JOHANNESBURG — THE South African government, following the breakdown in negotiations, is coming under pressure to allow a full-time international group to monitor political violence and security force action.
According to Western diplomatic sources there appears to be an emerging consensus that a limited international presence to monitor violence would help to get negotiations back on track.
The African National Congress (ANC) has called for international intervention following eyewitness accounts that police colluded with members of the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party in the massacre of 40 blacks in the township of Boipatong last week.
ANC President Nelson Mandela has written to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali requesting an opportunity to address the UN Security Council and calling for international intervention.
Western diplomats said today that the secretary-general would wait to talk to leaders of the Organization of African Unity at the OAU summit in Dakar, Senegal, this weekend.
President Frederik de Klerk has written to Mr. Boutros-Ghali reaffirming Pretoria's commitment to a negotiated settlement. The OAU has invited South African Foreign Minister Roelof (Pik) Botha to attend the summit.
Mr. Mandela and Mr. De Klerk are expected to meet before the weekend to discuss the ANC's conditions for returning to the negotiating table.
Mr. Botha yesterday indicated a softening in the government's rejection of an international monitoring role.
"I personally consider it helpful that members of international organizations acquaint themselves with the crisis here through fact-finding missions, with a view to making an independent and objective assessment of the facts surrounding the violence."
The ANC's renewed emphasis on an international role will test the government's resistance to outside intervention, which is based on its determination not to forfeit its status as a sovereign and independent nation.
The ANC has set international monitoring as its top demand in a list of conditions for returning to the negotiating table. Western diplomats said today that the ANC appeared to have left enough flexibility in its demands for a face-saving resolution of the latest ultimatum.
The government "talked the ANC down from the last ultimatum," one Western diplomat said. "If they adopt the same approach this time, they could achieve the same result."
Other demands included an end to covert operations, including hit-squad activity; disarmament of all special forces; suspension and prosecution of officers involved in the violence; an end to repression in the black homelands; a phaseout of the workers hostels, which the ANC says are being used by Inkatha to attack township residents.
Mandela has further international and local support behind him at present following the massacre of 40 blacks at Boipatong squatter camp last week. Residents say it was the work of the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party, supported by the police.
Townships in the area are still seething in the wake of the killings. At least 13 private vehicles were attacked and set alight this week on a highway running adjacent to the troubled Vaal Triangle townships. All occupants managed to flee unhurt.
The government has already allowed outside groups into South Africa, such as the International Commission of Jurists and the Organization of African Unity, to make short-term investigations of such violent incidents.
But an international body with the power to intervene in the government's handling of political violence is an anathema to the government. It was only after a period of bitter resistance that the ruling National Party allowed the UN to assist with the return of political exiles.
Such a body could put strong pressure on the government, which has already come under fire from the nation's own independent commission on violence, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone. Only last week, the Goldstone Commission recommended that 32 Battalion be removed from the townships. The commission said the unit was more responsible for promoting violence than preventing it.
Before President De Klerk's return from Spain, it was being suggested that he had accepted international mediation. It is not known whether his idea for a foreign mediator would answer the ANC's demand for an international commission.
But publicly, De Klerk did not accept the premise of the ANC demands, namely that the government was involved in promoting violence either at Boipatong or anywhere else in the country.
"The government is not implicated in or a part of political violence," he said. "We do not instigate violence, we fight it."
But the pressure on De Klerk to agree to an independent commission is mounting every day with the threat of a renewed campaign of international sanctions.
The South African Council of Churches yesterday set a July 15 deadline for the government to take action against violence or it would call for the nation to be expelled from the Barcelona Olympics and for cancellation of planned rugby tours to South Africa by Australia and New Zealand.