South African President Pieter W. Botha today strongly condemned a proposed meeting between white business leaders and officials of the outlawed African National Congress, the foremost resistance movement fighting white-minority rule here.
Denying newspaper reports that he had given tacit approval to the planned session, Botha issued a statement saying, "I regard such attempts as unwise and even disloyal to the young men who are sacrificing their lives in defending South Africa's safety."
He added, "As long as the ANC is under communist leadership and supports violence in South Africa, there can be no question of me approving discussions with them."
Botha's statement reiterated longstanding policy, emphasizing anew the gap between his position and that of an increasing number of corporate leaders here. They indicate the need for dramatic political change to quell the black violence that has claimed more than 675 lives in the past year and caused political and economic crises.
One of the main steps advocated in a landmark policy statement 10 days ago by four of the country's premier business organizations was that the government should seek to negotiate the country's political future with "the whole spectrum of accepted black leaders," including ANC leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, who are in prison.
Botha has said he would consider releasing Mandela, who is serving a life term for treason, only if the black nationalist leader renounces violence.
The business statement also said meaningful talks could not begin until Botha lifts his July 21 emergency decree, under which 2,527 persons have been arrested and held without charge.
No one here will confirm publicly their involvement in the proposed mission to Lusaka, Zambia, the external headquarters of the exiled congress movement. But a number of prominent businessmen have been linked to the plan, including the chief executives of Anglo-American Corp., Barclays Bank and Barlow Rand, some of the country's largest corporations.
An ANC spokesman last week confirmed plans to hold the meeting in the near future, although he would reveal neither a date nor the names of those involved. He said the organization was eager to discuss with the businessmen the state of emergency, South Africa's political future and Botha's hard-line Durban speech last month in which the president refused to heed calls for change.
A newspaper report here today quoting an unnamed Zambian official said Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda was willing to host the session but believed it would be a futile meeting unless Botha prepares the way by at least issuing a statement of political intent about South Africa's future.
But Botha made clear in his statement today that he had no intention of aiding the talks. He said that contrary to the reports, he had "strongly advised against" a meeting when consulted by an unnamed "leading South African" a few weeks ago.
Botha long has insisted that the ANC is a terrorist organization dominated by Soviet-backed communists. Officials of the movement say it gets military aid from the Soviet Bloc and money from many sources in the West. They contend that it is a broad, nationalistic coalition that includes communists and noncommunists alike.
Police confirmed tonight that one more person died in clashes between police and a crowd of blacks after yesterday's mass funeral in the black township of Guguletu outside Cape Town. Police opened fire with shotguns, rubber bullets and tear gas at crowds of mourners allegedly throwing gasoline bombs and rocks at them.