An Essay and Article On Black Majority
When De Klerk became the President of South Africa he released the ANC leader, Nelson Mandela, from jail, hoping that the latter’s popularity would fade, and he would succeed in achieving two things he had in mind, grant of voting rights to blacks and white veto to safeguard the privileges of the rulers in any future black-cum-white governmental set-up. But two years of negotiations with ANC leaders during which Mandela’s popularity continued to increase compelled De Klerk to concede black majority rule. Violence erupted in many parts of South Africa when it was known that De Klerk and Mandela had reached an understanding, and that blacks would be the new rulers of this country. The world media reported clashes between those who were haunted by the fear of losing power and those hoping to capture it. But these two leaders displayed wise statesmanship coupled with a desire to end violence, and hammered out a peace accord which ended apartheid and paved the way to black majority rule in South Africa. From this peace accord emerged a new constitution that was endorsed by 17 other political leaders.
Constitution’s Role’s For Black Majority
According to this new constitution, the next democratically elected President would exercise sweeping powers vested in him. He would have two Vice-Presidents or Deputy Presidents as his advisers, but would be free to ignore them if need be. The whites of South Africa would be partners in the new government, but would not have veto power to cancel any of its decisions. Instead, they were given a number of legal and informal guarantees. Thus they were assured a safe and honorable participation in the future government. This power-sharing formula, according to which the black majority will rule the country, was hailed as a victory for Mandela. The blacks had been struggling for their emancipation and against apartheid laws for decades. For the first time they cast their votes in the elections in April 1994. Mandela had assured them that there would be no nationalization of banks, mining companies and industrial establishments, all of which are owned by whites. He wanted that the new black-ruled country should march on the road to peace and prosperity with the cooperation of the white minority, and he knew that this goal could not be achieved without their expertise and administrative experience. He did not want their exodus, because any brain-drain would cause great harm to the economic interests of his country. Mandela also sought the cooperation of other political groups, particularly of the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party which was demanding a sovereign state within South Africa.
Inkatha Freedom Party is a militant organization and a fierce rival of the ANC. Its leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi is a separatist who had so far opposed all efforts to co-exist with the leadership of the ANC, because he knew that in the new power-sharing administration his party could have only a secondary role. Hence he wanted a separate sovereign status for the Zulu-dominated region of Natal. Nelson Mandela had many miles to go and many hurdles to cross before he could realize his dream of being a father figure of a truly democratic, multi-racial and united South Africa. The white rulers had no doubt come to terms with ground realities, and not much resistance to the new set-up was expected from them, although at the time of the announcement of the new constitution some of their ultra-groups broke into a frenzy of street violence in metropolitan centers of South Africa. The leaders of some black organizations were unhappy with the new constitution and were unwilling to accept the leadership of Mandela. They gave signals of a scramble for power and separatist moves which did not augur well for the future of South Africa. This jockeying for power among leaders needed to be tactfully handled by Mandela if a partition-like situation that was created in India at the time of the grant of independence to this country was to be avoided in South Africa. Already violence had erupted in black majority areas dominated by supporters of the Inkatha party and of AN, leader, and exchange of gunfire between these powerful rival groups was a daily feature of the power struggle.
The ANC had won international recognition because a majority of its leaders in different parts of South Africa had renounced violence to achieve their political goals and had agreed to allow whites to be co-sharers of power. Mandela had acquired the status of a world leader, respected and admired by all heads of state. Under his guidance the ANC had been working in close cooperation with that section of the whites who, like De Klerk, were in favor of black majority rule. The rising popularity of the ANC was an eyesore to other power groups of blacks. Buthelezi had warned that “cozy power sharing deals” of Mandela and De Klerk would be “a recipe for civil wars”. Even the estranged wife of Mandela, Winnie, who heads a splinter group of the ANC had accused top ANC leaders of wanting to negotiate “a short cut to Parliament” with the “elite of the oppressors”. The gulf of suspicion and hatred between the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party was widening into unpredictable consequences. Large scale violence with a daily death toll of scores of blacks had compelled De Klerk to declare a state of emergency. in certain parts of South Africa, but the elections scheduled to be held in April 1994 had not been postponed.
The political scenario was similar to the one we witness on the map of the Middle East where militants and ultra- nationalists among the ranks of both the Jews and Palestinians have rejected the peace accord arrived at between Arafat and Rabin to pave the way for Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho. Mandela vowed that he would never allow a return to that form of separatism against which blacks had been carrying on their struggle for two centuries. But he exercised caution, good will and accommodation in his dealings with rival leaders. He had agreed to give Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini official recognition as monarch with constitutional powers in Kwazulu-Natal which was to be incorporated into South Africa as one of nine new provinces after the poll. To soften his opposition to the poll he held a number of meetings with the Inkatha leader Buthelezi to remove the latter’s misapprehensions about the accord arrived at among all the black leaders and De Klerk for ushering in black majority rule. There were conflicting reports about the shifting stance of the Inkatha chief. Sometimes he expressed his willingness to hold talks with De Klerk and Mandela to break the impasse, and sometimes gave a call for the postponement of the whole poll, because it would ratify the new interim constitution, and give him no guarantee of the power he sought in Kwazulu black homeland and Natal province. Knowing well that by boycotting the poll he could pocket doubtful gains, he sought international mediation to avert the impending catastrophe that would make his political future uncertain and his dream of grabbing power not turning into reality. From the statements of De Klerk and Mandela who seemed to be on the same wave length it appeared that at that stage neither international mediation would be accepted nor the poll would be postponed. Black majority ruled in South Africa is now an established fact. Nelson Mandela has been elected the President of the new republic. Both the white minority and the Inkatha Freedom Party have accepted the power-sharing formula embodied in the new constitution.
The President has introduced many economic and social reforms, and is making sincere efforts to make his country an ideal democracy in which both blacks and whites share power and contribute to its prosperity. Mandela has placed South Africa on the map of developing countries and made it a member of the Commonwealth. He has attracted foreign investors and is trying to put the economy of his country on a so undo footing. Nelson Mandela is universally recognized as one of the most admired statesmen of the world. But his estranged wife who till recently was a deputy minister in his government is giving him some political headache.
She has accused his government of dancing to the tune of the whites and giving them too many concessions at the cost of the black majority.
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