ANC May Harden Stance After Massacre In S. Africa Homeland
HARD-LINERS in the African National Congress (ANC) are urging the organization to shut down all communications with the South African government in the wake of the massacre in Ciskei homeland.
Ciskeian troops opened fire on ANC demonstrators Sept. 7, killing at least 28 and injuring 188 others. The shootings occurred without warning during a show of force by 80,000 ANC members, who marched to Bisho demanding the removal of Ciskeian leader Brig. Joshua `Oupa' Gqozo.
After the killings, Chris Hani, leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and a senior member of the ANC executive committee, urged Secretary-General Cyril Ramaphosa Sept. 8 to cease talks with the government.
"I said to Mr. Ramaphosa that my gut feeling is that he should discontinue his talks with [Constitutional Development Minister] Roelf Meyer," Mr. Hani said. "Why should he talk to Meyer, when the very government he represents cannot restrain a tyrant who is financed and trained by Pretoria?" (`Third Force' in Ciskei, Page 6.)
Hani's move came shortly before prominent church leaders, including the Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, arrived in Bisho, the Ciskeian capital, to pray at the site of the massacre and to hold talks with Brigadier Gqozo. Ciskeian troops across the border pointed rifles at the ministers throughout the service. ANC President Nelson Mandela arrive on the scene Sept. 8.
The march took place against a backdrop of mounting tension between the ANC and the ruling National Party over the role of pro-government homeland leaders in the negotiating process. The ANC has identified the beleaguered Ciskeian leader as the weakest point of the faltering homeland edifice.
When the ANC announced Sept. 3 that it would not return to round-table talks because government had failed to meet its demands on ending violence and freeing political prisoners, ANC leaders warned that further mass protests would follow - particularly in the tribal homelands.
Since the breakdown of the second round of interracial talks at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) in mid-May, the ANC has adopted a more militant tone in its rejection of a return to negotiations with homeland leaders who appear to have little popular support.
ANC militants and SACP officials, who planned and led the Ciskei march, have been quick to capitalize on Gqozo's obvious unpopularity among a local populace which is overwhelmingly supportive of the ANC. ANC leaders, who have been campaigning in the Eastern Cape region for the past week, made clear that the Sept. 7 march was not symbolic.
"We are seeking a fundamentally new situation in Ciskei," said ANC executive member Raymond Suttner. "We are responding to a very strong demand by the people living under Gqozo's tyranny. Gqozo is the weak link in the [homeland] chain and we hope that his fall will lead to a domino effect in other homelands."
If Gqozo falls, it could have an effect in other homelands, like Bophuthatswana, where the ANC has failed to gain a significant foothold. It would also boost ANC morale and bolster its chances in a nonracial election.
In the buildup to the march, Law and Order Minister Hernus Kriel declared five towns in the white corridor that separates Transkei and Ciskei "unrest areas" in an apparent bid to contain a Ciskei uprising. Reinforcements from the South African Police and the South African Defense Forces were flown into the area.
Over the weekend the alliance between the ANC, the SACP, and the trade union federation Cosatu called on Pretoria to replace Gqozo with an interim administration of all representative organizations.
In the wake of the Ciskei massacre, the future of the ANC's tactics to speed up the end of the white minority rule will now be furiously debated within the organization.
ANC moderates have a fundamental belief in negotiations but were forced to pull out of talks because of the strong perception in the rank and file that the government is behind the killings in black townships.
Having failed in this objective there are now strong misgivings among sections of the ANC that the organization led a march that resulted in such serious loss of life. The leadership of the ANC and its allies felt a "collective responsibility" for what had happened, Hani said. But he added that South Africa was far being a free society and that "everytime we [blacks] take part in marches there is a potential for violence [from the state]."
Hani said that supporters of the ANC were "demanding to be rearmed" against Gqozo, and predicted there may be further trouble.
"We know he is powerful. We as a people can't allow the white government in this country to keep on killing our people, and after this Ciskei cannot be the same," he said.
Speaking on State television, Gqozo said his troops had been forced to fire after members of the ANC began distributing weapons from a car driven near the border. But this had not been borne out by any of the eyewitness accounts.