Two right-wing white parties that have widespread support among this African territory's 100,000 whites today expressed serious reservations about the principles proposed by five Western nations as the basis for Namibian independence from South Africa, and one of the parties rejected the Western plan outright.
Although South Africa, which controls Namibia, has final authority over the acceptance of the proposed constitutional guidelines, South African leaders are sensitive to the views of the white Namibian parties because of fears that a right-wing, white backlash against black rule here would spill over into South Africa.
Most of the other 14 political parties in Namibia, including the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance, a centrist multiracial coalition, expressed broad agreement with the proposals in a meeting today with a five-nation Western delegation headed by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Chester Crocker.
The 15-member delegation, including representatives from France, Canada, Britain and West Germany, is touring southern Africa to promote the latest diplomatic effort to arrange Namibian independence and end the war between South Africa and the Southwest Africa People's Organization (SWAPO).
Today's meeting followed an all-day session with the South African government in Cape Town Wednesday and a meeting with SWAPO and Angolan government officials in Luanda Tuesday. A source close to the talks said they went fairly well, although neither side offered complete acceptance of the principles.
The source said the Western negotiators did not expect definitive replies at this stage and that more detailed talks were expected in the weeks ahead. "This is just an opening gambit," the source said, "but it seems to be on track."
One white politician here said he was told by some members of the Western contact group that they hope to get final acceptance of constitutional principles by the end of December in order to proceed to the negotiations in "phase two" of their initiative, which will involve touchy arrangements over monitoring a cease-fire and running an election. Difficulties in reaching a consensus on these points have caused breakdowns in Western settlement efforts in the past.
Dirk Mudge, the white chairman of the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance, expressed "disappointment" that the Western powers could not guarantee that their proposed principles would be followed after the initial constitution was drawn up. But a black alliance leader, Peter Kalangula, called Mudge's statement "an unfortunate choice of words."
"I asked Dr. Crocker if the Western five would be pulling out and letting the United Nations take over the independence process. He said, no, they would stay until the end and make sure it goes through, and I think that is all you can ask," Kalangula said.
The alliance, which is expected by South Africa to be the main opponent of SWAPO in an internationally supervised election, seemed prepared to accept the principle implicit in the constitutional proposals -- that there can be no political structures organized on an exclusively racial line in an independent Namibia -- mainly because of pressure from black alliance members.
The two ultraconservative white parties, however, reject this condition. Furthermore, if South Africa forces the parties to accept the provision, it would open itself to the right-wing charge that it had "sold out" the whites in the territory.
The local branch of South Africa's ruling National Party rejected any election under United Nations supervision, said it would be "premature" to discuss constitutional principles until a constitutional structure is agreed on and rejected the system of one man, one vote that the Western plan depends on.
The local affiliation of the Herstigte party said in a statement that it does not recognize the right of the United Nations "to interfere with the affairs of Southwest Africa . . . . The Western powers . . . have failed to realize that the so-called democratic process is being used by the Communists to take over one African state after the other . . . . The one-man, one-vote system is not suited to the circumstances of Africa because a large number of the voters do not have a good conception of politics and affairs of the state . . . . Real democracy can only be exercised by responsible and informed people."