JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — President Pieter W. Botha announced Thursday that he will convene a special session of Parliament in August to enact long-promised reforms to ease racial segregation and give the black majority a voice in national decision-making.
Botha, disclosing the government's first timetable for reforms, said the focus of the unprecedented special session will be the establishment of a "national council" to work out a new constitution. He said the council will include black leaders as well as whites, Indians and mixed-race Coloreds.
Also on the parliamentary agenda, Botha said, will be legislation to reorganize local and provincial governments to give urban blacks effective management of their communities and put their representatives into higher bodies.
The government is also committed to repealing laws that for decades have prevented blacks from moving into urban areas and have required them to carry government passes that allow them to enter cities legally reserved for whites. And it has promised to enact legislation permitting blacks to own their homes and businesses.
Party Resistance Seen
But Botha, speaking to Parliament's all-white House of Assembly in Cape Town, gave no new information on any of the various reforms he has proposed over the past year and a half and which he outlined again when Parliament convened in January.
This led his critics to conclude that the 70-year-old president is facing strong resistance in his National Party to some of the reform measures and that he fears the growing white backlash after months of black protests here.
"His speech was a great disappointment," said Colin Eglin, leader of the liberal white opposition Progressive Federal Party. "It has taken us no further."
Not only did Botha provide no details of the reform program, Eglin and other critics said, but he effectively delayed legislative action on it by four months until the divided Nationalists can hold a rare party congress to discuss the measures before Parliament reconvenes.
Botha said, "I believe that a national council in which the leaders of all our communities meet on a fixed basis can contribute much to create a climate in which they can work together with great success on the establishment of a new constitutional dispensation that would make provision for the participation by all South Africans."
Rejected by Blacks
He described the council as "not an end but a means" to construct "a new South Africa." But he excluded from the council's agenda any one-man, one-vote system for majority rule, and barred the outlawed African National Congress, which has the support of many blacks, from the discussions. The two conditions led virtually all black leaders here to reject the proposed council even before it is established.
"In practice, Africa has taught us that (majority rule) means the dictatorship of the most powerful black group," Botha said, defending his hard-line position. "In the case of the Republic of South Africa, it would mean a fiercer struggle and even more bloodshed than is experienced at present."
Botha, according to Nationalist members of Parliament, envisions development of a federal system composed of various geographic and ethnic units. In such a system, blacks, who number 25 million, might have an equal voice with the country's 5 million whites, who would retain an effective veto in the name of "self-determination" and "minority group rights" over any move by the majority inside the government.
Botha, appearing alternately belligerent and beleaguered, also spoke at length about the threat his regime faces not only from the African National Congress, the main guerrilla group fighting minority white rule, but also from Libya, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Soviet Union and other Communist countries.
Libyan Training Charged
Citing South African intelligence reports, he alleged that Libya has trained several hit squads recruited among radical South African Muslims. He noted that 12 members of one such squad had been uncovered while boarding a plane in Athens for Harare, the capital of neighboring Zimbabwe.
Two Libyan-trained guerrillas belonging to the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania were arrested recently in South Africa, Botha said, adding that they were part of a contingent of 150 trained in Libya.
He appealed to South African groups--the Progressive Federal Party, Catholic bishops, labor union federations--that have begun to meet African National Congress officials regularly in Zambia and Zimbabwe to be wary.
"The African National Congress is only using such rapprochement to promote its own legitimacy in South Africa and abroad," he said. "It is not interested in negotiations and in a settlement. It regards itself as the 'only alternative government' for South Africa. Its purpose is to take over power in South Africa at any cost."
Meanwhile, at least three people were reported killed in continuing civil unrest. Two youths, and perhaps as many as five, were beaten and stoned to death in a black township outside Port Elizabeth, according to residents, after the youths had burned a butcher shop, a cobbler's shop and a dry cleaner's shop. A 22-year-old black student died in police detention outside Nelspruit in eastern Transvaal province.