President Nelson Mandela's defiant stand on South Africa's ties with the Libyan and Cuban leaders could scare off foreign investors and harm relations with the United States, Pretoria's main trading partner, the country's white former rulers said Monday.
Mr. Mandela has maintained ties with the two controversial leaders who strongly supported the anti-apartheid movement. He has invited Cuban leader Fidel Castro to visit South Africa and said he is determined to invite Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, despite pressure from the West.South Africa's former ruling National Party said that by ignoring the West and inviting Mr. Castro and Mr. Gadhafi, Mr. Mandela and his ruling African National Congress could scare off foreign investors and damage already strained relations with Washington.
"The U.S. will shun any country that suddenly embraces Gadhafi. The sign that is sent out is very negative," NP Foreign Affairs Spokesman Boy Geldenhuys told Reuters. "With this invitation, investor confidence in South Africa is being sabotaged."
Mr. Geldenhuys' party is a junior partner in Mandela's unity government.
"Libya is seen as an exporter of terrorism and everybody knows that in Cuba human rights are seriously being undermined," he added.
The United States is South Africa's largest trading partner with two-way trade in 1994 worth $4.64 billion.
Relations with Washington are strained over an oil-storage deal with Iran, U.S. trademark infringements by South African companies and U.S. legal action against state weapons company Armscor over arms sales during apartheid.
The U.S. Embassy refused to comment.
The ANC has long had strong ties with Cuba and Libya. ANC guerrillas received military training in the two countries and both Havana and Tripoli donated millions of dollars to the party, then a liberation movement fighting white-minority rule.
The ANC said in a statement visits by Mr. Gadhafi and Mr. Castro "should not only focus on expressing our gratitude for their role in the struggle against apartheid but should also lay a firm base for an advance to an exchange program in technological, cultural, scientific and other fields."