A bid by South Africa's Nobel Peace Prize winner, Bishop Desmond Tutu, to end strife between the country's prominent rival black resistance movements has met with a temporary setback. Neither the United Democratic Front (UDF) nor the Azanian People's Organization (AZAPO) attended scheduled peace talks called for last week by Bishop Tutu in Soweto, a black township outside Johannesburg.
In recent weeks there has been an intensification of the differences between the two groups, leading to physical clashes and a war of words. In the past week fighting between supporters of UDF and AZAPO has claimed three lives, including an AZAPO member and two children of an AZAPO follower.
Tension between the two ideologically divergent movements goes back many years. Although both can be said to have a common enemy in the South African government, there are fundamental differences. The UDF is a multiracial organization that welcomes white involvement. It follows in the tradition of the African National Congress, now banned in South Africa. AZAPO is a ``black consciousness'' movement with no white members.
At the burial last month of the 20 blacks killed by police gunfire at Langa, near Uitenhage in the eastern Cape Province AZAPO accused the UDF of ``hi-jacking'' the funeral and forcefully excluding its members from the service. Late last month a former AZAPO president, Lybon Mabasa, was assaulted by student supporters of the UDF at the University of the North in the Transvaal Province.
Bishop Tutu, who has repeatedly expressed horror at intra-black violence, invited both movements, as well as representatives of the Zulu-based Inkatha movement, to unity talks. Only Inkatha, which is regarded as more moderate than either AZAPO or UDF, attended.
Bishop Tutu commented: ``I received a note from the UDF shortly before the meeting saying I had not given them enough notice. AZAPO told me I should hold separate meetings with both parties first before trying to hold a joint meeting.''
His peace move is supported by black clergymen from the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Lutheran churches. The clergymen decided at the Soweto meeting to organize separate meetings with the UDF and AZAPO as a prelude to any future talks.
Bishop Tutu said late last week he hoped talks would take place soon.
The rivalry between the UDF and AZAPO is substantial, but it appears that attempts are being made by outsiders to exacerbate the already inflamed situation.
Each movement has disclaimed responsibility for pamphlets attacking the other.
The pamphlets have been quoted on South Africa's state-owned television. Their appearance of the pamphlets was followed by fire-bomb attacks on the homes of leading members of AZAPO and its affiliate, the Azanian Students' Movement.