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Inkatha Leader Says ANC Is Threatening His Followers

February 13, 1994

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Zulu leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi told followers Sunday to prepare themselves for ″casualties and even death″ after his party’s decision to boycott the nation’s first all-race election.

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s decision to sit out the April voting will lead to heightened violence, Buthelezi said. He accused the rival African National Congress of having already started ″ethnic cleansing″ against his people.

An ANC leader told 5,000 chanting supporters Sunday that it was Inkatha and the white right-wing that was leading the country toward civil war.

″We warn them that we have put our lives down for freedom before,″ Tokyo Sexwale, the ANC’s leader in the Johannesburg-Pretoria region, said at a rally in the violence-scarred black community of Tokoza outside Johannesburg. ″If we have to do it again, we will not hesitate.″

The Zulu nationalist Inkatha party called for the boycott Saturday, hours before the deadline for registering for the first election to include South Africa’s black majority. Nineteen other parties, including the ANC and the governing National Party, met the deadline.

The ANC, which led the fight against white minority rule since its founding 82 years ago, is expected lead the voting in the April 26-28 election.

Months of talks involving Inkatha, right-wing whites, the government and the ANC deadlocked last week over how much power regional governments would have under a new constitution.

Negotiating as the Freedom Alliance, Inkatha and the white right-wing want autonomous or independent homelands where they can govern themselves and maintain privileges enjoyed under apartheid.

The government and ANC reject setting up territories on the basis of race or tribe.

″There are people in this country who are claiming that they must be given their own land. That will not happen,″ ANC head Nelson Mandela told a cheering crowd of 5,000 during a campaign speech Sunday in Retreat, in the southwest.

President F.W. de Klerk scheduled a meeting Monday with Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, Buthelezi’s nephew, seeking to break the impasse. The ANC set talks next week with the Bophuthatswana black homeland, another Freedom Alliance member.

″We’ll continue to try to negotiate, even after the elections,″ Mandela told reporters.

Speaking in the northeast town of Empangeni to more than 8,000 members of the Inkatha youth wing, Buthelezi hammered at the ANC’s alliance with the South African Communist Party and at the inability of its leaders to stop political violence.

″It is impossible for me to lie to you and reassure you that the IFP’s opposition to fighting the election ... will not bring casualties and even death,″ he said.

″If you look at the ‘ethnic cleansing’ that is taking place on the East Rand, they seem to have started on this kind of genocide,″ Buthelezi said.

The East Rand area has been the center of bloody clashes between Inkatha and the ANC. Ethnic cleansing is a euphemism coined in Bosnia-Herzegovina to describe the practice of one ethnic group using killings and threats to drive members of another group out of an area.

Calling up references to another historical tragedy, Buthelezi said the ANC and its Communist allies might try to ″exterminate the Zulus as the Nazis tried to exterminate the Jews.″ Supporters responded with chants of ″We won’t vote 3/8″

Last year, more than 3,000 black South Africans were killed in political violence, mostly stemming from ANC-Inkatha rivalry.

Three people believed to be ANC members died Saturday night in fighting at a squatter camp near Johannesburg.

A bomb ruptured a gas line west of Johannesburg early Sunday but injured no one. The explosion resembled more than 30 other bombings this year blamed on white extremists.

Update hourly