Conservatives Detail Protests Against ANC Leader
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Conservative activists detailed plans Monday to protest South African black leader Oliver Tambo’s visit to the United States, decrying his alleged ties to communists and advocacy of violence.
Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., and others urged Secretary of State George Shultz to cancel a planned meeting Jan. 28 with Tambo, the president of the outlawed African National Congress.
″The secretary of state should no more meet with Tambo than with Yasser Arafat ... he is a terrorist with strong ties to the South African Communist Party and the Soviet Union,″ Burton said at a forum on Capitol Hill. Arafat is the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Tambo, 69, will arrive in New York next Monday on a private visit that will take him to Chicago and Los Angeles as well as the nation’s capital, where he will talk with House and Senate leaders.
Several conservative groups have formed an umbrella ″Coalition Against ANC Terrorism,″ which plans to demonstrate outside the State Department on Jan. 28 and set up a ″truth booth″ to disseminate information about the ANC.
Although Tambo has traveled to the United States on other occasions, he has never before been received at the State Department. Anita Stockman, a department press officer, said she had no comment on Burton’s statement.
Michael Armacost, undersecretary of state for political affairs who held talks last month with Tambo and other ANC leaders at their headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia.
The ANC, formed in 1912, is banned from operating in white-ruled South Africa, and its best-known member, Nelson Mandela, has been in prison for more than two decades.
ANC spokesman Neo Mnumzana at the group’s U.N. office said he could not provide any membership figures because of the banned status, but the ANC is thought to have significant support among South Africa’s more than 22 million blacks.
″There can be no discussion of any significant change in South Africa without the involvement of the ANC, which has millions of sympathizers,″ said Randall Robinson, the head of Transafrica, a lobbying group that opposes South Africa’s apartheid racial segregation policy and is making arrangements for Tambo’s trip.
Robinson called Shultz’s decision to meet with Tambo ″a small step in the right direction,″ but he said the only effective way to bring about change in South Africa is to impose a total economic blockade on the country.
″It’s not the ANC that is a terrorist organization,″ Robinson said. ″It responds to terrorism by the South African government.″
Burton, who claimed Tambo represents no more than 6,000 people, said the ANC receives about $80 million in military aid annually from the Soviet Union and more than half the ANC’s 30-person executive committee are members of the South African Communist Party.
Moreover, he said the ANC has officially encouraged ″necklacing,″ the practice of killing a person by draping a tire soaked in gasoline around his neck and setting it on fire.
Black radicals in the townships have reportedly employed the technique to kill those who are believed to be collaborating with the white regime.
Howard Phillips, chairman of the Conservative Caucus, said the Shultz-Tambo talks will send ″a horrendous message to leaders of African nations, suggesting the United States is in alliance with the Soviet Union ....″
But State Department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said last week that the U.S. government has been encouraged by recent stands taken by the ANC, including the condemnation of the so-called necklace killings.
″We have taken careful note of the ANC’s articulation of a positive stand on important economic and political issues,″ she said. But the administration criticized the ″inordinate influence″ of communists in the ANC.
Tambo’s recent appeal to moderate whites in South Africa to join the struggle for black rights, along with other positions, indicate the group may be trying to broaden its base, observers said.