Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn, armed with a new ordinance that prohibits the city from investing public funds in any institution that does business in South Africa, is urging 100 mayors across the United States to enact similar legislation.
Although New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and a number of smaller cities earlier passed divestment legislation, experts say Boston's ordinance is the most far-reaching.
''It's important that Boston - as the cradle of liberty - send a message that it objects to human rights violations,'' Mayor Flynn says. The statement is directed at South Africa, where the white-dominated government enforces apartheid, a policy of strict racial segregation and discrimination against blacks and other ethnic groups.
Flynn recently took his appeal to the executive committee of the US Conference of Mayors, which agreed to have its staff study ways that cities could implement similar policies. The Boston mayor pledges to follow up on the issue when the full membership of the Conference of Mayors convenes in January.
Drafted and introduced by City Councilor Charles C. Yancey, the Boston ordinance:
* Prohibits retirement funds of city workers from being invested or deposited in US banks that lend money to the government of South Africa or to South African corporations and prohibits these pension funds from being invested in stocks and bonds of companies that do business in South Africa.
* Prohibits all other public funds from being deposited with banks that make loans to South Africa or to companies doing business there.
* Requires banks to sign affidavits certifying that they have no loans and offer no credit to South Africa.
* Extends the boycott to Namibia, a territory in Southwest Africa that the United Nations says is illegally occupied and administered by South Africa.