Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

South Africa: After the Elections

Publisher WRITENET
Author Richard Carver
Publication Date 1 May 1994
Cite as WRITENET, South Africa: After the Elections, 1 May 1994, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a6c44.html [accessed 21 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

1. INTRODUCTION

Despite the long-awaited and largely successful democratic, non-racial elections, South Africa's future is still blighted by the threat of political violence. Although the Transitional Executive Council (TEC), dominated by the African National Congress (ANC) and the outgoing National Party (NP) government, succeeded in securing the participation of almost all political groups, there is a serious danger that violence will continue.

In the short term one of the potential sources for violence is the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), led by Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, based overwhelmingly in KwaZulu-Natal, with support from among the Zulu population and among elements of the English-speaking white minority. The ANC and the Independent Electoral Commission have attempted to defuse the IFP threat by reaching an agreement with the IFP which gives it control of the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal despite an election in the province marked by ballot-rigging and intimidation.[1] Many commentators fear that this will be seen as a reward for past intimidation and dishonesty on the IFP's part and will only provoke further violence.[2]

The other threat comes from extreme remnants of the right wing white minority. While the Freedom Front, led by General Constand Viljoen, participated in the election, winning 2.2 percent of the vote, other right-wing groups, notably the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) and the Conservative Party, have remained outside the political process. In the last days before the elections, there was a series of bomb attacks in Johannesburg, generally attributed to the right wing elements of the white minority population. One source noted that the bombs appeared to be professionally made, suggesting that those responsible were making use of long-standing contacts within the state security bodies. While the weak showing of the extreme rightist oriented political parties in the elections seemed to demonstrate the limitations of any prospect of a popular white upsurge against the new ANC-led government, the bombs raised a different prospect. There is increasing speculation of a so-called "IRA option" - referring to the use of continued low-level urban terrorism to create popular insecurity and prompt the government to take repressive measures. The arrest of 32 right-wing extremists in connection with the bomb blast at Jan Smuts airport on 27 April does point in that direction. [3]

A further imponderable is how the new government will respond to the threat of further violence. Despite some disquiet within the ANC, the TEC refused to repeal Section 29 of the Internal Security Act, permitting detention without trial. [4] It remains to be seen what the new government does. There is no doubt that the imposition of a state of emergency in Natal in the weeks leading up to the election played an important part in persuading Chief Buthelezi and the IFP to end their boycott. If the problem of political violence persists, there will be an obvious temptation for this government, like its predecessor, to adopt similarly harsh measures to deal with it. Not only is this likely to bring the ANC problems within its own constituency, e.g. from human rights organizations, the churches and possibly the trade unions, but, as with the National Party, it may only serve to make the problem worse. [5]

Underlying all this, in the long term, is the problem of poverty and the likely crisis of expectations. While social deprivation in and of itself does not cause political violence, it is clear that the mass centres of urban poverty in particular the townships are an effective breeding ground. Social disaffection is primarily expressed in terms of criminal, anti-social violence. Ten thousand South Africans have died in political violence since 1990, yet four times as many have died as a result of criminal violence in the same period [6] However, there is no doubt that political rivalries in the townships have been effectively maintained due to the existence of a willing constituency of disaffected, unemployed youth for whom gang warfare is more exciting than idleness. This crisis of expectations is usually discussed in terms of a potential growth of the politically left oriented parties and the threat it may pose to the ANC in future elections. However, as in the past the danger may be the volatility of the urban poor.

2. A NEW POLITICAL ORDER

Non-racial, democratic elections for National and Provincial Assemblies were finally held on schedule between 26 and 28 April 1994, with a day's extension in some parts of KwaZulu-Natal to overcome the logistical problems posed by the late participation of the IFP [7] The officially declared results gave the ANC its expected landslide majority, although it fell just short of the two-thirds majority which would have allowed it to amend the interim constitution without the support of other parties. The percentages polled by the seven parties which won seats in the National Assembly were as follows:

African National Congress        62.6

National Party  20.4

Inkatha Freedom Party 10.5

Freedom Front 2.2

Democratic Party          1.7

Pan Africanist Congress            1.2

African Christian Democratic Party       0.5

The ANC will therefore dominate the Government of National Unity, although this will also include representatives of the National Party and the Inkatha Freedom Party, under the terms of the interim constitution. The ANC also controls seven out of the nine provincial legislatures, the exceptions being Western Cape (won by the National Party) and KwaZulu-Natal (IFP) [8]

For months before the election it seemed certain that Chief Buthelezi and the IFP would not take part. His dramatic change of mind in mid-April appears to have been caused by two developments: the imposition of a state of emergency in Natal at the end of March and a political deal between the ANC and the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini [9] The state of emergency was a response to the rising level of violence in Natal. The IFP's decision to boycott the elections meant that, in effect, anyone engaged in preparation for the elections was a political enemy and a target for violence [10] As one University of Natal academic put it:

Secrecy goes out of the window with an Inkatha boycott. Anyone going to the polls will be seen as voting against Inkatha [11]

For example, 15 young people attending a voter education workshop were killed in Creighton in southern Natal on 19 February. They were shot and hacked to death. Three IFP leaders were arrested in connection with the massacre [12]

Chief Buthelezi's opposition to the new political order, despite numerous concessions by the government and the ANC in the preceding months, was based on a mobilization of loyalty to the Zulu king. Government and ANC negotiators undercut Buthelezi's position by reaching a separate deal with King Zwelithini. The king was offered the position of constitutional monarch of KwaZulu-Natal, with a budget of some 2 million rand to "cover the expenses of His Majesty and the Royal House". The agreement was that the budget would be approved by the provincial legislature, not the central government, and administered by a "person or persons approved by His Majesty" - presumably Buthelezi [13]

Eventually, the IFP participated in the elections in an atmosphere of reduced violence. However, there was extensive ballot rigging by the IFP in KwaZulu-Natal - primarily through the use of "pirate" or unofficial polling stations [14] It now appears that there will be no publication of the final ballot returns in the province and that a deal has been struck between the ANC and IFP leaderships - over the heads of the ANC in Natal - to give the IFP a narrow majority and control of the provincial legislature. This was prefigured in a press conference by the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Justice Johan Kriegler, when he said that there was nothing wrong with political "juggling" of poll results [15] Justice Kriegler said:

Certain counting station data relating to KwaZulu/Natal could not be verified with the requisite degree of reliability. The commission is satisfied that it would be a fair and reasonably reliable test of the votes of that province to adjust the verifiable information proportionally to the proven support of the respective parties [16]

Justice Kriegler claimed that the pirate stations did not exist, that they had merely been gazetted late. However, the Durban IEC had called for the pirate stations to be closed because they were in KwaZulu police stations and other venues controlled by the IFP, in the absence of independent monitors. The IEC head office overruled this decision and the pirate stations remained open [17]

The ANC faced counter-claims of rigging from the IFP. It seemed likely that the IFP would challenge the entire national election result unless a blind eye was turned to what had happened in KwaZulu-Natal. Thus, according to several sources, a political deal may have been struck. However, according to other sources, the IFP had already been offered control of the province before the elections in exchange for their participation [18] Either way, the new arrangement will be extremely unpopular with ANC supporters in KwaZulu-Natal.

The precise link between economic deprivation and political violence is a matter of dispute and speculation, but there is no doubt that widespread poverty makes it more difficult to address the causes of violence. A recent study by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) offered the following conclusions about the social conditions of the African majority:

•           between 30 and 50 per cent of the population, mostly black, live below the poverty line;

•           one in four blacks live in a squatter camp or crude temporary housing;

•           over 40 per cent of blacks have no access to clean water;

•           about 50 per cent of blacks are illiterate and one in four children are not in school;

•           only some ten per cent of rural blacks have access to basic sanitation and only five per cent have access to electricity;

•           poverty afflicts proportionately more women and girls than men and boys [19]

The ODI study is not optimistic about the economic prospects. It was largely profits from the mining sector and the low level of wages and social expenditure on the workforce that led to South Africa's pre-eminent economic position in Africa. Yet gold production, accounting for 30 percent of total export earnings, has fallen by half since 1979. Annual gold production is expected to continue to contract.

The economy is beginning to grow after years of contraction, largely because of the ending of sanctions. However, the study expects the benefits to be short-lived. South Africa is unlikely to benefit from substantial flows of aid from the West and will have to rely on foreign private investment. The ODI does not envisage this happening in the next two to three years, partly because investors will wait to judge the ANC's commitment to economic liberalization and partly because of the uncertainty caused by political violence [20]

3. THE PHENOMENON OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE

Since 1985, political violence within the black communities of South Africa has become an endemic problem. From 1985 until 1990, violence was concentrated in Natal between supporters of Inkatha and the ANC-aligned United Democratic Front (UDF). From 1990 onwards, when the government legalized the African National Congress (ANC) and other opposition groups and the Inkatha cultural movement formed itself into a national political party, violence spread to the country's main industrial area, the Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging (PWV) region around Johannesburg. Many political observers and human rights groups have claimed that elements of the security forces have been responsible for fomenting political or inter-tribal violence. Although there are localized instances of violence elsewhere, e.g. in the Western Cape, political violence remains overwhelmingly concentrated in Natal and the PWV region [21]

Different types of violence can be identified, including

•           attacks on political rallies or funerals;

•           apparently random attacks on commuter trains in the Johannesburg area;

•           violence around migrant workers' hostels;

•           targetted "hit-squad" killings of known leaders or activists of the ANC or the IFP;

•           more recently, and coinciding with a decline in train attacks, "drive-by killings" in which men in moving vehicles open fire randomly on pedestrians [22]

Over three years until June 1993, more than 9,000 South Africans are estimated to have died in political violence [23] Just over half of these were in the PWV region and 39 per cent in Natal [24] B. Berkeley put the death toll since 1985 at a minimum of 15,000, with 100,000 displaced from their homes. He estimates that nearly 2,000 people died in Natal alone in 1993 [25] From May 1993 onwards, around the time that the Human Rights Commission completed its three year survey, and after a period of relative calm in the PWV region, violence erupted again, especially in the East Rand townships, including Daveyton, Tembisa, Thokoza and Katlehong. The Human Rights Commission estimated that on average 366 people died each month in political violence during 1993 - a figure which has increased in the early months of 1994 as the election approached [26] In March 1994, the commission estimated that 266 people died in violence in Natal alone, with the daily average tripling in April during the first week of the state of emergency [27]

3.1 The Ethnic Factor

To what extent the violence in South Africa's black community can accurately be described as "tribal" has been a matter of constant debate. For many years the violence was concentrated exclusively in Natal where all parties to the conflict are Zulus. From 1990, however, with the growth of violence in the PWV region, the ethnic factor has been more in evidence, with migrant workers in the hostels, often Zulus, were pitted against township dwellers of a variety of ethnic origins who, as the election results showed, overwhelmingly supported the ANC [28]

In the 1988 census, the population of South Africa was estimated at 37 million. At that time the population was still classified by race under the apartheid system. The white population numbered just under five million, those of Asian descent nearly one million, the "coloured" community just over three million, and the black majority population about 28 million. One interesting by-product of the election has been a revelation of "the real demography of the country" [29] The shortage of ballot papers in many areas was a result of a major drift from rural to urban areas but also, probably, of an overall growth in population which had not been accounted for. In the Nelspruit area of the Transvaal, for example, there were one-third more voters than expected [30]

The black community is made up of a number of groupings which can be defined by language, ethnic origin or political orientation. The major groupings are the following:

•           The northern Nguni, of whom the two largest groups are the Swazi and the Zulu. The latter, numbering some seven million, are politically rather than ethnically distinct from the other Nguni peoples, having been forged into a single state by the nineteenth-century leader Shaka.

•           The southern Nguni, of whom the Xhosa are the largest group.

•           The Ndebele, also of Nguni origin, who were driven out of Natal in the nineteenth century by Shaka.

•           The Sotho, who are subdivided into the Tswana and the North and South Sotho.

•           The Venda, a small group living in the northern Transvaal.

•           The Shangaan-Tsonga, from the northern Transvaal, who straddle the border with southern Mozambique.

Some ten million of the black population (at a conservative estimate) live in the towns. Labour migration, intermarriage, urban culture and the politics of the black nationalist movement have all tended to break down ethnic or traditional political identities[31] 31.

However, a countervailing tendency has been the "grand apartheid" policy of National Party governments since 1948. This was aimed at creating a series of nominally independent "homelands" for each ethnic group, the ultimate aim being that there should be no black South Africans holding citizenship. The scheme failed for a variety of reasons: it was an ideologically-driven and unrealistic piece of social engineering; it did not correspond to the needs of employers, who wanted an urbanized labour force; it was not recognized internationally; and it was strenuously resisted by black South Africans themselves. However, four of the nominally independent homelands were created and remained in existence until the elections - Transkei, Bophutatswana, Venda and Ciskei, while six others had self-governing status [32] Although to some extent the homelands have reinforced ethnic identity, there have been many anomalies. For example, there are two Xhosa homelands in the Eastern Cape, Transkei and Ciskei, the latter of which has tried to forge an entirely spurious "Ciskei" national identity [33]

The clearest attempt to construct a political party along ethnic lines has been made by Chief Buthelezi, the Chief Minister of the KwaZulu homeland. In 1975 he revived Inkatha, a Zulu cultural association dating from the 1920s. Increasingly, Inkatha became a political party which could not be distinguished from the KwaZulu government. In 1990, Buthelezi relaunched the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) as a national political party. However, opinion polls suggested that it enjoyed only between five and ten per cent support at the national level and would command less that half the vote even in KwaZulu [34] The election results are inconclusive, given widespread rigging and intimidation, but official figures showed the IFP with just over half the vote in Kwazulu-Natal [35] In the 1970s, at a time when he still enjoyed the support of the ANC, Buthelezi developed his hold on political power by marginalizing the Zulu king, his nephew Goodwill Zwelithini, and relegating him to a largely ceremonial role [36] In the 1980s and 1990s he has succeeded in articulating the fears of many rural Zulus, in particular, by promoting an alliance with King Zwelithini in defence of the "Zulu nation. This notion of Zulu identity clearly goes beyond defence of ethnic interests and leads many to conclude that Buthelezi harbours the ambition of a separate Zulu state [37]

Buthelezi and the IFP, in common with some political commentators, characterize the main black political movement, the ANC, as a Xhosa-dominated organization. However, in the election the ANC won massive support not only among Xhosa-speakers in the Cape but also, overwhelmingly, in the PWV region and the rest of the Transvaal, which is not a Xhosa area. Many ANC leaders have come from other ethnic groups, including its past president Chief Albert Luthuli (Zulu) and the current secretary-general, Cyril Ramaphosa (Sotho). It is true, however, that many of the ANC's pre-eminent leaders have been Xhosa: Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani and Thabo Mbeki [38]

3.2 The Origins of the Political Violence

The origins of the current political violence are to be found in the "township revolt" of the early to mid-1980s and might even be traced back to the Soweto uprising of 1976. In the 1976 revolt and afterwards, the youths of the township displayed particular venom towards blacks involved in the administration of local government or "Bantu" education [39] In the early 1980s there was a sharp political division between the young "comrades", usually claiming allegiance to the pro-ANC United Democratic Front, and the "vigilantes". Often, as in the townships of Port Elizabeth and the squatter settlements of Cape Town, the latter were in fact state-sponsored militias, although sometimes they were simply older and more conservative township residents. However, in the PWV townships there were also violent territorial conflicts between the youth of the UDF and the black consciousness Azanian Peoples Organization (AZAPO). The state encouraged the development of vigilante organizations, often recruiting conservative blacks as police reservists or kitskonstabels (literally "instant constables"). At this stage there was no perceptible ethnic dimension to the conflict. Increasingly, the leadership of the UDF and the civic associations distanced themselves from the violent excesses of the "comrades", such as "necklacing" (igniting a car tyre around the victim's neck) [40]

In Natal, where the conservative forces found a political expression in Inkatha, this violence took hold in the mid-1980s and has continued unremittingly. In Durban, the violence began with a student boycott organized in protest at the murder of human rights lawyer Victoria Mxenge. The protesters rioted and were in turn harassed and attacked by Inkatha members. In the provincial capital, Pietermaritzburg, the violence originated in a recognition struggle by UDF-aligned trade unions which were similarly harassed by Inkatha. The violence continued through the 1980s, stoked by local warlords, many of whom occupied positions in the KwaZulu homeland administration [41]

In July 1990, violence suddenly erupted between ANC and Inkatha supporters in the Transvaal townships, shortly after Inkatha transformed itself into the IFP. The ANC accused the IFP and the government of replicating the Natal violence in order to weaken the newly legalized opposition. The violence began to assume an ethnic dimension, since most IFP supporters in the Transvaal are Zulus - often migrant workers in the single men's hostels [42]

One element in the conflict is undoubtedly social deprivation. Gavin Woods of the Inkatha Institute stresses the socio-economic causes of the violence, arguing "that reasonably contented communities have a negligible propensity for violence" and "politics is in itself not enough to have caused the levels of violence experienced" [43] In Natal, the Inkatha impis or armed bands are often composed of squatters and shack-dwellers from the poorest sections of the community.

Within KwaZulu-Natal, as the election results underlined, the division between the ANC and the IFP has been to some extent an urban-rural one. Township dwellers in the formal sector of the economy and with (marginally) better education have tended to favour the ANC, while more conservative rural communities are more inclined towards Inkatha [44]

However, these social factors alone do not explain the violence. The political rivalry between Inkatha and the ANC is clearly fundamental. Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Inkatha came to prominence in the 1970s, seen by the international community as essentially a "moderate" alternative to the ANC. Whereas the ANC was in alliance with the South African Communist party, Inkatha favoured free enterprise. Whereas ANC supporters campaigned for international sanctions, Inkatha opposed them. Whereas the ANC favoured armed struggle, Inkatha was regarded as non-violent (although in fairness it should be added that the ANC only embraced violence after 50 years of peaceful protest, while Inkatha took up violent struggle against its supposed allies in the anti-apartheid movement). However, the other dimension of Buthelezi was that he was a functionary of the apartheid system. He was Chief Minister of KwaZulu from 1972 and later Minister of Police as well. The KwaZulu state exchequer provided funds for Inkatha. As Berkeley argues:

While the ANC was banned, and its partisans jailed and often tortured for trying to organize, Inkatha was free to carry on its activities. Relying on funds provided by Pretoria and on the virtually unlimited police powers and taxing authority allowed by the system of indirect rule, Inkatha evolved into an impressive political machine with exclusive channels of patronage. In KwaZulu, Inkatha has controlled the allocation of land, health care, pensions, education, travel documents, and police officers. Inkatha has claimed a membership of more than a million, but there is no telling how much of this is the result of genuine support and how much of coercion [45]

Supporters of Buthelezi point out that he consistently refused the option of independence taken by other homeland leaders. However, Maré argues that independence would have been "politically suicidal" [46] The election results show how Buthelezi succeeded in building mass support in a way achieved by none of the other homeland leaders who accepted nominal "independence" from Pretoria, and who were swept away by the ANC.

Berkeley underlines the importance of the Inkatha patronage network in building political support. He also draws attention to the "warlord" phenomenon. He traces "warlordism" in Natal back to the British system of indirect rule in the province through chiefs. As Berkeley describes them,

Natal's warlords control fiefdoms through a mixture of terror and patronage. In their own fiefs they can tax and recruit, run protection rackets, hire hit men, and finance private militias by extorting tribute from their subjects, whether those are peasants or squatters. The warlords exploit the corruption inherent in unaccountable tribal rule [47]

The warlords are not a purely rural phenomenon. Durban is one of the fastest urbanizing areas in the world with a squatter problem second only to Mexico City. By 1985 one million people lived in the shantytowns on Durban's fringes. According to Berkeley,

urban shacklords have moved into the vacuum of law and accountable power. They organize vigilantes to curb crime - or perpetrate it - and pay them by creating an informal tax base from "rents," or household levies [48]

The ANC has also been responsible for criminal violence, but this has tended to be at the fringes of the organization rather than coming from its centre. By contrast, the major Natal warlords - men like David Ntombela in the rural areas of the Natal Midlands and Thomas Shabalala, who controls the Lindelani shanty-town on the fringes of Durban - are aligned with the IFP. One of the peculiarities of the homeland system was that the boundaries of KwaZulu extended right into the urban areas around Durban, including Lindelani. Thus Shabalala's headquarters is guarded by KwaZulu police. KwaZulu police vehicles ferry armed Inkatha members as they go about their business in the township [49]

The violence in the PWV region has somewhat separate causes. A major underlying factor has undoubtedly been the migrant labour system. Workers in the single-sex hostels live in poor conditions. Five hostels in the Soweto township near Johannesburg officially accommodate 13,000 workers but in fact house about three times that number. Some 125,000 migrant workers live in 31 hostels in the townships around Johannesburg. The migrants are from remote rural areas, often in KwaZulu, and have little contact with township residents [50] The enlistment of hostel dwellers by the police to combat militant township residents dates back at least to the Soweto revolt of 1976. On that occasion Chief Buthelezi intervened in an attempt to stop attacks by hostel-dwellers on local residents [51]

In a report on the violence in the East Rand, the Independent Board of Inquiry and Peace Action argue that there has been a change in the character and composition of the hostels in recent years. It points out that many hostels remained isolated from the political developments in the 1980s and became bastions of conservatism amidst the generally radical townships:

With the abolition of influx control during the mid- 1980s, the composition of hostel residents began to change rapidly. The hostels became increasingly overcrowded as people came to the urban areas to seek work. Many of these people were from rural areas in Natal and retained strong links there, such as families and property etc. Political polarisation in Natal has also impacted on these migrant workers [52]

However, as in KwaZulu-Natal, social factors are not sufficient to explain the violence. The outbreak of hostilities in August 1990 followed directly on Inkatha's declaration that it had become a national political party and the launching of an intensive recruitment campaign. The hostels were targeted for recruitment and in Thokoza on the East Rand, for example, the first clashes were between residents of the Khalanyoni hostel and the Phola Park squatter camp. Hostel residents who refused to join the IFP were attacked and sought refuge in the squatter camp. When they tried to retrieve their belongings from the hostel they were attacked again.

The SAP [South African Police] were perceived by the residents of Phola Park and Thokoza's Beirut section to be partial to the hostel residents. The violence was characterised by mass impi attacks on Phola Park and the surrounding area. Counter attacks from ANC aligned Phola Park residents followed a similar pattern and it was soon impossible to determine whether attacks were of a defensive or aggressive nature [53]

The violence spread to other parts of the East Rand following a similar pattern. A crucial element was the battle for the control of territory. By May 1993 this took the form of forced "colonization" and the creation of "no-go areas" in Katlehong and Thokoza [54]

Many observers have noted that upsurges in violence have coincided with crucial events in the process of political transition, concluding that often attacks have been deliberately timed to disrupt peace negotiations. Amnesty International printed a graph, based on data from the Human Rights Commission, the South African Institute of Race Relations and the South African Police, which clearly illustrated the correlation [55] Similarly, Africa Watch noted:

widespread violence has often become more intense immediately before breakthroughs in political initiatives, such as occurred in May 1991 before the ANC's deadline to force the government to take specific action to curb the violence; preceding the signing of the National Peace Accord in September 1991; preceding the "whites only" referendum of March 17, 1992; and before the resumption of negotiations in March and April 1993. Moreover, where local peace initiatives have been successful, unexplained attacks have sometimes occurred that seem designed to stir up new tensions. In the Port Shepstone area in southern Natal, where a local peace accord seemed to have succeeded in calming serious violence, and refugees were returning to the area, unidentified gunmen massacred ten people in an attack in April 1993, leading to a further outbreak of violence[56]

Similarly, the London Independent, in a story headlined "Surge in SA killings coincides with reform", commented on the upsurge in violence as the ANC and the Government reached agreement to hold multi-racial elections in April 1994 and establish the Transitional Executive Council (23 September 1993).

In its study of violence on the East Rand, the Independent Board of Inquiry and Peace Action takes issue with this interpretation, which it describes as "too simplistic", because it "fails to take into account local conditions which are very often the catalyst and engine to upsurges and the perpetuation of violent acts" [57] It lists a number of other factors which need to be taken into account in Thokoza and Katlehong:

•           feuds between rival taxi firms, which take on a political dimension [there have been similar "taxi wars" in the Western Cape [58] ;

•           "forced colonization" of areas by both the IFP and the ANC;

•           revenge attacks;

•           undisciplined behaviour by community Self Defence Units; - the activities of the police Internal Stability Unit which, the report says, give "the distinct impression that the ISU has a clear programme to eliminate members of the self-defence units" [59]

3.3 The Role of the State

This final element, the role of the various arms of the state in fomenting or perpetuating conflict, is crucial to an understanding of the phenomenon and has been widely reported by human rights organizations. They point out, for example, that by virtue of its control of the KwaZulu administration, the IFP has official resources and backing. In 1991 a series of reports in the Johannesburg Weekly Mail showed that the IFP had received direct funding from the police security branch and that Inkatha members had been trained by the South African army in Namibia [60] The failure of the South African police to intervene impartially to protect victims of IFP attacks has been well-documented, while the KwaZulu police often actively participates in Inkatha's military activities. After a mission to South Africa in late 1991, Amnesty International reported that township residents

compared the rarity with which the police searched and seized weapons from the black migrant workers' hostels, which in many areas had been taken over by IFP supporters, with the vigour, indeed brutality, with which the same police raided the homes of ANC supporters, especially when they were suspected of being members of self-defence units or the armed wing of the ANC. The anger at this lack of even-handedness by the police was compounded by the occasions when residents saw the police as actively colluding with their attackers [61]

Similarly, Peace Action has commented on the conduct of the security forces in Thokoza on the East Rand:

Police allegedly opened fire with live ammunition when conflict between hostel dwellers and ANC marchers erupted, raising the death toll and exacerbating tensions. In the following days the security forces seemed either unwilling or powerless to stop the escalating conflict. Peace Action monitors witnessed security forces driving away from a scene of conflict on the East Rand [62]

Peace Action also reported that on occasion the security forces were themselves parties to the conflict:

In Phola Park [an East Rand squatter camp] running gunbattles between police and residents left untold numbers dead and injured. One Red Cross worker told Peace Action that he lost count of the number of injured he had attended to and described loading mutilated bodies into ambulances in a vain bid to save people's lives. Afterwards the townships were littered with unclaimed bodies which now lie in government mortuaries awaiting identification [63]

Peace Action notes a pattern of returning members of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC, after dying in "mysterious circumstances", citing the case of Ishmael Malindi, who died in April 1993, a day after being arrested (April 1993).

In two reports in December 1993 and March 1993, the Commission of Inquiry under Judge Richard Goldstone, established under the 1991 multi-party national peace agreement, found that the IFP had been the recipient of covert funding and training from the police and military intelligence. The December 1993 report condemned the involvement of the KwaZulu police in hit-squad assassinations. The officers involved were among a group of 200 who received training from the South African Defence Force in the Caprivi Strip in Namibia in 1986. Judge Goldstone's findings confirmed allegations which had appeared in the press for the previous two years (64). In the March 1993 report, the Goldstone Commission named senior police officers who it said had provided weapons and other assistance to the IFP in "a horrible network of criminal activity". The allegations contained in the report include: 'gun-running' to hit squad members, the illegal manufacture of weapons, the issuing of false documents and the orchestration of violence. It was alleged that a police unit based at Vlakplaas in the Transvaal was involved in organizing hostel and train violence. The Vlakplaas police unit recruited IFP officials, including the party's Transvaal leader, Themba Khoza, who distributed weapons [64]

Many of Judge Goldstone's findings had been extensively reported by the press, which meant that they were greeted with less enthusiasm than might have been expected [65] At the same time, new reports linked police undercover units to atrocities such as the 1992 Boipatong massacre, when 41 people died in an incident which nearly derailed peace negotiations [66]

The conduct of the Internal Stability Unit of the police has been a matter of concern to human rights organizations. For example, Amnesty International criticized the arrest in July and August 1993 of several hundred young men in the East Rand detained under "unrest area" regulations imposed on the townships. Many were hooded, beaten, partially suffocated and tortured in other ways (February 1994). The ISU was eventually replaced by the South African Defence Force on the East Rand. Although the SADF's conduct has been better, the Independent Board reported that it had received 16 complaints of torture against the soldiers in the East Rand townships in February and March 1994 (February/March 1994).

4. THE WHITE RIGHT WING

The white - predominantly Afrikaner - right wing is in disarray as a result of political division and military defeat. However, the remaining fragments still have the capacity to organize a disruptive campaign of terror, as they demonstrated during the election week itself [67]

From October 1993 the right wing was organized into the Freedom Alliance which appeared for a while to a be a significant unifying force. The following elements were included in the Freedom Alliance:

•           the Inkatha Freedom Party

•           the Afrikaner Volksfront, led by General Constand Viljoen

•           the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB), led by Eugene Terre'Blanche

•           the Conservative Party, led by Ferdie Hartzenberg

•           several of the homeland leaders, including Lucas Mangope of Bophutatswana and Oupa Gqozo of Ciskei [68]

The alliance collapsed for two main reasons. Firstly, there were differences of strategy over whether to participate in the elections. Secondly, the AWB suffered a military humiliation when it attempted to rescue the collapsing government of Lucas Mangope on 11 March 1994. General Viljoen's reluctance to be identified with either the AWB's brutality or its discomfiture led him to move decisively to participate in the election - although Viljoen had issued a rallying call to Afrikaner Volksfront supporters over the right-wing Radio Pretoria and must bear considerable responsibility for the subsequent killings [69]

The various right wing Afrikaner factions wish to establish an Afrikaner volkstaat or homeland. However, they disagree profoundly about the nature of that state and where it should be based. One problem which was highlighted by the election results is that there is no part of the country where Afrikaners are in a majority. Any projected volkstaat would have a substantial African majority. The notion that certain groups have spoken in favor of carving a homeland in the inhospitable terrain of the Northern Cape is unlikely to appeal to many modern, urban Afrikaners.

The volkstaat as envisaged by General Viljoen now seems to comprise some sort of federal solution rather than independent statehood. Already before the Bophutatswana fiasco he was in regular contact with the ANC, which is prepared to make considerable concessions to the Freedom Front in order to defuse the threat from the Afrikaner right wing. The interim constitution now provides for a Volkstaatsraad (homeland council) "to enable proponents of the idea of a volkstaat to constitutionally pursue" its establishment. These concessions appear to have won over many supporters of the hard-line Conservative Party behind General Viljoen [70]

The most important remaining element on the far right is the neo-Nazi AWB. The AWB is seen by some as insignificant (figures of fun), by others as a potent force. In reality they are something in between. The AWB suffered a serious defeat in Mmabatho in March and is wracked by internal divisions. However, this very division increases fears that the considerable military arsenal at its disposal will fall into the hands of ever-smaller groups of assassins and terrorists. Africa Confidential argues:

There is no shortage of itinerant right-wing groups from Europe willing to take up the cause of South Africa's white right (while others are lending strong military propaganda support to Inkatha) ... The more the militarized right turns to terror tactics, the stronger Viljoen's position will become as the acceptable face of the right (1 April 1994).

There is no doubt that most Afrikaners want little to do with the far right. The national mood is one of reconciliation and weariness with conflict. The ANC's extensive concessions mean that the right-wing electorate is inclined to wait and see how it performs in government. However, two points should be stressed. The first is that the neo-Nazi paramilitary groups, such as the AWB, have plentiful weapons and the capacity to use them. A significant number of current or former members of the security forces are linked to the far right. The bombs planted in Johannesburg during the election week pointed in their direction [71] They have no need of popular support in order to maintain a low-level terror campaign like that of the Irish Republican Army in Britain - the "IRA option" is now being openly discussed.

A second point is that the mood of the Afrikaners may change. Afrikaners rely disproportionately on state employment - in the civil service and security services - and are bound to be hit hard by affirmative action in favour of Africans in general and ANC supporters in particular. It is unclear what other options are available to many Afrikaners. A likely scenario is of increased social stratification among Afrikaners, with many of the poorer gravitating to the far right.

5. A PROGNOSIS FOR THE FUTURE

It is clear that over the past few years several factors have contributed to the political violence in South Africa. These include:

•           political conflict at the national level - notably between the ANC and the IFP;

•           local political rivalries - "warlordism" in Natal and battles for turf in the East Rand and elsewhere in the PWV region;

•           ethnic tensions - between predominantly Zulu hostel dwellers and township dwellers in the PWV;

•           complicity of state security agencies through training and arming parties to the violence, displaying bias in their handling of violent incidents and through carrying out hit squad killings;

•           heavy-handed and repressive state response to some parties to the violence;

•           underlying social and economic tensions, caused by poverty and deprivation, which create an urban underclass prone to violent gang activity.

Some of these elements are discussed in greater detail below in order to evaluate the prospects for peace.

5.1 Political Conflict

The ANC has attempted to resolve the political conflict between itself and the IFP in a two-stage deal: firstly, bringing the IFP into the elections through concessions regarding the power of the Zulu king, and secondly handing Chief Buthelezi control of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government. The Guardian's Natal correspondent summarized the deal thus:

In the end, the new South Africa failed the first test of its fledgling democracy. With a gun at their heads, the Independent Electoral Commission and the African National Congress conspired to hand control of KwaZulu/Natal to Mangosuthu Buthelezi in the hope of buying peace in the blood-soaked province.

In so doing they swept aside evidence of widespread vote rigging, and the faith of millions of people who had made a considerable effort to cast their ballots [72]

The Guardian quotes an incredulous local ANC official who asks: "Are they saying to us that if we bring our ballot boxes from home they will be counted?" [73] Article 19 comments that the IFP will now feel that it "can rig the next elections with equal impunity". It continues:

On the one hand, local ANC supporters will feel frustrated and disenfranchised. On the other, Chief Buthelezi and the IFP have a green light to continue the repressive style of government that has characterized the KwaZulu homeland for the past two decades[74]

Drawing comparisons with Uganda and Kenya, where violence continued after international endorsement of rigged elections, Article 19 expects that the effect of the deal in KwaZulu-Natal will be further violence [75]

The contrary view, and the rationale for allowing the IFP control of the provincial government, is that this gives it a stake in the new political process. According to one ANC official:

In terms of violence, allowing Inkatha to control Natal might be better .... It is easier to control the ANC followers, especially since we have won nationally. If the situation was reversed and the ANC won the province, there would have been chaos [76]

There has been a fear for many months that Buthelezi would refuse to accept the result of the election and choose the so-called "Savimbi option", with reference to the leader of the Angolan opposition party UNITA, and take his followers back to the bush. Berkeley comments that this might more aptly be called the "Nkomo option", after the Zimbabwean opposition leader, with a low-level ethnically-based guerrilla war in rural KwaZulu-Natal, points out that:

those who perpetually wonder whether Buthelezi has it in him to bring about such a war tend to forget that he has already been waging such a war for nearly a decade - at enormous cost to his own people in particular .... At issue is not whether South Africa will explode but whether it will continue to burn [77]

The deal seems likely to have the effect of strengthening hard-liners among the ANC provincial leadership. The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal is filing a court action to overturn the election result - apparently at the initiative of the party's leader in the Natal Midlands, Harry Gwala, who is a militant opponent of the IFP. The attitude of the national leadership towards this remains to be seen [78]

Mary de Haas, a commentator from the University of Natal, concludes:

The violence will certainly flare, and if it does it will be the responsibility of those who took this decision which is based on fraud on a huge scale [79]

5.2 Complicity of State Security Agencies

An extremely important factor in keeping political violence on the agenda has been the direct participation of the state security apparatus in "third force" political assassinations, support to white right-wingers and, above all, backing for the IFP. This observation has two important implications for the future. The first is that, logically, now that government power has changed hands it should be much less easy for right-wingers to continue their violent activities. However, on the other hand, it is equally clear that the security apparatus is permeated with individuals who not only had past loyalty to the National Party Government, but who were also actively involved in covert support to the political enemies of the ANC. It is also clear that, in order not to alienate the white community, the ANC is unlikely to carry out a purge of such individuals [80] The course it is following is the same as that adopted in Zimbabwe at independence in 1980, when white Rhodesians who had been responsible for human rights abuses were maintained in place. The argument advanced then by the new government to the Central Intelligence Organization, dominated by former Rhodesians, was that "Zimbabwe could not be expected to dismantle its only security agency" [81] However, what happened in practice was that a number of former Rhodesians in the CIO continued to spy for the South African government. They were involved in the assassination of the ANC representative in Harare, the destruction of most of Zimbabwe's air force and a number of bomb attacks. Most seriously, former Rhodesians in the CIO organized the caching of arms by anti-government rebels, at the same time as inflaming official suspicion of the main opposition party, a course of events which led directly to army massacres of thousands of civilians in Matabeleland in the mid-1980s [82] Of course, South Africa differs from Zimbabwe in a number of respects, notably the fact that the new South Africa does not have a powerful and aggressive neighbour to offer support to its opponents. However, the implications for the nation's security of retaining large numbers of potentially disloyal soldiers, police officers and intelligence personnel are potentially disastrous.

5.3 Heavy-Handed State Response

In many respects, the options if violence continues in KwaZulu-Natal do not inspire confidence. On the one hand, the central government could take a "hands-off" approach, allowing the IFP-controlled provincial government, which is itself a party to the conflict, a free hand to resolve the situation. This would be essentially a continuation of the status quo, with the KwaZulu police exacerbating violence through hit squads and blatant partisanship. It is expected to take five years to integrate the KwaZulu police into the South African Police under the new constitution [83] The question would be how far the IFP's behaviour could be modified through parliamentary scrutiny in the provincial legislature.

On the other hand, the central government could employ the option introduced at the end of March 1994 - a state of emergency and extensive use of repressive powers. The imposition of the state of emergency and the involvement of ANC security guards in the shooting of IFP demonstrators in Johannesburg has led some commentators to question the ANC's competence to run a security agency and its reluctance to cleanse its own ranks of those responsible for human rights abuses. Investigations by Amnesty International and by two internal ANC commissions of inquiry found that the movement's security department had been responsible for widespread abuses of prisoners at camps in Angola, Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda [84] Although the ANC was praised for having investigated itself more fully than the South African Government has ever been prepared to, no action has been taken against those officials found responsible [85] Two senior ANC members were implicated by the second internal commission of inquiry, chaired by Sam Motsuenyane in 1993. The commission named Joe Modise, now appointed Minister of Defence, and Jacob Zuma, the former intelligence chief who is now ANC leader in Natal [86]

Since the drafting of the interim constitution, with its impressive Bill of Rights, a sub-committee of the Transitional Executive Council has carried out an audit of the country's laws in order to establish which are in breach of the rights guaranteed in the constitution. However, the process of repeal has not got under way. Most immediately and controversially, the Government has so far retained its powers of detention without trial under Section 29 of the Internal Security Act [87]

6. CONCLUSION

The optimism and euphoria of the election days has rapidly given way to a more sober view of the future. Forty per cent of black South Africans are without employment - as many as 90 per cent among the so-called "lost generations" of militant youths [88] In the townships, criminal gangs and warlords shade into political rivals. As the Goldstone Commission described in one instance:

The position was exacerbated by the gangs attracting the attention of political organisations which used them in order to enlarge their political support and power. All of these factors combined and led to violence and ruthless murder [89]

This relationship is important. Violence and gang rivalry in the townships will not disappear without political involvement, but they might at least be curbed if the police can break with their past and adopt new sensitive and community-based approaches [90]

Yet the fundamental problem remains at the political level. The disarray over the KwaZulu-Natal election result shows that the fundamental cause of political violence - the spoiling tactics of Chief Buthelezi and the IFP - has not been resolved. The rivalry between the IFP and the ANC has simply moved into a new phase. At this stage it seems unlikely that peace will be an immediate effect of the election in KwaZulu-Natal.

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The views expressed in the papers are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of UNHCR.

 



[1] SouthScan, 6 May 1994; The Guardian, 7 May 1994

[2] The Independent, 7 May 1994; Article 19, 9 May 1994

[3] SouthScan, 29 April 1994

[4] SouthScan, 11 February 1994

[5] Ibid.

[6] The Southern Africa Exclusive, 15 September 1993; Africa Confidential, 10 September 1993

[7] The Guardian, 2 May 1994

[8] The Guardian, 7 May 1994

[9] The Independent, 19 April 1994; SouthScan, 21 April 1994

[10] The Independent, 31 March 1994; The Guardian, 4 April 1994

[11] Independent Board of Inquiry, February/March 1994

[12] Ibid.

[13] SouthScan, 22 April 1994

[14] The Guardian, 3 May 1994; SouthScan, 6 May 1994

[15] SouthScan, 6 May 1994

[16] The Guardian, 7 May 1994

[17] SouthScan, 6 May 1994

[18] Ibid.

[19] Overseas Development Institute, April 1994

[20] Ibid.; The Guardian, 5 April 1994; SouthScan, 29 April 1994

[21] Africa Watch, January 1991 and May 1993; Amnesty International, June 1992; International Committee of the Red Cross, 1993

[22] Africa Watch, May 1993; Amnesty International, June 1992; Human Rights Commission, July 1993; Independent Board of Inquiry, April, May, June-July 1993; Peace Action, February, March, April, May 1993

[23] Human Rights Commission, [June 1993?]

[24] ibid.

[25] Berkeley, March 1994

[26] Human Rights Commission, February 1994

[27] SouthScan, 8 April 1994

[28] Africa Watch, 1991; The Guardian, 7 May 1994

[29] SouthScan, 29 April 1994

[30] Ibid.

[31] Cubitt and Joyce, 1989, 10-11

[32] Fund for Free Expression, 1984

[33] Vail, 1989, 395-410

[34] Africa Watch, September 1993, 9

[35] The Guardian, 7 May 1994

[36] Maré, 57

[37] Berkeley, March 1994, 100

[38] Ellis and Sechaba, 1992, 148-150

[39] Kane-Berman, 1979, 109-132

[40] Sparks, 1990, 339-341 and 356-8; Ellis and Sechaba, 1992, 155-6; Africa Watch, January 1991, 13

[41] Marks, 1989, 215; Minnaar, 1992, 2-7

[42] Africa Watch, January 1991, 43-5

[43] Woods, 1992, 38

[44] The Guardian, 2 April 1994

[45] March 1994, 86

[46] 1993, 57

[47] March 1994, 94

[48] Ibid., 95

[49] author's personal observations, Lindelani, August 1992

[50] Africa Watch, January 1991, 15

[51] Kane-Berman, 1979, 113 and 129-132

[52] April 1994, 5

[53] Ibid., 4

[54] Ibid. 4

[55] June 1992, 3

[56] May 1993, 36

[57] April 1994, 6

[58] Amnesty International, June 1992

[59] April 1994, 6

[60] Africa Watch, September 1993, 9-10; Amnesty International, June 1992, 40-2

[61] June 1992, 4

[62] Peace Action, May 1993

[63] Ibid.

[64] Independent Board of Inquiry, February/March 1994

[65] The Independent on Sunday, 20 March 1994

[66] The Observer, 20 March 1994

[67] SouthScan, 29 April 1994

[68] Africa Confidential, 1 April 1994; SouthScan, 9 November 1993

[69] Africa Confidential, 1 April 1994; Amnesty International, 29 March 1994

[70] Africa Confidential, 1 April 1994

[71] SouthScan, 29 April 1994

[72] The Guardian, 6 May 1994

[73] Ibid.

[74] Article 19, 9 May 1994

[75] Ibid.

[76] The Independent, 6 May 1994

[77] Ibid., 100

[78] The Guardian, 9 May 1994

[79] The Independent, 6 May 1994

[80] Carver, 1993, 69

[81] Lelyveld, 1985, 213

[82] Carver, 1993, 80-1

[83] SouthScan, 6 May 1994

[84] Amnesty International, December 1992; African National Congress, October 1992. August 1993

[85] Amnesty International, 10 September 1993

[86] African National Congress, August 1993

[87] SouthScan, 11 February 1994

[88] Berkeley, March 1994, 90

[89] Idem, 90

[90] Amnesty International, March 1994

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