Right-Wing Leader Defends Armed Effort To Thwart Reform
Moves toward political liberalization in South Africa have spurred growing white resistance by a range of right-wing groups, now broadly estimated at about one-third of the white population. Some are involved in armed action and bombings to halt moves towards power-sharing. Others advocate the creation of a separate white homeland. And the ``silent majority'' are anxious and uncertain, but not committed to any political model. The Monitor talks with two proponents of a white homeland.
JOHANNESBURG — ROBERT VAN TONDER will never be the same after July 6. That day about 35 armed policeman burst into his home before dawn, trained a video camera on him, and spent three hours searching his home.
It was a scene familiar to a generation of black activists. But to the Afrikaner leader of an extremist right-wing group, it was too much to swallow.
``It is the sort of treatment one might expect from the Soviet KGB,'' says Mr. Van Tonder.
In recent months Mr. Van Tonder, who quit the ruling National Party in 1961, has become a high-profile apologist for right-wing terrorism.
For three months the deputy leader of Van Tonder's Boerestaat Party (Boer State Party), Piet Rudolph, has been on the run from police after declaring that he was going underground to plan an armed rebellion to thwart black rule.
Mr. Rudolph has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a symbolic monument, and is thought to have masterminded the theft of arms and explosives from state-run military arsenals.
``I support what he has done,'' says Van Tonder. ``He says you can't win it the democratic way. We will all do the same thing if it is proved he was absolutely right.''
As head of the Boerestaat Party, Van Tonder is a leading advocate of creating a Boer state incorporating the old Boer republics of Transvaal, the Orange Free State, and northern Natal.
It would contain about 3 million Boers and 12 million blacks.
The area includes major industries and nearly all the country's mineral wealth. The blacks would have no political rights.
``We need to reestablish our own state like the Jews did in Israel,'' says Van Tonder.
Unlike some right-wing leaders, Van Tonder does not believe that black rule is inevitable. He believes that pressure could still thwart Mr. De Klerk's plans for negotiating a new nonracial constitution.
One of his mechanisms of pressure is the Boere Weerstandsbeweging (Boer Resistance Movement), the military wing of the Boerestaat Party.
``We started organizing commandos because the democratic avenues seem to be closed,'' Van Tonder says.
``We can't sit back while De Klerk steamrollers the whole thing through with a mixed referendum which we have no hope of winning,'' he adds.
Van Tonder condemns some recent bomb blasts attributed to the right wing in which civilians have been targeted.
``If we lose this time - it's terminal,'' he says.
``That's why we have got to win. And that's why you get this upsurge of resistance.''