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Ambassador says sanctions influenced apartheid's demise.

"We have closed the book on Apartheid." South African President F. W. de Klerk triumphantly crossed the threshold with these words together with 70 percent of his electorate who echoed his reform initiatives resoundingly. Accusations of possible reversibility were finally laid to rest. The dramatic turn of events that led to the demonstration of overwhelming support evidenced in the recent referendum stressed the South African Government's commitment to internal reform.

The role of the international community has been consequence, and the global abhorrence of apartheid was made apparent. Sanctions were effective in drawing attention to apartheid, though they called for further scarifices on the part of the disadvantaged.

The negotiation process presently underway has been successful in establishing the basis for political reform amongst 19 major political parties. Formal negotiations for a democratic constitution have therefore commenced. It can fairly be said that the Government of South Africa is in the process of demolishing the vestiges of apartheid, and endeavoring to create a democracy and to correct the wrongs of the past. It would be wrong to assume that there will not be ups and downs along the road. There are many remaining difficulties, not least of which, is the unacceptably high level of violence and the socio-economic pligh of millions of South Africans. In this, the understanding and help of the international community is crucial.

Today's agenda includes investment, job creation and economic growth. Nelson Mandela said at the United Nations General Assembly on December 3, 1991: "It will clearly be impossible for us to carry through this program of socio-economic changes by relying exclusively on our own resources. We will therefore require the support of the international community."

Americans helped create the birth of a new, democratic South Africa. The new South Africa devoid of sanctions could realize its potential as a provider for its people, a generating force in Africa and an equal amonst equals in the world family of nations.

Although political freedom is the major priority, economic enfranchisement is essential, especially for disadvantaged black South Africans. At the present time the rate of unemployment in South Africa is 43 percent, only 1/8 of the 400,000 new entrants into the labor market will be able to find jobs this year, and the South African economy has shown virtually no growth during the last number of years.

The democracy which we are all committed to establishing in South Africa will have difficulty surviving under such poor economic conditions. The necessity for increased state expenditures on housing, health services, equal education and pensions, expectations as to the redistribution of welath and any illusion about the effectiveness of sanctions, and its impact on the economy disappears.

The conditions which existed in South Africa during 1985-86 when most sanctions and divestment measures were adopted in the United States simply no longer exist in the South Africa of today. It is for this reason that there is almost universal agreement amongst all the political organizations in South Africa that the time has come or at least is close when economic and other sanctions against the country should be removed.

While making the argument that South Africa and all of its people urgently need the economic and investment restrictions to be lifted at the earliest possible time, and this means to many of us now, it is also necessary to consder the views of others. Nelson Mandela, the president of the African National Congress (ANC) has, for example, identified three phases for the removal sanctions against South Africa. At a "News Briefing" at the Washington National Press Club on December 5, 1991 Mandela said:

"We have come out with a compromise, a phased lifting of sanction, phase one, phase two, phase three. Phase one is based on the removal of obstacles to negotiations, like the unbanning of political organizations, the lifting of the state of emergency, the dismantling of apartheid and we have therefore recommended that this group of sanctions in phase one, like tourism, airlines, visas, we hve recommended that they should now be lifted and this has been accepted, for example by the Commonwealth, the British Commonwealth."

"And phase two includes the sanctions which I have already outlined to you--("And the whole group of sanctions, the whole question of the lifting of this group of sanctions is tied to the installation of an interim government, that is, diplomatic sanctions, gold coins, trade, trade credits and financial sanctions.")--and we are saying that as soon as an interim government is introduced, those sanctions will be lifted and we are pragmatic about the whole situation and I can assure you that we see no contradiction between calling for investments and the maintenance of sanctions because we are asking for investments in a post-apartheid South Africa, not today."

Phase three, which was outlined in a Washington Post article entitled "Mandela: End Sanctions in Phases" (December 4, 1991), states that "the final trade bars--on oil and arms--should be dissolved when a government is chosen through the principle of one-person, one-vote."

While from the viewpoint of most South Africans of all races, as established by opinion polls, all sanctions should go now, looked at from the ANC's viewpoint of the three phased approach, the following should be considered:

1. Phase 1 has, as Mandela has said, passed.

2. Phase 2 is close. As has been evidenced by developments in the negotiations in South Africa, agreement on certain aspects have been reached with regard to the transitional/interim government and it is hoped that this stage will be reached shortly.

3. There is in all responsible leaders' minds the same concern, indicated by Mandela above, about the urgency of reconstructuring the economy.

Walter Sisulu, the deputy president of the ANc, also said on March 24, 1992 that the ANC could call for the lifting of sanctions earlier than required by the ANC's official policy because foreign governments had ignored its policy and unilaterally lifted sanctions. He said "We are mindful that if we allow sanctions to die by themselves, we are the losers. Therefore we should take the initiative."

Where therefore it is decided that sanctions are to continue, and most South Africans think that they should not, then, as an alternative, consideration to a "sunset clause" being added to end these when particular events occur, e.g. an transitional/interim government is established, might well merit attention. Such a step would mean that there will not be a delay in restoring normality when the appropriate event occurs.

It is important for any observer of developments in South Africa to appreciate the differences between the various views on sanctions which are emanating from South Africa. None of the responsible leaders inside the country, such as President F. W. de Klerk, Mandela, or Chief Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, are arguing for the maintenance of all sanction and divestment measures against South Africa until the democratic process is finally established and operating. The only difference which exists is whether the sanctions and divestment need to be removed now so as to place the economy in a position where it can more easily redress the injustices that have been imposed on the disadvantaged in the country, or whether the sanction measures (other than those pertaining to oil and armaments) should be maintained until, and only until, a transitional/interim government has been established. The former is the view which has repeatedly been expressed by a majority of South Africa's people in opinion polls. The latter is the view of the African National Congress (ANC).

Helen Suzman, the veteran anti-apartheid and human rights fighter, recently stated that "the longer sanctions are maintained, the greater the danger of curing the disease but killing the patient." She added "sanctions must bear part of the blame for the terrible violence in South Africa in which thousands of lives have been lost over the past few years."

Alan Paton, famous South African author, political figure and liberal democrat, said shortly before his death that "if the nations of the West condemn us, they will only hinder the process of our emancipation from the bondage of our history. But if they stay with us, rebuke us, judge us and encourage us, the chances are that we shall do better."
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Author:Schwarz, Harry
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Apr 13, 1992
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