Chalker insists on role for Inkatha

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The Independent Online
A NEW South Africa will not come about unless Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his Inkatha Freedom Party are on board, Baroness Chalker, the Minister of Overseas Development, said in London yesterday after a three-day visit to South Africa.

If they were not involved in the multi-party talks, Inkatha and its leader would become a focus for right-wingers in South Africa, Baroness Chalker said. 'There would be a polarisation because Inkatha would unwittingly attract those who never accepted the end of apartheid.'

The minister said she had spoken to leaders from all three main parties, and was more optimistic now than a year ago, or when she visited South Africa last September, and that both the government and the African National Congress had come a long way towards establishing agreement. 'But none of it is going to work unless you've got the IFP (Inkatha) involved,' she said. She added that she had urged Chief Buthelezi to take part in the talks.

The Zulu leader has recently moved towards adopting a federal solution in South Africa, and at the end of last year he announced the Inkatha-dominated KwaZulu government had taken 'a first step in the process which will establish the state of Natal-KwaZulu as a member of a Federal Republic of South Africa'.

Elections are likely to be held in April or May next year under a proportional representation system that would guarantee seats in a transitional executive council for any party gaining more than 5 per cent of the vote. Baroness Chalker said this system would give Inkatha a lower level of representation in federal government than it would be happy with. British policy in South Africa has always tended to favour Chief Buthelezi's federal solution as opposed to the centralised government that the ANC prefers. Many English-speaking whites in South Africa also prefer Chief Buthelezi to the ANC's Nelson Mandela, and the British government has consistently heeded their views.

Baroness Chalker said she was concerned about the level of corruption and violence in South Africa and said that the local disputes committees were gaining a reputation for being able to resolve quarrels and should be strengthened.

Earlier this week, in an indirect appeal to the Clinton administration to speed up the removal of restrictions on South African access to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the Foreign Office called on all parties in South Africa to 'ensure that all remaining obstacles to the lifting of sanctions are removed so as to enable the international community to respond at the earliest opportunity'.

Britain, along with the European Community, has already lifted all economic and financial sanctions on South Africa. But the United States still has some sanctions in place, including opposition to South African access to the international financial institutions. The ANC has called for the lifting of sanctions when a date is agreed for elections, and a transitional executive council is established and a Transition to Democracy Act is passed.