President Nelson Mandela today meets his arch rival, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, in Pretoria to discuss the latest plan to stop escalating bloodshed in South Africa's troubled KwaZulu- Natal province.
The men are to start work on preparing a date and venue for an imbizo, or traditional gathering, of Zulu leaders from Mr Mandela's African National Congress and Chief Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party, which have been involved in a horrific turf war in the province for more than a decade.
The imbizo was the brainchild of Mr Mandela and was backed by the Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini, last Friday, after the two met at the King's KwaKhangela palace in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
The call for the imbizo comes amid growing fears that ANC-Inkatha violence is on the verge of flaring into a full-scale Zulucivil war. By convening an imbizo, the President and the King hope to get key players from both parties to sit down and work out ways to end the bloodshed, in which about 14,000 people have died.
President Mandela's spokesman, Parks Mankahlana, said Chief Buthelezi has given his support to the imbizo, but pointed out that much work remained to be done before it could be held. At the core of the bloodletting is the political gulf between the ANC's insistence on strong central government and Mr Buthelezi's demand for autonomy. There are doubts over what impact an imbizo will have on ANC-Inkatha violence unless Mr Mandela and Chief Buthelezi resolve this dispute over provincial powers.
Mr Mandela blamed a so-called "third force" after his meeting with King Goodwill.
"There are elements who are not members of the IFP or the ANC who are orchestrating this violence, because it is in their interest that we turn back to the days of apartheid," he said.