S. African rightists rally for race 'purity'
Johannesburg — South Africa's political far right has served notice it may be down, but it is far from out. Over the weekend some 7,000 Afrikaners launched a new cultural organization - the Afrikaner Volkswag - that may provide the cohesiveness needed to form a formidable right-wing political movement against South Africa's ruling National Party.
The government's concern was seen in a stinging attack this week on the new organization by Education Minister Gerrit Viljoen. In Parliament he accused the Volkswag of being blatantly political.
The ruling Nationalist Party is in no danger of being unseated by the far right. But government policy is greatly influenced by a perceived threat from the right.
But if anyone is endangered by the right, it may be the official opposition Progressive Federal Party, which is more liberal than the government. A government minister has predicted privately that in the next general election, a right-wing party would become the official opposition.
The founders of the new Afrikaner Volkswag (People's Guard) sang hymns and gave emotional speeches calling for a return to racial purity and a restoration of old-fashioned apartheid.
Afrikaner ultraconservatives are unhappy with Prime Minister Pieter Botha's so-called ''reformist'' policies, particularly the planned admittance of Coloreds (persons of mixed racial descent) and Indians into new chambers of Parliament, although they would be only junior partners in government to the ruling whites.
Mr. Botha's new Parliament makes no provision for the black majority, and blacks reject it as a retrogressive step. But many white Afrikaners see allowing any nonwhites into Parliament as the beginning of the end of white supremacy.
The Volkswag brought together the previously scattered forces of South Africa's far right. Prof. Carel Boshoff, forced from the chair-manship of the powerful Broe-derbond society because he opposed the ''liberalized'' government policy, is chairman of the new group.
Among those who attended the Volkswag session were Dr. Andries Treurnicht, who split from the National Party in 1982 and formed the Conservative Party, and Jaap Marais, leader of the Herstigte (Reconstituted) Nationalists, who are to the right of the Conservatives.
''The Volkswag drew thousands of Afrikaners from all class groups, and it has laid the foundation of a far-right political movement,'' says Willem Kleynhans, who studies Afrikaner politics at the University of South Africa.
''This is not a splinter group, it is much more,'' Professor Kleynhans says.
The Volkswag is labeled a ''cultural organization'' by its founders. But analysts say its intent is every bit as political as the formerly secret Broederbond, which for years has promoted Afrikaner unity in part to ensure that white Afrikaners retain exclusive political control. (Afri-kaners represent about 60 percent of South Africa's white population.)
South Africa's far right has already won its first political beachhead against the National Party. It lost an attempt to quash the fledgling Conservative Party last year when it challenged Treurnicht to contest his seat in Parliament. Treurnicht won the vote, marking the first time the National Party had lost a seat in Parliament to its right.
Earlier this year the Conservative Party won another election. Both CP victories have been in the northern Transvaal Province, one of the nation's most conservative areas.
The presence of the leaders ofthe Conservative Party and the Herstigte National Party at the Volkswag founding may be the beginning of a political amalgamation of the two. Many analysts say such a development is essential to the far right's political success.
Although policy differences have kept Treurnicht and Marais apart, Kleynhans says the Volkswag may force them together.
Some political analysts feel South Africa's far right is confined to the northern Transvaal and a few other isolated pockets. Others feel it is more widespread.
Kleynhans says the Afrikaners are split almost down the middle, although the majority is sticking with the National Party because it is a proven winner.
But Kleynhans warns against underestimating the appeal of the far right's call for a return to staunch Afrikaner nationalism and strict racial separation, including a ''homeland'' for the Coloreds.
''On color issues, tens of thousands of members of the National Party share the sentiments of the new Volkswag,'' he says.