The leaders of the Inkatha Freedom Party, the 'independent' Ciskei homeland, the 'independent' Bophuthatswana homeland and the right-wing Conservative Party met yesterday in a hotel north of Johannesburg to make common cause against the diabolical alliance they see brewing between the African National Congress (ANC) and Pretoria.
Chief Buthelezi, the force behind the event, said it was time to prepare contingency plans. 'The ultimate extremity of political action for me will be secession . . . I just pray that negotiations should not fail to the extent that such extreme decisions are foisted on all of us willy-nilly.'
Brigadier Gqozo - dubbed 'the Butcher of Bisho' by ANC supporters - said that the De Klerk government, by capitulating to the ANC, was leading South Africa on the road to 'African Socialist tyranny'. Sounding uncannily like the extreme right-wing Eugene Terreblanche, with whom he held talks on Monday evening, Brigadier Gqozo said: 'This is a war we are fighting now, and the prize is our dignity, our land and our various traditional heritages.'
President Mangope said it was time the world woke up to 'the barbaric destruction' the ANC was inflicting through its policy of 'mass action'. 'We are more than capable of protecting our sovereign soil from invasion by anarchic mobs,' he said.
Dr Treurnicht, unsmilingly persuaded that the homelands are indeed 'nations', said that his party would help in the defence of KwaZulu and Bophuthatswana, both threatened by planned ANC marches deep into their territory.
South Africa's emergent new right spoke with great belligerence, but the seriousness of their message was undermined by recurrent deviations into farce - a terrain in which Brigadier Gqozo excelled. He came to power in a coup and enjoys little support, but he spoke ardently and unblushingly of the need for 'men of honour', for 'legitimate leaders' instead of 'fools who don't serve the people but serve themselves'.
The craggy-faced gentlemen of the Conservative Party looked on approvingly, applauding the homeland troika's every rhetorical flight. In one of the tea-breaks, Dr Treurnicht, a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, took Brigadier Gqozo aside and, commenting on the massacre the Ciskei soldiers carried out a month ago, remarked: 'What you did was absolutely morally justifiable.'
The potential was there for the establishment of an alliance. Such talk, the delegates said, was premature. But on the agenda for the session closed to the press yesterday afternoon was examination of an Inkatha document entitled 'Possible future liaison and future joint strategy and tactics'. When the meeting ended it was announced that a steering committee had been established to plot the way forward.
Products all of the apartheid system, cornered by the advent of democracy and the numerical supremacy of the ANC, the four leaders are united by their common fear of loss of privilege, power and identity. 'They don't like the prospect of a new South Africa,' said Zach de Beer who, as leader of the centrist Democratic Party, turned down an invitation to attend. 'They are all alarmed at the way negotiations are unfolding and they want to stop the clock.'Reuse content