African leaders met here yesterday to examine the regional impact if whites reject political reform in South Africa.

Compounding their fears was the worst drought on record, devastating crop loss in southern Africa, and the effect that violence in South Africa, with its key ports and railways, could have on relief transportation efforts.

South African whites will vote Tuesday in a referendum on President Frederik de Klerk's program of political reform and multiracial democracy.

"If there is a 'no' vote, we think it would be an absolute tragedy for the people of South Africa and our region," said Vernon Mwaanga, Zambia's foreign minister.

Heads of state from Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana, and Zimbabwe met with officials from Angola, Mozambique, the African National Congress, and the Pan-African Congress.

The talks also addressed the peace process in Mozambique and Angola.

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