Viljoen calls up fear of war: John Carlin in Pretoria hears a stark warning from a leading spokesman of the Afrikaner right

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The Independent Online
'THE SITUATION is bad and it can get worse.' With this ominous statement Constand Viljoen summed up how he sees the South African predicament in a week that ought to generate unprecedented celebration among the majority of the population.

By Friday, two years of multi-party negotiations are expected to conclude with the unveiling of South Africa's first non-racial, federal, democratic constitution.

If celebrations are muted, it will be for fear among both blacks and whites that General Viljoen and his supporters on the white right will go to war. The failure of the government to persuade the right to accept the new constitution and take part in next year's elections has added to the anxiety.

Yesterday, General Viljoen, former South African Defence Force chief who heads the separatist Afrikaner Volksfront, tried to explain what the right want and what they will do if they do not get it.

'Things are bad,' he said, because of a lack of investor confidence; because of intimidation especially 'among our black people'; because of 'undue pressure' on South Africa from the outside world to find a quick political solution; because the government had fallen prey to 'nave idealism'; because the ANC believed, no less navely, that 'instant nationship' was possible. 'You can't build a nation like a cup of instant coffee, just mixing in the coffee, the white milk, the brown sugar and the colourless water.'

'Things can get worse' if the government and ANC 'pressed on regardless'. And this, it seemed, was what they intended to do. 'No real decision has been taken by the government to accommodate the Freedom Alliance.'

In other words, self-determination, the creation of a separate state for Afrikaners, was not on the government agenda. Accordingly, 'the right wing might resort to more mass action and more armed action'.

Most of the questions to the general sought clarification of 'armed action'. Would the armed forces rise up with the right? 'If any government tries to force an unacceptable solution on the Afrikaners it would happen naturally.'

Ten days ago the Volksfront urged its supporters to mobilise, polish their weapons and store rations. What did this mean? 'We are not saying people must prepare for war. We say to our people, prepare to defend yourselves.' Against whom? 'Against terrorist groups . . . You must bear in mind the anger among the Afrikaner people - it could get out of control.'

(Photograph omitted)