126. Remarks by Vice President Bush 1

Remarks Before the Kenya Chamber of Commerce

You do the United States a great honor in receiving me this evening. I bring you the greetings of the President of the United States and of millions of my fellow citizens who are sincerely interested in America’s longstanding friendship with the Continent and people of Africa. I bring also special greetings to President Daniel arap Moi and to all Kenyans. Your country is an old friend of the United States and is dear to us all.

The past 10 days have been important to me. President Reagan asked me to carry our message of friendship and deep commitment to a true partnership with the nations of Africa. We are determined to work with the leaders of this continent in the quest for peace and progress.2 My visit has been particularly satisfying. It has permitted us to see old friends and make new ones.

I have exchanged views with some of Africa’s most impressive leaders. I have had an opportunity to see and feel firsthand the diversity of this beautiful continent and to sense its great promise. In several days I will be able to share with President Reagan and my fellow Americans the thinking of Africa’s leaders on the major issues important to us.

It should come as no surprise to you that President Reagan thought that it was especially important for me to visit Kenya. Since Kenya’s independence,3 close ties have bound our two countries and peoples. [Page 486] Your nation has been admired in the United States for its political and economic record.

We share important values—democratically elected governments, civilian rule, freedom of press and religion, a multiracial society, and an economy guided by the principles of free enterprise. Kenya has been a strong advocate for peace in the world. Your country and its distinguished president have led the Organization of African Unity (OAU) during a year in which Africa faced many problems. Because Kenya has served this year as spokesman for Africa’s aspirations, I am especially pleased to speak from the city of Nairobi to all the people of Africa. I particularly wish to speak about the hopes and values which grew up during Africa’s struggle for independence and which will guide Africa as it faces the future. Chief among these values is the desire for freedom—freedom of nations from outside pressures and freedom of people within nations. That desire gave birth to the OAU, thanks to the recognition that—without regional cooperation—the peace, progress, and independence of Africa would not be maintained. Such cooperation is not an easy goal given the great variety of peoples, circumstances, and cultures in Africa. This tremendous diversity, coupled with the harsh impact of today’s global economic recession, underscores more than ever the importance of African regional cooperation for common purposes.

There is no justification for despair about Africa’s future. Despite trials and setbacks, the history of Africa since the independence era has included significant progress, especially in the development of human resources. Education, talent, and energy—such as that represented by this very audience—prove that Africa has the capacity make good the promise of its enormous potential in spite of the many problems it faces. Thanks to the abilities and values which men and women, like ourselves, bring to the everyday task of national development, Africa can enter its third decade of independence with confidence in the future.

Because we believe that Africa has the capacity and will to be master of its destiny, President Reagan has over the past 20 months worked to forge a new and mature partnership with the nations and people of Africa. We speak of a partnership that begins with mutual respect. We speak of a partnership that includes honest discussions. We speak of a partnership which recognizes that each nation must do its part if the goals we share are to be achieved. Partnership is a two-way street based on shared goals, common principles, and mutual interests.

These principles have guided our Administration’s policies toward Africa. The time is ripe for the sort of candid dialogue I have been privileged to experience on this trip. And I have learned a lot. A top priority in our diplomacy is southern Africa, where the choices between [Page 487] regional strife and regional cooperation are stark. The inescapable need for peaceful change is challenged by a climate of fear, distrust, foreign intervention, and cross-border violence.

Search for Constructive Change in Southern Africa

The United States is committed to the search for constructive change in southern Africa. In cooperation with our allies and in direct response to the will of Africa’s leaders, the United States has engaged its influence and resources in the effort to bring Namibia to independence. We are determined to help turn the sad tide of growing conflict and tension in southern Africa. We are fully committed to work for a settlement that will enhance regional security and assure Namibia’s early independence on terms acceptable to its people, Africa, and the world at large.

Let me state again, we are fully committed to an independent Nambia. I can assure you that significant progress has been made. A year ago the settlement effort was relaunched with vigor. Since then, the United States and its Western Contact Group partners have worked closely and intensively with all parties. This past July agreement was reached on the principles which will guide Namibia’s constituent assembly.4 Since then, substantial progress has been made on remaining issues concerning the implementation of Security Council Resolution 435.5 We are close to agreement on implementation of the U.N. plan. Remaining issues can be resolved.

From the outset of this Administration’s engagement in the peace process, we have emphasized that there are vitally important issues arising from the situation in Angola which must be resolved if Namibia’s independence is to be achieved. For 7 years Angola has been engulfed in war, its terrority invaded, its progress toward a better economic future stalled. Thousands of Cuban troops remain in Angola. Wouldn’t Angola and the region itself be better off with all foreign forces out of that country—South African forces and Cuban forces?

The history of foreign conquest in Africa is replete with examples of armed foreigners who came with the professed purpose of helping others but who stayed in order to help themselves. The withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola in a parallel framework with South Africa’s [Page 488] departure from Namibia is the key to the settlement we all desire. In the final analysis, it is also the surest way to guarantee Angola’s long-term security and independence. The United States wants the earliest possible independence for Namibia. At the same time, the United States wants an end to Angola’s suffering and to the dangerous cycle of violence in the region. My government is not ashamed to state the U.S. interest in seeing an end to the presence of Cuban forces in Angola. Their introduction 7 years ago tore the fabric of reciprocal restraint between the United States and the Soviet Union in the developing world. Such restraint is vital if African regional security and the global balance are to be maintained.

We recognize there will be no agreement unless all the parties know that their security is protected. We also recognize there will be no settlement unless each party is prepared to make the concessions necessary. If the challenge is accepted, we believe peace can be achieved and a brighter future for southern Africa can begin. The substantial progress already made is based on a diplomatic partnership of equals in which all parties share burdens. That partnership remains vital in our continuing efforts for peace. In the search for that peace, the United States seeks constructive relations with all the states of southern Africa. We are building bridges of communication to each nation in the region, including South Africa.

However, we will not ignore or disguise our strong belief in the importance of justice and equality before the law. Apartheid is wrong. It is legally entrenched racism—inimical to the fundamental ideals of the United States. America’s history and America’s future can only be understood in terms of our commitment to a multiracial democracy in which all citizens participate and from which all benefit. The rule of law, the principles of consent and participation in the political process, and the right of every human being to citizenship which reflects these principles are to Americans a sacred trust. We will not betray this trust.

Nor can we escape reality: If there is to be security in southern Africa, South Africa must be involved in shaping it. If there is to be constructive change in South Africa, South Africans of all races—not foreigners—must be the ones who shape the pattern of that change. The United States is working for constructive change in ways that benefit all South Africans. Our actions match our words, as our deepening involvement in expanding educational, social, and economic opportunities for black South Africans demonstrates. We also believe there is a relationship between the security of southern Africa and the pace of peaceful change within South Africa. We do not believe that armed conflict must be the road to justice, and we doubt that it can be the road to lasting freedom and well-being.

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Support for Human Rights and Regional Stability

The United States believes that it can be helpful in advancing the frontier of freedom and observance of human rights, not only in southern Africa but in Africa as a whole. Without respect for human rights, there is a great risk that Africa’s enormous human potential will be wasted. Fear and intimidation keep people from working to achieve their aspirations, from contributing to the common good, and from pursuing the democratic principles and ideals that are denied for too many in the world today. Narrowing political participation by their citizens can be highly counterproductive. African nations that have devised their own national democratic institutions broaden public participation in government, protect the integrity of the individual, and expand the frontier of economic freedom for the ultimate good of all.

In Kenya respect for individual rights is written in your constitution. Democratic institutions that embody the democratic process have been established. They are an essential framework for lasting stability. Experience in Africa and elsewhere clearly demonstrates that the abuse of power, the suppression of diversity, and the denial of individual rights only leads to instability and a loss of confidence at home and abroad. My visit to Africa has shown me encouraging examples of African nations that are building their own institutions to broaden political participation and advance the frontier of freedom. We realize, however, that nations cannot reap the benefits of individual freedom in an environment of insecurity. We attach high importance to strengthening Africa’s security and are prepared to be Africa’s partner in building the necessary conditions for security.

We have no interest in an East-West confrontation in Africa; such a confrontation increases the threat to world peace. The goal of the United States in Africa is to help establish a framework for restraint and broad rules of conduct which discourage the use of outside force in African conflicts in the region. In this area our goal is consistent with the goals enshrined in the Charter of the Organization of African Unity.

At the same time, the United States is deeply sensitive to the threats which individual nations and the regions of this continent face and probably will continue to face. Internal stability, often fueled by outside interference, and longstanding border and ethnic disputes tax heavily the resources of African governments. The United States has no mandate to act as a policeman in Africa, and it seeks no such role. But neither do we believe that the sovereignty of African nations will be preserved if the West is unable or unwilling to respond to the legitimate defense needs of its friends in Africa. The United States intends to be a reliable partner both in working with our friends on a long-term basis to meet these needs and in responding to their urgent requirements in [Page 490] emergency situations. We have done so in the past; we are doing so today. Let there be no doubt about our determination and capability to do so in the future.

At the same time, our overall concern, including the concern that guides our military assistance, is to dissuade countries from undertaking military solutions and to encourage negotiated settlements of differences between them. We believe negotiated solutions are possible for even the most difficult and longstanding disputes on the continent. We are ready to lend whatever support we can to those efforts in Africa and to give them the highest priority. In this view, we believe that Africa’s capacity for collective security deserves our help. We will, when asked, support multinational peacekeeping forces that Africa creates in its own defense. The record of the United States in support of the OAU peacekeeping role in Chad is the most recent illustration of the importance we attached to regional security. We want African nations to be able to defend their interests and resolve their problems without foreign intervention.

Response to Economic Crisis

Real security, and with it the confidence that can enhance prospects for peace, cannot be achieved without sustained economic growth, During my travels, I have seen Africa’s most serious economic crisis in more than 40 years. Because African countries are often dependent on one or two export commodities—and because they have borrowed heavily to spur growth and meet the costs of higher oil prices—they have been vulnerable to commodity fluctuations, high interest rates, and to the impact of world recession. There has been a long, slow decline in per capita food production, population has increased rapidly, and balanced growth has not occurred. Many nations have experimented with subsidies, centralized economic direction, and extensive public ownership of industry and commerce. Those strategies have proved costly.

The present state of the global economy is not of Africa’s making. In the world economic system, the United States has a special responsibility not only to put its own house in order but to help rekindle growth in other lands. We are deeply committed to that task, and to achieve it the American people are making real sacrifices. We are confident that when we are successful Africa will benefit quickly and significantly.

At the most fundamental level, we will remain concerned about those imperiled by strife and starvation. We have taken the lead both in mobilizing international relief efforts to help African refugees and in providing emergency assistance. In the past 2 years the United States has provided Africa $187 million for such programs. But we are equally [Page 491] concerned about the underlying problems which produce refugees and other forms of human misery.

As we all look at these problems, we can see that the next few years in Africa will be critical. The current economic situation is forcing austerity on all African nations. It points to the need for reexamination of economic strategies and national economic policies. It would be a mistake to view this period as only a temporary phenomenon and to believe that as the world recession begins to ease, Africa will be able to resume an easy path of growth and diversity. On the contrary, in the current situation many fundamental decisions must be made about the future of African development, about the priorities of agriculture and other sectors, and about the degree of sacrifice that should be demanded of the various elements of the population. How these decisions are made will affect the future of African development for decades to come.

We in the United States admit that there are serious differences among experts over the best path to development. We believe that there should be a full exchange among all those involved in African development. We must reach a common agreement regarding the kinds of programs which must be developed, financed, and mobilized. Discipline and self-reliance are necessary. Courageous leadership is necessary. Now is the time for fresh thinking, an eschewing of old ideologies that have not passed the test of experience.

We are prepared to help give African governments the wherewithal and the international political and financial backing to take the steps where necessary to restructure their economies.

During the past 2 years, a growing number of African countries have applied to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance in meeting immediate balance-of-payments crises. This has led to difficult adjustments in exchange rates, budgets, and other aspects of economic policy.

Recognizing the fundamental nature of the development crisis, we have encouraged a more comprehensive approach by both donors and multilateral agencies in Africa. We have urged that reform be supported with short-term foreign exchange and development assistance adequate to fuel the recovery process. We are fully aware of the importance of debt in this equation. Where countries are making serious efforts to restructure their economies, relief from heavy debt must be part of the foreign exchange program. For our part, we are committed to participating in the difficult process of recovery.

The United States, despite the fact that its resources are under special strain in this time of economic adversity, still remains committed to Africa’s stabilization and growth. Our bilateral economic aid for all of Africa now totals approximately $800 million a year and extends to [Page 492] 46 countries throughout Africa. It encompasses a variety of programs, including fast-disbursing balance-of-payments support, food aid, and development assistance. Including the U.S. contribution to multilateral programs, our total economic aid to sub-Saharan Africa is in excess of $1.4 billion annually. Of the multilateral portion, the largest share by far—almost $300 million per year—goes to the soft loan programs of the World Bank’s International Development Association.

The Reagan Administration has placed a new emphasis on the role of private enterprise in development. In Africa, as elsewhere, we define “private sector” broadly to include small businesses and farmers, as well as large corporations. Our aid planners are seeking new ways to help develop market institutions and more effective incentives for farmers. Wherever possible, we are encouraging mutually beneficial partnerships between large and small American companies and their African counterparts. The recent enactment of export trading legislation supported by President Reagan will make it possible for small and medium-size U.S. firms to pool expenses and thereby play a more active economic role in Africa.

The economic task that you and we face is enormous. But it is far from impossible if we all work together in a wise and understanding partnership. The exact nature of that cooperation will be as varied as the countries of Africa, but it will have some common elements. We, the industrialized countries, must help Africans manage their debt burden so that private credit, which is so essential to growth, can resume and increase. We must support successful economic policies at both the national and regional levels. We must seek greater coordination among Africa’s friends who wish to finance development. The importance of Africa’s economic future demands that we do no less.

As we all look to the future and decide how Africa and the United States can work together, the agenda of issues we face is long. It includes essential issues of security, peacemaking, human rights, and economic progress. It calls for advancing the frontiers of freedom.

The United States is a friend which respects your potential and shares your commitment to maintaining the hard-won prize of freedom. With respect to that freedom, our nations are equals which must be prepared to work together, making sacrifices and taking tough decisions at the same time. Each of us has a share of the burden to carry; each has a contribution to make. All have a better future to gain. This is the meaning of a true partnership.

  1. Source: Department of State Bulletin, January 1983, pp. 45–49. The Vice President spoke before the Kenya Chamber of Commerce. Bush departed Washington on November 10 for Cape Verde, Senegal, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Zaire, and Bermuda. On November 14–15, Bush traveled to Moscow and headed the U.S. delegation to Brezhnev’s funeral. He then returned to the United States on November 24. For the text of the Vice President’s statements, remarks, and toasts made during the trip, in addition to the text of the U.S.-Nigeria joint communiqué, see ibid., pp. 34–45, and 49–51.
  2. In a November 4 memorandum to Bush regarding the African trip, Shultz wrote: “Your trip provides a timely opportunity to demonstrate this administration’s interest in Africa and our support for our friends on the continent; articulate the activist policies we are pursuing; and emphasize our determination to achieve peace in Southern Africa. All of the countries on your itinerary have important roles to play in addressing the major issues confronting the West in Africa.” After noting the importance of the countries to be visited, Shultz underscored: “Your stature guarantees that the trip will attract widespread African attention and will enhance African perceptions of our concerns for their continent and its problems.” (Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Official Memoranda; NLR 775–26A–32–2–5)
  3. Kenya achieved independence on December 12, 1963.
  4. Reference is to the July Contact Group negotiations. On July 13, the Department reported that Pérez de Cuellar had been informed “by representatives of the five Western nations—the United States, France, West Germany, Britain and Canada—that ‘all parties to the negotiation now accept the principles concerning the constituent assembly and the constitution for an independent Namibia.’” (Bernard Weinraub, “U.S. Reports Progress in Namibia Talks,” New York Times, July 14, 1982, p. A3)
  5. See footnote 10, Document 63.