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Buthelezi Warns of `Snake in the Grass'

The Opinion page headline ``Avoid S. Africa Chaos - Restrain Buthelezi,'' Oct. 20, is an unfortunate misrepresentation of the man who is one of the very few statesmen in Africa. Sir Laurens Van Der Post, who knows Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the Zulu people well, has said on South African Television that the media views of Chief Buthelezi have been a travesty of truth, for he has steadfastly stood for peace, and from the outset has opted for negotiation rather than armed struggle.

Buthelezi is a committed Christian. The press has consistently twisted his warnings against majority rule in a unitary state by calling such warnings war talk - even though Buthelezi has explained his stance by the simile of a snake in the grass against which he is warning his compatriots. He is not responsible for putting the snake there! It was put there by those who are obsessed with the view of majoritarianism that minorities must allow themselves to be trodden on in the name of democracy.

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It is no more democratic for a majority to ride roughshod over a minority, than for a minority to rule over a majority; and all Buthelezi is standing for is a federal arrangement that will protect the values, sensibilities, and culture of minorities. The purest form of democracy is that in which the maximum of power is devolved to the regions and the minimum to the central government. The Swiss canton system is the best example, where ethnic minorities have virtual self-government. Richard Haw, Pinetown, S. Africa

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