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6 Lawmakers End S. Africa Trip, Insisting on Sanctions

January 11, 1986|MICHAEL PARKS | Times Staff Writer

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Six members of the U.S. Congress, concluding a four-day visit here, declared Friday that "American dollars must not fuel apartheid" and strongly endorsed continued and perhaps strengthened economic sanctions against South Africa.

Rep. William H. Gray III (D-Pa.), leader of the delegation and co-author of anti-apartheid legislation in Congress last year, said that South Africa could prevent tougher international sanctions only by abandoning apartheid, its system of racial separation.

Gray, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said the group, five Democrats and a Republican, will make its formal recommendations on U.S. action when it returns to Washington next week.

"We leave with the commitment that financing racist policies with American dollars is wrong," he said. "Our country has walked through the fires of racism itself, and we must not allow American dollars to fuel racial conflict anywhere else in the world."

The delegation, which met with President Pieter W. Botha and three Cabinet ministers as well as with dozens of opponents of apartheid, said their talks here left them profoundly pessimistic about the future of South Africa.

"When $1 is spent on (educating) a white child and 14 cents on a black child, I do not understand why there is still so much hope in this country and so many people remained committed to nonviolence," Rep. Lynn Martin (R-Ill.) said.

"As long as the powerful whites, especially Afrikaners, do not allow nonviolence a chance, there are no alternatives. Innocent white and black children are going to have to bear the brunt of a morally reprehensible system."

While the government blames communist agitators from outside the country for the unremitting civil unrest here, blacks attribute it to opposition to apartheid, Gray said, adding that "they are like two ships sailing on two different oceans."

Similarly, where opposition leaders call for urgent, fundamental reforms, Botha showed no willingness to commit himself to such sweeping change.

The congressmen had trouble themselves talking to everyone they wanted to meet. Botha refused to allow them to see Nelson Mandela, the imprisoned patriarch of the African National Congress, and Winnie Mandela, his wife, refused to see the Americans after their arrangements to meet with other African National Congress officials in Lusaka, Zambia, fell through.

The Azanian People's Organization, a militant black-consciousness group that disrupted Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's visit here a year ago, also refused to see the delegation, accusing them of being "imperialists and capitalists" and opposed to change in South Africa.

For its part, the South African government accused the delegation of meddling. The visit was "a form of foreign interference in the country's affairs that has grown dramatically in popularity among a certain kind of Western politician in the last year or two," South African radio said in a commentary reflecting government views.

"Practitioners of this variety of interference are invariably noted for . . . their superficial and one-sided knowledge of South African affairs and . . . their strong political ambitions in their own countries. . . .

"While ostensibly designed to accelerate reform in South Africa, (such visits) in fact retard it," the commentary said. "In the name of reform, the visitor undermines it by pushing for sanctions."

The congressmen included Reps. Charles A. Hayes (D-Ill.), Peter H. Kostmayer (D-Penn.), Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) and Walter E. Fauntroy, the District of Columbia's non-voting delegate in the House, a Democrat. Gray, Hayes, Towns and Fauntroy are black; Kostmayer and Martin are white.

Meanwhile, three more blacks, two women and a man, died in the country's unrest. All were burned to death, apparently as suspected government collaborators, in Queenstown, one of the most troubled communities in eastern Cape province. Another woman was hospitalized in critical conditions after she too was found under a pile of gasoline-soaked automobile tires.

One of the women was a 77-year-old leader of Queenstown's black community who felt that her status was sufficient to allow her to criticize the young black militants there as well as the white town administration. Rumors had circulated for weeks--and she had denied them vigorously--that she had become an informer and had accompanied police through the black township, pointing out persons to arrest.

In other actions Friday, 16 local leaders of the United Democratic Front anti-apartheid coalition were detained by police at a meeting in Port Elizabeth. A Catholic nun, Sister Mary Bernard Ncube, 50, an anti-apartheid activist, was freed on $200 bail after being charged with attending an illegal gathering.

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