The Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference for 1971 begins controversial arms to South African row -- will Commonwealth African leaders succeed in their attempts to persuade Britain to continue the United Nations arms embargo?
GV Demonstrators en route to Trafalgar Square
SV Police clash with demonstrators
SV Demonstrators seated in Trafalgar Square--one blocks camera.
CU Police arresting demonstrators and putting them into police van. Voice shouts "Long live Chairman Mao." (3 shots)
CU Downing St. sing
SV Chief Jonathan out of car and enters No.10.
CU Dr. Busia of Ghana shakes hands with Prime Minister Heath and enters car.
SV Demonstrators with banners "No arms for South Africa" etc.
CU Kenneth Kaunda shakes hands with Heath upon departing.
LV INT President Kaunda seated.
CU Kaunda speaks
CU Door of No.10 Downing Street
LV INT Prime Minister seated during interview.
CU Prime Minister Heath speaks
CU Crowd with banner "Hang Heath High" demonstrating at the British High Commissioner's residence in Lusaka (3 shots)
GV Crowd dispersing
GV Tear-gas bombs exploding; demonstrators running away.
GV Soviet ship in harbour, Mauritius.
SV PAN FROM Sailors to superstructure of ship
GV PAN FROM Superstructure to harbour
SV Soviet naval guard of honour.
GV Elephant tusk arch in Mombasa.
GV Soviet destroyers in harbour (3 shots)
GV Nimrod aircraft on tarmac. (3 shots)
SV INT Pilots at controls
GV PAN Nimrod aircraft takes off
SV Cactus missile mobile unit.
CU Finger pressing button. Missile launched. (4 shots)
AIR V Impala aircraft fly past over Saldanha military academy, South Africa PAN TO troops march off at passing out parade
CU South African forces marching off
SEQ. 12: KAUNDA: "Britain must be sacked from the Commonwealth. That is, she must be chucked out of the Commonwealth,"
TRANSCRIPT: SEQ. 15: HEATH: "I am concerned with British interests and I and the Government try to decide policies in the light of British interests and this is the question as far as the proposed sale of arms to South Africa is concerned."
Initials WLW/AW/MH/1800 WLW/AW/BB/2312
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference for 1971 begins controversial arms to South African row -- will Commonwealth African leaders succeed in their attempts to persuade Britain to continue the United Nations arms embargo?
The United Nations first entered the international row on arms sales to South Africa in 1963, when a total embargo on such sales was passed by the Security Council. Several world governments took active steps to end arms sales to South Africa, including Britain, when the Labour Government, in 1964, said it would complete outstanding orders for some Buccaneer aircraft but sales would then cease -- despite the Simonstown naval agreement of 1955, when Britain and South Africa established a joint base for naval protection of sea routes around the Cape.
But the row flared up violently again last year, when the new British Government, formed by the Conservative Party, announced its intention to resume arms sales to South Africa. The weapons, said the Government in July, 1970, would be limited to external defence only -- and would not be suitable for internal suppression. Anti-British demonstrations took place in many countries, and Britain was attacked by several world leaders.
The issue has been the subject, to date, of several United Nations resolutions, and has also repeatedly been discussed at several meetings of African heads of state -- the most recent being the assembly of the Organisation of African Unity in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in September last year (1970).
Among prominent objectors are Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania and, although less vociferous, Guyana and Sierra Leone. During the last six months, Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda threatened to have Britain thrown out of the Commonwealth if sales went through; Tanzania said it would withdraw from the Commonwealth; so did Tunku Abdul Rahman, the then Prime Minister of Malaysia; Sierra Leone warned it might also leave; Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said the effect on the Commonwealth would be grave; and Uganda's President Milton Obote said such sales would be a direct threat to independent Africa. He also threatened to take Uganda out of the Commonwealth, while one of his ministers warned that "freedom fighters" in Southern Africa would "shoot at any white man in sight, as they would have no alternative". Another Ugandan minister said that if his country left the Commonwealth, all British subjects in Uganda would be sent home.
Kenya, which did not object to the Simonstown agreement, said it would try and bring pressures to bear on Britain through the Commonwealth. India, Canada, the United States and Ghana also voiced disapproval of Britain's intention, while Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malawi, Mauritius and the Malagasy Republic either said they had no direct interest or expressed cautious and qualified approval for the sale of arms for external defence only. Guyana, however, said there could be no distinction between arms for internal suppression and external defence.
Meanwhile, while the Conservative Government said it had to consider British shipping interests and the protection of the Cape route, the opposing Labour Party condemned any resumption of sales -- and warned it would not honour such sales if it was returned to power.
Up to June, 1970, it was understood that South Africa was in the international arms markets for frigates, "O" Class British submarines, British Wasp naval helicopters, and the new Nimrod British naval reconnaissance jet aircraft. The South African Government said it had to consider the safety of sea lanes around the Cape of Good Hope, and counter-balance the Soviet naval presence in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Such measures, it said, were of paramount importance to the whole West.
Already, the South African Government is equipped with at least 200 Italian Aermacchi jet trainer-striker aircraft built under licence near Johannesburg and called the "Impala"; a number of British Buccaneer strike aircraft; over 1200 Vampire and French Mirage strike aircraft; some Franco-German Transall transport aircraft; 250 British Harvards, some capable of carrying fragmentation bombs; and French "Cactus" ground-to-air missiles are on order. In addition, all the South African armed forces' small arms and ammunition are home-manufactured.
Seaward defences, however, are limited to a small force of World-War II-type Shackleton naval reconnaissance aircraft;l two destroyers; one French-built submarine; six frigates; and a small force of minesweepers and seaward defence boats.
It is very unlikely that the issue will be resolved before the Commonwealth Conference in Singapore next week. Among the Prime Ministers at the meeting will be Britain's Edward Heath -- and his Afro-Asian bloc opponents on this issue. South Africa, not being a member of the Commonwealth, will have no say in the proceedings. It will, however, be taking a very keen interest in them.
SYNOPSIS: Anti-apartheid demonstrators gather in Trafalgar Square, London, to protest at the British Government's proposed resumption of arms sales to South Africa...just one example of world-wide protest that greeted the announcement in July last year (1970). Similar demonstrations, mainly by students, took place as far apart as Malaysia, India and Zambia, while world leaders attacked the new Conservative Government for attempting to side-step the United Nations embargo on the sale of arms to South Africa in 1963.
The official residence in London of the British Prime Minister became a calling point for African leaders intent on halting the arms sales. Chief Jonathan of Lesotho was among them, and Dr. Kofie Busia, Prime Minister of Ghana, was another. The results of the talks were not officially announced. Outside, demonstrators paraded banners showing their support for the African leaders while police supervised the scene. Inside, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, the Zambian President, had also joined the talks. The most requires of Mr. Heath's opponents on the arms to south Africa issue, Dr. Candy later said Britain should be expelled from the Commonwealth if it resumed sales.
Mr. Heath, however, was not to be easily deterred. The caps sea-routes were important to Britain, he said, and had to be protected.
Meanwhile, the demonstrations continued. Among the first to flare up after the Conservative announcement were students in Lusaka, capital of Zambia. They stoned the British High Commissioner's home there, and had to be dispersed by police with tear gas.
Since the British Labour Government's ban on arms sales in 1964, Soviet naval fleets were busy visiting African ports on goodwill missions. Here, they stopped at Mauritius-- one of the few countries which has not objected to South Africa being equipped to defend itself.
They also visited Mombasa, Kenya, one of the ports where some Western politicians fear the Russians might be granted naval facilities if Britain sold military equipment to South Africa. It is this Russian presence in the Indian Ocean that must be counter-balanced, according to South Africa and Britain.
With this in mind, South Africa has included Britain's Nimrod naval reconnaissance aircraft in its shopping list of sea arms. The Nimrod would replace the almost obsolete World War II-type Shackletons that South Africa is currently using. In addition, South Africa would like Britain's naval Wasp helicopter, designed for ship-to-ship operations.
On order from France are Cactus missiles, especially designed for South Africa and Lebanon. This highly lethal ground-to-air missile has yet to be delivered.
South Africa's most potent counter-insurgency weapon is the Impala, an Italian jet-trainer-striker built near Johannesburg under licence. The country has at least 200, built at a factory largely manned by British immigrant workers, and hundreds of other British and hundreds of other British and French aircraft and helicopters. Small arms are home-manufactured --it's ships and naval equipment that South Africa needs. Whether it gets them may be decided by next week's Commonwealth Conference.