Apartheid Is Dead

September 09, 1993

American law-makers, pension directors, investors and corporate officials had better start now to dismantle the cumbersome apparatus of South Africa divestment and boycott. The African National Congress will soon ask those in the world community who have imposed sanctions to reverse course.

What brought this to pass is the speech by ANC leader Nelson Mandela that he expects the ANC to ask for the lifting of sanctions very soon. Many observers expect that by the end of the month. It would likely be keyed to passage in South Africa's parliament of the transitional measures agreed to in multi-party talks for an interim regime before the multi-racial elections in April.

As early as the end of next month, South Africa will have a multi-racial Transitional Executive Council that will have veto power over government actions and watchdog authority over all government activity including security forces. For those who wondered if South Africa would ever really switch from white rule to one-person-one-vote, this is the point of no return and the reason for ending what's left of sanctions.

The agreement represents the ability of the government of the white National Party and the ANC representing most black people to produce compromise and consensus in their relationship. The bus is leaving the station. President F. W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela are driving the bus. They are steering pretty much in the same direction. Their differences have proved reconcilable so far.

Most of the parties in the multi-party talks have signed onto the agreement. The Pan Africanist Congress, which is more militant than the ANC and has taken credit for anti-white terrorism, abstained. So did a white supremacist party called Afrikaner-Volksbunie.

The largest white resistance group, the Conservative Party, boycotted the talks that reached the agreement. So did the Inkatha Freedom Party of Mangosuthu Buthelezi, which claims the loyalty of many Zulu people in Natal and in workers' dormitories near Johannesburg. One reason for their jointly opposing the April 27 national election is that they might fare poorly in it. But they also have to decide whether to be in the Transitional Executive Council, or out.

This transition in South Africa has one important feature in common with the end of the Cold War (which helped to make it possible) and to the embryonic peace in the Middle East: It is the real thing, ending the old order, leaving the new up for grabs. Apartheid, as a legal system and government, is dead.

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