- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 25, 2000

Former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu called in Washington yesterday for Western nations to fund a $10 billion, five-year mini-Marshall Plan for southern Africa to erase the legacy of apartheid.

He proposed that the money be spent on housing, education, sanitation and other community-strengthening projects.

Meeting with reporters at the residence of South African Ambassador Sheila Sisulu, the Anglican clergyman likened the "devastation of apartheid" to a battered Europe immediately after World War II. The Marshall Plan is given huge credit for the continent's postwar revival.

Asked whether the money should also go to combat the spreading AIDS pandemic in southern Africa, Bishop Tutu said "building up people's strength and well-being will have a tremendous impact in combating AIDS."

South African President Thabo Mbeki has stirred controversy by questioning whether HIV causes AIDS and whether the problem of AIDS in Africa stems from a more general malaise of a continent whose run-down economic condition creates an environment in which not only AIDS, but other diseases, thrive.

Bishop Tutu said he included nearby African states in his Marshall Plan proposal because "all of southern Africa, not just South Africa, has been devastated by the ugly legacy of apartheid."

He noted that the Afrikaner government, which installed the policy of strict separation of races in 1948 and maintained it until it was voted out of office in 1994, had sought to destabilize the so-called "front-line states" Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania.

The destabilization campaign was motivated by the fear that these states left-oriented recipients of Soviet help and supportive of the African National Congress would threaten South Africa itself.

For the past two years, Bishop Tutu has lived in Atlanta and taught at Emory University's Chandler School of Theology.

Before accepting that post, he headed South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose mission was to bring into the open the crimes committed in the apartheid years and to offer amnesty to those who openly confessed to such crimes.

"The basic premise of the commission was forgiveness," the Nobel Prize-winning clergyman said. "And it clearly succeeded."

South Africa's conciliatory approach to the legacy of apartheid contrasts sharply with that of Latin American countries, where democratic successors to military regimes generally ignored the past.

It also contrasts with the approach of Rwanda's Tutsi-led government, which insists on war crimes trials in the name of justice to ensure that there will be no repeat of the 1994 genocide led by Hutu extremists.

"Forgiveness deals with the problem," Bishop Tutu said. "Other approaches risk that the problem will come to haunt them."

Asked whether he will remain active when he returns to live in Cape Town with his wife, Leah, next month, Bishop Tutu said, "What I am looking for right now is to sleep."

It is a metaphor he has used before to convey his desire for some rest after a lifetime of struggle against racism. Last November, he underwent surgery for prostate cancer but kept on working.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide