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Press Conference Excerpts


Even after two days following Mr. De Klerk's address, one still doesn't quite believe that he said what he said. And therefore one wants to start off with commending him for his boldness and courage, and saying that the possibilities for a new start in our country are very strongly underlined and encouraged.

Second is to say that quite clearly the mood in South Africa, has been facilitated by the whole issue of sanctions.

And therefore I would want to reiterate on behalf of our people our very real appreciation to the many people in this country, especially young people, but not exclusively young people, who have supported our struggle and ensured that we did have sanctions. And thirdly to say that, of course, our people must also be recognized in their commitment and their willingness to sacrifice.

And where do we go from here? Mr. De Klerk has not got rid of apartheid. Much of what he has said is a declaration of purpose, of intent. Therefore we will see that sanctions remain in place until certain conditions are met which we believe to be crucial to helping the forces of negotiation.

Did you discuss divestment at the Board of Overseers Meeting?

We didn't in fact have a long discussion. I was given an opportunity to speak on recent developments and I then said what I have just said about the importance of sanctions. And just as I was going away there was an agreement that the subject should be placed on the agenda for next time's meeting.

Why is Harvard so important to you that you're here at such a critical moment for South Africa?

Harvard is Harvard. You know, you don't sniff at it. Things that Harvard does or doesn't do have an impact way beyond the kind of impact you'd expect from an educational institution. What Harvard does or does not do is something that would be copied by other institutions.

If Harvard were to say that it supported apartheid, for instance, just as a very extreme example, that would have incredible repercussions in our particular situatiuon.

Is Harvard changing its stance on selective divestment?

I think that we are seeing a momentum in that particular situation and my sense and my reading is that there is a far greater willingness on the part of those on the Board to consider getting...tougher than they have been. And they are saying that we ought to put it on the agenda. Now I'm not quite sure whether they agreed. I left because I was worried I would keep you waiting.

What message should these developments be sending the people of South Africa?

The message is that there is very considerable interest, not just in the Board of Overseers, but amongst Americans. The kind of coverage that what has happened has been given is indicative of the fact that despite what is happening in Eastern Europe--which pushed our case very much onto the back burner--that is something that one is going to see

There is interest, and people do want to see our situation resolved, the crisis resolved. And that is a great encouragement and in the meeting of the Board of Overseers, I was given an opportunity, as I said, of giving a rundown ten minutes or so, which is quite considerable given the...time.

There is obviously that danger. I hope that the political organizations that have been legalized now will be able to make people more sober in their expectations. I mean, even when apartheid is done away with, people must not expect that suddenly when they were homeless, tomorrow because we were free...tomorrow they will have a house. It is important that our people recognize that we are still going to have to struggle to translate that freedom into tangible results.

Should American companies lift sanctions if those conditions are met?

This is what we said when we we spoke with Mr. De Klerk...We said to him at that time that if he met the conditions we had put down, we would come out of the meeting with him...and say to the press, 'we are going to say to our friends immediately implement this, lift sanctions.'

Because we do want to get to the kind of South Africa where white and Black are going to be able to live happily together.

And we are going to need massive injections of investment because of the problems that apartheid has created. I mean the backlog in education, in housing and so forth, and we do want to get money into the economy. So please don't let all your funds go to Eastern Europe.

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