The Howard County Council voted unanimously last night to end economic sanctions against South Africa that had been in effect for seven years.
"By stopping the flow of funds into the apartheid economy, the anti-apartheid legislation has served as a peaceful means in ending South Africa's oppressive laws, which have resulted in loss of life and human suffering," said Councilman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd.
Mr. Gray was the sponsor of the county's sanctions law and is also the chief sponsor of the repeal.
Compared with other similar laws in the nation, the county's law contained some of the toughest language when it was enacted in 1986. The law made it illegal for the county to accept bids from anyone doing business with South Africa or from anyone whose supplier was doing business with South Africa.
"Now the time has come to lift the sanctions, restrictions and divestment measures imposed by the county against South Africa," Mr. Gray said. He quoted African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, the 1993 Nobel Laureate for Peace, as urging all governments to assist in regenerating South Africa's economy.
"Continued sanctions and restrictions would be counter-productive," Mr. Gray said. "By removing these restrictions, the county will, in effect, strengthen the initial purpose for the restrictions."
Apartheid is the policy of strict racial segregation and political and economic discrimination against nonwhites as formerly practiced in South Africa.
The council also voted 5-0 last night to join the National Association of Counties in proclaiming Oct. 27 as "National Unfunded Mandates Day."
The resolution urges Congress to calculate the cost to local government of imposing federal mandates without providing the financial support to meet them.
Government restrictions are a serious problem, said Council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass, the chief sponsor of the resolution. Local governments cannot maintain a stable tax rate if they have to fund directives from Washington, she said.
In other action last night, the council listened sympathetically to a Silver Spring couple whose property in Howard is being sought by the Parks and Recreation Department for inclusion in the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area.
County Public Works Director James M. Irvin asked the council to take the Montgomery County couple to court, saying they and Howard were far apart as to price. The couple's 31 acres are in between 66 county-owned acres and 950 acres the Rouse Co. plans to give the county for the environmental area.
Walter and Susan Madigosky said they have been negotiating with the county since 1978 and perhaps had not taken the most recent offer as seriously as they might have. They said the county offered them a third of what it had offered previously and told them to accept the offer or be sued.
The Madigoskys asked the council to delay any court action for at least six months in order to give them time to hire an attorney and get appraisals with which to counter the county's offer.
She told the couple the council would postpone for at least six months action on a resolution that would allow the county to go to court.