CHIEF Mangosuthu Buthelezi is fighting for his political life.
Renewed pressure on the controversial Zulu leader follows a judicial inquiry implicating his Inkatha Freedom Party in a ``third force'' to provoke political violence, and a new call by Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini for a sovereign Zulu state in Natal Province.
``I think this is the beginning of the end for the IFP,'' says Jakkie Cilliers, a former military officer who heads the independent Institute for Defense Politics (IDP).
The findings of the Goldstone Commission, an independent body charged with investigating political violence, has undermined Inkatha's legitimacy and set the stage for a massive security crackdown in Natal to ensure that the election can be held in Inkatha-controlled areas.
The inquiry, published Friday, unveiled a ``horrible conspiracy'' to promote political violence involving senior elements in the South African Police (SAP), Inkatha, and the KwaZulu Police.
Joint hit squads
The Goldstone findings confirmed a top-level ``third force'' in the police force engaged in gun-running to Inkatha, setting up joint hit squads with the KwaZulu Police, organizing massacres in black townships and on trains, and provoking violence between rival black taxi groups.
The findings have vindicated a Monitor report on Aug. 24, 1992 that a ``third force'' - consisting of a secret network of former and present members of the security and intelligence forces - was actively sabotaging the country's transition to democracy.
Chief Buthelezi denied the allegations, and an Inkatha statement branded the report as a ``dirty trick to discredit the party and its leadership before the election.''
The same day as the Goldstone revelations, King Goodwill delivered a hard-line speech proclaiming a sovereign Zulu state in Natal, and hinted he would advocate a boycott of the country's first all-race elections on April 26-28 unless demands for Zulu autonomy were met. That call followed the cancellation of a meeting between King Goodwill and African National Congress (ANC) President Nelson Mandela.
Bheki Ntuli, a senior ANC official in Natal, said the King's speech had irrevocably split Zulu's into pro- and anti-ANC camps. Mr. Ntuli called on all ANC-supporting Zulus in Natal to stand together and defend themselves from attack and intimidation by the Inkatha. More than 10,000 people have died in internecine strife between Zulu supporters of Inkatha and the ANC, but recent opinion polls show that the ANC enjoys a clear majority of Zulu support.
Ntuli called on the Independent Electoral Commission, the body charged with certifying the April poll, to take steps to ensure that all those who wanted to vote on April would be able to do so.
Judge Richard Goldstone's findings are likely to lead to the flushing out of the top ranks of the SAP and will increase pressure on the government to release the findings of a similar report handed to President Frederik de Klerk last year regarding dirty tricks within the South African Defense Force (SADF).
Mr. De Klerk has suspended the three top generals named in the Goldstone inquiry - the deputy police commissioner, the head of counterintelligence in the SAP, and the head of the division of crime prevention and investigation. Police Commissioner Gen. Johan van der Merwe, while not implicated directly in the illegal activities, is named in a separate report as having led a coverup of efforts by senior officers to expose police involvement in Natal violence.
De Klerk told a news conference Thursday that the government had contingency plans to deal with efforts to sabotage the election in Natal. The plans had been worked out in consultation with the Transitional Executive Council (TEC), a multiracial commission charged with overseeing the run-up to the April poll.
Troops in Natal
``I think one will see the deployment of SADF troops in Natal by next week [Mar.29] to secure a fair poll on April 27,'' says a Western diplomat.
``I think one will see a clear strategy by government and the TEC to separate the KwaZulu government from the civil service and take control of the KwaZulu Police (KZP),'' the diplomat says.
``The major problem facing the authorities now is how to hold free and fair elections in the face of an effective boycott by the IFP,'' says University of Cape Town political scientist Robert Schrire. ``Government must create a security framework in which the election can take place and this may mean central government taking control of the KwaZulu Police before the election.''
General Van der Merwe and the three suspended generals denied the allegations and said they are considering legal action. De Klerk announced that an international police commission will probe the Goldstone findings.