The discussion between Nelson Mandela and Ted Koppel on "Nightline" last week as to whether sanctions on South Africa should now be lifted placed the wrong emphasis on the subject in two respects.
First, it gave too much importance to the influence of sanctions on the reform moves currently taking place in South Africa. Many far-reaching noncosmetic changes took place before the U.S. Anti-Apartheid Act of October 1986 was passed, such as legal recognition of black trade unions and the repeal of the laws that severely restricted the mobility of black South Africans.
The main impetus to reform has been the escalating black resistance in South Africa to apartheid, as evidenced by strikes, stay-aways, boycotts and street protests, the growing impossibility of implementing apartheid laws in the teeth of the irresistible tide of urbanization, and the astronomical cost of administering a system designed to maintain racial segregation in a country where de facto economic integration has been proceeding apace.
Second, the reason why sanctions should be lifted is not in order to reward State President F. W. de Klerk for the steps he has taken to reverse measures that, as Nelson Mandela correctly pointed out, should never have been imposed in the first instance. Rather it is to provide de Klerk with something positive he can use to counter the dangerous upsurge of right-wing opposition among whites who so far see nothing but a threat to their survival in de Klerk's reform movement.
Mandela declared it was essential that reform be irreversible and that fundamental change take place before the pressure of sanctions be lifted. In fact the process of reform is already irreversible, though several fundamental laws that maintain the apartheid system still remain on the statute book.
The pace at which the dismantling of apartheid will take place will in fact be largely determined by the availability of investment capital. Black leaders believe that markets lost through sanctions will be regained, and that companies that have disinvested from South Africa will return, once a transfer of power from the white minority to the black majority has taken place.
Leaving aside this dubious possibility (made more dubious by African National Congress threats to nationalize industry and the mines), the real crunch, in fact, has been the drying up of investment capital from abroad and the refusal of the U.S. banks to roll over loans -- a decision based on risk assessment rather than on the moral implications of financing the apartheid regime.
If the demise of apartheid is to be expedited, it is vital that South Africa have immediate access to the financial resources required for economic growth, irrespective of whether it is a black majority government or a nonracial government that replaces the present white minority government. Education, training, jobs and housing, hitherto largely denied, must be provided for the burgeoning black population. Almost half a million young blacks enter the labor market in South Africa each year, and neither de Klerk nor Mandela will be able to check the violence and crime that inevitably will result if these young people are not gainfully employed and decently housed.
Finally, as one who was present, at Mr. Mandela's request, at the meeting in Johannesburg between him and leading representatives of the South African Jewish community, I concur with Mr. Mandela's statement on "Nightline" that the meeting ended on an amicable note, with the unconditional acceptance of his assurance that neither he nor the ANC is in any way antisemitic. There was, however, no consensus on the issue of the attitude of the ANC toward Israel, or of its close identification with Yasser Arafat, the Palestine Liberation Organization or Moammar Gadhafi.
The writer, a member of the South African parliament, belongs to the Progressive Federal Party.