S. African Ambassador On Nation's Reform


SOUTH African Ambassador to the United States Harry Schwarz spoke with the Monitor's editors in Boston on Aug. 24. On the day of his visit the Monitor carried an article by our South Africa correspondent, John Battersby, reporting allegations of the existence of a `Third Force' of security force operatives sabotaging the move to majority rule. The editors asked the ambassador for his reaction. Excerpts follow: On progress toward reform:

One of the things that is being overlooked is what has actually been achieved as opposed to what hasn't been achieved. Since [President Frederik] de Klerk came into power, he has repealed 100 laws entrenching race discrimination, which on the one hand demonstrates his willingness to do it and on the other hand demonstrates how deeply apartheid is ingrained in the society. On the breakoff of negotiations:

The [CODESA] negotiations were broken off, and I think they were broken off by the [African National Congress] largely for two reasons.

The first is that it's important to the ANC to demonstrate to its own constituency that it is not being coopted. There is an argument that the more radical elements of the ANC forced the situation. That may be partially true. But the reality is that if the ANC loses credibility in its own constituency, it is not an effective negotiating partner.

The second, which is not as important, is that the ANC wanted to demonstrate to the government its own power and its own support in the electorate. Having the national strikes, the demonstrations, mass action in all its forms, that was a demonstration of power to the government.

But it doesn't look too bad for a resumption [of talks]. On Third-Force allegations:

I think that the security forces are engaged in activities that they should not be in. The extent of it is open to question and debate. The difficulty that exists is that it doesn't require large numbers of people to undermine a situation. A few people in key positions can also do a lot of damage.

One must also bear in mind that the country needs a security force and needs a police force. If it didn't exist, it would be a bigger disaster. In my [early political] speeches I kept saying that we should increase the size of the police force. And we should train them to deal with [violence] because at the time when change comes, that is the greatest time of instability, and that's the time we need law and order more than at any other time.

I've always been against apartheid. But what about the person who's been brought up from childhood believing that apartheid is the right thing? Being then in the police force, enforcing the apartheid rules, and suddenly on February 1990, being told, "Look here, from now on it's different. You're going to have a different approach to learn." It's not so easy to deal with that situation. I don't rationalize it and I don't justify it. But I understand why they're doing it

I have doubts as to whether there is a nationwide organization that dominates our security force. There's been no proof up until now. But, I'm sitting in Washington.... I would much rather have reliance upon the Goldstone Commission, which is held in high repute. I think if there is evidence, [the government-appointed commission of inquiry into violence] will get to the bottom of it.

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