British Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe said today at the end of a weeklong visit that efforts for peaceful change in South Africa are impossible while Nelson Mandela and other black leaders are jailed.
“What is needed is that the South African government should agree to release Mandela and other political prisoners, to unban the (African National Congress) and other political parties and to enter into peaceful dialogue--against a matching commitment from the ANC to call a halt to violence and to enter into peaceful dialogue,” he said.
Mandela, an ANC leader, has been in prison since 1964 serving a life sentence on charges of plotting against the South African government. The ANC, originally a civil rights group, began a campaign of sabotage in 1960.
Asked about his meetings with South African officials, including President Pieter W. Botha, Howe said, “The responses I’ve received have not yet enabled me to proclaim that I have made the progress I would have liked.”
He said a dialogue for peace would not be possible “so long as black leaders like Nelson Mandela are in prison or exile and organizations such as the ANC banned.”
The foreign secretary made his remarks after a one-hour meeting with Botha.