Even a pink man from Mars will soon be able to live next door to the president of South Africa, if he can afford the mortgage payments, according to a South African government official.
Henk Roodt, of the country's consulate-general's office in Beverly Hills, said meaningful reform in his racially troubled country - such as a bill that would lead to more legally mandated "gray" neighborhoods - is being driven by the economy as well as demographic reality. In his terms, South Africa is practicing "industrial democracy." He points to the evidence of the National Party government's call two weeks ago for consideration of a South African Bill of Rights, and a movement to write a new constitution.But American-imposed sanctions, although Roodt said they were probably sincerely imposed, in practice have turned out to be "morally bankrupt." Withdrawal of American investments has only hampered the push to abolish apartheid, the country's system of segregation laws based on skin color, Roodt said.
"By the turn of the century, South Africa will be one of the most racially integrated systems, if not the most racially integrated system, in the world," Roodt said. But that will only happen, he asserts, if the world takes their fingers out of South Africa's political pie.
Roodt, a member of the ruling National Party government, is spouting his government's line on a speaking tour through Utah, one of 12 states his office oversees. He points to the reforms pushed through under South African State President P.W. Botha. His government is committed to achieving an equal salary scale and providing equal educational opportunities, regardless of skin color, Roodt said.
But improving social programs takes government money, and the loss of more than 100 American companies through a disinvestment campaign, urged by student protests at Utah State and the University of Utah among others, have crippled the growth of South Africa's gross national product.
Roodt said 75 percent of blacks in South Africa are opposed to sanctions because of the threat of losing their jobs. Sanctions, pushed by a growing grassroots American movement since 1986, have cost South Africans blacks an estimated 210,000 jobs, in addition to the multiplier effect on the workers' families, he said. "No declining economy in the world has ever delivered a democracy."
Instead of taking money out of the system, Americans concerned about the civil rights of South Africans should invest in the "black muscle" of the free-enterprise system, according to Roodt.
South Africans are tired of the world moralizing over their problems, without an understanding the complexity of a country divided into diverse minority groups. Roodt asked why Americans praise the Soviet Union's glasnost movement, while condemning as too slow the gradual reforms in South Africa, a long-time ally.
"I do not know where the American people got their mandate for sanctions. They certainly didn't get it from South Africa.
"All the liberals stand here at university or go on some big lecture tour. What is that going to help South Africa? That is not going to help. Why don't they do something constructive?"
Roodt concedes that South African blacks are still far from achieving political equality, but he asserts that they can achieve economic equality more easily in his country than can American blacks.
And he concedes that a National Party government doesn't see a one-man, one-vote policy coming down the road. South Africans point to their neighboring countries as an example of the African experience, meaning that black rulers have turned to one-party, Marxist or communist dictatorships.
"Because of the diversity of even the whites in South Africa, I can't even say that's feasible. But that's for South Africans to decide."