South Africa Will Stay on Its Present Course, Botha Bluntly Tells Critic
Despite mounting international pressure for an end to its policy of apartheid and criticism of recent military raids upon its neighbors, South Africa is determined to adhere to its present course, President Pieter W. Botha told the country’s Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Botha warned foreign nations, particularly the United States, against meddling in South Africa’s domestic affairs and implied that if pressed too hard, his country might try to retaliate in some way.
“If there are elements in Washington who think that South Africa is going to be run by the United States,” Botha declared in a hard-hitting speech, “then it must be made quite clear that those elements are heading for a confrontation with the South African government and people.”
The campaign in the United States for economic sanctions against South Africa raises “the basic principle,” Botha said, “that no self-respecting nation can allow any other country, large or small, to dictate to it how it should be governed.”
South Africa is being “threatened by foreign interests and even other governments” because it has not followed their prescriptions for solving this country’s race problems, Botha said. His comments followed the U.S. recall last weekend of its ambassador in Pretoria “for consultations” to protest recent South African actions.
“Some say they find our policies abhorrent,” the president said. “Well, we find their double standards and opportunistic policies abhorrent.”
Speaking at the closing session of Parliament, Botha appealed to all South Africans--including the disenfranchised blacks--to rally to the government and oppose the increasing foreign pressure for faster and more sweeping changes.
Botha seemed far from chastened by widespread international condemnation of many recent South African actions. These include a thwarted commando raid on the Cabinda oil fields of Angola a month ago and the attack on suspected offices and homes of African National Congress leaders that left 14 dead in neighboring Botswana last week. Also, a nominally autonomous, interim government was appointed in Namibia while negotiations for its full independence are stalemated.
The United States recalled its ambassador to protest these actions and to express its concern about the tougher stance that the Pretoria government appears to be taking. Sharp criticism has also come from Britain, West Germany and other members of the European Community.
Defending the Botswana attack, Botha warned South Africa’s black-ruled neighbors that they will be subject to more raids and other military action if they harbor guerrillas of the African National Congress or other groups.
“It is simply unacceptable to us that our neighbors pay lip service toward the principle that states should not make their territory available for the launching of terrorist attacks against their neighbors while at the same time they harbor terrorists in their countries,” Botha said.
“We shall at all times be on our guard and shall retaliate to maintain and uphold what is dear to us. No self-respecting people or country would act otherwise.”
Ground Rules Demanded
South Africa wants friendly relations with its black neighbors, Botha said, but insists on ground rules that include an end to support for cross-border violence by guerrilla groups, the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the region and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
And he said it is “a sad reflection on the West” that its vision is so blinded that it is unaware of forces threatening reform and stability in South Africa.
“Indeed, the Soviet Union has succeeded in maneuvering Western governments into a situation where they promote Soviet aims in southern Africa,” Botha said.
Turning to domestic issues, the president reiterated his firm opposition to a one-man, one-vote political system for South Africa in a unified state, implying that this would lead to black subjugation of the white minority.
“I do not believe in an artificial, unitary state on the basis of one-man, one-vote,” he said. “I do not believe in a system in which minority groups can be dominated. . . .
“I do not believe in a path in which stability and Christian and civilized values are thrown on the rubbish heap. . . . We regard a unitary, melting-pot system as unsuitable and unacceptable for South Africa.”
However, he did publicly accept for the first time some kind of a political system that could give blacks the right to vote under a universal adult franchise. While he went no further in outlining his ideas for a solution, he disclosed that he plans a major conference late in November with leaders of South Africa’s tribal homelands in the hope of developing further reforms.
Law and Order
Botha also stressed his determination to maintain law and order despite the of continuing unrest, which has left more than 375 people, all but two black, dead in 10 months of rioting.
“The government regards it as its solemn duty to maintain order and stability through effective security,” he said. “We shall not shirk from our duty to maintain an effective police and defense force.”
And he pointedly praised police who have been greatly criticized in the wake of the fatal shooting three months ago of 20 blacks at Langa, near Port Elizabeth in eastern Cape province.