ANC Decries Military `Plan' to Keep Power

THE African National Congress said on June 23 it had unearthed a "chilling" military plan being pursued by the government to retain power.

An ANC statement said the objective was to weaken its power base by using military dirty tricks to perpetuate violence in black townships.

"At the heart of the plan is the [ruling white] National Party (NP) goal to be the main partner in a future government," the ANC said.

Details of the alleged "Operation Thunderstorm" are due to appear in the July edition of the ANC magazine Mayibuye. But the ANC said it was releasing its contents in advance because "of interest in the present political climate."

It was not clear if the magazine had scheduled the article before the June 17 massacre of at least 39 blacks in Boipatong township, which ANC leaders have blamed on security forces.

"Mayibuye has unearthed a chilling plan of the NP regime for transition [to democracy].... The plan could not imaginably be conducted without at least the tacit involvement and knowledge of the head of state [President Frederik de Klerk]," the statement said. A presidential spokesman declined to comment.

"Operation Thunderstorm is designed to weaken the ANC physically through violence and create a climate of uncertainty. The unbanning of the ANC and the release of its leaders [in February 1990] would then appear in the eyes of blacks in particular, as the cause of their terrible suffering," it said.

The statement reviewed the alleged plan's policy objectives and methods and did not discuss individual incidents.

Killings were contracted out to gangsters; battalions of the Army known to include large numbers of Mozambican, Namibian, Angolan, and Zimbabwean mercenaries; and groups of migrant workers loyal to the Inkatha Freedom party, the ANC's most powerful rival for black loyalties, the statement said.

The police and Army consistently deny allegations of complicity in the unrest that has killed more than 5,000 people since De Klerk legalized black opposition groups in 1990.

A senior ANC official recently told Reuters that six members of the security forces were defecting to the ANC every week and divulging details of operations against the movement.

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