ANC says world pressure still needed on S. Africa

July 07, 1991|By Jerelyn Eddings | Jerelyn Eddings,Sun Staff Correspondent

DURBAN, South Africa -- Nelson Mandela's African National Congress said yesterday that international pressure was still needed, along with internal demonstrations and negotiations, to achieve a fair political settlement in South Africa.

The ANC, the country's most powerful anti-apartheid organization, issued the appeal for continued international support as its historic five-day convention drew to a close in this Indian Ocean city.

"To achieve the strategic objective of our struggle, it is vital that we continue to combine all forms of the struggle, drawing in the widest spectrum of the people," the convention delegates said in a formal resolution.

The delegates said negotiations with the South African government constituted a new phase of the anti-apartheid struggle and "should be linked to a continuing mass struggle and international pressure."

The conference planned to take a formal position on sanctions, which the ANC has strongly supported, before adjourning this morning.

The sanctions debate came in the face of crumbling international economic sanctions. During the past week, the Austrian national airline began flights to South Africa that previously had been banned, and a British bank, Robert Flemings Holdings, announced plans to offer banking services in the country.

Over the past six months, while the ANC's position has remained unchanged, there has been a steady erosion of economic, sports and cultural sanctions against South Africa in response to the political reforms of President Frederik W. de Klerk. Under Mr. de Klerk's leadership, South Africa's white-minority government has repealed the major legislative pillars of the apartheid system of racial segregation.

The government has also released more than 1,000 political prisoners and allowed the return of thousands of exiles who left the country illegally to escape apartheid or to join the ANC's guerrilla army.

In its latest action yesterday, the government released 16 more prisoners. The release was announced at the conference by Mr. Mandela, who described the prisoners as combatants of the ANC army, known as the "Spear of the Nation."

Mr. Mandela described the release as "yet another victory scored."

At the two-day conference, ANC leaders have repeated their commitment to negotiating a political settlement with the government, but delegates passed a resolution stating that the government had not yet completed its job of removing obstacles to the talks and creating a climate conducive to negotiations.

"Furthermore," the resolution said, "the campaign of terror jTC carried out against the people --intended to destabilize society, intimidate the people, undermine and weaken the ANC, its allies and the rest of the democratic movement -- is an obstacle to the objective of creating a climate conducive to negotiations."

ANC leaders have repeatedly blamed the government for failing to stop the violence that has claimed thousands of lives in black townships around the country. The fighting has taken place among blacks, but the ANC claims it is being fueled by right-wing elements of the government security forces.

"The government has the capacity to stop this violence," ANC military commander Joe Modise said. He said the government has apparently overlooked the impact of the violence on international sanctions and the prospects for new investment.

"No person in his right mind will come to invest his money in a country that is going up in flames," he said.

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