Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

South Africa Moves Ahead on All-Party Conference ANC Leaders Gain Momentum from Fallout of 'Inkathagate' Scandal

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

South Africa Moves Ahead on All-Party Conference ANC Leaders Gain Momentum from Fallout of 'Inkathagate' Scandal

Article excerpt

SIGNIFICANT movement toward a transition government in South Africa has occurred despite a recent scandal that had appeared to undercut prospects for talks between the African National Congress and Pretoria government.

Moves by the ANC have successfully exploited the weakness of the Pretoria government, which has been battered by the the scandal. Showing its flexibility, the ANC set aside its own objections to talks, and in so doing appears to have made negotiations to create a new government more likely.

The ANC and Pretoria government now agree that negotiations about a transitional authority should top the agenda of an all-party conference to be convened as soon as possible.

While the ANC continues to talk of an "interim government of national unity" President Frederik de Klerk refers to "transitional arrangements" that would limit the powers of government during the transition period.

Yet political analysts say there is sufficient room for compromise, and that it may be possible to fashion an interim administration that would rule the country while representatives of the population draw up a new constitution.

The ANC's major concession to speed up the convening of an all-party conference included placing remaining obstacles to talks on one side. The shift came in the wake of the slush-fund scandal that revealed the Pretoria government had secretly given funds to black political allies like the Inkatha Freedom Party.

"I think we could be looking at an all-party conference as early as November or December," said one ANC official close to the behind-the-scenes talks.

In another act that could improve the climate for negotiations, the ANC has indicated that Chris Hani, chief of staff of its military wing, would not be allocated a portfolio in the ANC's 26-person National Working Committee pending a request from the South African Communist Party (SACP) for him to be relieved of all ANC duties.

A senior Communist Party official told the Monitor yesterday that Mr. Hani, an ANC hawk who also serves on the SACP politburo, was likely to take over from Joe Slovo, a Lithuanian-born white South African, as SACP general secretary at its first legal national conference in December.

Hani's removal from the ANC would serve to ease relations with government officials who have always seen him as one of the most radical influences in the ANC.

In another move, the ANC appointed Secretary-General Cyril Ramaphosa, a highly respected former trade union leader, to head the negotiation commission coordinating negotiating strategy, prepare members of the rank and file, and involve them in the process.

Progress also has been made in church-sponsored all-party peace talks that include representatives of the government, the ANC, the Inkatha Freedom Party, businessmen, and church leaders.

Working groups of the peace committee have been meeting throughout the "Inkathagate" scandal and, according to delegates, have made rapid progress on formulating codes of conduct for parties and security forces. …

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