Letter: Interpretation of events in South Africa after the Ciskei massacre

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The Independent Online
Sir: Following the Ciskei massacre, the media here seem increasingly to interpret events in South Africa through terms cast by the South African government. Thus the undue focus on 'ANC irresponsibility', 'negotiations at all costs', 'ANC divisions between moderates and radicals', and so on. Sight has been lost of:

The legitimate demand of the African National Congress for an undivided, non-racial and democratic South Africa.

The government's historically staunch defence of apartheid, including through violence.

The fact that negotiations were forced on the government only through national mass action and international pressure.

Any earlier hope for a genuine commitment from government to negotiate transfer to a democracy, has now evaporated. It has evaporated in the face of the township killings evidently sponsored by the security forces, as well as through the negotiations process itself. Note the government's stance for an unreasonably high majority required to usher in a new constitution. It now promotes 'federalism' as a means to secure the division of South Africa on the basis of the hated 'homelands'.

It has become clear that for the South African government, negotiations are a means to defuse pressure for meaningful democracy and to maintain undemocratic power and privilege. Thus our people are forced on to the streets again to suffer consequences they have always suffered for legitimate demands against an intransigent government.

Yours faithfully,




9 September