Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

De Klerk's Open-Door Policy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

De Klerk's Open-Door Policy

Article excerpt

HARDLY any Africans will join South Africa's ruling white National Party in a hurry, but President Frederik W. de Klerk's decision to make its membership nonracial represents a giant leap forward. He is preparing the way, bravely, for the day when a broad, black-white power-sharing coalition can assume power and take South Africa down the road to full emancipation.

Upending the very premises that brought the National Party into being in the 1930s and to power in 1948, President de Klerk late last month appealed for "political cooperation across existing party lines" and promised alliances with new political groups, both white and black. He spoke of the "inevitable" realignment of party politics in South Africa.

These were tough words for white South Africans, even after a year of kaleidoscopic change. De Klerk was throwing the gauntlet down before right-wing white challengers from the Conservative Party.

He is doing so with Nelson Mandela's implicit encouragement, and seemingly with the knowledge that if South Africa wants a peaceful transition from apartheid to nonracial government, it can only come about as a result of the cooperative merging of the aspirations of the African National Congress (ANC) and the National Party. Mr. Mandela is deputy president of the ANC.

Observers inside and outside of South Africa have assumed darker motives. They see an opening for the absorption into the National Party of members of Inkatha, the Zulu-based political organization led by Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi.

Chief Buthelezi is waging war on the ground in his native Natal Province and, more recently in the urban Transvaal Province, against Xhosa-speaking adherents of the ANC. In the past three weeks nearly 800 Africans have lost their lives.

Inkatha does not wish to be left out of the bargaining by blacks and whites about the future state of South Africa. …

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