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
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine