David Rockefeller, whose name is the epitome of capitalism, said today he does not think that African Marxism is a threat to the United States or to American business interests on the continent.
Nearing the end of a 10-nation tour of Africa, the retired chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank told reporters it would be "to the advantage" of the United States and Marxist Angola to create normal relations. He had two days of talks with Angolan government leaders before coming here yesterday.
Rockefeller said the presence of thousands of Cuban troops and Soviet advisers had no "direct bearing on American business operations in Angola. Clearly, it has not interfered with our own banking relations."
The United States, the only major Western nation that does not recognize the Angolan government of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, has linked normal relations with the withdrawal of 15,000 to 20,000 Cuban troops in the country. Last year, the Reagan administration failed in its attempt to repeal the Clark amendment, which prohibits U.S. covert or overt actions to aid Angolan political factions.
Rockefeller, whose bank has helped finance purchases of airliners and oil equipment for Angola, said that "the question of Cuban troops is an issue that needs to be included" in bilateral talks, but he declined to comment further.
On the question of Marxism, he told a press conference at the conclusion of his two-day visit here, "The more I've seen of countries which are allegedly Marxist in Africa, the more I have a feeling it is more labels and trappings than reality."
The primary interest of these countries' leaders, he said, "is to improve the lot of their people and strengthen the economies of the countries."
"They are willing to accept help from any source to achieve it," he continued. "In some cases, those governments did not receive support from Western countries, and therefore they accepted it from where they could get it."
Dealing with socialist or Marxist countries "really does not cause us any problem at all," Rockefeller, now chairman of the bank's international advisory committee, said. "We do business with at least 125 countries in the world, governments ranging over the whole political spectrum." He noted that Chase Manhattan was the first American bank in Moscow and Peking.
"I don't think an international bank such as ours ought to try to set itself up as a judge of what kind of government a country wishes to have. We have found we can deal with just about any kind of government, provided they are orderly and responsible."
He also pointed out to a reporter who questioned relations between capitalist bankers and socialist governments that there are wide varieties within both economic systems and many similarities.
Rockefeller said he was optimistic that U.S.-led negotiations to bring about independence in South African-controlled Namibia, Angola's southern neighbor, would succeed. Such a move, he said, could end South African attacks on Angola, which plays host to Namibian guerrillas, cause a withdrawal of the Cuban troops and bring stability to the Luanda government.
A Western businessman who recently visted Angola said stability there could lead to "geometric growth" in Western investment in the country because of its great economic potential in oil, minerals, agricultural potential and water power.
The businessman, apparently not at all concerned about Angola's professed Marxist economy, added, "Angola is the only country in southern Africa with the ability to pay" because it has $2 billion dollars a year in oil revenue.
Angola supplies oil to the United States, almost all of it pumped by American companies, led by Gulf, which has invested more than $400 million in the country.
On other matters, Rockefeller said:
* "Some very attractive investment opportunities" exist in Zimbabwe and the country's economy has done remarkably well in two years of independance.
* His bank opposes South Africa's system of racial separation, but he is against economic sanctions to pressure for change because they would not work. Defending Chase Manhattan's loans to the private sector there, he added, "We don't feel our activities in South Africa are inconsistent with our sense of social responsibility."
Rockefeller leaves Wednesday for Zambia and concludes his tour in Morocco. He has also visited Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon.