Republican Rep. Jeff Flake, who is running for Senate in Arizona, denied this weekend that he had ever supported the Apartheid government in South Africa while a lobbyist for a Namibian uranium mine, but new audio reveals that his denial may not hold water.
In 1987, Flake testified before the Utah State Senate in support of a resolution expressing support for the government of South Africa while racial segregation laws were enforced — largely to support U.S. mining interests in the region. In testimony flagged by a Democratic source, Flake opposed sanctions on the regime, arguing they only worsened the living conditions for black South Africans.
Flake said, “as far as the economic sanctions having a … more direct impact on the black community, I overhear we tend to think of every black South African as a radical stone-throwing protestor who will stop at nothing until the government is overthrown,” Flake said according to a transcript of the his testimony. “There are moderate elements there. There have been a lot of polls taken both ways. Most of them come out with about, that there are more moderates, considered moderate, than there are radicals. Those are funny terms and most of them aren’t moderate, they just don’t care one way or another or they don’t know about the situation. It has had a dramatic impact on the black population, the biggest impact is that the companies pulling out, the American companies pulling out…”
The resolution read in part:
· “As an ally of the United States, South Africa is a major source to the free world of vital minerals such as manganese, cobalt, platinum, gold etc.”
· “Without a dependable and economic source of these minerals, many industries in the United States and the free world would be severely impacted and the cost of these manufactured items is greatly increased.”
· “Whereas, economic sanctions would have had a more direct impact on the black community,”
· “Whereas, the black population suffers from the present violent and depressed economy,”
· “Notify the elected leaders and all the citizens of South Africa that we welcome them as friends and allies in the war against poverty and racial injustice.”
Salt Lake Tribune columnist Paul Rolly shared his memory of the resolution in a 2008 column.
UPDATE: Flake spokesman Andrew Wilder sent this statement shortly after this story was published:
“Accusing a political opponent of supporting the racistpolicy of apartheid simply because of their long-standing opposition to economic sanctions is patently offensive and shameful, and does not sound like the brand of politics that Democrats like Richard Carmona claim to otherwise practice.
Jeff Flake has opposed economic sanctions that aren’t specifically targeted at a regime, since they too often have the unintendedconsequence of hurting the people of a country more than its leaders. When economic sanctions are specifically aimed at a regime, rather than its citizenry, Jeff Flake has supported them.”