Mandela in plea to white voters

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The Independent Online
PRESIDENT NELSON Mandela used the last day of campaigning for tomorrow's South African elections to urge whites to "become part of the majority" by voting for the African National Congress rather than the "Mickey Mouse parties" courting them.

With up to 2 million people estimated still to be undecided, many of them apparently whites, President Mandela told voters at an upmarket Johannesburg shopping mall: "Don't be marginalised. Please become part of the majority and this country will become even more of a miracle." Whites represent about 16 per cent of the 38 million population but remain in an overwhelming majority in the highest income group.

They have been courted in a fierce battle between half a dozen parties whose strongest argument has been that the ANC must be prevented from obtaining a two-thirds majority (66 per cent of the vote).

In opinion polls, the ANC, which remains largely a black party, is predicted to win between 59 and 69 per cent in tomorrow's national ballot.

With 75 per cent of votes in parliament - not two-thirds as is often claimed - key elements of the constitution can be changed, such as the control of the central bank and the composition of the judiciary.

"Mugabe has two-thirds" - a reference to the decaying state of Zimbabwe - has been one of the slogans of the New National Party (NNP), former leader of the apartheid state.

Rejuvenated by the addition of the word "new" and the leadership of the boyish Mathinus von Schalkwyk, the NNP nevertheless appears to have lost ground. But it may win the provincial elections in the Western Cape where it has strong support among "coloured" (mixed-race) voters.

In an election in which most parties remain racially drawn, those courting the white vote play on fear of crime, calling for the return of the death penalty and stiffer sentences. But the respected conservative Business Day newspaper yesterday advised its readers to vote ANC.

The "white parties" have been said to be aiming at "the gatvol vote" (fed-up in Afrikaans) and were urged this weekend by the leader of the Democratic Party (DP), Tony Leon, to join an "opposition conference" after the election.

Mr Leon, whose party is the old home of the liberal anti-apartheid activist, Helen Suzman, sees himself as the leader of the "official opposition" after the election. His party is seen as appealing to rich whites.

The DP - whose slogan is "the guts to fight back" - has moved further to the right as the campaign has progressed. Nationally, with a predicted score of between 7 and 9 per cent, it still has a chance to overtake the NNP.

Afrikaners, who are represented in all income groups and are traditionally the farm owners of South Africa, may produce some of the most interesting voting statistics.

An ANC activist in the Western Cape said she had received membership applications from young Afrikaners who no longer want to be associated with the National Party of their parents' generation.

They are not only being wooed by the NNP and more hardline Freedom Front but also by the United Democratic Movement (UDM), the only overtly multi- racial party.

Six-months old and led by a black former ANC cabinet minister, Bantu Holomisa, the UDM appeals to Afrikaners through its deputy president, Roelf Meyer, a former minister under apartheid who credits the ANC veteran- turned-businessman, Cyril Ramaphosa, with his conversion from racialism. But the UDM has suffered from a lack of funding.

The Blood in the Rainbow, Review Front

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