The cause of peaceful change in South Africa has taken a drubbing. While the government was preparing to negotiate the nation's future with the then-outlawed African National Congress, it was also subsidizing the rival Inkatha movement. The $700,000 in subsidies to which Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok admits is the smoking gun of South Africa's biggest scandal. A great deal of purposeful resolve will be needed from President F. W. De Klerk and ANC president Nelson Mandela to keep their relationship constructive.
Suspicions have rattled about for years. Many of them have to do with alleged police support for Inkatha violence against ANC members. This side of it is not as yet admitted. The scandal is growing, however, and the extent of government support of Inkatha is not yet known. Confirmation of the scandal has paralyzed South African politics. The cabinet of President F. W. De Klerk went into a three-day retreat. Mr. Vlok publicly offered to resign. In Inkatha, the leader's secretary, M. Z. Khumalo, resigned and tried to insulate the movement leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, from taint.
Inkatha and Mr. Buthelezi, the major black leader who opposed world economic sanctions against South Africa, have suffered a loss of prestige outside their population base. They may be strong as ever among the Zulus. The arguments over sanctions are moot. Sanctions are crumbling.