By MICHAEL O. ALLEN and GENE MUSTAIN, Daily News Staff Writers | Wednesday, April 20, 1994
PRETORIA—In a last-minute about-face that won him little more than he was offered 10 days and dozens of political killings ago, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi yesterday agreed to take part in next week’s first all-race election.
With Buthelezi and his Zulu-based party on board, the biggest obstacles to a free and fair election across the country—and the threat of civil war among 8 million Zulus—appear to have fallen by the wayside.
“It is my deepest hope this agreement will bring an end to violence,” President F.W. de Klerk said during a dramatic joint press conference here.
In return for Buthelezi’s participation, deKlerk and the government-in-waiting of African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela agreed to amend the constitution to reflect the special “status” of the Zulu kingdom and to submit political power-sharing issues to mediation after the election.
In Washington, President Clinton praised the accord as demonstrating “great courage and capacity for compromise.”
The breakthrough came when Buthelezi realized over last weekend—after the collapse of international mediation—that de Klerk and Mandela were not going to delay the April 26 to 28 election.
Buthelezi said he had agreed to the compromise to “avoid a great deal more bloodshed and carnage which we have been witness to in recent months.”
Even as he spoke, however, Zulus opposed to the election were engaged in a gun battle with other blacks and National Peacekeeping Force soldiers in Tokoza township outside Johannesburg.
Five died, 40 were injured.
But the agreement appears to meet Zulu demands for a constitutional monarchy for Zulu king Goodwill Zwelthini and recognition of the Zulu homeland of KwaZulu in the province of Natal.
The tricky part—determining how political power will be wielded in KwaZulu, and by whom—was saved for post-election international mediation.
The Zulus had feared that once the ANC took power, they would annihilate their homeland and culture.
Mandela called the agreement “a leap forward for peace, reconciliation and nation-building.”