I want to speak this morning about South Africa, about what America can do to help promote peace and justice in that country so troubled and tormented by racial conflict.

The system of apartheid means deliberate, systematic, institutionalized racial discrimination denying the black majority their God-given rights. America's view of apartheid is simple and straightforward: We believe it is wrong. We condemn it. And we are united in hoping for the day when apartheid will be no more.

Our influence over South African society is limited. But we do have some influence, and the question is how to use it. Many people of good will in this country have differing views.

In my view, we must work for peaceful evolution and reform. Our aim cannot be to punish South Africa with economic sanctions that would injure the very people we are trying to help.

I believe we must help all those who peacefully oppose apartheid. And we must recognize that the opponents of apartheid, using terrorism and violence, will bring not freedom and salvation, but greater suffering and more opportunities for expanded Soviet influence within South Africa and in the entire region.

What we see in South Africa is a beginning of a process of change. The changes in policy so far are inadequate, but ironically they have been enough to raise expectations and stimulate demands for more far-reaching, immediate change. It is the growing economic power of the black majority that has put them in a position to insist on political change.

South Africa is not a totalitarian society. There is a vigorous opposition press, and every day we see examples of outspoken protest and access to the international media that would never be possible in many parts of Africa or in the Soviet Union, for that matter. But it is our active engagement, our willingness to try, that gives us influence.

Yes, we in America, because of what we are and what we stand for, have influence to do good. We also have immense potential to make things worse. Before taking fateful steps, we must ponder the key question: Are we helping to change the system? Or are we punishing the blacks whom we seek to help?

American policy through several administrations has been to use our influence and our leverage against apartheid, not against innocent people who are the victims of apartheid.

Being true to our heritage does not mean quitting, but reaching out, expanding our help for black education and community development, calling for political dialogue, urging South Africans of all races to seize the opportunity for peaceful accommodation before it's too late.

I respect and share the goals that have motivated many in Congress to send a message of U.S. concern about apartheid. But in doing so, we must not damage the economic well-being of millions of people in South and southern Africa.

If we genuinely wish, as I do, to develop a bipartisan basis of consensus in support of U.S. policies, this is the basis on which to proceed.

Therefore, I am signing today an executive order that will put in place a set of measures designed and aimed against the machinery of apartheid, without indiscriminately punishing the people who are victims of that system -- measures that will disassociate the United States from apartheid but associate us positively with peaceful change.

These steps include:

*A ban on all computer exports to agencies involved in the enforcement of apartheid and to the security forces.

*A prohibition on exports of nuclear goods or technology to South Africa, except as is required to implement nuclear proliferation safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency or those necessary for humanitarian reasons to protect health and safety.

*A ban on loans to the South African government, except certain loans which improve economic opportunities, or educational, housing and health facilities that are open and accessible to South Africans of all races.

*I am directing the secretary of state and the United States trade representative to consult with our major trading partners regarding banning the importation of krugerrands. I am also instructing the secretary of the treasury to report to me within 60 days on the feasibility of minting an American gold coin, which could provide an alternative to the krugerrand for our coin collectors.

I want to encourage ongoing actions by our government and by private Americans to improve the living standards of South Africa's black majority. The Sullivan code, devised by a distinguished black minister from Philadelphia, the Rev. Leon Sullivan, has set the highest standards of labor practices for progressive employers throughout South Africa.

I urge all American companies to participate in it, and I am instructing the American ambassador to South Africa to make every effort to get companies which have not adopted them to do so.

In addition, my executive order will ban U.S. government export assistance to any American firm in South Africa, employing more than 25 persons, which does not adhere to the comprehensive fair employment principles stated in the order by the end of this year.

I am also directing the secretary of state to increase substantially the money we provide for scholarships to South Africans disadvantaged by apartheid and the money our embassy uses to promote human rights programs in South Africa.

Finally, I have directed Secretary of State George P. Shultz to establish an advisory committee of distinguished Americans to provide recommendations on measures to encourage peaceful change in South Africa. The advisory committee shall provide its first report within 12 months. I believe the measures I am announcing here today will best advance our goals. If the Congress sends me the present bill as reported by the conference committee, I would have to veto it. That need not happen.

I want to work with the Congress to advance bipartisan support for America's policy towards South Africa. That is why I have put forward this executive order today.

Three months ago, I recalled our ambassador in South Africa for consultations so that he could participate in the intensive review of the southern African situation that we have been engaged in. I have just said goodbye to him, and I am now sending him back, with a message to State President [Pieter W.] Botha underlining our grave view of the current crisis and our assessment of what is needed to restore confidence abroad and move from confrontation to negotiation at home.

The problems of South Africa were not created overnight and will not be solved overnight, but there is no time to waste.

To withdraw from this drama, or to fan its flames, will serve neither our interests nor those of the South African people.

If all Americans join together behind a common program, we can have so much more influence for good. So let us go forward with a clear vision and an open heart, working for justice and brotherhood and peace. And now I am going to sign the executive order. News Conference Questions

Q: Why did you change your mind on sanctions?

A: I haven't. I thought here I tried to explain. I am opposed and could not sign the congressional bill if it came to me containing the economic sanctions, which, as we have repeatedly said, would have harmed the very people we are trying to help.

There were many things in that bill that we could agree with, and many of those are incorporated in this executive order.

Q:These are sanctions, aren't they?

A:Not in the sense of the economic kind of sanctions that the bill called for and, as I say, would have hurt the economy there.

Q:Won't hurt the economy?

A:No, I don't believe so.

Q: [They are some of the] weakest measures in the congressional package, why should they satisfy those in Congress who want a strong message sent to South Africa?

A: We have consulted with some of them and found there's a great deal of improvement for what we're doing here, and they see the intent of this.

Q:South Africa's business leaders have been talking about meeting with its black political leaders, but President Botha has described this as disloyal. What do you think?

A: We happen to believe that negotiation is the thing that must take place, and maybe we can persuade them that they should, with the responsible black leaders, they should negotiate regardless.

Q:Can you still call your policy "constructive engagement" now?

A:Yes. You might add the word "active" to constructive, but, yes, I do think it is. It's similar to what we've been doing in the past.

Q:What changes will have to take place in South Africa for you to lift these measures?

A: I think negotiations that lead toward the steps necessary to bring about political participation by all the citizens of South Africa and, when they start those constructive steps, as I said, there isn't anything that's going to be achieved overnight and . . . .

Q:For a dialogue to be announced?

A:Out of that dialogue, then, would come further steps leading toward, as soon as possible, the end of apartheid.

Q: At what point would you feel free to lift what you just did?

A: That would be hard for me right now to say. I think you have to see the intent and see whether the steps are being taken in a forthright manner or whether there are some trying to give in here and there and but still hold off in the, from the ultimate results. So let us wait and see what happens.

Q: What was in your letter to Botha?

A: I assured him of our desire to be of help in this and to be helpful in the further progress that we hope they intend to make.

Q: How would you describe the kind of [message] you think this action is sending to South Africa?

A: I think the same kind that we've been using before. It is persuasion but also indicating that the American people can get impatient with this. We all feel very strongly about the changes that are needed in that society.

Q: Since the bill is so similar to what you are proposing, why would you veto it?

A: Because, as I say, there were features in there, this is, you see this wouldn't have been necessary if I had what a president should have, which is line-item veto. I could have signed the bill and line-item vetoed out . . . .

Q: What don't you like?

A: As I say, basically, let me just sum it up and say the actual economic provisions that we thought would have militated against the chance for prosperity and good living of the people we want to help. But, now I think I've taken enough here because George Shultz is waiting in the press room to take your questions and to brief you more thoroughly on this whole problem.

Q: Have you discussed this matter with Congress, and what kind of response you are going to get? Aren't you, in effect, stealing their thunder a bit?

A: No, we have discussed with the leaders of Congress, and they've been very pleased with the reaction that we got.

Q: If these actions don't bring progress, the kind of progress you are looking for, will you take stiffer sanctions then?

A: That we'll look at when that comes. But remember, we're talking about a sovereign nation, and there are limits to what another country can do. We can't give orders to South Africa. We're trying to be helpful to them knowing that there is a large element in South Africa which also wants an answer to this problem.

Q: Keep the ambassador there? He was recalled several months ago because of displeasure over policy. Will he remain in South Africa?

A: Yes. I said goodbye this morning.

Q: Have you spoken personally with President Botha about this action?

A: No, I've written him. Now, I think George must be getting very impatient.

Q: Are you going to fire White House chief of staff Don Regan?

A: Are you talking about the Redskins football player?

Q: No, not quite. I'm talking about The Washington Post articles about a schism in your hierarchy.

A: If I fired anybody it would be The Post. Okay, go join George Shultz .

Q: How are you feeling?

A: I feel just fine. Don't I look it?