IN a move symbolizing the end of an era of international isolation for South Africa, African National Congress President Nelson Mandela is expected to call for the lifting of remaining trade and financial sanctions against the country at a United Nations speech tomorrow.
The ANC call is likely to aid the flow of much-needed foreign funds to South Africa and could mean cheaper foreign loans and a gradual return to international financial respectability.
South Africa has been caught in a foreign-debt standstill since August 1985, when leading US banks imposed financial sanctions on the country.
An agreement reached on the repayment of $5 billion in foreign debt is likely to be signed within days of the call for the lifting of sanctions, a move that will help restore the country's access to foreign finance.
Mr. Mandela's speech to the UN Special Committee against Apartheid will also signal the beginning of South Africa's formal transition to democracy. It will follow a New York meeting tomorrow between President Frederik de Klerk and UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
South Africa has been barred from occupying its seat in the General Assembly since 1974, and a 1977 UN arms embargo will remain in force until an elected government is in place.
But a UN diplomat says behind-the-scenes maneuvers were under way for South Africa to take up its General Assembly seat as early as November, once a multiracial commission is overseeing the government.
De Klerk and Mandela, political adversaries and awkward partners in the country's transition, will then embark on a 10-day effort to sell South Africa to foreign investors. Investor interest in South Africa is growing because of the new potential that would flow from a legitimate and stable government.
``The risks are still too high for investors to come in,'' says a Johannesburg investment broker. ``But the lifting of financial sanctions will force investors to reassess their attitudes to South Africa.'' Vital foreign funds
Although most countries have lifted trade sanctions since the Pretoria government changed course three-and-a-half years ago, financial sanctions imposed by the US government, more than 160 state, county, and local governments, and leading US banks have continued to deny South Africa access to vital foreign funds.
The ANC call will release the Clinton administration from its obligation to oppose South African applications for loans from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. This will give South Africa access to about $2.5 billion in IMF credit and about $1 billion in World Bank housing, health, and education projects.
But World Bank funds are unlikely to flow until greater consensus has been achieved between the government and the ANC on economic policy - probably not before 1995.
Sweden lifted trade sanctions on Sept. 11, and the 50-nation Commonwealth, a loose association of former British colonies, said that sanctions would be lifted within weeks. Draft bill is catalyst
The ANC's call for the lifting of remaining sanctions was triggered by multiparty agreement on a draft bill that will establish a multiracial commission to oversee the government before the country's first nonracial ballot, scheduled for April 27.
The bill is expected to be approved by South Africa's Parliament today.
The right-wing Conservative Party has likened the creation of the commission to a ``declaration of war.'' The Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which withdrew from multiparty talks more than a month ago, said that the bill amounted to a handover of power to the ANC.
And in a stormy session at the multiparty negotiating forum Monday, the militant Pan Africanist Congress said it would not participate in the so-called Transitional Executive Council (TEC) because it would give the De Klerk government more power.
De Klerk, under increasing pressure, gave the assurance that the TEC did not even constitute power sharing but was merely intended to level the political playing field before an election.
It now appears that only 20 of the 26 parties represented at the multiparty forum will participate in the TEC, which can be set up only when an interim constitution has been finalized by the multiparty forum and passed by Parliament. According to deadlines for the election, this will have to happen by the end of November.
Government chief negotiator Roelf Meyer said Monday that introduction of the bill heralds a new era and renders the constitutional-reform process ``irreversible.''