Remarks to Members of
the World Affairs Council and the Foreign Policy Association
July 22, 1986
Vice President, Secretary [of State] Shultz, I would like to express my
appreciation to Leonard Marks, the World Affairs Council, and the Foreign Policy
Association for helping bring this group together today. For more than a year
now, the world's attention has been focused upon South Africa -- the deepening
political crisis there, the widening cycle of violence. And today I'd like to
outline American policy toward that troubled republic and toward the region of
which it is a part, a region of vital importance to the West.
root cause of South Africa's disorder is
apartheid, that rigid system of racial segregation, wherein black people have
been treated as third-class citizens in a nation they helped to build. America's view of apartheid has
been and remains clear. Apartheid is morally wrong and politically
unacceptable. The United States cannot maintain cordial
relations with a government whose power rests upon the denial of rights to a
majority of its people based on race. If South America [South Africa] wishes to belong to
the family of Western nations, an end to apartheid is a precondition.
Americans, I believe, are united in this conviction. Second, apartheid must be
dismantled. Time is running out for the moderates of all races in South Africa. But if we Americans
are agreed upon the goal, a free and multiracial South Africa associated with free
nations and the West, there is deep disagreement about
how to reach it.
a little history: For a quarter century now, the American Government has been
separating itself from the South African Government. In 1962 President Kennedy
imposed an embargo on military sales. Last September I issued an Executive
order further restricting U.S. dealings with the
Pretoria Government. For the past 18 months the marketplace has been sending
unmistakable signals of its own. U.S. bank lending to South Africa has been virtually
halted. No significant new investment has come in. Some Western businessmen
have packed up and gone home.
now we've reached a critical juncture. Many in Congress and some in Europe are clamoring for
sweeping sanctions against South Africa. The Prime Minister of
Great Britain has denounced punitive sanctions as ``immoral'' and ``utterly
repugnant.'' Well, let me tell you why we believe Mrs. Thatcher is right. The
primary victims of an economic boycott of South Africa would be the very
people we seek to help. Most of the workers who would lose jobs because of
sanctions would be black workers. We do not believe the way to help the people
of South Africa is to cripple the
economy upon which they and their families depend for survival.
Paton, South Africa's great writer, for years
the conscience of his country, has declared himself emphatically: ``I am
totally opposed to disinvestment,'' he says. ``It is primarily for a moral
reason. Those who will pay most grievously for disinvestment will be the black
workers of South Africa. I take very seriously
the teachings of the gospels. In particular, the parables about giving drink to
the thirsty and food to the hungry. I will not help to cause any such suffering
to any black person.'' Nor will we.
at a map, southern Africa is a single economic unit tied together by
rails and roads. Zaire and its southern mining
region depends upon South Africa for three-fourths of
her food and petroleum. More than half the electric power that drives the
capital of Mozambique comes from South Africa. Over one-third of the
exports from Zambia and 65 percent of the
exports of Zimbabwe leave the continent
through South African ports. The mines of South Africa employ 13,000 workers
from Swaziland, 19,000 from Botswana, 50,000 from Mozambique, and 110,000 from the
tiny, landlocked country of Lesotho. Shut down these
productive mines with sanctions and you have forced black mine workers out of
their jobs and forced their families back in their home countries into
destitution. I don't believe the American people want to do something like
that. As one African leader remarked recently, ``Southern Africa is like a zebra. If the
white parts are injured, the black parts will die too.''
Western nations have poured billions in foreign aid and investment loans into
southern Africa. Does it make sense to
aid these countries with one hand and with the other to smash the industrial
engine upon which their future depends? Wherever blacks seek equal opportunity,
higher wages, better working conditions, their strongest allies are the
American, British, French, German, and Dutch businessmen who bring to South Africa ideas of social justice
formed in their own countries. If disinvestment is mandated, these progressive
Western forces will depart; and South African proprietors will inherit, at fire
sale prices, their farms and factories and plants and mines. And how would this
end apartheid? Our own experience teaches us that racial progress comes
swiftest and easiest, not during economic depression, but in times of
prosperity and growth. Our own history teaches us that capitalism is the
natural enemy of such feudal institutions as apartheid.
we share the outrage Americans have come to feel. Night after night, week after
week, television has brought us reports of violence by South African security
forces, bringing injury and death to peaceful demonstrators and innocent
bystanders. More recently, we read of violent attacks by blacks against blacks.
Then there is the calculated terror by elements of the African National
Congress: the mining of roads, the bombings of public places, designed to bring
about further repression, the imposition of martial law, eventually creating
the conditions for racial war. The most common method of terror is the so-called
necklace. In this barbaric way of reprisal, a tire is filled with kerosene or
gasoline, placed around the neck of an alleged collaborator, and ignited. The
victim may be a black policeman, a teacher, a soldier, a civil servant. It
makes no difference. The atrocity is designed to terrorize blacks into ending
all racial cooperation and to polarize South Africa as prelude to a final,
climactic struggle for power.
defending their society and people, the South African Government has a right
and responsibility to maintain order in the face of terrorists. But by its
tactics, the Government is only accelerating the descent into bloodletting.
Moderates are being trapped between the intimidation of radical youths and countergangs of vigilantes. And the Government's state of
emergency, next, went beyond the law of necessity. It, too, went outside the
law by sweeping up thousands of students, civic leaders, church leaders, and
labor leaders; thereby contributing to futher
radicalization. Such repressive measures will bring South Africa neither peace nor
a tragedy that most Americans only see or read about the dead and injured in South Africa -- from terrorism,
violence, and repression. For behind the terrible television pictures lies
another truth: South Africa is a complex and
diverse society in a state of transition. More and more South Africans have
come to recognize that change is essential for survival. The realization has
come hard and late, but the realization has finally come to Pretoria that apartheid belongs
to the past. In recent years there's been a dramatic change. Black workers have
been permitted to unionize, bargain collectively, and build the strongest free
trade union movement in all of Africa. The infamous pass laws
have been ended, as have many of the laws denying blacks the right to live,
work, and own property in South Africa's cities. Citizenship,
wrongly stripped away, has been restored to nearly 6 million blacks.
Segregation in universities and public facilities is being set aside. Social
apartheid laws prohibiting interracial sex and marriage have been struck down.
It is because State President Botha has presided over
these reforms that extremists have denounced him as a traitor.
must remember, as the British historian Paul Johnson reminds us, that South Africa is an African country
as well as a Western country. And reviewing the history of that continent in
the quarter century since independence, historian Johnson does not see South Africa as a failure. ``Only in
South Africa,'' he writes, ``have
the real incomes of blacks risen very substantially. .
. . In mining, black wages have tripled in real terms in the last decade. . . .
South Africa is the . . . only
African country to produce a large black middle class.'' ``Almost certainly,''
he adds, ``there are now more black women professionals in South Africa than in
the whole of the rest of Africa put together.''
apartheid, tens of thousands of black Africans migrate into South Africa from neighboring
countries to escape poverty and take advantage of the opportunities in an
economy that produces nearly a third of the income in all of sub-Saharan Africa. It's tragic that in
the current crisis social and economic progress has been arrested. And yet in
contemporary South Africa -- before the state of
emergency -- there was a broad measure of freedom of speech, of the press, and
of religion there. Indeed, it's hard to think of a single country in the Soviet
bloc, or many in the United Nations, where political critics have the same
freedom to be heard as did outspoken critics of the South African Government.
by Western standards, South Africa still falls short,
terribly short, on the scales of economic and social justice. South Africa's actions to dismantle
apartheid must not end now. The state of emergency must be lifted. There must
be an opening of the political process. That the black people of South Africa should have a voice in
their own governance is an idea whose time has come. There can be no turning
back. In the multiracial society that is South Africa, no single race can
monopolize the reins of political power. Black churches, black unions, and,
indeed, genuine black nationalists have a legitimate role to play in the future
of their country. But the South African Government is under no obligation to
negotiate the future of the country with any organization that proclaims a goal
of creating a Communist state and uses terrorist tactics and violence to
Americans, understandably, ask: Given the racial violence, the hatred, why not
wash our hands and walk away from that tragic continent and bleeding country?
Well, the answer is: We cannot. In southern Africa our national ideals and
strategic interests come together. South Africa matters because we
believe that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with
unalienable rights. South Africa matters because of who
we are. One of eight Americans can trace his ancestry to Africa.
this is one of the most vital regions of the world. Around the Cape of Good Hope passes the oil of the Persian Gulf, which is indispensable
to the industrial economies of Western Europe. Southern Africa and South Africaare
the repository of many of the vital minerals -- vanadium, manganese, chromium,
platinum -- for which the West has no other secure source of supply. The Soviet Union is not unaware of the
stakes. A decade ago, using an army of Cuban mercenaries provided by Fidel
Castro, Moscow installed a client
regime in Angola. Today the Soviet Union is providing that
regime with the weapons to attack UNITA, a black liberation movement which
seeks for Angolans the same right to be represented in their government that
black South Africans seek for themselves.
threatens our vital interests in southern Africa, because it's drawing
neighboring states into the vortex of violence. Repeatedly, within the last 18
months, South African forces have struck into neighboring states. I repeat our
condemnation of such behavior. Also the Soviet-armed guerrillas of the African
National Congress, operating both within South Africa and from some
neighboring countries, have embarked upon new acts of terrorism inside South Africa. I also condemn that
behavior. But South Africa cannot shift the blame
for these problems onto neighboring states, especially when those neighbors
take steps to stop guerrilla actions from being mounted from their own
this rising hostility in southern Africa, between Pretoria and the frontline
states, explodes, the Soviet Union will be the main
beneficiary. And the critical ocean corridor of South Africa and the strategic
minerals of the region would be at risk. Thus, it would be an historic act of
folly for the United States and the West, out of
anguish and frustration and anger, to write off South Africa. Ultimately, however,
the fate of South Africa will be decided there,
not here. We Americans stand ready to help. But whether South Africa emerges democratic and
free or takes a course leading to a downward spiral of poverty and repression
will finally be their choice, not ours.
key to the future lies with the South African Government. As I urge Western
nations to maintain communication and involvement in South Africa, I urge Mr. Botha not to retreat into the ``laager,'' not to cut off
contact with the West. Americans and South Africans have never been enemies,
and we understand the apprehension and fear and concern of all of your people.
But an end to apartheid does not necessarily mean an end to the social,
economic, and physical security of the white people in this country they love
and have sacrificed so much to build.
the black, colored, and Asian peoples of South Africa, too long treated as
second and third class subjects, I can only say: In your hopes for freedom,
social justice, and self-determination, you have a friend and ally in the United States. Maintain your hopes
for peace and reconciliation, and we will do our part to keep that road open.
We understand that behind the rage and resentment in the townships is the
memory of real injustices inflicted upon generations of South Africans. ``Those
to whom evil is done,'' the poet wrote, ``often do evil in return.'' But if the
people of South Africa are to have a future in
a free country, where the rights of all are respected, the desire for
retribution will have to be set aside. Otherwise the future will be lost in a
bloody quarrel over the past.
would be an act of arrogance to insist that uniquely American ideas and
institutions, rooted in our own history and traditions, be transplanted to
South African soil. Solutions to South Africa's political crisis must
come from South Africans themselves. Black and white, colored and Asian, they
have their own traditions. But let me outline what we believe are necessary
components of progress toward political peace.
a timetable for elimination of apartheid laws should be set. Second, all
political prisoners should be released. Third, Nelson Mandela should be
released to participate in the country's political process. Fourth, black
political movements should be unbanned. Fifth, both
the Government and its opponents should begin a dialog about constructing a
political system that rests upon the consent of the governed, where the rights
of majorities and minorities and individuals are protected by law. And the
dialog should be initiated by those with power and authority: the South African
Government itself. Sixth, if postapartheidSouth Africa is to remain the
economic locomotive of southern Africa, its strong and
developed economy must not be crippled.
therefore, I urge the Congress and the countries of Western Europe to resist this
emotional clamor for punitive sanctions. If Congress imposes sanctions, it
would destroy America's flexibility, discard
our diplomatic leverage, and deepen the crisis. To make a difference,
Americans, who are a force for decency and progress in the world, must remain
involved. We must stay and work, not cut and run. It should be our policy to
build in South Africa, not to bring down.
often in the past, we Americans, acting out of anger and frustration and
impatience, have turned our backs on flawed regimes, only to see disaster
follow. Those who tell us the moral thing to do is embargo the South African
economy and write off South Africa should tell us exactly
what they believe will rise in its place. What foreign power would fill the
vacuum if its ties with the West are broken?
be effective, however, our policy must be coordinated with our key Western
allies and with the frontline states in southern Africa. These countries have
the greatest concern and potential leverage on the situation in South Africa.
intend to pursue the following steps. Secretary Shultz has already begun
intensive consultations with our Western allies, whose roots and presence in South Africa are greater than our
own, on ways to encourage internal negotiations. We want the process to begin
now, and we want open channels to all the principal parties. The key nations of
the West must act in concert, and together we can make the difference. We fully
support the current efforts of the British Government to revive hopes for
negotiations. Foreign Secretary Howe's visits with South Africa's leaders this week
will be of particular significance.
second, I urge the leaders of the region to join us in seeking a future South Africa where countries live in
peace and cooperation. South Africa is the nation where the
industrial revolution first came to Africa. Its economy is a
mighty engine that could pull southern Africa into a prosperous
future. The other nations of southern Africa -- from Kinshasa to the Cape -- are rich in natural
resources and human resources.
I have directed Secretary Shultz and AID Administrator McPherson to undertake a
study of America's assistance role in southern Africa to determine what needs
to be done and what can be done to expand the trade, private investment, and
transport prospects of southern Africa's landlocked nations. In the past 5
years we have provided almost a billion dollars in assistance to South Africa's neighbors. And this
year we hope to provide an additional $45 million to black South Africans.
determined to remain involved, diplomatically and economically, with all the
states of southern Africa that wish constructive relations with the United States. This administration is
not only against broad economic sanctions and against apartheid; we are for a
new South Africa, a new nation where all that has been built up over
generations is not destroyed, a new society where participation in the social,
cultural, and political life is open to all peoples -- a new South Africa that
comes home to the family of free nations where she belongs. To achieve that, we
need not a Western withdrawal but deeper involvement by the Western business
community as agents of change and progress and growth. The international
business community needs not only to be supported in South Africa but energized. We'll be
at work on that task. If we wish to foster the process of transformation, one
of the best vehicles for change is through the involvement of black South
Africans in business, job-related activities, and labor unions.
the vision of a better life cannot be realized so long as apartheid endures and
instability reigns in South Africa. If the peoples of
southern Africa are to prosper, leaders
and peoples of the region, of all races, will have to elevate their common
interests above their ethnic divisions. We and our allies cannot dictate to the
government of a sovereign nation. Nor should we try. But we can offer to help
find a solution that is fair to all the people of South Africa. We can volunteer to
stand by and help bring about dialog between leaders of the various factions
and groups that make up the population of South Africa. We can counsel and
advise and make it plain to all that we are there as friends of all the people
of South Africa.
that tormented land, the window remains open for peaceful change. For how long,
we know not. But we in the West, privileged and prosperous and free, must not
be the ones to slam it shut. Now is a time for healing. The people of South Africa, of all races, deserve
a chance to build a better future. And we must not deny or destroy that chance.
The President spoke at in the East Room at the
White House. Leonard Marks was chairman of the executive committee of the
Foreign Policy Association.