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Apartheid Foes Trying to Incite S. African Violence, Botha Claims

April 20, 1985|MICHAEL PARKS | Times Staff Writer

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — President Pieter W. Botha on Friday blamed the mounting unrest in South Africa on the United Democratic Front, the country's largest anti-apartheid group, and accused it of trying to foment a revolution here.

Recent violence has brought "a drastic escalation of the revolutionary climate" in the country, Botha told Parliament, and the government now fears countrywide disturbances as part of a strategy to make South Africa "ungovernable."

All this he blamed largely on the United Democratic Front, a coalition of 650 groups opposed to South Africa's apartheid policies of racial segregation. He called the front an agent of the outlawed African National Congress and the South African Communist Party.

"The immediate aim of the United Democratic Front," Botha said, "is to mobilize the masses and incite them toward confrontation with the authorities. They hope in this way to create a spiral of increasing violence that will culminate in revolution."

'Cannot Be Accepted'

Botha's attack on the front, the government's harshest by far, suggested to political observers here that he is preparing to take tougher measures against it and perhaps to ban the organization entirely under South Africa's sweeping security laws. "This state of affairs cannot be accepted," he told Parliament.

Patrick Lekota, the United Democratic Front spokesman, said in Johannesburg that it is "a lie" that the organization is trying to precipitate a revolution. "The real cause of the unrest," Lekota said, "is the failure of the National Party to meet the demands of the people."

In what was billed as a major policy address on race relations, Botha again appealed to moderate black leaders to renounce violence and participate in a "national forum" he has proposed to resolve what he called the country's "most burning question," political rights for South Africa's black majority.

Few black leaders have responded to Botha's call, first made in January, and Friday he asked the country's other political parties to join the ruling National Party on a Cabinet committee preparing for the forum in the apparent hope that this would encourage black moderates to participate.

Blacks Spurn Forum

Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, leader of the liberal white opposition Progressive Federal Party, immediately agreed but said his first task would be to approach the United Democratic Front to seek its participation. "I have to do that," Slabbert told the House of Assembly, the all-white house in South Africa's new tricameral Parliament. "The UDF is a large-scale movement."

Lekota and other black spokesmen again rejected the proposed national forum as aimed at preserving apartheid and white rule and noted that many of their leaders, including 16 top officials of the United Democratic Front, are in jail, convicted or awaiting trial on political charges.

"We blacks have said very many times that the idea of a national forum--in other words, a talk shop--is just not on," Dr. Nthato Motlana, chairman of the Soweto Civic Assn., said in Johannesburg. "All South Africans know that what is urgently required is to rewrite our constitution to provide for representation of all without regard to race, creed or color."

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