ANC dons gloves for poll fight

THE African National Congress (ANC) held a US-style electoral fund-raiser in Soweto yesterday, complete with international celebrities from such disparate disciplines as boxing and chess, in celebration of the imminent demise of white minority rule.

The US boxer Riddick Bowe, the world heavyweight champion, and the former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov were among 500 guests from all around the world. Bowe, who arrived at the event with his personal television crew, said he sought to provide the ANC with more than symbolic muscle.

'If by chance the negotiations don't go well, I am a fighter and a champion and I am prepared to go to the bush with you to make them succeed,' he told the International Solidarity Conference.

The chances that Bowe's pugilistic services might be required had receded considerably 24 hours earlier, however, when the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) ended a three-day meeting with a victory for moderates pushing not for immediate majority rule, but for a coalition government to rule South Africa for the first five years after the first multi-racial elections.

Open dissent earlier this week by hardliners within the organisation, especially from the radical Natal branches, was squashed at the meeting. Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC's Secretary-General and chief negotiator, said the NEC had unanimously endorsed preliminary agreements in discussions with the government for an interim government of national unity to serve for up to five years after elections, expected to be held in about 12 months.

Eager not to be seen to be capitulating to the government, he said that the ANC had rejected the government's formula for power-sharing which, he claimed, included a demand for a minority veto. To this the government's chief negotiator, Roelf Meyer, the Constitutional Development Minister, said: 'I can't see what is the difference between power-sharing and a government of national unity.' The chief government spokesman, Dave Steward, said the differences between the sides amounted to 'semantics'.

Oliver Tambo, who in the absence of Nelson Mandela through illness delivered the keynote speech at yesterday's conference, indicated just how close, in fact, the ANC and government visions were. He said the ANC's central concern today was with national unity and nation-building. Mr Tambo said the ANC had to ensure 'the oppressors' were freed from their 'guilt-ridden fear of retribution'.

A brochure from Mr Mandela distributed to the conference delegates said that to fight the elections freely and fairly the ANC could well need in excess of R130m rand ( pounds 30m). Should Mike Tyson win his appeal and get out of jail, Riddick Bowe's income from the expected fight should cover that amount comfortably.

Mr Meyer said after a three-day meeting with the Inkatha Freedom Party in Natal that Inkatha leaders had requested that the multi-party planning conference, planned to start on 25 February, be delayed until 5 March. The ANC and the government had agreed, Mr Meyer said.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border