JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — President Pieter W. Botha and influential Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, frequent political rivals, appeared together Tuesday for the first time in more than two years to launch a multiracial regional advisory body for Natal province.
Botha described the 10-member Joint Executive Authority as an experiment "I am convinced . . . can succeed."
Buthelezi, a moderate black who has urged the government to adopt more rapid reforms, described the new body as "a significant first in South Africa." But he added that it is only the first step toward his goal of multiracial government in Natal province.
The authority, with members appointed rather than elected, will make recommendations on joint affairs of the province and Kwazulu, the black homeland of which Buthelezi is chief minister.
Talks With Moderates
Buthelezi has been involved in extensive negotiations with moderate blacks and whites in Natal with the aim of establishing a multiracial provincial government based largely on the principle of one man, one vote, effectively ensuring a black prime minister for the province and the quick repeal of most legislation enforcing apartheid there.
Under that proposal, such things as defense, security and fiscal matters would still be controlled by the central government in Pretoria. But Natal would be given authority over such sensitive matters as education, health and housing.
But so far Botha's government has declined to participate in those negotiations. Officials of the ruling National Party have said the proposal does not offer adequate protection for minority ethnic groups, such as whites.
Buthelezi and his fellow Kwazulu leaders see the Joint Executive Authority, which Botha supports, as a tentative move toward creating the multiracial legislative body he seeks.
But Botha, in his announcement Tuesday, did not indicate that the new authority is a forerunner of any multiracial regional government.
Instead, he said it is "a political reflection of a socioeconomic fact, namely the interdependence of Kwazulu and Natal." If it works, he said, similar committees may be established in other parts of the country.
Kwazulu consists of numerous small parcels of land scattered throughout Natal province. It was established under Pretoria's previous plan to keep the races separate in South Africa by setting up independent homelands for the country's 26 million blacks and leaving 87% of the country's land for the 5 million whites.
Natal province, in eastern South Africa, has about 1 million whites and 6 million blacks and Indians. The country's black majority has no vote under the system of racial separation known as apartheid.
Meanwhile, the South African police said they had detained, questioned and released the Rev. Stanley Mogoba, president of the South African Institute of Race Relations, a highly respected independent research organization.
Mogoba, who is president-elect of the Methodist Church of South Africa, is due to meet President Botha next week during a world Methodist conference here.
Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, had called Tuesday for the release of Mogoba.
"For the police to detain one of South Africa's most respected Methodist leaders on the eve of such a meeting is a blunder of major proportions, a classic example of this government's propensity to shoot itself in the foot," Tutu said in a statement issued by his office in Cape Town.
The Institute of Race Relations, based in Johannesburg, conducts research on the effects of apartheid. It publishes one of the most comprehensive annual compilations of statistics and other information on apartheid in South Africa.
Anti-apartheid groups have said that more than 25,000 people have been detained at one time or another in the 16 months since the government initiated the state of emergency.