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SA changes -view from Harare

The larger the urban area in South Africa the greater seems to be the desire among whites for negotiated reforms.

With a huge country-wide turnout of white voters (86 percent) in the recent referendum an overwhelming majority opted for reform.

In Cape Town 85 percent voted in favour of negotiated constitutional change, while Durban/Pietermaritzburg (81 percent), Johannesburg and East London (78 percent each) and Port Elizabeth all scored high.

George in the Cape and Germiston on the Transvaal East Rand gained 65 percent support for a negotiated future.

Beufort West in the Cape (62 percent), Bloemfontein (58 percent), Pretoria (57 percent) and Kimberley in the far northern Cape (55 percent) also voted in favour of President P.W. de Klerk’s reform process.

The conservative northern Transvaal Pietersburg district was the only area with a majority (57 percent) voting “No”, but taken together with the much more heavily populated west Transvaal Roodepoort region and the northern Orange Free State Kroonstad district (both with only 52 percent voting “Yes”) could give credence to the call for some sort of regional “boerstaat” giving whites in these areas greater political control.

To counter this argument it must be noted that the total number of “NO” votes in these districts was 214 385 or less than a quarter of all those who do not support constitutional reform in south Africa. The total voting “Yes” in these districts amounted to 216 738 so it is by no means clear that sufficient support among whites for a regional “boerstaat” would be forthcoming.

Meanwhile a senior political analyst has warned that the referendum result does not necessarily indicate a fundamental shift towards democracy.

Charging the National Party of “blatant hypocrisy” Dr Ian Phillips of Natal University says President de Klerk, “big Business” and foreign governments have united to restrict political democracy and retain present economic structures.

The issue of continuing the reform process was where the referendum started, he said. The NP campaign shifted the issue towards voting for a “bottom line” set of specific NP proposals and ended with a major advertising campaign with the message that those who reject majority rule should vote “yes”!

Initial figures released from the South African 1991 census indicate a massive migration to the cities, particularly affecting Natal, Eastern Cape and Eastern Transvaal.

With over 5 percent of the total population outside the homelands living in migrant hostels, 11 percent on someone else’s property and massive overcrowding in formal housing it is estimated that as many as 10 million people are in immediate need of housing in South Africa.

Approximately one-fifth of the South African population now lives in a “self-made shack”. This does not include the homelands which have their own massive and overcrowded rural slums.

Adjusting the 26 million tally to include 9 million blacks in the homelands and compensating for undercounting, the total population in South Africa could be near the 38 million mark.

This includes 4 522 000 whites (a small decrease of one percent from 4 569 00 in 1985), 2 930 000 Coloureds (an increase of 3.4 percent) and 864 000 Asians (an increase of five percent).

Of the white population over half (54 percent) live in the Transvaal, 27 percent in the Cape, 12 percent in the Natal and seven percent in the Orange Free State. Eighty-five percent of the Coloureds live in the Cape while over 10 percent live in the Transvaal. Most Asians live in Natal (78 percent) or Transvaal (17 percent).

The most common language is Zulu, spoken by over 7 million people, or 40 percent of the black population. Only one out of 10 people has matriculated while a mere six percent have post matric qualifications, according to the census.

With the remarkable consensus on most issues between President de Klerk’s nationalists and Nelson Mandela’s ANC/SACP alliance in the CODESA talks, it now appears as if a new rightwing coalition is being formed.

The Conservative Party of Andries Treurnicht, heavily defeated in the whites-only referendum, has been courting both the Zulu-nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party of chief Gatsha Buthelezi and the President of Boputhatswana, Lucas Mangope. Recently Treurnicht identified Buthelezi, Mangope and other homeland leaders as supporting his partitionist commonwealth of nations proposals.

One time Rhodesian Front minister Rowan Cronje, whose brother-in-law is Conservative MP Tom Langley, is Mangope’s Minister of Defence.

Boputhatswana has publicly opposed reincorporation into South Africa and stated its preference for a “regional dispensation” with fiscal autonomy.

Buthelezi seemed at one time the protege of the NP and the establishment press but now appears to have been abandoned by de Klerk and Natal’s “Big Business.”

Since January this year Buthelezi has been arguing for “self determination” and insisting on the right of the Zulu king to attend CODESA as the leader of the Zulu nation.

General Gqozo, military ruler of Ciskei, and the ANC currently have an uneasy truce after he called for the suspension of CODESA while a “diabolical plot” by the ANC to oust his government was called off.

These “regionalists of the right” could present a serious challenge to CODESA and the new coalition perhaps provides a clue as to why the South African government is trying so hard to get the PAC/AZAPO alliance on board CODESA 11.

Meanwhile the Conservative Party has firmly upheld its boycott of CODESA while the Congress of SA Trade Unions (COSATU) insists on formally joining the negotiation process, to link economic reforms with political ones and to counter the increasingly “soft” line of the ANC.

In an extraordinary extension of powers, homeland police can now arrest any person anywhere in South Africa.

The new South African Police Amendment Act reduced media censorship on police actions but “incomprehensibly” conferred full police powers on members of homeland forces on “Cross-border operations”, according to the Human Rights Commission.

Only days before the Port Elizabeth area registered a huge 75 percent “Yes” vote Uitenhage ratepayers vetoed a R6 million informal housing project for blacks. Of the 13 000 eligible voters 1 624 voted against the housing scheme and only 205 supported it. The percentage poll was a very low 14 percent.

Meanwhile the US government is to fund an US$86 million housing and urban development project for South Africans “disadvantaged by apartheid.”

Mexico and Ukraine have joined the queue to establish diplomatic relations with South Africa. British Airways’s biggest rival, Virgin Atlantic, could have five London-Cape Town flights a week if the SA cabinet ratifies the agreement.

Portugal is seeking relaxing of European Community sanctions. Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers insists he will visit South Africa in August and the French government has lifted a coal embargo on SA, freeing 30 000 tonnes of Coal for electricity generation on Reunion Island.

The Russian Federation, itself facing massive political and economic changes, established diplomatic ties with South Africa on February 28 and a high-level trade delegation with an “overwhelmingly military complexion” soon followed.

Foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev said both countries shared the same objectives of “improving democracy and human rights” but it seems likely that the first deal between the former communist superpower and South Africa will involve MiG 29 engines for SA’s fighter aircraft.

by Greg van der Iingen

(25 VIEWS)

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