DOUBTS are surfacing here that South Africa will be able to meet
its April 1994 target date for democratic elections. Vigorous and
sustained opposition from conservative factions in the negotiation
process and escalating political violence have led some observers
even to question whether the country will be able to remain unified
throughout the transition process.
"I have never been more worried about the negotiating process in
South Africa than I am at present," says a Western diplomat close
to the talks. "It is beginning to look as though the rhetoric of
Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi could signal a long-term decision to
resist the April 27 target date come what may."
The July 25 terrorist attack against white worshipers in a
church in Cape Town, killing 12 people, is likely to further weaken
the ruling National Party (NP), which, according to opinion polls
conducted by three polling companies here, has been losing support
to Chief Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). The polls now
indicate that the NP has minority support among whites.
Political scientists say this shift could jeopardize the
structure of the multiparty talks and strengthen right-wing demands
for a whites-only election or a referendum on the proposed
transition to democracy.
Since the April election date was set on July 2 despite
opposition by the Concerned South Africans Group (COSAG) - a loose
alliance of right-wing white parties and conservative blacks led by
Buthelezi's IFP - the Zulu chief has warned of civil war and a
Bosnia-type situation, if what he calls the will of the African
National Congress (ANC) and the government are imposed on COSAG.
Buthelezi addresses whites
After a deadlock in the negotiating forum last week, Buthelezi
said he would not return to the talks until the rules had been
changed so that decisions could not be made without the IFP's
Negotiators had been aiming for mid-August to finalize the
interim constitution, Bill of Rights, an independent peacekeeping
force to maintain order before the election, and the powers and
functions of the proposed Transitional Executive Council. The
mid-August deadline would allow enabling legislation to be passed
at a special Parliament session Sept. 13.
But the multiracial transitional body to run the country during
the election process - which was to be installed this month - is
now expected to be up and running by the end of September at the
In his bid to change the course of negotiations, Buthelezi has
addressed well-attended, mainly white meetings around the country,
citing his opposition to the two-phase approach to negotiations
that relies on an elected constituent assembly to finalize the
He wants strong regional government in the new South Africa, and
is insistent that regional powers, boundaries, and functions should
be written into an interim constitution before national elections.
He told a largely white audience in the Orange Free State
capital of Bloemfontein last Friday that the government had sold
out its own constituency by agreeing to an elected
constitution-making body. …