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Unrest Not Over Yet, South Africans Say : Racial strife: Both left-wing blacks and right-wing whites are critical of ANC-government accord.

August 08, 1990|SCOTT KRAFT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PRETORIA, South Africa — The suspension of the African National Congress' 30-year-old guerrilla war was warmly welcomed here Tuesday as an important symbolic breakthrough for hopes of racial reconciliation, but political analysts said it will not be enough to douse the unrest immediately.

Andre du Toit, a professor of political studies at the University of Cape Town, said, "I'm not sure how long it will take for what was decided in Pretoria to percolate and make a difference in Crossroads (a scene of recent unrest near Cape Town), but I certainly don't think it will happen tomorrow."

The police found the bodies of two gunshot victims Tuesday in the black township of Sebokeng, the scene of factional fighting about 30 miles south of Johannesburg. And a day earlier, as the ANC and the government were meeting, more than a dozen people were killed in township clashes west of Johannesburg.

The ANC's agreement on ending military action, announced early Tuesday after 14 hours of talks with the government, was received favorably for the most part.

"I'm deeply thrilled . . . in the seventh heaven of delight," Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu said. Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner and anti-apartheid campaigner, had been criticized by the ANC in the past for refusing to endorse its armed campaign.

The government expressed hope that constitutional negotiations could begin early next year.

But the accord was sharply criticized by left-wing blacks as well as right-wing whites, two groups the government and the ANC need to bring to the negotiating table for talks on a new constitution. The government says it is prepared to grant the black majority voting rights and to dismantle remaining apartheid legislation that makes for segregated neighborhoods and schools.

The ANC characterized the suspension of its armed struggle as a major concession, pointing out that the government had not yet fully met its pre-negotiation demands.

For example, although the accord outlines a procedure for identifying and releasing political prisoners, one of the ANC's central demands, the first of those prisoners will not be freed until Sept. 1. And indemnity for tens of thousands of exiles will not be granted until after Oct. 1 under the plan.

The unrest, which can be traced to a variety of factors, has escalated sharply since the ban on the ANC and other anti-apartheid organizations was lifted Feb. 2.

Fighting between supporters of Nelson Mandela's ANC and Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi's Inkatha organization, which has claimed about 3,000 lives in the last three years in Natal province, has in recent weeks spread to Johannesburg-area townships.

Nearly 30 years of ideological disagreement between the ANC and its leftist rival, the Pan-Africanist Congress, has also triggered violence in some townships. Although the two organizations have tried to stop these outbreaks, the PAC still accuses the ANC of selling out for negotiating with the government, and it is gaining support among young radicals who agree.

"Now that the ANC has become part of the negotiating process, it is clearly going to be more vulnerable to charges that it is compromising and collaborating," Du Toit, the Cape Town professor, said.

The PAC refused Tuesday to relinquish its own, smaller military effort until the government agrees to a redistribution of the country's wealth and the election of a constituent assembly to draw up a new constitution.

PAC leader Zeph Mothopeng said his organization "is not bound by (the ANC) decision," adding: "We have no option but to remain committed to the continuation and intensification of the struggle on all fronts and in all forms."

The ANC's armed struggle, directed by commanders of the 6,000-man Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), has been largely dormant for nearly a year. Although bombs have been set off periodically across the country this year, most appear to have been the work of small groups of radical left-wing blacks or right-wing whites.

Police say the number of acts of terror committed by the ANC fell from a high of 281 in 1988 to only 32 in 1989.

The Conservative Party, the government's right-wing white opposition in Parliament, scoffed at the ANC-government agreement Tuesday, saying the ANC was interested only in "a surrender of power or a seizure of power." Again, the party refused to take part in talks.

"If the talks are about negotiating ourselves out of political power and out of our own land, then you won't find us there at the table," Conservative leader Andries Treurnicht said.

The ANC has said it is committed to the peace process, but it warned Tuesday that the military wing would remain in place--just in case.

"We're using the word 'suspension' deliberately but we are hoping there will be no need to resume (the armed struggle)," ANC Secretary General Alfred Nzo said.

Joe Slovo, another member of the ANC's five-man negotiating team, said, "There is nothing in the law to make it a crime to operate secretly."

Both the ANC and its ally, the South African Communist Party, have carried out some secret operations. But Slovo said "there will be no further infiltration of combat formations and of weapons into the country."

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