Continued South Africa Sanctions Urged : Apartheid: Los Angeles, Pasadena and West Hollywood officials say Bush’s decision to lift embargo against the white-ruled nation comes at the wrong time.
Angry that President Bush lifted federal economic sanctions against South Africa last month, city leaders from Los Angeles, Pasadena and West Hollywood joined forces Tuesday to urge local governments to continue their own sanctions against the white-ruled nation until apartheid is abolished.
Although South Africa has begun to make progress toward reform, the officials said at a City Hall press conference that Bush’s decision to end federal economic sanctions comes at the wrong time.
“There have been some minor levels of progress but we send the wrong message if we change our policy now and we say that that minor change is enough,” said West Hollywood Mayor Paul Koretz. “It’s very premature to do away with the sanctions.”
Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley urged other city and state governments to ignore Bush’s call for public agencies to drop their policies restricting business with companies that have ties to the white-ruled nation.
“The Reagan/Bush Administration didn’t want sanctions in the first place (and) didn’t move on it until . . . the cities of this nation invoked their own sanctions,” Bradley said. “When you don’t have the right of one man, one vote in the constitution of the country, you haven’t yet achieved the kind of freedom that we had in mind when the sanctions in this city were invoked. . . . The President and our national leaders . . . ought to follow our lead as they did before.”
Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Woo said the South African regime should be pressured to take at least three more steps before being welcomed back into the world economic community.
“Specifically, we want to make sure that all political prisoners are released,” Woo said. “We want to make sure that all South Africans, regardless of race, are allowed the right to vote and, specifically, we want to see an end to all government-sponsored violence in South Africa.”
Woo said a motion to exempt General Telephone-California, which has nominal ties to South Africa, from the city’s sanctions was delayed Tuesday for further study. Council members had discussed allowing the exemption so that the city could purchase new telephone equipment from the firm.
Even if the measure comes back to the council for consideration, Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said he hopes it is voted down. “There is no way that we can speak out of both sides of our mouth on this,” he said.
The 1986 federal act barring U.S. firms from business activity in South Africa allowed the President to lift economic sanctions if five conditions were met: repeal of apartheid laws on racial segregation, lifting of a national state of emergency, legalization of political parties, initiation of good-faith negotiations toward a non-racial government and release of all political prisoners.
Bush concluded last month that all those terms had been met, despite protests that South Africa continues to hold political prisoners.
Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, author of the Los Angeles anti-apartheid ordinance signed into law five years ago Tuesday, said the sanctions just now are beginning to work.
“After 45 years of absolute stonewalling, one brick in that wall has started to crumble, but that wall is still standing,” he said. “Now is not the time to back off.”
South African Sanctions Continue
Here is a look at the Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Pasadena anti-apartheid sanctions that have been enacted in recent years. Representatives from these cities issued a joint statement Tuesday, announcing that their governments would continue sanctions against South Africa until further steps to end racism and ensure democracy were taken by the Pretoria government. PURCHASING: Policy that gives preference in the purchasing of goods and services to those companies that do not do business in South Africa.
Los Angeles West Hollywood* Pasadena Policies enacted Policies enacted Policies enacted in 1986, 1989, in 1985, 1991 in 1989 1990, 1991
BANKING: Withdrawal of funds and/or other business from banks on the basis of their ties to South Africa.
Los Angeles West Hollywood Pasadena Policies enacted Policies enacted No in 1985, 1988 in 1985, 1991 policy
DIVESTMENT: Binding measures requiring the sale of stock and other equities from companies that do business with South Africa.
Los Angeles West Hollywood Pasadena Policies enacted No No in 1985, 1988 policy policy
* In May, 1991, after its independence from South African protectorate status, Namibia was exempted from West Hollywood sanctions.
SOURCES: Cities of Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Pasadena, The American Committee on Africa and The Africa Fund.
Compiled by Times researcher Michael Meyers