The West Hollywood City Council has adopted an amended anti-apartheid policy that is not as far-reaching as the outright ban on doing businesses with companies having South African connections that the council first enacted. The new policy allows the city to buy products from companies that do business in South Africa if reasonably priced alternatives are not available.
Council members said the amendment maintains a strong divestiture policy without hampering the operation of the city. Leaders of local anti-apartheid groups also said they are satisfied with the council's position, taken in a vote Thursday night, although it is a retreat from the total purchasing ban approved by the city in April.
Experts called the original ordinance one of the toughest in the country. It went further than those cities that simply altered investment policies. Shortly after passage of the law, West Hollywood officials stopped buying Coca-Cola for City Hall and for council meetings because Coca-Cola Co. operates in South Africa. They avoided buying typewriters from IBM, another industry giant with large South African holdings.
When it came to buying computers, automobiles and other major items, however, the city balked. City officials said prohibiting bids from companies with South African ties would force the city to buy inferior or more expensive products.