ANC and Inkatha agree to work for poll peace: Buthelezi and Mandela extol 'friendship and love' but Zulu chief says he is not ready to join election

MANGOSUTHU Buthelezi, the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, went into a meeting with Nelson Mandela yesterday morning snarling, warning of war, and walked out nine hours later smiling, committed to peace and freedom of political expression.

He said he was not ready, however, to take part in South Africa's first democratic elections next month.

Mr Mandela, the president of the African National Congress, had said before the meeting that he was prepared to go down on his knees before Chief Buthelezi to prevent bloodshed. Metaphorically, that was what Mr Mandela did.

Identifying Chief Buthelezi's complex personality as the cog around which the Inkatha machine turns, the ANC president mollified, praised and soothed, eventually persuading him to agree to what amounted to a peace treaty.

In a joint statement released after the all-day meeting at Durban's Royal Hotel, the two leaders said their two parties 'recognised the right of people to participate or not to participate in the forthcoming general elections'.

'After a constructive exchange of views,' the statement went on, 'the parties agreed to work together to ensure that canvassing for respective views should be able to take place without let or hindrance'.

This went to the very heart of the dilemma in Natal province, where there is fear that Inkatha, still refusing to take part in the elections, will mount a violent campaign against the ANC.

Amid substantial evidence that white right-wingers are training Inkatha Zulus to wage war against ANC Zulus - the latter being in the majority in Natal - the spectre has been raised time and again of civil war.

On paper at least, as satisfied ANC officials remarked yesterday evening, Inkatha is now committed to ceasing hostilities against people who campaign for the ANC.

Yesterday's statement went further, Chief Buthelezi having said that Inkatha would consider 'provisional registration' for the elections. International mediation was also raised as an option to resolve outstanding differences. Although no details were provided as to who the mediators might be, Chief Buthelezi pointed out that he and Mr Mandela had received a joint message of encouragement from Bill Clinton and John Major before yesterday's meeting.

Questioned, however, as to whether he had undergone a dramatic change of heart and had decided now to take part in the elections, Chief Buthelezi replied: 'Definitely not' and 'not at all'. If Inkatha decided provisionally to register, it was only in order to leave the door open in case the ANC made sufficient constitutional concessions in the coming weeks to persuade them to take part in the poll. This, in essence, meant granting Natal de facto sovereignty, as Chief Buthelezi made clear in an address he delivered at the start of the meeting yesterday morning.

Berating Mr Mandela for having engaged in 'farce' with his 'so- called concessions' 10 days ago, he defined his chief demand as 'Zulu sovereignty'. The alternative - even if most Zulus do not share his wish - was 'disaster' and 'a potent mix for increased violence'.

Not long into the meeting, however, Chief Buthelezi and Mr Mandela withdrew from their delegations and disappeared for a private exchange in an upstairs hotel room. When they re-emerged 45 minutes later they were smiling and holding hands. In fact, they held hands for two minutes before the cameras and then strolled down a 30-yard corridor, still holding hands.

Back inside the chamber with the delegations, Mr Mandela, according to an ANC insider, delivered a 20-minute eulogy of the Inkatha leaders. 'Buthelezi was almost reduced to tears,' the source said.

When the two leaders appeared before the cameras again at the evening press conference, the smiles remained as broad as they had been in the morning. Mr Mandela spoke of 'my friend Chief Buthelezi'; 'in spite of all our political differences we are very close friends,' he said; the meeting had been 'harmonious', 'fruitful', 'unforgettable'.

Chief Buthelezi began the press conference in slightly less generous mood. But by the end he said the encounter had been characterised by 'friendship and love'.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on Scotland's oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
News
news

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballThe latest scores and Twitter updates from tonight’s games, featuring Bayern Munich vs Man City and Chelsea vs Schalke
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
i100
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

Extras
10 best table lamps
indybest
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

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

English Teacher (Bristol and South Gloucestershire)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: English teachers for day to day cover,...

Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 6 Teacher RequiredThis teaching...

SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's Stortford / Stansted

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week