398. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • United States Policy on South-West Africa


  • Mr. Samuel Nujoma, President General of South West Africa Peoples Organization (SWAPO)
  • Mr. Jacob Kuhangua, National Secretary of SWAPO
  • Mr. J. Wayne Fredericks, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
  • Mr. Henry J. Tasca, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
  • Mr. Elbert G. Mathews, Director, Office of Eastern and Southern African Affairs
  • Mr. Waldemar Campbell, INR/RAF
  • Mr. George B. High, AFE

Mr. Nujoma opened the conversation by describing the recent UN resolution on South West Africa1 as being very good, but in view of South [Page 623] Africa’s defiance of the UN he wondered how it could be implemented. He suggested that the US and the UK could use influence on South Africa and this would lead the territory to independence. This point was made several times during the meeting.

Mr. Tasca asked him what are the South African Government’s objectives in South West Africa and whether the Bantustan policy would be applied. Mr. Nujoma responded that the South African Government wants to incorporate the territory into the Republic, and that the Territory’s Africans have opposed the Bantustan policy as they have opposed partition. He recalled that the 1958 UN Good Offices Committee suggested partition with South Africa continuing to administer the Northern Territories. This would provide South Africa with a supply of labor, and SWAPO has fought this.

Turning to another point, Mr. Kuhangua said that SWAPO is thankful for what the US has done—support for all the UN resolutions, offers of scholarships, and a commitment to the International Court case. However, more than voting is required; we should seek to implement the resolutions. SWAPO wants the US to help the UN Secretary General in this regard.

Mr. Kuhangua referred to the need for the United States to establish a consulate in Bechuanaland, or if possible in South West Africa, in order to assist South West African students stranded in the High Commission Territories and to serve as a listening post. The recent UN resolution called for the UN Specialized Agencies to operate in the Territory. Mr. Kuhangua asked if it would be possible to send in the Peace Corps. There are many ways the US can act. The Episcopal Bishop of Damaraland, an American, is very sympathetic and US financial assistance could be given to him to expand his educational, health, and other social services.

Later in the conversation Mr. Kuhangua pointed to USG action in Mississippi. He said we have an obligation in South Africa and a great role to play there, for South African policy is an insult to the world. Mr. Mathews replied that it is one thing to persuade and another to be persuaded. The USG position is perfectly clear. How effective this will be is hard to say. Mr. Tasca added that the International Court case will be very important for the South Africans can be very stubborn. Our real hope is in building up public opinion in South Africa.

Mr. Kuhangua commented that some UN members mistakenly feel that political action is proscribed by the court case. That case is a clear attack against apartheid. The South African Government will be reluctant to become involved in a war unless South Africa is attacked. While SWAPO opposes violence, there may be no other alternative solution.

Later, at the end of conversation, Mr. Nujoma reiterated his pleas for US support saying that the situation is explosive. Mr. Fredericks replied that we are trying to use our powers of persuasion at the UN and in talks [Page 624] with South Africa officials. In Mississippi we acted to deal with our own problems. We hope that other countries will see this resolve. While we can take such steps in our own country, we are not free to do so elsewhere. We are agreed on the nature of the problem in South Africa, the question is how to determine steps that will be persuasive enough. Mr. Campbell said a very real effort of persuasion is being made, but he was not sure much has been accomplished. In this regard Mr. Fredericks said he had talked to a great number of visitors. Our approaches were not simply to officialdom. One is never sure of the results of these talks. He did not want to give any idea of optimism, simply that we are trying.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.45X/11-2362. Limited Official Use. Drafted by High on December 6. The source text is labeled “Part I of IV.” The discussion with Nujoma of SWAPO objectives and of working conditions in South West Africa was recorded in two memoranda of conversation. (Ibid., 745X.021/11-2362, and AF/S Files: Lot 66 D 344, South West Africa-1962-1963, UN)
  2. On November 19, by a vote of 96 (including the United States) to 0 with 1 abstention, the Trusteeship and Non-Self-Governing Territories (Fourth) Committee adopted a draft resolution on South West Africa that reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of South West Africa to independence and national sovereignty, condemned the continued refusal of the South African Government to cooperate with previous U.N. resolutions on South West Africa, requested the Secretary-General to appoint a Technical Assistance Resident Representative for South West Africa and to take all necessary steps to establish an effective U.N. presence in South West Africa, and urged all member states to refrain from any action likely to hinder the implementation of present and previous U.N. resolutions on South West Africa.
  3. On December 14, the General Assembly adopted the Fourth Committee resolution by a vote of 98 to 0 with 1 abstention (Portugal). For text of Resolution 1805 (XVII), “Question of South West Africa,” see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1962, pp. 940-941.