With Nelson Mandela's release in February 1990 and the declared dismantling of apartheid, the United States appears to be operating under the assumption that South Africa is well on its way to becoming a multiracial democracy.
Gone are the days of the 1980s in which "Divest Now!" banners adorned the Yard. Merely a memory are the nights of chanting "Bullshit! Bullshit!" outside President Derek C. Bok's house. The current hot "Africa issue" (sadly, it seems that there can be only one at a time) is the situation in Somalia.
In truth, the De Klerk government has done precious little to pave the way for meaningful discussions to occur concerning the transfer of power. Modern day South Africa represents a dire portrait of a doomed government desperately clinging to the slimmest hope of staying in office.
Politically-related murders in the country have reached their highest levels in memory. More than 7,000 people (approximately 9 per day) have been killed in the past two years, during the so-called post-apartheid era. Blacks still cannot vote and they continue to be without representation in government. The South African educational system remains a jumbled mass of tangled bureaucracies (there are 19 departments of education), culturally biased matriculation exams and segregated schools.
Despite these rather obvious reminders that much still needs to be done, the international community is treating South Africa as if change has already occurred. Sun City, a white gambling resort at which few Americans have performed in the past for fear of endangering their careers, is hosting the Miss World pageant as well as a million dollar golf tournament featuring such notable players as Nick Faldo and John Daly.
More importantly, the International Monetary Fund has offered the South African government $10 billion in loans. This is the same broederbond-controlled government that has been in place since Hendrik Verwoerd developed the system which came to be known as apartheid in 1948.
At this most crucial point in the development of the new South Africa, the United States should look to reshape its foreign policy to address the exigencies of the current state of affairs. "Get-real" measures are necessary, not "get-tough" policies. Their aim should be to encourage a transformation instead of merely a reformation within South African government.
Such policies should stipulate that the U.S. will not approve the release of one penny of IMF funds until Blacks and other groups discriminated against by race enjoy identical rights of citizenship to those of whites.
Moreover, entertainers would continue to say, "I ain't gonna play Sun City," and instead use the renewed cultural exchange between our two countries to support voices of resistance like Dennis Brutus, David Goldblatt and Ladysmith Black Mombazo.
A beneficial consequence of such actions would be the channeling of funds away from corrupt leaders of puppet Bantustan governments (like Bophuthatswana, where Sun City is located) and directing them towards communities and organizations committed to bringing about true change. As a nation which trumpets the values of egalitarianism and humanitarianism, our actions should reflect as much.
John L.S. Simpkins '93 is an editor of The Crimson.