Mandela set for presidency

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A Mandela presidency beckoned yesterday after the South African government confirmed that it had reached agreement with the African National Congress to push through plans for an elected black and white coalition to rule until the end of the century.

With the first all-race elections expected within 15 months, and the ANC almost certain to emerge as majority party, the stage is set for F W de Klerk to serve in a cabinet chosen by Nelson Mandela by mid-1994.

As predicted exclusively in last week's Independent on Sunday, the deputy constitutional development minister, Fanie Schoeman, said the two major political players had decided 'a government of national unity' would stay in power for five years after the


This agreement, Mr Schoeman said, would translate into a united stand when multi-party talks resume this month. Fierce opposition is expected from the white right and Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party but, as Mr Schoeman told reporters after a three-day bilateral meeting, the government and ANC were resolved to get their way. 'It's not a proposal, it's a fact. We see it as a five-year period, the ANC sees it as a five-year period.'

When black and white South Africans go to the polls, Mr Schoeman explained, they would elect a parliament with twin functions - passing laws and drafting a new constitution. The country would be run by a multi-party cabinet made up of leaders representing parties that polled a minimum of either 5 per cent or 10 per cent of the popular vote; the precise percentage remained a matter for negotiation.

The key to the agreement is a compromise founded on a shared perception that stability is a more urgent requirement than full- blooded democracy.