BY GREG ROSENBERG
South Africa's National Assembly on May 17 approved the Truth Bill, which will provide for public airing of crimes committed under apartheid rule. The legislation is expected to be approved by the Senate and signed into law by South African president Nelson Mandela.
More than 20,000 people have been killed in political violence over the past decade alone in South Africa. The army, police, special hit squads, and political parties receiving arms, funding, and training from the white regime - particularly the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) - were responsible for most of these deaths.
The bill would establish an 11- to 17-member Truth and Reconciliation Commission to probe violence, murder, and other abuses committed under apartheid rule. The commission would be empowered to grant amnesty to those who admit to the details of crimes they committed prior to Dec. 5, 1993, and to grant compensation to the victims.
The bill passed after a five-hour debate that followed months of intensive public discussion on its final provisions. Only the Freedom Front, a right-wing party campaigning for a volkstaat - an Afrikaner homeland - voted against the measure. The Freedom Front counts several former and current top military and police officials in its ranks, and is led by former general Constand Viljoen.
Inkatha deputies abstained from the vote stating they favored a judicial inquiry rather than a truth commission. Responding to this, Water and Forestry Affairs Minister Kader Asmal of the African National Congress said, "we must make it impossible for those who were part of an evil past to present a sanitized, white-washed version to future generations."
Both the Freedom Front and National Party, led by South African deputy-president F.W. de Klerk, argued that the date for the amnesty should be extended to May 10, 1994 - the date of ANC president Mandela's inauguration as president of the republic. This was necessary, said Freedom Front spokesman Corne Mulder, to prevent "disunity and further conflict."
In the parliamentary debate, Mandela said he sympathized with the call for extending the cutoff date, but that those who were promoting this idea would first have to cooperate to bring down the level of political violence inside the country.
Rising violence in KwaZulu-Nata
Opponents of the democratic revolution are stepping up their violent opposition to its course, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal province. On November 1, nationwide local government elections will take place - the first in which citizens will be able to cast ballots in a majority-rule election.
Registration is picking up. More than 57 percent of those eligible are now registered to vote in the November 1 elections.
Inkatha is resisting the approaching elections and steps taken toward forging a nation. Inkatha thugs stormed the provincial parliament in Ulundi May 9 disrupting government functions.
They have also been implicated in the massacre of more than a dozen ANC members in May. From May 1 to 24, at least 66 people were killed in political violence. On May 9, 11 ANC supporters were killed in three attacks at Isithebe on the northern coast. According to a report in the New Nation newspaper, "Hostels around Durban are being turned into armed camps, with residents being forced out and Inkatha Freedom Party fighters trained at the Mlaba camp in northern KwaZulu-Natal being deployed to replace them."
Inkatha leaders continue to demand international mediation to advance their demands for provincial autonomy to preserve the wealth and privilege they derived from running the KwaZulu homeland under apartheid.
Mandela told a May 20 rally in KwaMthethwa in KwaZulu- Natal that the province "is under the dark cloud of a reign of fear and destruction perpetrated by criminals who want to return us to the past.-These acts of thuggery have intensified since some senior politicians called on their followers in this province to rise and resist the central government.
"I want to warn again: Should they dare abuse government funds to finance the agenda to 'rise and resist' central government, I will not hesitate to stop the funding and find alternative channels of servicing the people of this province."
Mandela added that "the ANC is ready to meet any interested party, including the IFP on constitutional matters. But we don't believe that the involvement of foreigners at this stage will take us any closer to an agreement. Our view is that all parties are capable of representing their own viewpoints."
"More than 20,000 innocent people have been slaughtered in this senseless violence since 1984. It is my duty to stop that cruel slaughter," said Mandela in a May 10 interview with the Sowetan.
"There must be free and fair elections in the forthcoming local government elections in every part of our country, including KwaZulu-Natal. I am not going to allow a situation where other political parties are not allowed to contest in KwaZulu-Natal."
The ANC's stance has brought reproach from the big-
business press. The Johannesburg Star wrote that the threat
to cut off funds to the provincial legislature "will inflame
rather than cool temperatures." The editors of Business Day
described Inkatha's course as a protest against "ANC
duplicity on international mediation."
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