Conflict over Zulu police is averted

South Africa averted a potentially dangerous confrontation with Zulus in its divided police force yesterday, but storm clouds in KwaZulu/Natal province are still building up for President Nelson Mandela's government of national unity.

Tension eased after KwaZulu/Natal's administration backed down on a politically charged plan to allow 500 mostly Zulu cadets to graduate into its provincial force after allegations that more than a dozen had criminal records.

KwaZulu/Natal is the only province run by Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party, the chief rival among black South Africans to Mr Mandela's African National Congress. Many in the ANC believed the cadets were linked to Inkatha gangs.

"Inkatha have lost the skirmish, but it was just a skirmish, a shot across the bows. There will be more," said the political editor of a newspaper in Durban, capital of KwaZulu/Natal.

Violence reminiscent of ANC-Inkatha troubles before last April's multi-racial elections has begun to return to the province, with 130 people dying in January, according to Durban anthropologist Mary de Haas.

Analysts say the key issue is Mr Buthelezi's desire to retain maximum power in Kwa-Zulu/Natal, an ambition threatened by a new independence being shown by the Zulu king, and local elections due in October.

Mr Buthelezi is also Minister of Home Affairs in the government of national unity, but cabinet sources say he is having trouble juggling that responsibility with his need to keep his home base secure. "It's make-or-break year for Buthelezi. He's desperate. While he is screaming for international mediation and federalism, his real aim is autonomy and total power," said Mrs de Haas.

Mr Buthelezi is insisting on a constitutional role for his pro-Inkatha network of Zulu chiefs, which he says is guaranteed by a reference in the transitional constitution to the need to respect tradition.

Mr Buthelezi's threat to October's local elections is perhaps the most serious problem. Inkatha chiefs could prevent 2.7 million of the 4.5 million people in the region from voting, which would raise serious problems of legitimacy and could even fan separatist ideas.

"We say that we must make the chiefs compatible with modern democracy. But the ANC says they only want only democracy ... that won't work," said the Inkatha secretary-general, Ziba Jiyane. He pointed out that in theory, the government had no say over Kwa-Zulu policing because the new Police Act is not yet law. But for the time being, the centralising spirit of the Act has prevailed.

Mr Mandela was helped by strong backing and public support for a multi-racial new management of the police force that he unveiled on Sunday. The new police commissioner, George Fivaz, also insisted that he would not recognise any graduation ceremony heldby the KwaZulu/Natal police cadets.

nMr Mandela yesterday called on members of the police force to defend democracy, and promised the government would address their grievances, Reuter reports. "It is vital members of the services do not engage in actions which will undermine the process [of transformation], weaken discipline or damage the confidence the public has in you," he told officers at a training college in the Eastern Cape. "The government understands your resources are limited, but we depend on you."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk / Trainee Application Support Analyst - Hampshire

£25000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor