Little applause for S. African racial power-sharing plan
Cape Town — South African proposals for white-nonwhite ''power-sharing,'' introduced last week, met stinging criticism from black leaders and the white political right and left wings.
The proposals put the issue of power well ahead of the notion of sharing, and leave blacks out of the political power structure.
The President's Council - unveiling its proposals for a new constitution for this country - recommends that South Africa's parliamentary system of government be replaced with an executive presidency with far more power than the existing prime minister.
Its proposals would allow the president to appoint Coloreds (persons of mixed race) and Indians to the Cabinet. These nonwhites have no role in central government now. But the plan puts off for further consideration the central issue of how nonwhites will be given direct representation in the National Assembly.
Blacks, who make up 70 percent of South Africa's population, would continue to be left out of the political mainstream.
Zulu Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, leader of the nation's largest black ethnic group, condemned the proposals for excluding blacks and said it is ''political myopia'' of the worst kind to believe that racial tensions will subside if the plan is approved.
The white right wing, which broke away from the ruling National Party and over proposed power-sharing and regrouped as the new Conservative Party, says the plan is not acceptable. Its leader, Dr. Andries P. Treurnicht, says ''it will be the end of white self-determination in this country'' if Parliament votes for the new strong-president plan.
Even the leader of the more liberal Progressive Federal Party, which favors power-sharing, criticizes the report, though not as strongly as Dr. Treurnicht. PFP leader Frederik van Zyl Slabbert says the proposals, as they now stand, call for a president with ''almost dictatorial powers.'' Its assumption that blacks cannot cannot participate in a democratic system is ''repugnant and inaccurate, '' he said.
But Dr. Slabbert falls short of condemning the council plan. He says he will wait for the government's reaction to the proposals before taking a firm position on the proposals.
Unveiling its proposals May 19, the President's Council said there was an ''urgent'' need for political reform in South Africa. But even the government is not expected to accept or reject the proposals quickly.
Prime Minister Pieter W. Botha May 15 spoke of a need for granting voting rights to nonwhites, but at press time had not commented on the council proposals.
The council report is built on two premises: (1) the one-man, one-vote principle is not an option for this nation, and (2) the policy of limiting black political rights to the ''homelands'' is ''very unlikely to be reversed.''
Black leaders suspect the council proposals' aim is to co-opt Coloreds and Indians into supporting the government's apartheid (strict segregation) policies.
However, some South Africans think the council is recommending an important incremental step away from the present policy of white political domination.
But the issue of central government power-sharing remains unresolved for the moment. The focus is on the council's call for a more powerful executive president.
The proposal is for an indirectly elected president with a seven-year term. He would be voted into office by an electoral college consisting of whites, Coloreds, and Indians. The president would appoint a cabinet consisting of these three race groups, although the council did not prescribe any ratio of race representation on the cabinet.
The president would be the initiator of legislation and would not be vulnerable to votes of no-confidence as the prime minister is now. The report recommends that the first president be elected by the present parliament--rather than waiting for the multiracial parliament--so that Indians and Colored will quickly be placed in the Cabinet.
The council set out no checks and balances on the president. Such ''details'' will emerge later, according council members.
On the local government level, the council urges that more power and autonomy be given to Colored and Indian communities.
Multiracial government is suggested at a new regional level to deal with services like water and electricity supply.