Murray Weidenbaum's article ``The case for US investment in South Africa'' [May 21] embraces the conservative, go-slow approach to ending apartheid in South Africa. ``Constructive disengagement,'' however, completely ignores the urgency of the problem and the underlying causes of conflict in South Africa. As a spokesman for this policy he discusses the economic implications of US divestment as if that were the only source of concern within the anti-apartheid movement. Anyone remotely familiar with the internal political and social situation in South Africa knows that the nation is on the verge of exploding. Government and business investment is the only tool available to US citizens who wish to avoid the impending crisis in South Africa. Chuck Pennacchio Philadelphia I sensed a misunderstanding by Mr. Weidenbaum on the South African situation. I lived over 50 years as a black man in South Africa, Mr. Weidenbaum has not lived for one hour as a black man in South Africa. Private investment does hinder the process of moving the South African society away from apartheid.

South Africa has a population of over 25 million blacks and a very small number benefit from the principle that American businesses in South Africa help improve the lot of blacks. Mr. Weidenbaum says, ``Pursuing a strategy of disinvestment means giving up both our business interests and any practical leverage that we may have had for effecting social change and progress.'' The fact is that the more American investment there has been in South Africa, the worse conditions have become for blacks.

Mr. Weidenbaum says a modern economy cannot operate if each of us insists on imposing our own foreign policy views on the rest of society by forcing economic transactions through a political filter. The US does it all the time when it is in her interest to do so. What about President Reagan's recent declaration in regard to Nicaragua?

And finally, we are constantly counseled against violence in South Africa. Yet when we seek support of a nonviolent nature such as disinvestment, we are told business and politics do not mix. That is part of the strategy of the double-standard applied when South Africa is concerned.

Just as we are told business and politics do not mix, it should also be clear that business cannot operate outside the corridors of what civilized men consider moral, and a foreign policy that recognizes no moral standard is doomed to fail. Stephen M. Mokone Rahway, N.J.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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