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KwaNdebele Legislature Rejcts Independence Plan

August 12, 1986

SIYABUSWA, South Africa (AP) _ KwaNdebele’s Legislative Assembly today rejected a plan to make this homeland of 400,000 people an independent state within the borders of South Africa.

Opposition to the plan had stirred violence in which more than 100 people were killed in the past seven months. ..............CORRECTIVE Sent October 7, 1986 FOLLOWS......................

The Associated Press reported erroneously on Aug. 11 and Aug. 12 that only 600 men had voted in the 1984 elections for the KwaNdebele homeland Legislative Assembly.

The KwaNdebele government and the South African Department of Constitutional Development and Planning said that more than 30,000 of the 50,000 eligible voters participated in the three-day elections.

The AP figure of 600 was based on a report issued by the Transvaal Rural Action Committee, a human rights organization. The person who prepared the report is not in South Africa and the organization said it could not comment on the report because the researcher who prepared it is not available. ...........................................................................

KwaNdebele is one of 10 tribal homelands that the South African government considers as national states for the 24 million blacks in the country.

″Independence is being uprooted and eradicated with all its roots, and thrown into the deep ocean,″ said the assembly speaker, Solly Mahlangu, after a four-hour debate.

He said no vote was taken, but he made the decision in his capacity as speaker after listening to members report on how their people asked them to vote.

″It can be reported to Pretoria (the capital of South Africa) that the legislative assembly has indicated that the KwaNdebele people do not agree with independence and they will not opt for it,″ Mahlangu said.

Rejection of the plan for KwaNdebele independence is a major setback in the South African government’s plan to create a satellite system of black nations.

Four of the 10 homelands have taken independence but are not recognized by any other country. They are Venda, Bophuthatswana, Ciskei and Transkei. Others, like KwaZulu, have rejected the idea.

Independent or not, the homelands remain bound to South Africa through financial ties and for jobs for their residents.

Blacks opposed to independence say the homelands represent a central government attempt under the apartheid system to deprive blacks of citizenship and other rights within South Africa. They view the homelands as poor and undeveloped territories, overpopulated by the removal of millions of blacks from areas designated as white.

Leaders of the independent homelands say that while their countries stem from apartheid, they have gained genuine control over their own affairs.

KwaNdebele is a dry, dusty area of about 1,000 square miles. Most of its inhabitants spend 18 hours a day traveling and working in distant cities. The homeland is northeast of Pretoria.

Most of the 72 members of the Legislative Assembly were appointed by tribal chiefs, who have fought the plan to become independent on Dec. 11. Sixteen were chosen in a 1984 election in which only 600 men cast ballots.Women cannot vote in the homeland.

Eight members were appointed by Chief Minister Simon Skosana, head of the homeland government, who pushed for independence. One of Skosana’s sons, Peter, 19, leads the ″comrades,″ a network of youths who have fought independence through school and work boycotts, and have been accused of burning to death opponents in the bitter struggle.

Before opening the independence discussion, the assembly voted to disband and outlaw the Mbokotho, a semisecret vigilante society that Chief Minister Skosana created this year to curb violence and subdue foes of independence.

Last week, the homeland government said it had eliminated the organization after the vigilantes were accused of violence, including rounding up and torturing youths and other opponents of the government.

Piet Ntuli, interior minister and reputed head of the Mbokotho, was blown up in his car July 29. No arrests have been made.

After his death, the chiefs insisted that the chief minister call a legislative assembly, so they could reconsider the independence plan.

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