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June 11, 1977 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-06-11

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Pge Six


Saturday, June 11, 1977

Peope's Ambassador'
t rashes apartheid system

In recent weeks si 1s s across the COUn-
try have been ip in arms over their res-
pective Iniverities' financiat holdings in
South Africa. Nearly t00 Stanford students
were arrested while prts'ting that Univer-
sity's ties to the racist regime of John Vor-
ster, and handreds of other demonstrators
were arrested at colleges like Berkeley,
Wisconsin, and Princeton. Here at the Uni-
versity, several tudents appeared at the
May Regents meeting to protest our invest-
ments (totaling some $43 million) in cor-
porations that are involved with South Afri-
ca, and to demand that the University di-
vest itself of those holdings. As a follow-up
to that meeting, several campus activist
groups invited Thami Mhlimbiso, the self-
billed "Ambassador of the people of South
Africa" to the U.N., to speak with students
here and to meet with some University of-
ficials. During his stay in Ann Arbor,
Mhlambiso teas interviewed by Daily Co-
editor Ken Parsigian. The following is a
partial transcript of that interview.
Q: Who do you represent?

the regimse there, or intention, therefore,
is to ask them to disengage. And when we
do that we have the fall understanding that
that is the correct position for anyone that
purports to be democratic to follow. If they
don't do that then we realize there is going
to be a kind of holocaust in which all of us
will he involved. The U.S. will be defending
her own investments there, and therefore
she will be increasingly called up to bring
in her men to fight, and fight against the
legitimate representatives of the people in
South Africa, and when that happens it's
very disturbing to think of what is likely to
happen when you get a Vietnam type situa-
tion and it will be difficult to undo what
damage may be done or may come as a re-
sult of that. And that's why we do feel that
it is important that the U.S. disinvests until
such time that we have overthrown the ra-
cist apartheid regime in South Africa and
a position can be negotiated thereafter if
we still feel there is need for such invest-
ments. When you deal with economic issues
you know even the Soviet Union does deal
with the U.S. The U.S. has been involved


Q: The Regents and administration of
this University have two major argu-
ments against divesting the 'U' of all
holdings in South Africa-1. Invest-
ments are for the financial stability
of the 'U' and shouldn't be used as
political tools and 2. It isn't clear that
disinvesting in South Africa by U.S.
corporations would expedite b l a c k
majority rule there. How, would you
answer those arguments?
A: Of course the pulling out of Ann Arbor
and the pulling out of all investments there
is going to hurt the illegitimate regime in
South Africa, the racist regime. But you
see there have been ties between South
Africa and the U.S. in particular when you
talk of these multinational corporations, it
is they that have lended this economic via-
bility to the South African regime. Now
when you say it is an economic tool it
should not be used for political purpose, you
are going to run into difficulties. Where do
you draw the line? How far does an eco-
nomic concern become only an economic
concern and has no political tinges in it?
I think their whole policies are determined
on a political basis. They are there reap-
ing such profits because politically, the
policies of the government of South Africa
promote exploitation and' therefore those
that invest there do benefit from the gystem.
Now you can't, therefore, say because peo-
ple are exploited economically, just confine
it to economic issues and not overstep and
get into political issues. I'm trying to say
there is no clear line between economic poli-
cies and political issues. These are inter-
twined. The economic policies of apartheid
are an integral part of the whole system of
apartheid and if you want to dismantle
apartheid, then you must also dismantle
that kind of economic act in which they all
are involved. And when you do that there-
fore you are going to bring about a crisis
of confidence in the apartheid regime which
will make things easier for those who are
waging and agitating for an overthrow of
the system of apartheid. If you don't do
that then you are calling for adjustments
here and there which are not going to work.
The African people have been suffering for
year under apartheid with these corpora-
tion there. I think you know of the rate of
infant mortality in South Africa, that some-
thing out of every ten babies born, about
seven or so of them- die before they reach
the age of five. I think you know of diseases
like malnutrition, quashioco, and tubercu-
losous which-our people are victims of. All
these are political diseases because it's a
country in which so much by way of re-
sources is in abundance we can have enough
for us all. Such that there is no need really
for such diseases as quashioco, malnutri-
tion, those can be overcome. But you see
they must keep us in that position, and all
they will do is to just give you enough so
that tomorrow you can continue to work,
go and provide that cheap source of labor

A. I represent the African National Con-
gress. The African National Congress being
representative of the oppressed people in
South Africa, the mass of the people in
South Africa. luxtapose that with the posi-
tion that we have an illegitimate regime
which purports to be representing the peo-
ple of South Africa so that people who want
to recognize the true aspirations of the peo-
pie and their representation then designate
the title that the true ambassador of the
aspirations of the people will come from the
organization which is the African National
Q: Were you asked by the U.N. to repre-
sent the black South Africans?
A: No, the U.N. didn't ask us. We felt a
need for us to get to the U.N. because it is
the only organization of its kind and we felt
we needed to have representation there. We
now have observer status there. When we
started, of course, we went in as petitioners,
which meant that whenever we wanted to
speak on the issue of South Africa we would
have to make a request to the chairman of
whatever committee it might be to speak,
and then we started passing for a much
higher status. We now enjoy that status, it
has been accorded to us. I think things have
moved quite along because the U.N. now
accepts the struggle of our people as a le-
gitimate struggle, and that evidence neces-
sary to bring about change, or accomplish
freedom in South Africa is acceptable. So
that it's no longer just a position where we
get there and people don't pay attention to
what we're saying. We are there as the
representative of the people, and a force
that is recognized not only by the U.N. but
also by the Organization of African Unity.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in
the U.S., and in particular in Ann
A: Yes, you see the U.S. is one of the
principle investors in South Africa, and it
is our intention that we get the U.S. not only
to realize, because I think they do recognize
that by investing in South Africa they are
investing in apartheid, and are propping up

everywhere as far as trade goes, but what
we will, then be doing at that stage is to
say we are in a strong position, and we have
our right of self-determination. We can then
dictate and call the tune to stop the exploi-
tation that is going on today in South Africa,
and these corporations are part and party
of the exploitation of our people and that's
why we are calling upon them to withdraw.
Now I know, of course, they always say you
know this is a double-edged weapon, you
will hurt even the people you intend to help
as they (the corporations) provide jobs,
means of livelihood for the people of South
Africa. If you withdraw, then these people
are going Jo be unemployed. They don't
realize that it is us who called upon the in-
ternational cdmmunity to disinvest and to
boycott South African goods. We knew that
it might bring suffering for us, but we've
been suffering for centuries, and if it means
suffering a little more to bring about
changes, our people are willing to do it. So
our position is just that every one of those
foreign investors should disinvest and stop
lending viability to a government that is ille-
gitimate and not representative of all the
people of South Africa.
Q: Are you going to be meeting with any
of -the leaders of corporations that
are involved with South Africa?
A: In the U.S., I meet with whoever is
concerned, and whoever I think it is in the
best interests of my people to meet with,
providing they are willing to meet with me.
We met with a number of people involved
with these corporations. Just recently we
met with one of the directors of Merrill
Lynch in Boston, who are selling the Kru-
garand. Of course the man gave us to un-
derstand that he doesn't control policy. In-
deed they are selling the Krugarand, all he
wanted was to just receive us and get to
know what our positions which he would
then present to the board of directors which
I think is based in New York. And as far
as that went there was nothing really we

for them. And if you will realize also that
life expectancy of Africans in South Africa
is something like age 35 . .. It is criminal
in thisiday and age when there is so much
advancement and technology in science that
diseases which are easily overcome and
treated in South Africa are still a menace
to the people, black people in particular.
So I don't think there's any good being
served presently by these corporations that
even if we need them in the future there is
so much bad blood at the moment that we
might even decide to do away with them.
Q: Last month University President Rob-
ben Fleming said that the South Afri-
can government is doing the best it
can to ease the situation there, and
to bring about majority rule. Would
you say that is true?
A: Of course the South African govern-
ment is doing its best it can to bring about
majority rule in that it now has baantu-
stands in those areas there will be black
majority rule. It is doing its best to bring
about changes, and while doing so thousands
of people are killed at Soweto, whilst doing
so also thousands of people are locked be-
hind prison bars in South Africa. Walter
De Sulu and others are kept behind prison
bars in South Africa. What are they think-
ing about? People in South Africa are dead.
We can't voice our opinions, we can't say
what really our feeling is about that regime.
They have puppets here and there like those
who are running the baantustands, some
are on the advisory board who say of
course t( ese investments and these corpora-
tions must stay. The South African govern-
ment is not doing anything of help the
blacks, let alone to think of marjority rule.
They would like, if they could, to do what
the Australians did, to exterminate our peo-
ple. But you see they can't really do that
now, although they're in the process of do-
ing that if you consider the people who are
dying in those prisons, the number of peo-
ple who are killed. They (whites) are ter-
rified. It's a deliberate attempt to try to
decimate our people so that South Africa
can always be under white domination.
Q: Is any of the business community
helping to.bring about majority rule?
A: We don't know of any of them who are
trying to bring about majority rule. All I
know is that many of them speak of what
is called the easing of apartheid or the re-
moval of petty apartheid. That means in
the parks you have benches for black and
white, instead of just for white only. It
means in some hotels blacks can come, bat
these hotels are so expensive that very very
few blacks can afford them. So that doesnt
make any difference whatsoever. In Sotb
Africa those ghettoes are still there. SItos
is still there. There e very bad conditions
people are living in squalor there, yet Shut
Africa could do everything to improve tha1

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