South Africans Decide Against Visas
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The South African government has decided against granting visas to most members of an 18-person delegation of Americans who had planned to leave Saturday on a fact-finding mission to South Africa, delegation spokesmen said Friday.
South Africa’s ambassador to the United States, Herman Beukes, said visas would be issued to three congressmen and to a congressional aide but not to the rest of the delegation sponsored by the Center for Development Policy, a liberal-oriented Washington think tank.
But the congressmen have declined to make the trip unless the entire delegation was granted visas. The congressmen are Reps. Mickey Leland, D- Texas, Douglas H. Bosco, D-Calif., and George Miller, D-Calif.
Also approved for a visa was Christopher J. Matthews, an aide to House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill Jr., D-Mass.
Also in the delegation and refused visas were David Aaron, former deputy adviser to the National Security Council; Smith Bagley, president of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation; Mary Travers of the Peter, Paul and Mary singing group; and Robert E. White, former ambassador to El Salvador who is currently president of the Center for Development Policy.
In a letter to White, Beukes said a visit, ″however well-intended, will not be helpful in the present sensitive and delicate political climate.″
″The composition of the group further leads the government to believe that a visit at this stage would not be opportune,″ he said.
He said it might be possible to grant visas at a later date ″in more favorable circumstances.″
White tried to see the ambassador Friday, but was refused. He read a statement in front of the embassy to reporters saying that the purpose of the trip was to ″discuss what opportunities exist for peace and reconciliation and how the United States might more effectively contribute to a pacific solution.″
″The South African government once again has chosen to try to suppress debate, to hide their problems, to prevent Americans form discovering what is going on in their country,″ he said.