NAMIBIA: Buying Time

South Africa fends off a threat

For more than a decade, the United Nations has been trying to end South Africa's control over Namibia (South West Africa). For just as long, South Africa has tried to maintain its jurisdiction over the Venezuela-size territory that it has ruled since 1920 under a League of Nations mandate, which the U.N. lifted in 1966. In April, under prodding by the "Big Five" Western powers (the U.S., Britain, France, Canada and West Germany), the South Africans agreed to surrender sovereignty to a new Namibian government elected through U.N. -supervised voting.

Last month, however, retiring South African...