INGLEWOOD — Citing a "special obligation" to take the lead in opposing apartheid, the City Council this week voted to make Inglewood the first predominantly black city in Southern California to adopt a policy opposing South Africa's system of racial segregation.
Saying they hope to build a coalition of local governments opposing apartheid, Inglewood council members on Tuesday voted unanimously to adopt a policy that:
- Prohibits the city from doing business with any bank or other financial institution that makes loans to South Africa, has South African branch offices, or promotes the sale of South Africa's Krugerrand.
- Asks local state legislators to support Assembly Bill 1134, which would bar the state from investing or renewing investment in companies or banks dealing with the South African government. The state currently has nearly $10 billion in pension funds invested in companies or banks with ties to South Africa.
- Asks the National League of Cities, the League of California Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors to adopt policies demanding strong member sanctions against South Africa.
- Urges the state Government Finance Officers Assn. to develop a model policy for cities that want to sever ties with companies that do business with South Africa.
Sending a Letter
In addition, Mayor Edward Vincent this week will send a letter to South African President Pieter W. Botha informing him that "the city of Inglewood is joining with local and state governments . . . to urge the President and Congress to enact legislation which would invoke greater economic sanctions against the Republic of South Africa."
So far, Michigan, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Maryland and Wisconsin and the California cities of San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Oakland, Berkeley, Davis, Cotati and Santa Monica have passed legislation to withdraw investments from companies that have South African interests. Other cities across the country have passed similar legislation.
Santa Monica's City Council voted in May to withdraw all investments from companies or banks doing business with South Africa. The Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education last week adopted a similar divestiture policy and asked the county to create a separate investment pool for school districts and agencies that want to avoid South African investments.
Los Angeles is considering divesting its $4 billion pension fund of all investments connected with South Africa.
Inglewood, where blacks make up about 60% of the population, is the first predominantly black city in Southern California to adopt such a policy, according to the League of California Cities.
Councilman Daniel Tabor, who had asked the city staff to develop the program, said he believes Inglewood should "take the lead" in building a coalition of cities to pressure the state and federal government to adopt stern economic sanctions against South Africa.
In a country that is nearly 80% black, black South African nationals are restricted in almost every aspect of life by segregation laws. South African blacks cannot vote, cannot marry whites and must carry entry and exit visas to travel in white areas.
"This is a situation we find morally repugnant," Tabor said. "While by ourselves we don't have much economic clout, if we work with other cities, I'm convinced we can bring some pressure to bear. We at least need to try."
City Manager Paul Eckles said he does not know of any companies that the city does business with that would be affected by the new policy. Inglewood's total investments come to less than $6 million, with much of that in state investment pools. That sum includes the city's pension fund, which the state administers. Of the half-dozen financial institutions Inglewood does business with, none has ties with South Africa.