The United Nations plan for the independence of Nambia (South-West Africa), delayed for almost a year by South Africa's objections, now appears to be on the tracks again.
A high-level UN mission is about to leave for the area to put the final touches on a solution that was put together originally by five Western nations (the United States, Canada, Britain, France, and West Germany). All the parties concerned now essentially agree on the plan.
Last November, South Africa accepted "in principle" the concept of a demilitarized zone 60 miles wide and 900 miles long along the Namibian-Angolan border -- to prevent both guerrilla attacks against Namibia and South African incursions into Angola.
Under the plan, the UN would play in Namibia much the same role that Great Britain is playing in Rhodesia. It would provide the interim administration in Namibia with an international police force and supervisors for an election.
UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim has appointed Lt. Gen. Prem Chand of India to command the military component of the United Nations Transistion Assistance Group (UNTAG). General Chan and Matti Antisaari, UN Comissioner for Namibia, are to be dispatched to Namibia soon to iron out the details of imposing the demilitarized zone.
The two also will visit South Africa, Zambia, and Angola. Brian Urquhart, UN undersecretary for special political affairs, will join them in Pretoria at some point, in order to finalize, if possible, the political aspects of the plan.
In the meantime, South Africa has pursued its two-track policy regarding Namibia. While it has opened the door for the UN plan a little wider, it also has taken further steps that could allow for an internal, unilateral, and by UN criteria, illegal solution.
For example, it has granted more powers to the local Assembly and drawn up a plan that would make Namibia a "dominion." Its Parliament, its Cabinet, would be answerable of South Africa.
There is considerable concern at the UN over these steps since they seem to contradict Pretoria's gradual warming up to the UN plan. The truth is that not only the Africans but also the five Western powers remain deeply suspicious of South Africa's intentions, just as South Africa suspects the projected UN involvement in Namibia.
Ultimately, the plan's implementation, according to analysts here, may depend on the outcome of the Rhodesian election. It is widely believed that the problems of Rhodesia and Namibia are linked together in South Africa's strategy.