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Life and Politics in South Africa and Malawi

May 11, 1992



Regarding the letter "Will There Be a Civil War in South Africa?," in the letters column of April 6: It is an oversimplistic interpretation of South African political history to suggest that there will be a right-wing revolution in South Africa because Afrikaners "have been fighting black tribesmen since the 16th century," that they are "generally racists and would most likely not accept rule by what they consider inferior blacks."

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South Africa is a complex society and its history has certainly been one of conflict. Conflict between the British and the Afrikaners, the British and the Zulu and the Xhosa. But equally, it has also been a history of a people striving for justice, peace and equity.

For the last 20-odd years prophets of doom have been predicting that time is running out for South Africa and that the country is on the brink of civil war. That this has not happened is surely further testimony to the will of a people, who despite their different ideological and religious persuasions and cultural norms, have been able to rise above themselves and strive toward a future that is just, peaceful, and free of the racial antagonisms of the past.

The majority of South Africans are in favor of peaceful solutions. There is broad-based support and recognition that the only way to resolve South Africa's conflicts and differences is through a process of peaceful negotiation, which has as its ultimate objective a new, just, and democratic constitution based on the principle of universal suffrage and underpinned by a justiciable bill of human rights.

The fact that 68.7 percent of Afrikaners and English-speakers endorsed democracy in the March 17, 1992, referendum is surely further irrefutable proof that the majority of white South Africans have voted to turn their backs on their apartheid past and extend a hand to their black compatriots. By voting for an honorable future, white South Africans sent a message to the world that the stereotypical image of the white South African clinging to unfair privileges is false and unwarranted. Pieter H. Viljoen, New York S. African Consul-General

Contrary to the article "Opposition Takes Root in Malawi," April 16, there is no opposition to the Malawi Congress Party or to the government in Malawi. However, there may be a few individuals who have failed to achieve their own personal ambitions and, in turn, they blame others for their failures.

With regard to the multiparty democracy, it is important to remember that conditions differ from one country to another. Whereas political developments in one country may have been the result of dissatisfaction among the people, the same should not be expected in a country where people have enough to eat, good clothing, live in comfortable houses, and, above all, enjoy unprecedented law and order. People who have all that they need in their lives have no cause to look for an alternative system of governm ent.

It is for this reason that the people of Malawi confirmed, through their leaders and representatives at the Malawi Congress Party Convention and to Parliament last year, that the one-party democracy has served them well.

Also, nothing could be further from the truth than for anyone who has been to Malawi to suggest that the popularity of His Excellency the Life President Ngwazi Hastings Kamuzu Banda has slipped. The truth of the matter is that Kamuzu is very much a loved leader of the people of Malawi. His people are always keen not only to see him but also to hear him speak to them. Robert B. Mbaya, Washington Malawi Ambassador to the US