Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Back on Track in South Africa

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Back on Track in South Africa

Article excerpt

AFTER months of distrust and wrangling, the African National Congress (ANC) and the ruling National Party of South Africa are preparing to put their disturbed and violent country back on a hopeful course.

Although it is midsummer and holiday time in South Africa, when nearly all political activity ceases, the ANC and the National Party have pledged to continue meeting in a series of joint committees.

The work of the committees is meant to clear away the remaining conceptual and procedural obstacles to new constitutional arrangements satisfactory to both the ANC and to whites.

In late January, leaders of the ANC and the National Party will meet in secret, as they did in early December, and prepare the way first for further multiparty talks about how South Africa's future will be arranged and, second, for multiracial constituent assembly elections in 1993.

The government's main concession has been to consider moving those elections up from 1994. Furthermore, President Frederik de Klerk and his Cabinet colleagues have promised ANC leader Nelson Mandela and others that the government will redouble its efforts to reduce the country's continuing cascade of random killings.

In an important move in late December, Mr. De Klerk dismissed a number of senior military officers who were suspected of undermining his detente with the ANC.

De Klerk has also assured the ANC that his party's alliance of convenience with KwaZulu Chief Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party has ended. Both the ANC and the government now agree that Chief Buthelezi's recent unilateral declaration of autonomy for KwaZulu and the Province of Natal (which surrounds KwaZulu) was harmful to the democratic development of a unified South Africa.

De Klerk and his associates long have favored a federal arrangement for a future South Africa, but they regard Buthelezi's preemptive move as dangerously fissiparous.

De Klerk and other white officials now recognize how harmful to progress the violence between the ANC and Inkatha has been, even though elements of the government are accused of helping to foment that violence.

The economy of South Africa has suffered seriously because of violence and continued political uncertainty. …

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