JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The South African government today barred the United Democratic Front from receiving foreign funds, dealing what could be a devastating blow to the nation's largest anti-apartheid coalition.
President Pieter W. Botha issued the order, effective immediately, under a law empowering him to prohibit foreign financing of political organizations deemed to be influenced or aided by foreign groups.
It was Botha's first punitive action against the UDF and came a week after Congress overrode President Reagan's veto of broad U.S. sanctions against South Africa.
Challenge Next Week
UDF treasurer Azhar Cachalia said the coalition will challenge the order in court next week. Another UDF official declined to say how much money the organization receives from abroad but said the amount is "substantial."
Botha's order also froze $45,000 in the group's bank accounts. If the government wants to go a step further and confiscate the money, it will have to apply to a court for approval.
Cachalia did not say how much money the organization has, but said a large share of its budget of "millions of rand" comes from overseas, mostly from Scandinavia.
"It (the order) is part of the whole strategy to begin to emasculate the organization," Murphy Morobe, publicity secretary of the front, said.
850 Affiliate Groups
He said the multiracial front, which was formed three years ago, has 850 affiliate organizations around the country, including civic associations, trade unions, church groups and student associations.
The front has a membership of about 2.5 million, Morobe said. Supporters include some of the nation's most prominent anti-apartheid campaigners.
Most of the coalition's leaders are in hiding or detention. The state of emergency imposed June 12 allows the detention without charge of government opponents.