Mandela backs Natal clampdown

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The Independent Online
PRESIDENT F W de Klerk imposed a state of emergency in Natal province and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's homeland of KwaZulu yesterday to ensure the holding of South Africa's first all-race elections on 26-28 April and curb political violence that has claimed at least 270 lives this month.

Nelson Mandela, whose African National Congress was the main victim of emergency clampdowns in the 1980s by the white government, pledged 'wholehearted support' and called on ANC members to co-operate with the security forces. Previous states of emergency were 'an instrument of maintaining oppression', but yesterday's was 'intended to save lives, to ensure free and fair elections'.

Chief Buthelezi, whose decision to boycott next month's polls sparked the violence, said the emergency was tantamount to an 'invasion' of KwaZulu, of which he is chief minister.

At least 500 troops were expected to begin deployment today, with paratroops heading for the embattled black townships around Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Eshowe. Mr Mandela said full mobilisation would start on Tuesday. Troops would enforce the emergency regulations and assume authority over the KwaZulu police, Chief Buthelezi's main armed force.

Mr de Klerk said there would be 'some form' of ban on carrying weapons in public. Marches would need approval from a magistrate. Mr Mandela said, however, that the ANC would not halt its 'rolling mass action' campaign to demand free political activity in Natal.

The President said he was forced to take the action by the worsening clashes between the ANC and Chief Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party, which he said 'seriously threaten the safety of the public'.

Mr Mandela echoed that view: 'Today's action has one purpose and one purpose only: that is to stem the tide of violence, which if left unaddressed will engulf us all.'

Buthelezi in the balance, page 12

Leading article, page 15