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African National Congress




The Commonwealth Accord on Southern Africa - Nassau Accord

20 October 1985

1. We consider that South Africa's continuing refusal to dismantle apartheid, its illegal occupation of Namibia, and its aggression against its neighbours constitute a serious challenge to the values and principles of the Commonwealth, a challenge which Commonwealth countries cannot ignore. At New Delhi we expressed the view that 'only the eradication of apartheid and the establishment of majority rule on the basis of free and fair exercise of universal adult suffrage by all the people in a united and non-fragmented South Africa can lead to a just and lasting solution of the explosive situation prevailing in Southern Africa'. We are united in the belief that reliance on the range of pressures adopted so far has not resulted in the fundamental changes we have sought over many years. The growing crisis and intensified repression in South Africa mean that apartheid must be dismantled now if a greater tragedy is to be averted and that concerted pressure must be brought to bear to achieve that end. We consider that the situation calls for urgent practical steps.

2. We, therefore, call on the authorities in Pretoria for the following steps to be taken in a genuine manner and as a matter of urgency:

  1. Declare that the system of apartheid will be dismantled and specific and meaningful action taken in fulfilment of that intent.
  2. Terminate the existing state of emergency.
  3. Release immediately and unconditionally Nelson Mandela and all others imprisoned and detained for their opposition to apartheid.
  4. Establish political freedom and specifically lift the existing ban on the African National Congress and other political parties.
  5. Initiate, in the context of a suspension of violence on all sides, a process of dialogue across lines of colour, politics and religion, with a view to establishing a non-racial and representative government.

3. We have agreed on a number of measures which have as their rationale impressing on the authorities in Pretoria the compelling urgency of dismantling apartheid and erecting the structures of democracy in South Africa. The latter, in particular, demands a process of dialogue involving the true representatives of the majority black population of South Africa. We believe that we must do all we can to assist that process, while recognizing that the forms of political settlement in South Africa are for the people of that country - all the people - to determine.

4. To this end, we have decided to establish a small group of eminent Commonwealth persons to encourage through all practicable ways the evolution of that necessary process of political dialogue. We are not unmindful of the difficulties such an effort will encounter, including the possibility of initial rejection by the South African authorities, but we believe it to be our duty to leave nothing undone that might contribute to peaceful change in South Africa and avoid the dreadful prospect of violent conflict that looms over South Africa, threatening people of all races in the country, and the peace and stability of the entire Southern Africa region.

5. We are asking the President of Zambia and the Prime Ministers of Australia, The Bahamas, Canada, India, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe to develop with the S ecretary- General the modalities of this effort to assist the process of political dialogue in South Africa. We would look to the group of eminent persons to seek to facilitate the processes of dialogue referred to in paragraph 2(c) above and by all practicable means to advance the fulfilment of the objectives of this Accord.

6. For our part, we have as an earnest of our opposition to apartheid reached accord on a programme of common action as follows:

  1. We declare the Commonwealth's support for the strictest enforcement of the mandatory arms embargo against South Africa, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 418 and 558, and commit ourselves to prosecute violators to the fullest extent of the law,
  2. we reaffirm the Gleneagles Declaration of 1977, which called upon Commonwealth members to take every practical step to discourage sporting contacts with South Africa;
  3. we agree upon, and commend to other governments, the adoption of the following further economic measures against South Africa, which have already been adopted by a number of member countries:
    1. a ban on all new government loans to the Government of South Africa and its agencies..
    2. a readiness to take unilaterally what action may be possible to preclude the import of Krugerrands;
    3. no Government funding for trade missions to South Africa or for participation in exhibitions and trade fairs in South Africa;
    4. a ban on the sale and export of computer equipment capable of use by South African military forces, police or security forces;
    5. a ban on new contracts for the sale and export of nuclear goods, materials and technology to South Africa;
    6. a ban on the sale and export of oil to South Africa;
    7. a strict and rigorously controlled embargo on imports of arms, ammunition, military vehicles and paramilitary equipment from South Africa.,
    8. an embargo on all military co-operation with South Africa. and
    9. discouragement of all cultural and scientific events except where these contribute towards the ending of apartheid or have no possible role in promoting it.

7. It is our hope that the process and measures we have agreed upon will help to bring about concrete progress towards the objectives stated above in six months. The Heads of Government mentioned in paragraph 5 above, or their representatives, will then meet to review the situation. If in their opinion adequate progress has not been made within this period, we agree to consider the adoption of further measures. Some of us would, in that event, consider the following steps among others:

  1. a ban on air links with South Africa;
  2. a ban on new investment or reinvestment of profits earned in South Africa;
  3. a ban on the import of agricultural products from South Africa;
  4. the termination of double taxation agreements with South Africa.,
  5. the termination of all government assistance to investment in, and trade with, South Africa.,
  6. a ban on all government procurement in South Africa;
  7. a ban on government contracts with majority-owned South African companies;
  8. a ban on the promotion of tourism to South Africa.

8. Finally, we agree that should all of the above measures fail to produce the desired results within a reasonable period, further effective measures will have to be considered. Many of us have either taken or are prepared to take measures which go beyond those listed above, and each of us will pursue the objectives of this Accord in all the ways and through all appropriate fora open to us. We believe, however, that in pursuing this programme jointly, we enlarge the prospects of an orderly transition to social, economic and political justice in South Africa and peace and stability in the Southern Africa region as a whole.

Lyford Cay, Nassau
20 October 1985