SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA
THE Pretoria government is facing mounting political and diplomatic pressure to meet African National Congress demands to end township violence or face a suspension of dialogue over a new constitution. "The time has come for President [Frederik] de Klerk to be clearly told that the measures he has announced so far to solve the violence issue are not good enough," says a Western diplomat. "Most of the ANC's demands are reasonable, and the government needs to look at them more carefully."
The tougher diplomatic mood follows an ANC statement over the weekend. It detailed a campaign of violence and assassination which the ANC says has been unleashed against it by elements in government security forces working together with militants in the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party.
ANC Secretary-General Alfred Nzo said at a press conference that the government had not responded adequately to ANC proposals to end violence and that there was no possibility that the ANC would take part in Mr. De Klerk's proposed May 23 and 24 summit on violence.
Western diplomats say it appears that the ANC will go ahead and suspend further talks on a new constitution when its May 9 deadline for a government response expires. But it will continue a low-key dialogue with the government in a bid to solve the violence issue, they said.
ANC Deputy President Nelson Mandela, speaking Saturday at the annual congress of the National Union of Mineworkers, said there could be no compromise on the violence issue. "The violence ravaging our country is of such proportions that we have presented the government with a set of demands and a deadline date of May 9 or else we will not proceed with the planned All-Party Congress nor hold any discussions on the future constitution for South Africa."
The ANC demands include the sacking of Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok and Defense Minister General Magnus Malan, a law to prevent Inkatha supporters from carrying spears and axes under the guise of "cultural weapons," the dismantling of counterinsurgency units, acceptable methods of crowd control by the police, and the phasing out of men-only hostels.
LENDING credence to the ANC claims was a report in a South African newspaper Friday, in which a black military policemen claims that he was instructed by a senior security policeman of the South African Police to assassinate a popular Zulu chief who supported the ANC.
The report in the Natal Witness, an English-speaking daily in Pietermaritzburg, quoted the policeman as saying he had decided to defect and come clean after helping assassinate Chief Mhlabunzima Maphumulo in February because "it is not nice to kill an innocent person."
Sipho Madlala's claims, which have been certified as authentic by lawyers and intelligence experts, provide some of the first direct evidence that elements within the security forces are waging a campaign of systematic terror against the ANC.
Mr. Madlala, who is in hiding, gave what he said were details of how the assassination had been carefully planned. The reason given by the security policeman was that Chief Maphumulo was "a problem to the state and a bad influence in the community."
The ANC statement said the assassination last week of ANC branch chairman Derrick Majola, in the Natal township of Bruntville, was further evidence of a campaign directed from within the security forces and aimed at scuttling the recent peace accord between the ANC and Inkatha.
"Majola and his wife were killed in cold blood, and we do not believe this murder was committed by Inkatha," Mr. Nzo said.
The ANC appeared to soften its stance toward Inkatha, suggesting there was a split in the movement between those who wanted to make the peace accord stick and those who are trying to wreck it by promoting conflict that would lead to further violence between the two groups.
The ANC said it had intelligence that members of the Inkatha Youth Brigade were receiving military training in camps in Natal and Eastern Transvaal from counterinsurgency units attached to the South African Defense Force. The trained members were infiltrated into the men-only hostels in the townships to direct the violence and ensure that hostel dwellers favoring a peaceful resolution of the conflict did not gain control, the ANC said.
The United States has formulated eight steps, which it is urging both Pretoria and the ANC to use as the basis for compromise between the ANC's seven demands and De Klerk's plans for a summit on violence and a commission to probe the causes of sustained conflict, the Western diplomat said.
The US State Department could soon deliver a sharp diplomatic message to De Klerk by calling in Harry Schwarz, South Africa's ambassador to the US.
The US proposals include the creation of an impartial commission on violence, a round-table conference of all parties to discuss the issue, a reactivation of ANC-police liaison committees, community monitoring of police actions, improvement of police methods, the disarming of all vigilante groups, and creation of neighborhood committees - not armed defense units - to enable township residents to protect themselves from attacks.