Mandela and South Africa

How can we now justify calling for total economic sanctions and total disinvestment in light of “South Africa’s Shame” (editorial, Feb. 21)? Francis Wilson and Mamphela Ramphele’s report claims there are no quick solutions, including economic sanctions, through which the South African government would either voluntarily or forcibly be persuaded into negotiating away its position of power.

Furthermore, the report adds that much can be done to prepare for a more constructive future. It challenges people to get on with those steps now. The shape of South African society in the future will depend critically on the foundation now laid. How can a strong foundation be laid by strangling the very economy that must assist in laying that foundation? Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the call for total economic sanctions and disinvestment from South Africa.

I lived in Zimbabwe the last three years, lecturing in the College of Agriculture at the University of Zimbabwe. It became apparent to me that the major concerns of the government, eight years after independence, were employment, education and health. This country is now going through a stage of development that South Africa may well face in the future. There is a race against time because of the enormous population growth. It has been estimated that over 50% of the black population in both countries is under 15 years of age. Surely, the South African children will also need and demand better opportunities for employment, education and health. How can these be created without some investment in carefully targeted impact programs in these sectors?

Finally, we must not overlook the interdependence among countries in southern Africa. Peace and stability in South Africa is interwoven with peace and stability in southern Africa. We should not let this window of opportunity pass for stabilization in the region. To facilitate the cause of justice in South Africa it would, therefore, seem imperative to create opportunities through selective investments. Clearly, we must re-evaluate the call for total economic sanctions and total disinvestment.



La Jolla