wishes of the nations of South-West Africa... We do not claim an inch of the territory" Mr. Vorster did make a number of important concessions, though, and adopted a plainly conciliatory tone. He invited African leaders and U.N. officials to visit south West Africa for talks and indicated the time was near for a multi-racial constitutional conference to chart the planned nation's future. Mr. Vorster went on: "Also demanded is that the Humanity and rights of all people, regardless of colour or race will be maintained and improved. We agree to this, but isn't it time our critics get the same attitude towards us?" However he remained adamant that any constitutional talks would not include the militant, outlawed South-West African Peoples' Organisation, which has been the main international voice for independence and has also spearheaded the guerrilla campaign within the territory itself. South-West Africa was a ??? colony....but was seized by South African troops in World War One and then ceded to South African by the League of Nations under the mandate system. After World War Two, with the institution of the United Nations and its trusteeship system, the future of South-West African immediately became a point of dispute between South Africa and the world body. South Africa's mandate was eventually revoked and the Pretoria administration's "occupation" termed illegal. South-West Africa is of central importance to Mr. Vorster's policy of detente in southern Africa but some believe he is stealthily moving towards some form of petition and federal system for South-West Africa under South Africa control. This approach was briefly favoured by the United Nations in 1958 but t
hen rejected as inequitable. With the expiry of the thirtieth-of-May deadline Mr. Vorster faces only the nebulous, immediate threat of "appropriate measures". But more dangerously for him, the Security Council may soon again debate the question of expelling South Africa from the organisation's General Assembly. Unless more meaningful moves are made towards a settlement in South-West Africa, South Africa's old friends - Britain, France and the United States - may be forced to reconsider their earlier veto of the drastic punitive measure of expulsion.
Initials BB/1825 EC/PN/BB/1850
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Background: South African Prime Minister John Vorster rejected a united Nations' Security Council ultimatum to state his Government's intention of withdrawing its "illegal administration" from South Africa (Namibia) by 30 May in a speech in the disputed territory's capital, Windhoek, on Tuesday (20 May).
Mr. Vorster also rejected the Security Council resolution demanding U.N. supervision of South West Africa's future, but made a number of important concessions.
Addressing a meeting of the Afrikaans Chambers of Commerce he said he was prepared to allow African Heads of Government and representatives of the Organisation of African Unity (QAU) and UN Secretary-General to visit South West Africa for talks with his Government. They would also be able to gain first-band information of the progression to independence.
Mr. Vorster said plans were underway for a multi-racial constitutional conference to lay the groundwork for the country's future course. He said South Africa would not interfere in this process ..."and no one else will decide their future ... We do not claim an inch of the territory".
South West Africa was a German colony and was invaded and occupied by South Africa in August, 1914 following the outbreak of World War One. After the War, the newly-created League of Nations vested the territory to South Africa under the mandate system.
After the Second World War the League was superseded by the United Nations and the mandate system by the trusteeship system. From 1946, South West Africa became a point of dispute between South Africa and the world body. The mandate was eventually revoked and South Africa's occupation declared illegal. The latest Security Council move has been backed with a threat of unspecified "appropriate measures".