A meeting in SA is the message

NELSON MANDELA and Mangosuthu Buthelezi, presidents of the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party, met yesterday. And that, in itself, was the most significant thing that happened.

At a press conference yesterday evening the two leaders, egged on by their mediator Archbishop Desmond Tutu, each insisted on four different occasions that 'the very fact' that they had met indicated a breakthrough of sorts had been achieved. Another expression they used almost as frequently was 'sticking points', various of which remained despite wide-ranging discussion. In particular on the question of an election date, to which Chief Buthelezi refused to commit himself despite attempts at compromise by Mr Mandela and delegates accompanying him.

The meeting, which lasted 10 hours, was the first between the two leaders for two and a half years, a period which has seen the violence between their supporters - fuelled frequently by elements in the security forces - continue unabated. At least 10,000 people have died in the eight years of conflict between the ANC and Inkatha.

As happened in the first meeting, on 29 January 1991, Mr Mandela and Chief Buthelezi deplored the killings, smiled and shook hands for the cameras, referred to each other as 'my brother' and said the time had come to bury the past. They spoke of 'progress' and they made general commitments to urge their supporters to stop carrying dangerous weapons. They also said they planned to speak together to their supporters from the same platform. And they underlined their belief in the principle of free political activity.

But Chief Buthelezi said: 'I don't think either of us believe the violence will disappear overnight.' He was eager, he added, not to raise any false hopes. As to the question of holding South Africa's first democratic elections on 27 April next year, as proposed by the ANC and the government in multi-party negotiations, to this he could not agree. A federal constitution had to be in place first.

Ominously, he warned that the lesson of the elections in Angola, to which the loser - Jonas Savimbi - responded with a resumption of war, showed that the vote in itself was no panacea.

The ANC, according to insiders at the talks, offered the Inkatha leader a semantic compromise. Would he agree to a joint statement endorsing the election date pending agreement on constitutional matters? No, he would not.

Tomorrow is the deadline negotiators at the multi-party talks have set themselves for ratification of the 27 April date. There is a special urgency on this matter because on 4 July Mr Mandela and President F W de Klerk will be sharing a platform in Philadelphia with President Bill Clinton. It had been Mr Mandela's hope that, with an election date clinched, he would be in a position to use the occasion to call on the US and the rest of the international community to call off sanctions against South Africa. Doubts over the election might make the ANC leader pause.

The trial of Janus Walus, and Gaye and Clive Derby-Lewis for the murder of the ANC leader Chris Hani was postponed at the Supreme Court in Johannesburg yesterday until 4 October. Despite strenuous objections from the state prosecutor, the judge decided after two and a half hours of argument to accede to the defence request for the postponement.

Dangerous myth, page 26

(Photograph omitted)

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
Jonathan de Guzman of the Netherlands and Willian of Brazil compete for the ball
world cup 2014LIVE BLOG: Hosts Brazil take on the Netherlands in third-place play-off
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice