Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

THE WORLD FROM... Pretoria Unrepentant South African Foreign Minister Learns Timely Lesson in What Democratic Accountability Means

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

THE WORLD FROM... Pretoria Unrepentant South African Foreign Minister Learns Timely Lesson in What Democratic Accountability Means

Article excerpt

GOVERNMENT officials - back in the chillier climes of this lofty administrative capital after the annual move from the legislative capital in Cape Town - are slightly less sure-footed as they await President Frederik de Klerk's response today to the secret funding scandal.

Since the scandal broke 10 days ago, Western diplomats have been treading a well-worn path to the Union Buildings, which house the Foreign Ministry, to hear assurances that the rules of the negotiating game have not changed.

Perhaps the most telling sign that the government is losing its confidence was a telephone call Foreign Minister Roelof "Pik" Botha made to African National Congress President Nelson Mandela on July 23, while Mr. Mandela was on a visit to Spain.

During the conversation Mr. Botha raised the funding scandal to gauge the ANC's mood and how it was likely to respond. Mandela said that it was not the kind of issue to discuss on the telephone, and said he would deal with it when he returned.

The exchange reflects how the balance of power at the negotiating table has shifted because of disclosures that Pretoria secretly financed the Inkatha Freedom Party, and its trade union, after the ANC was legalized last year. Regardless of Mr. De Klerk's expected assurances about future control of government funds and the immediate ending of secret funding of political allies, it is doubtful the government will regain support for its claim that it should retain control during the transition to majority rule. The view that the government can no longer manage the transition alone is now far more persuasive than it was two weeks ago.

Watching Botha in a televised interview on July 25 was like being back in the "old South Africa," as though the only thing that mattered was to convince the voters that you were still a nice guy. "I have full faith in the judgment of major responsible governments throughout the world that they will not be deflected . …

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