Buthelezi cancels talks with de Klerk

Click to follow
THE Zulu chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi plunged South Africa into renewed uncertainty yesterday when he announced that he was cutting off communications with the government and withdrawing the Inkatha Freedom Party from all further talks on the country's future. This extended to a planned meeting with President F W de Klerk tomorrow, which has now been cancelled.

The announcement came barely hours after the ink had dried on Saturday night's agreement between Mr de Klerk and Nelson Mandela for a resumption of negotiations towards non-racial elections, an interim government and a new constitution. Chief Buthelezi, warning of 'the peril' of ignoring Inkatha, said he rejected with contempt an agreement he saw as an example of what he called the government's 'connivance' with the ANC.

'My view now is that negotiations for the future constitution for South Africa cannot go ahead,' he said. Addressing a rally of 10,000 of his Zulu supporters in KwaMashu township, an ANC stronghold outside Durban, he declared: 'We reject the right of Mr de Klerk and Mr Mandela to unilaterally decide when there could be fair and free elections for any kind of interim government.'

Chief Buthelezi's move shifts him closer to the right-wing Afrikaner nationalist camp and creates a serious problem for Mr de Klerk, who counts on Inkatha as future electoral allies against the ANC; it heightens the risks of all- out bloodshed in Natal, where Inkatha is locked in an already violent power struggle with pro- ANC Zulus; and it introduces a new measure of uncertainty to the quest for peace and democracy.

Chief Buthelezi took particular offence at the government-ANC agreement to proclaim a legal ban on the carrying of dangerous weapons and measures to fence the single men's hostels, which are Inkatha's township strongholds.

Dream of empire, page 12