‘Long walk to freedom’ by Nelson Mandela, Published in 1994
I told the reporters [after his release] that there was no contradiction between my continuing support for the armed struggle and my advocating negotiations. It was the reality and the threat of the armed struggle that had brought the government to the verge of negotiations. I stated that when the state stopped inflicting violence on the ANC, the ANC would reciprocate with peace. Asked about sanctions, I said the ANC could not yet call for the relaxation of sanctions, because the situation that caused sanctions in the first place – the absence of political rights for blacks – was still the status quo. I might be out of jail, I said, but I was not yet free.
I was asked as well about the fears of whites. I knew that people expected me to harbour anger towards whites. But I had none…I loved even my enemies while I hated the system that turned us against one another.
‘Sanctions on South Africa: What did they do?’ by Philip I. Levy A discussion paper for Yale University. Available from www.econ.yale.edu
On the face of it, South African sanctions appear to have been successful. In
response to the outrages of apartheid, many countries adopted trade and financial
sanctions and a significant amount of foreign investment was withdrawn from South
Africa. After the…sanctions, South Africa experienced economic difficulty and [many people said that it] how the economic situation was untenable and required political change. By 1994, Nelson Mandela had been elected President of South Africa. He and other black leaders attributed to economic sanctions a significant role in bringing about the democratic transition.
This paper will also present an alternative view. One can tell a story of the change
in South Africa in which any positive contribution of trade sanctions was trivial and they might even have deferred the achievement of the campaign’s objectives. The international economic actions against South Africa that were most damaging were taken by private factors, not governments. The actions taken by governments were not especially economically damaging. To some extent, they caused the Nationalist Party government to stiffen its repression. In this alternative story, the demise of apartheid, which followed sanctions with a substantial lag, can be attributed to three different factors: the effectiveness of the political opposition of the black majority; the inefficiency and growing economic cost of the apartheid system; and the fall of the Soviet Union.
An interview of Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, by an American TV news programme on 26th July 1985. President Reagan of the USA was also against sanctions. Available from www.margaretthatcher.org
Mrs. Thatcher: I think a policy of sanctions would harm the very people in South Africa you are trying to help…I agree with a policy of trying to influence South Africa by other means. The present Government is moving forward in the direction we wish them to go, faster than any other. I remember when Mr. Botha came round Europe, many people received him, so did I. I particularly asked him to stop the policy of forced removals, British people feel extremely strongly about it, and thought if we could get that done away with we should be doing something, and after a time, yes, they have in fact stopped the policy of enforced removal. That was something very positive. There are many other things that are going on. Sanctions will harm, not help.
T. Smith: But this most recent development, when the Government has adopted emergency powers and mass arrests in recent days, surely this changes the formula a bit?
Mrs. Thatcher: No, I don’t think it does, you’ve got a very serious law and order problem. What help are you going to do if you put on sanctions which make industry much worse, what help is that going to be for a situation already bad with law and order? It’s going to make it worse, not better.