Gov. George Deukmejian called on the University of California Board of Regents on Thursday to consider adopting a tougher divestiture policy toward U.S. firms doing business in racially segregated South Africa.
Asserting that his patience with the Pretoria regime had run its course, Deukmejian said his new position was prompted by the South African government's announcement Thursday that it had declared an unprecedented nationwide state of emergency and seized hundreds of anti-apartheid activists in pre-dawn raids.
In urging that the university and other state entities consider imposing tougher economic sanctions against South Africa, Deukmejian significantly altered a stand he took in June, 1985, when he and other regents rejected passionate pleas to sell UC holdings in firms linked to the racially torn nation.
At that time, Deukmejian voted with the majority to set up an advisory panel to conduct a case-by-case review of UC stock holdings and judge each firms' "corporate citizenship" in vigorously promoting racial equality in South Africa. So far, the UC board has divested the university's interest in only one firm, selling $12.3-million worth of bonds issued by the Cleveland-based Eaton Corp. That represents only a tiny fraction of UC's $2.4-billion holdings in companies doing business in South Africa.
In the wake of South Africa's new declaration of a state of emergency, Deukmejian was asked at a Los Angeles press conference whether he was satisfied that the regents' divestiture policy was strong enough. Deukmejian said he was "certainly satisfied" with the policy when the board first adopted it last June, but "I'm certainly not satisfied with the actions that have been taken by the government of South Africa."
The Republican governor said it had been his hope that the Pretoria government would eliminate its apartheid segregation policies within a two-year period. But, he added, "as of this morning it certainly doesn't look like that's going to happen."
"I would think that the Board of Regents and others (in state government) would revisit the actions they have taken in the past . . . to determine whether it wouldn't be appropriate to do something more" he said. "I am certainly ready, based upon the most recent action taken by the government of South Africa . . . and I would think the other regents would be prepared, to take a look at the total picture. . . . We want to consider all the options."
Deukmejian noted that one original option was to sell all stock in firms doing business in South Africa. Democratic Assembly Speaker Willie Brown of San Francisco had pushed unsuccessfully, over Deukmejian's opposition, for full divestiture phased over five years.
There were political ramifications to Deukmejian's comments Thursday.
For one, the Republican governor, who is running for reelection, stepped out front of his Democratic opponent, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, in the latest chapter of the apartheid and divestiture issues. It is an issue Bradley has long sought to cultivate in strengthening his relatively soft Democratic base of support.
For another, Deukmejian parted company with President Reagan, who on Thursday still was refusing to consider adopting tougher U.S. sanctions against South Africa. Deukmejian in the past occasionally has opposed Reagan positions on human rights issues, but not on much else.
On other subjects at his press conference, Deukmejian:
- Indicated he would veto $250 million from the $37.4-billion state budget that the Legislature sent to him Thursday in order to build a $1-billion "prudent reserve" for emergencies. "The budget now contains too much spending," he said.
- Defended state Transportation Director Leo J. Trombatore's efforts to clean up expense abuses by Caltrans employees. Trombatore himself recently paid back $1,200 in unjustified car mileage reimbursements. The governor said he was "very satisfied" with Trombatore.
- Defended as legal and "not improper" ex-state Health and Welfare Secretary David B. Swoap's lobbying of former employees on behalf of his clients.