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S. Africa Outlook Grim, Tutu Says : Peace Hopes Dimmed by Botha Speech

August 17, 1985|MICHAEL PARKS | Times Staff Writer

The country's four major business groups, representing Afrikaners, English and blacks, expressed their sharp disappointment with Botha's failure to put into action his announced commitment to reforms and his refusal to declare the government's intention to end apartheid.

Both industry and commerce see an urgent need to go faster and further than Botha plans, the organizations said, stressing the urgent need not just to open a dialogue with the black community but to show "concrete results" as well.

The English-language newspaper Business Day went further and called in an unprecedented front-page editorial for Botha's resignation, saying he is "part of the problems of this country, not of the solutions," and had shown himself to be nothing but "a hick politician" incapable of statesmanship in his handling of the current crisis.

On the Johannesburg money market, the South African rand dropped to its lowest level ever against the American dollar, falling 13% in an hour from 44.5 U.S. cents to 38.5 cents before rising again to close at about 42 cents.

Moderate black politicians, the leaders with whom Botha said he wants to work out a power-sharing arrangement for the future, were also critical, saying that Botha's flat refusal to commit himself to ending apartheid had cut the ground from beneath them and made negotiations all but impossible.

Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, leader of the Zulu tribe, the nation's largest group of blacks, said that without a "declaration of intent" to end apartheid, there is no way he or other black moderates could open discussions with Botha. Buthelezi also said that unless the government releases Mandela, the African National Congress leader, such talks would never win black public acceptance.

Even Lennox Sebe, president of Ciskei, a rural tribal homeland whose "independence" is recognized only by South Africa, declared angrily that Botha seemed determined to turn black moderates into radicals with an approach that fails, despite many promises, to meet the needs of blacks and assuage their anger.

"The troubles we have had in the past will seem like a Sunday picnic if they do this," Sebe warned in Bishio, the Ciskeian capital outside King William's Town. "When the moment of truth arrived, not even one of the most moderate expectations were met. . . . Do not play games with the lives of people. While you are indulging in your political fun and games, other people are engaged in a struggle for life and death."

In Lusaka, Zambia, a spokesman for the outlawed African National Congress asserted that Botha's failure to outline a program of reform and to launch immediate, open-ended negotiations with black leaders would fuel the flames of revolt within South Africa.

"This will only add to the determination to make apartheid unworkable and the country ungovernable," Tom Sebina, an ANC information officer, said by telephone. "The armed struggle continues, and will grow."

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