South African Election: Mandela appeals to jittery whites not to flee

Click to follow
The Independent Online
GROWING IMPATIENCE with the failure of the South African Defence Force and the police to halt political violence overshadowed Nelson Mandela's final campaign rally yesterday before this week's elections, which are expected to win him the presidency.

An at times unwieldly crowd of at least 100,000 people packed into the grounds outside Durban's King's Park Stadium heard Mr Mandela appeal for restraint after the elections to honour the African National Congress' 80-year struggle for democracy in South Africa. 'Nothing is going to happen to the property of any family, black or white,' he said. 'We're taking precautions because we want a South Africa of national reconciliation, peace and unity.'

His criticism of the SADF and the police was his sharpest yet. Mr Mandela vowed to crack down on followers of Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's mainly Zulu Inkatha party, believed to be responsible for the murder of three ANC activists on Thursday in the KwaZulu 'homeland' capital, Ulundi. 'They must pay for those crimes and they are going to pay,' he said.

At least five other ANC members were still missing in Ulundi yesterday after 17 activists and several

Independent Electoral Commission monitors were attacked while distributing leaflets and posters. It was the worst outbreak of political violence in Natal since Chief Buthelezi's decision last week to lift his boycott on the elections.

Under the terms of the 31 March state of emergency declared in Natal by President F W de Klerk, Mr Mandela said, the army and the police were supposed to confine the KwaZulu police to barracks, to 'weed out' its members linked to 'Third Force' political violence, and to shut down paramilitary training camps for Inkatha.

'The SADF and SAP have done none of these things except to run round in the streets,' Mr Mandela said. He told the crowd of yesterday's bombing of the ANC's headquarters in Johannesburg, in which nine people died, but urged his supporters not to 'concentrate on the violent activities of those who want to disrupt these elections'.

He said the elected government would consider an amnesty for members of the security forces involved in politically motivated violence until last December. 'What we are not going to do is consider an indemnity for those who are killing people now,' Mr Mandela said.

Non-racialism was a strong theme in his address, which at times provoked wild applause. 'We stand for majority rule, we don't stand for black majority rule,' he said. 'All of you in this country: Africans, Coloureds, whites and Indians, this is your country. This is our country.'

Mr Mandela made a special appeal to whites, whom he described as the country's 'best asset', not to flee the country. He said everyone would be needed to open a new era for South Africa. 'We appeal to those communities who have benefited under apartheid, do not leave us in the lurch,' he said.

The ANC had plans to promote jobs, peace and better housing and schooling for the poor, he said. 'All these evils of apartheid can change with a government that cares.'

The rally began with a performance by Indian dancers, urged on with chants of 'One country, many cultures'. Mr Mandela, smiling broadly, seemed to be energised by the massive turn-out of Zulus, whom Chief Buthelezi claims support his Inkatha party.

Flanked by his long-time colleague and fellow Robben Island inmate, Walter Sisulu, and the ANC's candidate for premier of Natal province, Jacob Zuma, Mr Mandela rose to sing the congress' national anthem, Nkosi Sikelele iAfrika (God bless Africa), with a customary clenched fist. Immediately he paid homage to the man who had kept the ANC together while he spent 27 years in jail, the late Oliver Tambo, whom he described as 'one of the greatest sons of our soil'.

Mr Mandela clearly relished the moment on the eve of the ANC's expected victory at this week's polls. 'After all the struggle and bitterness, we are now there,' he said.

After Mandela, page 16

(Photograph omitted)