CLERMONT, South Africa — Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, in his harshest warning yet to South Africa's white-led minority government, said Sunday that blacks' impatience is growing and apartheid must be ended quickly if greater bloodshed is to be averted here.
"If destiny calls on us to fight and die, we will fight and die," Buthelezi said, recalling the Zulus' warrior tradition on the anniversary of the death of the great 19th-Century Zulu king, Shaka. "We are not afraid to die for things our ancestors died for. . . . Let no one harbor any illusion that we are afraid to die for things that are honorable."
Force for Moderation
As the chief of 7 million Zulus, South Africa's largest ethnic group, and president of Inkatha, a large, predominantly Zulu political movement, Buthelezi is one of South Africa's most powerful black leaders. He has long been regarded by many whites as a force for moderation within the black community.
His warning Sunday appeared intended to remind whites that moderate black leaders feel they are nearing the limits of what they can do unless President Pieter W. Botha and his ruling National Party agree to fundamental reforms, including abolition of apartheid and full black political representation in the government.
Dressed in the leopard skins of a Zulu chief, Buthelezi told a rally of about 8,000 supporters outside Durban: "It is the black people of South Africa who are the poorest of the poor. It is the black people who are the most oppressed. It is the black people who suffer pain and tragedy more than most. All this thrusts a responsibility on black people to do something--and do it soon--about this hideous state of affairs."
Yet Buthelezi, long at odds with more militant black leaders, also warned the African National Congress, the United Democratic Front coalition of anti-apartheid groups and his other critics that he will not be pushed into a more radical stance and will continue to seek a political accommodation with the country's white minority, even if it initially falls short of the ideal of one-man, one-vote.
"We claim our right as South Africans to pursue the nonviolent tactics and strategies that have always been pursued in the black struggle for liberation," he said. "Let none dare divert us. . . . If some force an eye-for-an-eye and a tooth-for-a-tooth philosophy on us, then they will see that this philosophy settles easily on our shoulders when we are confronted with enemies who give us no choice."
Political feuding between Inkatha members and supporters of the African National Congress has claimed more than 200 lives during the past two years, according to local political observers, and Sunday's rally in a stronghold of the United Democratic Front had heavy police protection after recent clashes in the area.
Buthelezi denounced at length and by name Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Rev. Allan Boesak, a founder of the United Democratic Front and a leading anti-apartheid campaigner, and the Rev. C. F. Beyers Naude, general secretary of the South African Council of Churches.
And in even harsher terms than heretofore, he denounced the African National Congress, the United Democratic Front and the Congress of South African Trade Unions as responsible for an almost fratricidal war within the black community that nowadays is claiming as many lives as are lost in clashes by blacks with the police.