South Africa's history has been so bloody that it would be naive to believe the peace plan signed a week ago will be a panacea. Nevertheless, the agreement hammered out in excruciatingly difficult talks over the past months between the white minority government and more than 20 anti-apartheid groups is an unprecedented attempt to end the current strife which, with proven government complicity, has cost thousands of lives.
Peace deserves a chance in South Africa. Although an orderly transition from more than four decades of apartheid rule will be a drawn-out proposition at best, the fate of that very process hinges on the success of the new peace plan. After all, the ZTC government and the two other main signatories, the African National Congress and the Zulu-dominated Inkatha Freedom Party, are supposed to be principals in coming constitutional negotiations to dismantle apartheid and extend voting rights to South Africa's black majority.
Under the truce agreement, Inkatha, the ANC and the government pledged to end the use of violence and inflammatory language against opponents. The signatories also promised to refrain from provocative public displays of arms and adhere to a new code of conduct for political parties and security forces.