De Klerk Seeks to Regain Credibility With New Cabinet

PRESIDENT Frederik de Klerk's Cabinet reshuffle has restored some of his administration's shattered credibility following the secret-funding scandal. But negotiations on a transition to majority rule are unlikely to begin before he takes visible steps to end security-force collusion in township violence.The president removed Defense Minister Magnus Malan and Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok on Monday, moving them to less key positions in his Cabinet. "The real test now is what the new-look Cabinet - and specifically the new defense minister - can do to clean out the security forces and end the township violence," says a Western diplomat. Pretoria will also face increasing pressure to relinquish more power during the transition and will find it more difficult to resist the argument that the ruling National Party government cannot be trusted with running the transition. "The crux of the matter is not which heads roll," said liberal Democratic Party legislator Jacobus Jordaan. "The question is whether the government is capable of managing the transition on its own. Quite clearly the answer is no." Mr. De Klerk's steps to end secret funding of political parties, tighten financial controls on secret projects, and re-affirm his commitment to interracial power-sharing are expected to prevent the process of interracial dialogue from being totally derailed. But Walter Sisulu, African National Congress Deputy President, said the demotion of General Malan and Mr. Vlok from the two key security jobs was not a substitute for firing them: "The removal of guilty parties from the Cabinet is what we demanded." In sharp contrast, right-wing Conservative Party deputy leader Ferdi Hartzenberg said the Cabinet reshuffle signalled a victory for the ANC and the beginning of the "disintegration" of the National Party. Briefing foreign diplomats in Johannesburg July 29, ANC leaders said true negotiations could not take place until the issue of violence had been settled. Political analysts say the reshuffle was a skillful maneuver that had moved party liberals and De Klerk loyalists into key positions. Most analysts were surprised De Klerk had taken the political risk of publicly humiliating the hawkish Malan, who was given the neutral position of Water Affairs and Forestry and Housing. It was Malan who devised the "total onslaught" strategy to counter a communist threat and presided over an era of "hit squads" and the harrassment of anti-apartheid activists under cover of the military. The most significant appointments were those of key negotiator Roelf Meyer as Minister of Defense, Hernus Kriel as Law and Order Minister, the liberal-leaning Sam de Beer to the politically sensitive post of Education and Training, and key reformist Leon Wessels to the crucial job responsible for planning, local, and regional government. The resignation of the right-wing Piet Clase from the sensitive white education post could help break the deadlock over black use of empty white schools. In his first major statement since the scandal broke, ANC President Nelson Mandela spelled out five minimum steps De Klerk must take to restore trust in negotiation. These included appointment of a multiparty commission to look into the government's role in political violence and secret funding of political parties, disbanding counterinsurgency forces, freezing and public investigation of secret funds, and prosecution of all security personnel identified as being responsible for the violence. "The moment of decision has arrived," Mr. Mandela said in a call from Mexico. "Either we perish together or, through our joint actions, we save the peace process." He said the government's commitment to reconciliation would be tested by its actions rather than words. "The current exposures demonstrate quite clearly that De Klerk and his ministers cannot be trusted to supervise the transition to a democratic South Africa. If the political field is to be truly levelled, a multiparty interim government of national unity should be set up to oversee the transition," Mandela said.

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