WASHINGTON — THE Clinton administration will double its assistance to South Africa once the first post-apartheid government takes over, Commerce Secretary Ron Brown said on April 25. He encouraged United States companies to invest there despite the current violence.
After this week's elections, the Clinton administration will pledge about $160 million to South Africa, Mr. Brown said in a speech sponsored by the Howard University Committee on South Africa. Nelson Mandela's African National Congress is widely expected to emerge the victor in the April 26-28 vote.
Currently the US Agency for International Development provides $80 million in educational and humanitarian assistance to nongovernmental groups in South Africa. Congress blocked direct US aid to the government because of its segregation and human rights policies.
US officials have said the new assistance will go into aid programs like housing, health, and other social needs.
But Brown said foreign assistance is not the answer to South Africa's problems as it tries to better the standard of living for its impoverished black population. Nor is a redistribution of wealth the key, because there are too many needy people, he said.
``It will be the private sector that drives the economic recovery in South Africa,'' he said. ``Salvation is not going to come from an aid policy. Salvation is going to come from increasing investment and trade.''
US companies should not be dissuaded by the preelection violence that has marred the transition to a multiracial government, he said. ``We have to put violence in perspective,'' Brown added, noting that South Africa is a large country that has seen violence only in some areas. ``We've got a lot of violence in our society, too.'' He predicted the society would be able to create a sound investment climate.
Many US companies stayed away when apartheid policies drew international criticism. Others abided by the Sullivan Principles, under which they lobbied for an end to apartheid and promoted advancement of blacks in their businesses.
Last year, US companies exported $2.2 billion worth of goods to South Africa. Brown pledged help for US business people to get involved in South Africa and said the administration will work to reduce trade barriers, match US and South African companies that can work together, and develop a trade strategy to increase purchase of US goods in South Africa.