Complexities of S. Africa

Having worked two years in the Republic of Bophuthatswana, I found the recent firing of 20,000 striking miners more complex than your article contends [``S. Africa `homelands' policy played role in sacking of miners,'' Jan. 9]. Shortly after Bophuthatswana abolished apartheid upon independence in December 1977, it legalized national labor unions, years before South Africa. But no nation is obliged to accept the labor unions of another nation.

South Africa's unions are rightfully fighting apartheid and for equal wages, issues which are irrelevant in Bophuthatswana. Further, allowing its unions to recruit in sovereign Bophuthatswana would tie that country's destiny to South Africa's. In fact, Bophuthatswana has cut its economic, political, and social links to South Africa more successfully than have most other nations in the region.

Second, the Bophuthatswana Constitution, which enshrines a US-modeled and legally enforced Bill of Rights, also declares mining as a sector of vital economic interest. The miners' strike, however justifiable, jeopardized the Bophuthatswana treasury's largest source of revenue. This comes at a time of lingering drought.

Just as President Reagan fired striking air controllers, other governments take action when their security is threatened. Philip B. Auerbach San Francisco

Ned Temko's excellent article ``Learning Zulu to bridge S. Africa's racial gap'' [Jan. 13] illustrates an important facet of South Africa's civil unrest not widely recognized: South Africa's racial diversity is compounded by linguistic diversity as well, with 10 major languages spoken within the country.

The study of Zulu by whites is a step in the right direction, but years of study would be needed to achieve even a basic working knowledge of the language.

I have corresponded with a Zulu in South Africa using neither English nor Zulu, but the international language Esperanto. People throughout the world are already expanding their cross-linguistic contacts by these means. Jerald T. Veit Taunton, Mass.

Robert E. White's column reflects a narrow, biased point of view on the South African issue [``South Africa: adding bite to US bark,'' Dec. 30].

White asserts: ``Among the predominantly black political movements, the ANC alone has a coherent program . . . .'' Yet Buthelezi's Inkatha organization is 10 years old, has more than 1 million members, and has presented a specific and coherent program of political reform to the Botha government.

White describes funding for the ANC as ``meager.'' According to the Race Relations Survey, published annually by the South African Institute of Race Relations: ``The African National Congress (ANC) was reported to have allocated about $50 million a year, half its budget, for its military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) in 1983.''

Does White consider $100 million ``meager''? Sweden alone gave $14 million in 1985. The PLO and Libya are said to be donors. Peace organizations donate money for education and nonmilitary supplies. Weapons captured from ANC caches are invariably of Russian or communist-bloc origin.

Any just and humane individual would recoil at such an ugly system as apartheid. But the whole of Africa is ensnared in varying degrees of ugly governmental systems. Until the consciousness of the continent is enlightened, the strife will continue. Bradd Carr Cape Town

To claim, as White does, that ``the ANC commands the political loyalties of the majority of South Africans'' is to ignore the fact that the ANC derives most of its support from the Xhosa-speaking South Africans, who number some 5 million people in a total population of 32 million. The bulk of their population resides in two homelands now independent of South African political control, the Republic of Ciskei and the Republic of Transkei. Neither President Sebe of the Ciskei nor President Mantanzima of Transkei is likely to step down for any ANC pretender. Even among their own people, Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo would probably struggle to win the political support they claim.

What about the largest black nation, the Zulus, numbering 6 million? Their leaders will not relinquish power to any Xhosa or to a terrorist upstart.

It is deplorable that White should write in support of an organization dedicated to the pursuit of political power through the killing of innocent women and children. Duke Kent-Brown Vice-Consul New York South African Consulate

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