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Ajcongress Study Shows Flourishing, Extensive Trade Between South Africa and 19 Black African States

September 7, 1976
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The American Jewish Congress has released a study naming 19 Black African states engaged in trade relations with the Republic of South Africa that the nourishing and growing.” The study prepared by Moshe Decter, was “undertaken to expose the double standard” that has been applied to Israel by critics of its trade with south Africa, the AJCongress said. “While Black African countries have loudly condemned South Africa’s racial policies in public, privately they recognize that they must trade with the apartheid regime of South Africa if their economies are to survive and grow,” the Decter study noted.

It named, as trading partners with South Africa: Angola; Botswana; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Gabon; Ghana; Ivory Coast; Lesotho; Liberia; Malagasay Republic; Malawi; Mauritius; Mozambique; Nigeria; Senegal; Swaziland; Zaire; and Zambia. She study also reported “considerable evidence of trade relations between Arab states and South Africa,” and named Saudi Arabia as one of the most active trading partners.


The study noted that Mozambique, “despite its militantly Marxist and anti-apartheid positions, has growing economic relations with South Africa, which is Mozambique’s second biggest customer.” Of the 214,282 foreign Black workers employed in South African gold mines, the largest number — 83,547 — come from Mozambique. All told, nearly 180,000 Mozambique workers have jobs in South Africa. “The terms under which Black laborers from Mozambique work in South Africa can best be described by the American phrase ‘sweetheart contracts’, except that in this case it is the Mozambique government rather than a labor union that signs the contracts for the workers,” the study stated.

Focusing on other countries, the study said that Swaziland sends 15 to 20 percent of its exports to South Africa and 90 percent of its, imports come from South Africa; Zaire buys oil from South Africa and exports timber to the Pretoria regime; Zambia imports more goods from South Africa than any other country; and Lesotho “trades more extensively with South Africa than any other country and is one of three Black states — along with Botswana and Swaziland — that are joined with South Africa in a formal customs union as well as a de facto monetary union.”


Accompanying the released study were copies of correspondence between Bayard Rustin, director of the Black Americans to Support Israel Committee (BASIC) and Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, president of the AJCongress, in which Rustin expressed “a deep sense of concern and disturbance” over the visit to Israel last July of South African Prime Minister John Vorster. Rustin declared that he and “every friend of Israel in the Black community was chagrined” by the visit.

Hertzberg noted in his reply that responsible Israelis “from Prime Minister Rabin on down” have “made a point of condemning apartheid publicly and privately.” However, Rabin did receive Vorster and “they did decide to expand trade relations,” Hertzberg wrote. “The answer may be found in Israel’s virtual isolation in the world and its vulnerability to political attack, economic warfare and military invasion.”

He cited, as an example, the fact that Israel’s years of close relations with and assistance to many Black African states ended when they broke relations with Israel in 1973.

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