About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

From 2 August 1985, London Times, "Big House majority for sanctions, but Helms holds up the Senate"

The United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to impose sanctions on South Africa yesterday, following agreement with the Senate on the terms of a Bill. However, in face of the threat of a right-wing filibuster, the Senate agreed to put off a vote until September, after the summer recess.

The House vote was 380 to 48, and even some Conservative Republican members warned president Reagan not to veto the Bill.

The compromise agreement on sanctions, worked out by 35 Senate and House negotiators on Wednesday night, would ban the sale in the US of Krugerrand gold coins, the sale to South Africa of computers and nuclear equipment, and bank loans to Pretoria. It also makes compulsory the so-called 'Sullivan principles', requiring US complies, with 25 or more employees in South Africa, to ensure equal treatment for blacks in housing and employment.

The measures are largely symbolic and will have little banks voluntarily suspended loans to Pretoria about seven years ago and the Chase Manhattan Bank, one of the largest, decided this week not to renew existing loans.

But the adoption of any punitive measures is a severe blow to the Reagan Administration's policy of 'constructive engagement' - the attempt to influence Pretoria by quiet diplomacy.

President Reagan has refused to say whether he will veto the Bill. The White House spokesman said yesterday that the Administration had a number of complaints about it and still believed punitive measures would hurt the black community in South Africa.

The President is said to be under considerable pressure to go along with Congress.

Under the compromise Bill, additional sanctions, including a ban on new US business investment in South Africa, could be imposed within 12 months if the President finds South Africa has made no progress in ending apartheid.

Under Senate rules, a Bill has to wait three days to be brought to the floor after being agreed by negotiators from the House and Senate. This time limit can be waived by unanimous consent, but supporters of the measure fear that Senate Jesse Helms, a powerful right-wing Republican from South Carolina who opposes sanctions, will start a filibuster and withold his consent.

From 4 August 1985, New York Times, Major News in Summary, "Pressure Builds but South Africa Isn't Budging":

In Washington, the House voted 380 to 48 for a mild package of economic sanctions on South Africa, including a ban on the import of Krugerrand gold coins and on the export of goods for use in nuclear facilities and computers. Bank loans to the South African Government were also banned, although most banks had suspended such loans seven years ago. (In New York, the Chase Manhattan Bank was reported to have taken the lead in halting loans to private borrowers.) The Senate put off action until after the August recess because of a filibuster threat by Senator Jesse Helms.

While more critical than usual of Pretoria's tough attitude toward black dissent, the Administration continued to oppose sanctions. President Reagan was still said to favor quiet diplomatic efforts - constructive engagement - to persuade the South African authorities to start talks with black representatives.

White House advisers were talking about a veto, but in both houses supporters of sanctions appeared to command the two-thirds majority needed to override one.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.