Blacks lay gentlemanly siege to Pretoria: Mandela and De Klerk agree peace formula as TEC holds inaugural meeting

BLACK South Africa stormed the citadels of Pretoria yesterday in the gentlest possible way and with the most peaceful of intentions.

Nelson Mandela visited South Africa's seat of power, the Union Buildings, for four hours of talks with President F W de Klerk to try to come up with a formula to end the violence in Katlehong and Thokoza, the two bloodiest townships in the country.

After the meeting, in a vision of what may come after the April elections, the President of the African National Congress addressed reporters in an elegant courtyard outside the presidential office. Mr de Klerk, South Africa's likely vice- president in the post-electoral coalition government, stood one step behind him. Mr Mandela said 'very encouraging progress' had been made and Mr de Klerk, a picture of politeness, nodded. Each agreed, too, that the violence would not prevent South Africa's first democratic elections on 27 April. They were confident that new peace proposals they had discussed would enable the whole country to participate in a free and fair poll.

The two leaders had, however, reached a gentleman's agreement not to reveal what the proposals were. They are to meet again in a week and promised that, in due course, 'very strong action' would be taken.

Half an hour later, the multi-racial Transitional Executive Council (TEC) occupied a bank in Pretoria, an 18-floor building which will serve as the council's headquarters until the day before the elections.

The faces at the TEC's inaugural meeting in Pretoria were much the same as those who spent two years negotiating the new constitution at Johannesburg's World Trade Centre. Prominent among these were Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC Secretary-General who narrowly escaped injury in a shooting in Katlehong on Sunday, and Roelf Meyer, the Minister of Constitutional Development.

The aim of the TEC, South Africa's first experiment in power-sharing, is to work in conjunction with the government to pave the way for successful elections. Assisting the TEC, which is to meet twice a week, are seven sub-councils attending to, among other things, state finances, foreign affairs, intelligence and the security forces. There is also a management committee and an interim party liaison committee.

Unfortunately, proceedings were delayed yesterday by the failure of the building's only photocopying machine. The meeting started half an hour late and, after 30 minutes of procedural debate, was adjourned for a further 90 minutes. One issue on the agenda eventually addressed with some success was the township violence, the TEC having agreed to appoint a special task force to examine the situation in Katlehong and Thokoza, where 1,800 have died since May last year.

The thornier question of what to do about Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who rejects the jurisdiction of the TEC, was deferred until today. The Inkatha leader himself, however, jumped the gun yesterday to issue his now customary war warnings.

The issue at stake will test whether the TEC proves to be - as Chief Buthelezi hopes it will - a toothless tiger. At the first meetings of the TEC in Cape Town in December, an order was sent to the KwaZulu government, over which Inkatha rules unopposed, to disclose information about hit squads known to be operating within the KwaZulu police force. Chief Buthelezi, who counts Minister of Police among his many titles, refused and so far has not been persuaded to change his mind.

The TEC also ordered the South African Police (SAP) to take over the functions of the KwaZulu Police in KwaZulu areas where Inkatha is allegedly conducting a reign of terror against ANC supporters. But Mr de Klerk's Minister of Law and Order, Hernus Kriel, has taken no action yet. Today Mr Kriel is expected to appear before the TEC to explain himself.

Anticipating that Mr Kriel would do what he was told, the Inkatha leader said yesterday that entry by the SAP into KwaZulu without his agreement would be regarded as 'an invasion'. 'The KwaZulu government will therefore not hold itself responsible for the consequences which may ensue,' Chief Buthelezi said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas