De Facto Transfer of Power Seen in S. Africa
Weakening authority of government is highlighted by ANC role in security
BOKSBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — THE militant outbursts sparked by the assassination of black leader Chris Hani have made it increasingly clear that South Africa's government can no longer rule this country without the moral and material support of the African National Congress (ANC).
"Up to now, negotiations have been about agreeing on structures for the transfer of sovereignty," says political scientist Mervyn Frost of Natal Universisty at Durban.
"In the wake of Chris Hani's death, I have the distinct sense that sovereignty has already shifted to the black majority and negotiations, from now on, will be about formalizing that de facto shift," Professor Frost says.
The wave of anger unleashed by Hani's murder, allegedly by a white gunman, has also brought the debate about joint control of the security forces into sharp focus. It became clear in the past week that the security forces of the National Party government could no longer guarantee law and order in the aftermath of Hani's murder April 10.
By the night of April 16, this was formally recognized by the police in Johannesburg, who signed a formal agreement with the ANC leadership for the joint policing of memorial marches through the city the next day.
ANC Secretary-General Cyril Ramaphosa said that the high level of co-operation between the ANC and the police had broken new ground in the relationship between the police and the black community. Shared role in security
"This is the embryonic stage of joint control of the security forces," Mr. Ramaphosa said in an interview on state-run television April 18. He said that any policeman who had entered the stadium where the memorial service for Hani was held over the weekend would have been welcomed by the people because they appreciated the role the police were playing in conjunction with the ANC to ensure that it was safe for everyone.
"The final authority regarding security is now jointly in the hands of the ANC and the security agencies of the government," Frost says.
Police officials denied that the agreement amounted to joint control of the police and said the goal was to ensure that ANC leaders took responsibility for the action of their followers.
Police have condemned the violence that erupted outside the stadium on April 19, but ANC leaders argue that violence initiated by ANC supporters since Hani's murder has been surprisingly low considering the levels of anger unleashed by Hani's death. Military burial
Hani, who was both the secretary-general of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the most popular ANC leader after ANC President Nelson Mandela, was laid to rest in the formerly all-white, middle-class Southpark cemetery in the industrial suburb of Germiston, close to the middle-class Dawn Park neighborhood of Boksburg where he lived with his wife, Limpho, and three daughters.
His coffin, draped in the hammer-and-sickle SACP flag and the green, black, and gold ANC flag, was carried to the grave by eight soldiers of the ANC's military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), wearing military uniforms.
As the coffin was lowered into the grave, three shots were fired by an Umkhonto we Sizwe officer and three white peace doves were released into the air.
The three shots drew cries of jubilation from an otherwise subdued and obedient crowd of about 15,000 people, but at that point revolvers and automatic weapon fire could be heard throughout the crowd as a 21-gun salute boomed in the background.
It ceased only after repeated calls to "Stop Firing!" from Tokyo Sexwale, an official of Umkhonto we Sizwe and the ANC.
The unexpected eruption came in the closing stages of an otherwise dignified and smooth funeral service lasting about 45 minutes. Outpouring of emotion
The incident typified the outpouring of anger, defiance, and jubilant assertiveness which has had all the trappings of independence celebrations.
Black pride has been in stark contrast to the defensive pose adopted by President Frederik de Klerk and leaders of the ruling National Party.
Mr. De Klerk was condemned by the liberal Democratic Party (DP) April 19 when he refused to endorse a DP proposal to suspend proceedings in the white-dominated Parliament for three hours as a "gesture of sympathy and solidarity with Hani."
De Klerk was chided by the financial daily Business Day April 20 in an editorial for displaying a lack of leadership.
"Since Hani's killing, he [De Klerk] has retreated into the laager.... His priority is to assure whites that they are safe from the black hordes."
The landmark decision by state-run television to broadcast live both the Hani memorial rally near Soweto and the burial service took the drama and emotion of black society into the homes of whites.
"South Africa will never be the same," has been the most frequently heard phrase in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg since Hani's murder.