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Robertson Says He Won’t ‘Bash South Africa’ To Gain Black Votes In U.S.

February 12, 1988

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Pat Robertson says black Americans ″don’t understand what they’re dealing with″ in South Africa, and that he won’t bash that nation to gain votes for his GOP presidential bid.

Government-run television aired an interview with Robertson on Thursday night in which the former television evangelist complained that South Africa has become a campaign issue in the United States.

″The blacks in this country have made this whole matter into an extension of the United States civil right movement and I think they don’t understand what they’re dealing with really in this South African thing,″ Robertson said.

″And so it becomes an American political issue to say, if you want support among American blacks for American political office you have to bash South Africa,″ he continued. ″I think that’s bad.″

Robertson urged the South African government to exercise moderation in dealing with unrest, so as not to play into the hands of its enemies.

″I think if the government would only realize the press reception, they play into this. The communists want to incite riots and then the oppressive, truncheon-wielding police just give their enemies the fodder they need to hurt them. If they would really begin to use some moderation ...″

″The media has just done an absolute hatchet job on South Africa and I think the reason, very frankly, is because the left wants to see South Africa fall. They don’t want a free government,″ he added.

Robertson stressed the strategic importance of South Africa.

″Our long-range interests are at stake,″ he said. ″We must have the minerals of southern Africa available to the West. If they fall into the hands of the Soviet Union, we will become vassals of the Soviets. It’s a very important strategic matter that apparently our people just ignore.″

Asked by the interviewer what the United States really wants from South Africa, he said it was hoped that there would eventually be racial equality.

″To begin gradually to bring into the political process the blacks in your country so that ultimately you have a time where there is equality before the law, equality of justice and equality of civic opportunity and that is essentially what we want,″ he said.

″What I want essentially is a free South Africa. I want South Africa as a friend of the West and a bastion of capitalism,″ said Robertson. ″It would be tragic if South Africa was plunged into a blood bath, if the Marxist-led members of the African National Congress could gain control.″

Robertson said that those who favor sanctions and disinvestment as a means of putting pressure on the South African government to end apartheid are ″knowingly or unknowingly allies of those who favor a one-party, Marxist government in South Africa.″

The interview was broadcast on the nightly news program Network.