The Kissinger Mission

April 13, 1994

When a distinguished international blue ribbon panel was finally called in to mediate South Africa's internal dispute in ZTC advance of elections, it was a dispute between two black political parties, not between the old white power structure and the racially dispossessed.

And it was for this that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger returned to international diplomacy and public life after 17 years in the private sector as a business consultant and pundit.

Mr. Kissinger leads a team of seven distinguished figures who command respect, including Lord Carrington, the former British defense and foreign secretary, and A. Leon Higginbotham, a leading African-American jurist who has retired as chief judge of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

What they can accomplish before the elections of April 26-28 is difficult to imagine. Mangosuthu G. Buthelezi, who is prime minister of the KwaZulu homeland, leader of South Africa's Inkatha Freedom Party and a hereditary Zulu chief, has refused to enter the election and ordered a boycott of it. He is joined by his nephew, Goodwill Zwelethini, king of the Zulus. They demand either a sovereign Zulu kingdom (King Goodwill) or a federal system with strong provincial authority (Mr. Buthelezi).

The Afrikaner white power structure through the white National Party government long supported Zulu power against the pretensions of the African National Congress to represent all blacks. But now it is engaged in arranging a peaceful transfer of power to blacks through the ANC. It has always stood for strong central authority. So, now, does Nelson Mandela, head of the ANC, who expects to lead the country after the election.

Mr. Kissinger and his colleagues will be mediating a constitutional compromise, if possible, between Mr. Mandela and Mr. Buthelezi. The election is for a transitional government to last five years and a national assembly that will serve both as parliament and constitutional convention. Both men are sophisticated negotiators, and were the difference between them splitable, they would probably have split it by now. The time is short, the election almost at hand.

Mr. Buthelezi cannot stop the election, even in Natal. What he can and probably will succeed in doing is prevent it in the rural parts of KwaZulu within Natal. An ANC national government under Mr. Mandela will almost certainly be elected. Then it would be too late for Mr. Buthelezi to bargain with Mr. Mandela as an equal. If he wants to do that, he had better make the most of Mr. Kissinger's good offices.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.