Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Shared Power in South Africa

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Shared Power in South Africa

Article excerpt

BLACKS will be sharing power with whites in South Africa soon, conceivably during 1991. The ruling white National Party and the popular African National Congress (ANC) intend to continue negotiating the framework of that sharing this year. Leading politicians have already suggested controversial key elements of the framework.

The National Party, still desirous of preventing majority blacks from dominating minority whites in the new South Africa, conceives a two-house legislature. The lower house of this revamped parliament could be elected by all voters, irrespective of color. Votes would be counted by proportional representation, and each party's seats would reflect its national support.

Under this system, blacks would hold the vast majority of places, and legislation would be initiated by them in the powerful lower house.

But whites, having conceded African leadership in the lower house, want to achieve a measure of protection for minority rights in an upper house, or senate. Its members would be selected along ethnic and regional lines, presumably as representatives of provinces or groups.

Whites want such an upper house so that its members could veto or at least put a brake on legislation which would injure minorities. According to one National Party plan, both houses would have equal weight.

Nelson Mandela, deputy president of the ANC, and his colleagues adamantly oppose any political arrangements short of pure majority rule. The ANC is against the creation of a special status for whites.

What the National Party and the Broederbond, the secret society of Afrikaners which provides some of the party's key intellectual impetus, hope to achieve, however, is a sense of common interest across color lines.

If some version of their plan prevails, Afrikaners and the National Party would develop mutuality of political purpose with Africans fearful of the ANC. …

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