A spokesman for the white South African business community told a U.N. panel today that the corporate establishment in his country would favor a one-man, one-vote federated government.

The statement by Johan van Zyl, chief executive of the South African Federated Chambers of Industry, was made to an 11-member panel headed by former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser. Diplomats familiar with South Africa suggested this was the first time corporate interests groups had specified their endorsement of a one-man, one-vote system, although they had spoken before of universal representation.

The panel is holding the first U.N. hearings on the role of multinational corporations in South Africa and is to recommend whether withdrawal of outside investment, other forms of sanctions, or continued corporate involvement in South Africa would most effectively end the apartheid system.

Most of the witnesses in the hearings, which end Friday, have endorsed divestment and sanctions, but van Zyl and Raymond Parsons, chief executive of the South African Association of Chambers of Commerce, argued the case for "conditional" outside support for the economy, so long as reform continues.

They both endorsed the need for talks between the white minority government and black leaders, including members of the outlawed African National Congress.

Then Fraser asked van Zyl if the business community agreed that the black majority should be "fully franchised."

"Certainly," he replied. "The expression of one-man, one-vote is certainly what business all supports. Whether that should be in what is called a unitary system is very much open to debate. Our preference would be in some federalist kind of system rather than perhaps in a Westminster-style system [such as Britain's Parliament], but that is certainly what we have in mind."

Parsons said the business sector favored a system with checks and balances that would safeguard human rights and "protect minority groups against domination."