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6 Officials Quit in S. Africa Homeland Scandal

September 25, 1987|Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Six Cabinet ministers in the South African black homeland of Transkei resigned Thursday because of an investigation into corruption that implicated the prime minister, Transkei officials said.

For several hours, South Africa's state radio reported that Transkei's military had seized control of the nominally independent homeland and placed at least eight Cabinet ministers under house arrest. The South African Broadcasting Corp. later revised its report and said no coup had occurred.

The broadcast organization said that Prime Minister George Matanzima was outside the homeland Thursday receiving medical treatment in the city of Port Elizabeth.

Matanzima was accused last week of accepting a $500,000 bribe. The South African Broadcasting Corp. report said new corruption allegations were lodged against Matanzima on Thursday, and other reports indicated he would not be permitted to continue in office.

Transkei's president, Tutor Ndamase, said a tribal chief had been given temporary command of the prime minister's office. Ndamase's position is considered less powerful than that of the prime minister.

The South African Broadcasting Corp. and the independent South African Press Assn. said Transkei soldiers set up roadblocks throughout the homeland and searched all government vehicles.

Transkei is one of four black homelands declared independent by the South African government. No other countries recognize them as separate nations.

Transkei, which lies along the Indian Ocean between the port cities of Durban and East London, has a population of about 3.3 million, mostly members of the Xhosa tribe. It was designated as independent by South Africa in 1976 and is the oldest and largest of the four nominally independent homelands.

The South African Press Assn. said that Transkei security police banned all political meetings in the homeland through next Wednesday. Leaders of the governing National Independence Party had planned to meet Monday, and a special session of Parliament was scheduled for Wednesday, reportedly to seek Matanzima's resignation.

The South African government has come under fire recently from critics who say the homeland system is rife with corruption and mismanagement that is wasting substantial amounts of the large subsidies provided by South Africa. In 1986-87, South Africa provided more than 60% of Transkei's $450 million revenues.

Last week, a white business consultant testified before an official Transkei inquiry commission that he had paid Matanzima a $500,000 bribe on behalf of a construction company that was awarded a $15-million contract for building 800 houses in Transkei.

The South African Broadcasting Corp. said the six Cabinet ministers and two deputy ministers resigned after "serious allegations of corruption." Those resigning were the ministers of agriculture, commerce, interior, transport, justice and local government.

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