The private and public sectors should heed the White House call to end economic sanctions against South Africa. Divestment, disinvestment, the Sullivan principles, the sports boycott and other mechanisms designed to force South Africa to end oppression of its black majority worked. Too slowly, but without war. It's time to claim victory.
Nelson Mandela told the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid on Friday, "We believe the time has come when the international community should lift all economic sanctions against South Africa."
Canada acted immediately. President Clinton started the American procedure. This was the day after the South African parliament enacted a transitional executive council, reflecting the entire population, with a veto on government actions until a multiracial election can create a new government next April.
Mr. Mandela, the president of the African National Congress and possibly the next president of South Africa, wants the U.N. Security Council's mandatory weapons and nuclear technology embargo maintained until the new regime is up and running. So be it. But other things should not wait. Particularly diplomatic relations for those nations that suspended them and South African participation in all matters of world community. These should begin right away.
This should include rescinding the U.N. General Assembly's 1974 exclusion of South Africa from its seat on that body. South Africa is able to contribute to the stability and prosperity of Africa -- which it formerly did so much to undermine -- now.
Yet what South Africa needs most, to give economic meaning to political liberation of the black majority, is none of the above. It needs reinstatement with good standing in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, meeting in Washington this week, after a 10-year freeze on aid. This is less important for the $850 million drought loan sought from the IMF than for the effect this would have on private bank lending.
Even with that, no one should expect private capital to pour into xTC South Africa. President F. W. de Klerk, after meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, predicted it would not. He said the world first needs to know that South Africa is free of communal and political violence. But at least investment decisions with regard to South Africa should now be investment decisions and not political statements.
Sanctions have been justified by success. From this day forward, they can only do harm.