President Pieter W. Botha lashed out Friday at the "recklessness" of the U.S. House for approving a virtual trade embargo on South Africa and warned it may jeopardize negotiations on Namibia's independence.
Botha, in a statement released by a Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman, said the House approval Thursday of a sweeping economic sanctions bill was being "utilized for purely internal political aims.""The recklessness of American members of Congress who do not care in the least whether their actions adversely affect the search for a peaceful solution to the problems of southern Africa as a whole is astounding," Botha said.
The House passed the so-called Dellums bill, named after its chief sponsor, Ronald Dellums, D-Calif., by a vote of 244-132. The bill far exceeds limited economic sanctions imposed by the Congress in 1986 to apply pressure to the minority white government to grant equal rights to the black majority.
The legislation must be approved by the Senate, where it faces tough opposition and possibly a filibuster. If approved there, a veto by President Reagan is regarded as certain.
"It is particularly remarkable that the members of the House of Representatives continue with their actions exactly at a time when positive progress is being made with the peace negotiations between South Africa, Angola and Cuba," Botha said.
"It would be ironical if Resolution 435 should reach the point of implementation only to be obstructed, or made impossible, as a result of the provisions in American legislation which impose extensive restrictions," Botha said.
He referred to restrictions in the legislation that would cover "financial transactions that would be necessitated by the implementation of Resolution 435."
South Africa has tentatively agreed to implement on Nov. 1 the U.N. Security Council Resolution 435. That would pave the way for Namibia's independence after 73 years of control by South Africa by mid-1989, provided agreement is reached on a timetable for a Cuban troop withdrawal from neighboring Angola.
Botha acknowledged the Dellums bill had yet to be approved by the Senate and said the "outcome would be interesting."
Describing the House approval as motivated by internal political aims, he said the action "has no bearing on the promotion of the interests of black people in South Africa.
"In fact, the members of the House of Representatives are by now fully aware that prominent black leaders in South Africa, as well as governments in certain neighboring states, strongly oppose this legislation," Botha said.