ANC urges continuation of sanctions on S. Africa

December 16, 1990|By Jerelyn Eddings | Jerelyn Eddings,Johannesburg Bureau of The Sun

SOWETO, South Africa -- Members of the African National Congress voted yesterday to reject the lifting of economic sanctions against South Africa, one day after their leader asked them to re-evaluate the group's position in light of changes taking place in the country.

Meeting at a landmark national convention, ANC members passed a resolution appealing to foreign countries and international organizations to "postpone any consideration of the issues of sanctions against apartheid South Africa" until they talk with anti-apartheid groups inside the country.

The convention said it could not support a lifting of sanctions because "the basic institutions of apartheid are still firmly in place" and because "the South African government continues to use violence and police repression to suppress legitimate political and civic actions."

The action took place as leaders of the European Community, meeting in Rome, agreed to lift a 4-year-old ban on new investments in South Africa to reward the government of President Frederik W. de Klerk for reforms undertaken since February.

Mr. de Klerk revoked the ban on the ANC and other anti-apartheid organizations and released Nelson Mandela, the ANC's deputy president, from prison. His government has also scrapped or promised to scrap most of the major apartheid laws that have discriminated against blacks for four decades.

An ANC spokesman suggested that the group's action was an attempt to influence the European Community debate on sanctions, but the EC had already acted by thetime the ANC resolution was announced.

Delegates at the three-day ANC conference, which ends today, had been asked to reconsider their position on sanctions by their president, Oliver Tambo, who said the decision should be weighed in light of developments in South Africa.

The ANC released a draft document that argued: "It is important that the ANC re-establish its authority over the issue of the nature and evolution of relations between South Africa and the rest of the world by providing the international community with a well-considered program for the de-escalation of the sanctions campaign."

But delegates rejected that argument and Mr. Tambo's suggestion in a major speech to the convention the previous day that the organization should not allow the "strategic initiative to shift to the other side."

ANC spokesman Pallo Jordan denied that the resolution to maintain sanctions, which was "adopted by acclaim," amounted to a rejection of the ANC leader's advice. "Mr. Tambo said yesterday the ANC should re-examine its position. It was re-examined, and that is the position. Re-examine doesn't mean change your mind."

Mr. Jordan said the international community should wait for a signal from the anti-apartheid groups in South Africa. "It should be on our initiative that sanctions are dropped. We will say when they are no longer necessary."

Asked whether the resolution was a denial of the idea that international sanctions were starting to crumble, Mr. Jordan said, "Perhaps we have to shore up the sanctions if they are crumbling."

Another ANC spokeswoman, Jill Marcus, said the 1,600 delegates might approve additional statements on sanctions during the final session. But she said that no additional action could contradict the strong pro-sanctions statement adopted yesterday.

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