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South African Factions Spurn Compromise; Boycott Election

By Paul Taylor
The Washington Post
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa

Inkatha Freedom Party Leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said Thursday that his party will stick to its boycott of South Africa's April election despite a package of constitutional concessions offered Wednesday to induce his participation.

Leader of a second boycotting party, the right-wing white Afrikaner Volksfront, also voiced doubts that his group would be swayed by the new proposals. He said the compromise package did not meet the demand of hard-line Afrikaners for their own separate state.

The rejections mean that South Africa's first all-races election set for April 26-28 will be waged without the participation of the two parties that most militantly oppose an African National Congress government -- the likely result of the vote. More importantly, it raises the risk of a strife-filled campaign, challenges to the legitimacy of the ballot and secessionist agitation.

Buthelezi, in a harshly worded statement, derided the constitutional compromise put forth by the ANC and the white-minority government as a public-relations gimmick. "What utter hypocrisy," declared Buthelezi, who is also chief minister of the Zulu tribal homeland.

The package unveiled by ANC President Nelson Mandela includes amendments to a new interim constitution that would strengthen regional powers, provide for a separate ballot for national and regional parliaments, ensure symbolic status for the Zulu monarchy, change the name of the province of Natal to KwaZulu-Natal and adopt a constitutional principle that would force the next government to explore ways to accommodate the desire for self-determination of any ethnic group in the country.

The ANC and the government have said that all these proposals would be adopted by a special Parliament session to be convened early next month, even if the recalcitrant parties do not chose to take part in the election.

A third boycotting group, the homeland government of Bophuthatswana, made no official response to the compromise package but offered some encouraging signals. It is scheduled to meet with the ANC later in the week to discuss possible participation in the election.

Afrikaner Volksfront co-leader Constand Viljoen-who is considered most the figure most amenable to the election within his organization-expressed doubt tonight that the new proposal really guaranteed a separate state for Afrikaners-the country's 3 million descendants of 17th-century Dutch and French settlers-and said "we will not be appeased by anything less."

Buthelezi's position is the most difficult to fathom because, as one participant in the country's multi-party constitutional negotiations pointed out tonight, the government-ANC compromise proposals are "very close indeed" to a package that Inkatha itself put on the table last December.

Now Buthelezi is harping on the fact that the new government would still have the power to rewrite the interim constitution without sufficient blocking mechanisms for minority interests. His bargaining stance has been one of constantly shifting goal posts, strengthening the impression that he really wants no part in the election.