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1985 Aug 2 Fr
Archive (Reagan Library)

South Africa: McFarlane telegram to USE Pretoria (demands “bold & concrete steps”) [declassified 1999]

Document type: Declassified documents
Document kind: Telegram
Venue: White House
Source: Reagan Library (NSC African Affairs Directorate Box 91026)
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: -
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 833
Themes: Foreign policy (Africa), Commonwealth (South Africa)
[end p1]

AF: FGWISNER: JR

08/02/85 EXT. 22446

AF: FGWISNER

S/S

IMMEDIATE PRETORIA

NODIS

FOR THE CHARGE FROM WISNER

E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR

TAGS: PREL, SF

SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA: PROMISE OF IMPORTANT DECISIONS

  1. ENTIRE TEXT.

  2. I SPENT OVER A HALF HOUR ON THE TELEPHONE WITH THE FOREIGN MINISTER AUGUST 1 AND OPENED THE CONVERSATION BY TELLING HIM THAT MATTERS HAVE REACHED A POINT HERE WHERE IT IS ESSENTIAL THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT ENGAGE IN BOLD AND CONCRETE STEPS. THESE ARE URGENTLY NEEDED TO IMPROVE THE SITUATION AND CLEAR THE POLITICAL ATMOSPHERE IF WE ARE TO PURSUE EFFECTIVELY OUR DIALOGUE WITH CHASE MANHATTAN BANK OR IF THE PRESIDENT IS TO BE ABLE TO CONSIDER SOUTH AFRICA LEGISLATION IN A MANNER CONSISTENT WITH OUR POLICY WHEN CONGRESS RECONVENES. FURTHERMORE WHILE IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE RESUME OUR DIPLOMATIC DIALOGUE, GOOD NEWS FROM SOUTH AFRICA WILL IMPROVE OUR ABILITY TO MAKE DECISIONS. I TOLD HIM THAT THE NON DIALOGUE BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND BLACK LEADERS IS THE MOST TROUBLING FEATURE OF THE PRESENT SITUATION. THE STATE OF EMERGENCY AND ITS EFFECTS FURTHER POISON OUR POLITICS.

  3. [end p2]
  4. PIK BOTHA TOLD ME HIS GOVERNMENT MET AUGUST 1 AND TOOK THE MOST FAR REACHING DECISIONS ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA'S FUTURE IT HAS EVER TAKEN. OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS THESE DECISIONS WILL BE FLESHED OUT INTO A DOCUMENT WHICH WILL SERVE AS THE BASIS FOR A SPEECH P.W. BOTHA WILL MAKE TO THE NATAL PARTY CONFERENCE AUGUST 15. THESE DECISIONS DEAL WITH SOUTH AFRICA'S CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT. FROM HENRY KISSINGER TO RONALD REAGAN TO GEORGE SHULTZ, THE U.S. HAD MADE CLEAR IT WANTS A SHARING OF POWER IN SOUTH AFRICA. IT WOULD LEAVE THE PRECISE FORMULA IN THE HANDS OF SOUTH AFRICA'S LEADERS – OF ALL RACES – BUT THAT POWER SHARING MUST BE “REAL AND GENUINE”. THE U.S. WOULD NOT PRESCRIBE THE SHAPE OF SOUTH AFRICA'S CONSTITUTION AS LONG AS IT WAS REACHED THROUGH A NEGOTIATED CONSENSUS AND PRODUCED “GENUINE” POWER SHARING. I AGREED THIS REPRESENTS AN ACCURATE SUMMARY OF OUR VIEWS. PIK BOTHA STOPPED SHORT OF DESCRIBING THE STATE PRESIDENT'S AUGUST 15 SPEECH AS A “STATEMENT OF INTENTION”; HE DESCRIBED IT AS A STATEMENT OF “OBJECTIVES AND PRINCIPLES”.

  5. CONTINUING, PIK BOTHA ARGUED THAT THE MESSAGE P.W. BOTHA HAS IN MIND SHOULD BE POWERFUL ENOUGH TO COOL TEMPERS IN THE U.S., ESPECIALLY IN CONGRESS, AND IN EUROPE. IT WILL PUT PRESIDENT REAGAN IN A POSITION TO ASK LEGISLATIVE RESPITE AND TIME FOR SOUTH AFRICANS TO WORK OUT THEIR PROBLEMS WITHOUT OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE. TO ADD A MEASURE OF EARNEST, PIK SAID THAT THE STATE PRESIDENT WANTS TO CONSULT FIRST WITH THE U.S. AND THEN WITH THE UK AND FRG TO MAKE CERTAIN WE AGREE THERE IS ENOUGH IN THE PACKAGE TO SERVE OUR PURPOSES AND GIVE THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT THE RUNNING ROOM IT NEEDS.

  6. PIK BOTHA WENT ON TO SAY THAT P.W. BOTHA WANTS PIK TO TRAVEL TO WASHINGTON, LONDON AND BONN AND SEE RONALD REAGAN, GEORGE SHULTZ, THATCHER AND KOHL TO SPELL OUT WHAT THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT HAS IN MIND, RETURNING IN TIME TO PRETORIA SO THAT HIS FINDINGS COULD BE FACTORED INTO THE AUGUST 15 ANNOUNCEMENT. I WARNED THE MINISTER AGAINST THIS COURSE OF ACTION, SAYING THAT NEWS OF HIS TRAVEL IS CERTAIN TO LEAK AND HIS VISIT WOULD BECOME A LIGHTENING ROD FOR PROTEST AND THEREBY UNDERCUT WHAT HE AND P.W. BOTHA WISH TO ACHIEVE. PIK REPLIED THAT A VISIT WOULD BE IMPORTANT AND THAT HE WOULD CARRY AN ADDITIONAL MESSAGE OF SUCH IMPORTANCE THAT ONLY HE COULD DELIVER IT. I REMAINED FIRM IN MY ADVICE BUT AGREED TO PASS HIS REQUEST TO THE SECRETARY AND REPLY IN WRITING AFTER WE HAVE CONSIDERED [end p3] IT.

  7. PIK REPORTED THAT THE EC-10 HAS ASKED TO SEND THE FOREIGN MINISTERS OF LUXEMBORG, ITALY AND THE NETHERLANDS – THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE EC-10 CHAIRMEN – TO SOUTH AFRICA SHORTLY SO THAT THEY COULD REPORT TO THE EC-10 WHEN IT MEETS SEPTEMBER 3–4. THE SOUTH AFRICANS HAVE AGREED IN PRINCIPLE BUT KNOW SPARKS WILL FLY, ESPECIALLY WITH THE DUTCH. THE SAG DOES NOT WANT TO DEAL WITH THE MINISTERS ON THE SAME BASIS OF CONFIDENCE IT WILL DEAL WITH THE US, UK AND FRG. TO SEND THE EC-10 MINISTERS PACKING WILL PRODUCE A FIRE STORM INTERNATIONALLY; THEN TO MAKE THE AUGUST 15 ANNOUNCEMENT WILL GIVE THE APPEARANCE THAT THE SAG CAVED INTO EC PRESSURE. PIK ASKED THAT WE CONSIDER WEIGHING IN WITH THE EC-10 AND SAY THAT SENSITIVE DISCUSSIONS ARE UNDERWAY AND THAT THE EC SHOULD DELAY ITS MISSION UNTIL LATE AUGUST. I SAID WE WOULD CONSIDER HIS REQUEST BUT THAT I HAD TO REPEAT CLEARLY THAT WE REMAIN DEEPLY TROUBLED BY PRESENT EVENTS AND THE SITUATION WE FACE. THE EUROPEANS ARE IN A SIMILAR FIX. WE MUST LOOK TO THE SOUTH AFRICANS FOR SERIOUS AND BOLD IDEAS AND DETERMINED ACTION.

  8. WE WILL CONSIDER PIK'S MESSAGE ON AN URGENT BASIS AND BE BACK IN TOUCH WITH HIM, THROUGH YOU, SHORTLY.