S. African accord irks Zulu chief Buthelezi says no to further talks with government

September 28, 1992|By Jerelyn Eddings | Jerelyn Eddings,Staff Writer

DURBAN, South Africa -- The South African reform process was dealt a blow yesterday by Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who said he would not talk with the government as long as it was making private deals with the dominant black African National Congress.

Mr. Buthelezi, leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, said he would not abide by any agreements struck between the government of President F. W. de Klerk and the ANC led by Nelson Mandela.

"Either we will have bilateral negotiations between the government and the ANC, which will lead to the victory of revolutionaries . . . or we will have multilateral negotiations leading to a fair, race-free democracy in which the ANC is one party among many," he said.

"My view now is that negotiations for the future constitution for South Africa cannot go ahead," Mr. Buthelezi said.

The Inkatha organization is the African National Congress' main black political rival, and Mr. Buthelezi was clearly angry that he was left out of the urgent meeting on violence held Saturday between Mr. de Klerk and Mr. Mandela.

ANC demands for a resumption of negotiations with the government included the disarming of the Zulus and tight security around Inkatha strongholds from which assaults against ANC supporters have been launched.

Mr. Buthelezi, whose movement represents the third biggest grouping after the ANC and the ruling National Party, has frequently warned that township violence would escalate into civil war if any attempt was made to cut him out of constitutional negotiations.

He spoke here yesterday at a rally attended by thousands of his Zulu supporters brandishing sticks, spears and shields, the objects known as "cultural weapons" and always seen at Zulu mass gatherings.

"The carrying of cultural weapons by the IFP is being defined by Mr. de Klerk and Dr. Mandela as the carrying of dangerous weapons. This is subterfuge and amounts to government support for the ANC in its vendetta against the IFP," he said to loud applause.

There had been fears that the rally would turn to violence because it was held in Kwa Mashu, an ANC stronghold. The community was tense, with a few incidents of rock-throwing between residents and Inkatha supporters, but no major outbreaks of violence were reported.

Mr. Buthelezi's comments came one day after the government and the African National Congress announced a major new agreement that ended a 3-month-old breakdown in South Africa's democracy talks. The negotiations had collapsed because of a walkout by the ANC, the country's most powerful black organization and the government's main negotiating partner.

The congress had charged that the government was not genuine about negotiations, did not want true democracy and had not made serious attempts to stop violence in black townships.

Much of the fighting in the townships has been between ANC and Inkatha supporters, and the ANC has repeatedly accused government security forces of assisting Inkatha. Almost 7,000 people have died since February 1990.

The ANC had issued a list of demands for the government to meet to prove it was serious about democracy talks, and the government met most of those demands at Saturday's meeting between Mr. Mandela and Mr. de Klerk. Their agreement included a ban on carrying dangerous weapons in public and a plan for the government to build fences around migrant-worker hostels inhabited by Zulus who have launched attacks on pro-ANC communities.

Mr. Buthelezi said that he would not honor a ban on cultural weapons and that hostel residents would tear down any fences built around them "with their bare hands if need be."

Mr. de Klerk said later in a televised interview that it was "a pity that Chief Buthelezi has reacted as he's done." He said he had consulted the Zulu leader prior to the meeting with the ANC and had planned to meet with him again this week.

Mr. de Klerk also said the only reason he was holding one-on-one meetings with the ANC was to get that organization back to the nTC multiparty talks.

In a separate interview, Mr. Mandela said talks between his organization and the government were essen- tial because "if there is no cooperation between these two parties, there can be no successful multilateral talks." He also noted that Mr. Buthelezi had held talks previously with both the government and the right-wing Conservative Party, and said that the ANC had no objection.

The Zulu leader has battled for attention ever since Mr. Mandela emerged from prison in February 1990 and was recognized by the government as the main black leader to be reckoned with.

Mr. Buthelezi has maintained that there can be no political solution for the country that does not include him and his Inkatha Party, which claims a membership of 2 million.

His movement was based originally on the concept of Zulu ethnic pride and got most of its supporters from rural areas where tribal customs remain important.

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