Pretoria agrees to observers for strike

THE South African government, moderating its position on international involvement in the country's internal affairs, agreed yesterday to a proposal for the United Nations to send a team of observers next week to oversee a week-long 'mass action' campaign planned by the African National Congress and its trade union allies.

Pik Botha, the South African Foreign Minister, said yesterday in Pretoria that President F W de Klerk had no objection to UN observers monitoring the week of protest, which will include a two- day general strike starting on Monday.

Mr de Klerk believed that if the UN sent observers to South Africa for the mass action campaign, 'there should be enough observers to be present in the major metropolitan areas of South Africa', Mr Botha said. The observers should enjoy freedom of movement, so that the UN Secretary- General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, remained fully informed of the progress of the campaign and of any resulting incidents.

According to Mr Botha, Cyrus Vance, the United Nations special envoy, told Mr de Klerk in a meeting yesterday he was concerned that the mass action campaign might generate a new spiral of political violence and urged him to do all in his power to stave off such an eventuality.

Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC Secretary-General, confirmed yesterday evening that the UN had agreed 'in principle' to such a mission but that the details would be discussed later in the night in a telephone conversation with Mr Boutros-Ghali.

The proposal, initiated by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), received a rapid response owing to the presence in South Africa of Mr Vance, who achieved another breakthrough earlier in the week, it emerged yesterday, when he persuaded an ANC delegation to meet the government on the question of political prisoners.

Mr Vance, who is due to return to New York today after a 10-day fact-finding mission, managed to persuade the ANC to break its moratorium, imposed six weeks ago, on all contact with the government. On Tuesday the ANC's director of international affairs, Thabo Mbeki, met Mr Botha to discuss the release of more than 400 political prisoners.

Mr Ramaphosa, who reaffirmed that the prisoners issue remained a stumbling block to the resumption of constitutional negotiations, confirmed yesterday that the meeting had taken place at the express bidding of Mr Vance.

'The visit by the UN special representative, Mr Cyrus Vance, has facilitated contact between the ANC and the government to ensure the release of all remaining political prisoners on the basis that the government understood and accepted the need for this matter to be finalised immediately,' Mr Ramaphosa said.

'It is our view,' he added, 'that all political prisoners should be released before Mr Vance returns to New York.'

Mr Vance told reporters in Pretoria after meeting Mr de Klerk that he hoped to hand a report next week to Mr Boutros-Ghali, with recommendations on how to end the violence and break the political deadlock in South Africa.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Year 5 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Year 5 class teacher vacan...

SEN Learning Support Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Learning Supp...

General Cover Teachers - GRIMSBY

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: We are working with a number of ...

SECONDARY SUPPLY TEACHERS NEEDED IN AND AROUND FOLKESTONE

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Description Randstad Education i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week