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Public Papers - 1989

Statement on Meeting With South African Anti-Apartheid Activist Albertina Sisulu


I have been pleased today to welcome to the White House Mrs. Albertina Sisulu, of Soweto, South Africa. ``Mama Sisulu,'' as she is known by her legion of admirers, is copresident of the United Democratic Front, a coalition of multiracial South African organizations opposed to apartheid. The UDF is among the organizations banned by the South African Government, and Mrs. Sisulu has been subjected to imprisonment, house arrest, and to government restrictions on her activities. However, she remains a strong advocate of nonviolence and of a nonracial South Africa.

Mrs. Sisulu has lived a life of sacrifice for the betterment of all South Africans. At age 70, she continues to be active in the service of others. Each day she travels more than an hour to reach her job as a nurse in a clinic which cares for the neediest residents of Soweto. She personifies the struggle for human rights and human dignity, and her presence here is an inspiration to us all.

As I told Mrs. Sisulu in our meeting, the United States also believes fundamentally in human rights and human dignity. We believe strongly that apartheid is wrong and that it must end. We want to see the creation of a nonracial and democratic South Africa as a result of negotiations among legitimate representatives of all of South Africa's people. We support the beginning of a process leading to a peaceful transition to democracy.

To achieve our goal, we intend to expand our assistance to black South Africans to help them both economically and politically so they can play their rightful role in determining the future of their country. We will work with the Congress to increase present programs and develop new ones to assist black South Africans in the critical areas of human rights, education, employment, housing, and community development. Such programs should not be misunderstood as our acquiescing in apartheid, but rather viewed as a determined effort to bring it to an end.

We will also work closely with our allies, particularly the British, Japanese, West Germans, and Portuguese, to develop mutually supporting policies and cooperative programs to resolve the political impasse created by apartheid and to assist in the advancement of black South Africans. These nations have important historical, cultural, and economic ties with South Africa, and their wisdom and influence need to be brought to bear on the problems of South Africa and the region.

Again, it has been an honor to be with Mrs. Sisulu here today. Her struggle and that of her husband, Walter, who remains in prison, and her children, remind us of the price of freedom and the hope which her example inspires in all of us.

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