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Homeland Leader Says Fragmentation No Answer to Political Problems

February 19, 1988

PHUTHADITJHABA, South Africa (AP) _ The leader of South Africa’s poorest black homeland told President P.W. Botha on Friday that partitioning the nation into such ″self-governing″ states won’t solve its political problems.

Kenneth Mopeli, chief minister of Qwaqwa, was essentially saying ″No thanks″ to plans Botha had outlined for more self-sufficiency and eventual independence for the tribal areas.

The territories comprise 13 percent of South Africa’s land and are meant to be homelands for the nation’s black majority, which has no voice in national affairs.

Mopeli called Botha one of South Africa’s greatest leaders but challenged his view of the future for the 10 homelands.

The president was in Phuthaditjhaba to dedicate a new government-funded Legislative Assembly building for the tiny homeland in the dusty foothills of the Drakensberg mountains. The president also unveiled a bust of Mopeli.

Botha told the 80 black legislators that the self-governing areas ″have a proud history.″

He said development taking place in Qwaqwa - which means ″whiter than white″ in southern Sotho dialect - had convinced him the homeland wanted to be more self-sufficient.

Mopeli has steadfastly resisted independence for Qwaqwa, saying it does not have enough land or industry to be economically or politically viable.

Qwaqwa, covering 240 square miles, is the smallest of the homelands, and many of its workers earn about $30 a month. It is one of six homelands classified as ″self-governing states.″ Four homelands are recognized as independent republics by South Africa.

″The self-governing states as they exist today are apartheid-affirmed structures,″ Mopeli said, referring to the government’s policy of racial separation.

″We are still convinced that our political salvation does not lie in the partitioning and fragmenting of this country for various groups,″ he said. ″We need ... a more viable formula.″

Botha said homeland leaders such as Mopeli, who have rejected independence, will be invited to ″share in discussions on continued constitutional reform for all the black communities.″

He specifically mentioned the proposed National Council, an advisory body intended to negotiate a political system that would for the first time bring blacks into national politics.

Currently, the 5 million whites lead the government and control the economy, while the 26 million blacks are not represented in Parliament.

Most prominent black leaders, including Mopeli, have rejected the National Council idea.

″The national council that is being envisaged as an instrument of negotiation shall always be viewed with suspicion, since according to its chief spokesman (Botha), it is intended to design a constitution that will be built on the group concept,″ Mopeli said. ″The fears we harbor are that once the group concept has been entrenched in the constitution, some groups may find themselves being more equal than others.″

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