THE African National Congress should address ``seriously and realistically'' white South Africans' fears of domination under black rule, ANC President Nelson Mandela said on Friday.
Mr. Mandela confirmed that the ANC has been holding secret talks with right-wing Afrikaners about the establishment of a semiautonomous white homeland. [The talks were first reported by the Monitor on Friday.]
Fears of oppression under black rule ``may be baseless but nevertheless are genuine,'' he said. ``It is therefore the task of the ANC ... to address these fears realistically and seriously.''
The ANC is expected to win South Africa's April 1994 elections, in which blacks will vote for the first time. The ANC envisions a multiracial state, but some whites who refuse to live under black rule want their own homeland.
``We cannot accommodate their demand in the way that they have put it, but room for negotiations and for a compromise is there,'' Mandela said. ``These discussions have been harmonious, conducted in a very good spirit, and they have been fruitful.''
He did not specify what compromise might be reached, but seemed to imply that the parties were discussing a semiautonomous white homeland arrangement.
``What we are not - definitely not - going to do is have any ethnic solution,'' he said. ``But we can reject an ethnic solution without rejecting the basic demand of a people wanting a particular region in which to run their own affairs.''
Pro-apartheid Afrikaners have been seeking about 16 percent of South Africa's territory as an autonomous homeland for the Afrikaner people. They say their main problem with living under an ANC-led government is that they fear it will impose communism. The ANC has had close ties with South Africa's Communist Party.
By cutting a deal with the white right-wingers, the ANC can bring them more firmly into the political process and induce most whites to disavow violence.
``In the right wing, there are men and women who realize that violence is not in the interest of the country,'' Mandela said.
The ANC, in turn, becomes even more clearly identified as the rising power in the next government - the one group with enough clout to make deals that will shape South Africa's future.