WESTERN diplomats are confident that the United Nations Security Council will agree on a resolution July 15 to open the way for limited international mediation aimed at resolving the breakdown in interracial negotiations and halting escalating political violence in South Africa.
Seven South African political leaders who will attend the debate appear in agreement that the proceedings should be followed by the UN secretary-general sending a personal envoy to South Africa to investigate violence and the reasons for the impasse between the government and the African National Congress (ANC).
Former United States Secretary of State Cyrus Vance has been mentioned as the most likely candidate.
ANC President Nelson Mandela, who left for New York late July 13, said before his departure at the airport that the ANC would like to see the visit by a UN envoy followed by an international mission to monitor violence in South Africa.
"But we are not going to press that demand now," Mr. Mandela said. He said an international mission to monitor violence was necessary because the Goldstone Commission, a judicial commission appointed by the government, needed to be strengthened by an international presence. `Mass action' to stay
Mandela said that the ANC's program of "mass action" - sustained national protests aimed at forcing President Frederik de Klerk to accept the principle of majority rule - would continue regardless of the outcome of the Security Council debate.
"It will only be called off if the government responds to our demands to our satisfaction," Mandela said.
The interracial negotiating forum, the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, stalled in May over the issue of majority rule.
A total breakdown in relations between the ANC and Pretoria followed the massacre of at least 41 blacks in the Boipatong township last month. Alleging police collusion in the incident, the ANC put forward a list of conditions necessary for the resumption of negotiations, including international monitoring of violence, a total ban on dangerous weapons, and the closing of single-sex hostels in the townships.
The UN debate has been preceded by a flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at securing a resolution that focuses on urging all parties back to the negotiating table rather than apportioning blame for the violence.
"I think the resolution that emerges will be closer to what Pretoria wants than what the ANC had in mind," says a Western diplomat. "But the important part is the secretary-general's special envoy who will visit the country after the debate."
Western diplomats say Mandela had adopted a conciliatory attitude to the UN debate.
Before departing for New York July 12, South African Foreign Minister Roelof (Pik) Botha also took a conciliatory stance. He said he would welcome a UN "fact-finding mission or a group to endeavor to get negotiations on track again." Foreign advice wanted
"We would welcome foreign advice on how to curb the violence," Mr. Botha said. But he warned that the international community would not be able to solve South Africa's problems. "The outside world cannot resolve problems [of this country] which we cannot resolve ourselves."
This theme was also taken up by Inkatha Freedom Party leader Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who also left for New York July 13. Chief Buthelezi warned that unless a solution was found for the political violence the country would soon slide into "a civil war situation."
The Security Council debate will also be addressed by Pan Africanist Congress leader Clarence Makwethu and three leaders of nominally independent tribal homelands.
Meanwhile, the Pretoria government and the ANC are involved in a war of words over political violence. The ANC accuses the government of being either unwilling or unable to control elements in the security forces, which the ANC says provokes violence in the townships. Government officials deny the charge and blame the violence on inflammatory speeches by ANC leaders. Looking to Washington
In a telephone conversation two weeks ago, Mandela asked President Bush for US support in the Security Council debate, a US official said.
In separate letters to Mandela, President De Klerk, and Buthelezi in the wake of the Boipatong massacre, Mr. Bush expressed concern about the violence and offered De Klerk the services of US Secretary of State James Baker III to mediate in the South African crisis, the US official said.
De Klerk replied to the letter within 24 hours but did not take up Bush's offer to send Secretary Baker to the country, the official said.