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)

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
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
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
Latest stories from i100
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

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride