ANC’s quick-fix approach questioned

SOUTH AFRICA DISPATCHES

DERWIN PEREIRA of the Foreign Desk is on assignment in South Africa. He will provide updates on various aspects of the country, which held momentous multi-racial elections recently. In the first of his dispatches, he interviews Mr Mangosuthu Buthelezi, South Africa’s controversial Home Affairs Minister.

Hard to meet expectations fast – Buthelezi

CAPE TOWN – South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi has expressed reservations about the African National Congress’ (ANC) quick-fix approach to the country’s manifold problems, saying that it would be difficult to meet people’s expectations over a short period.

He told The Sunday Times: “I have very strong reservations. We are not living in a country flowing with milk and honey.

“We have to look at the finances of this country and know that there is a recession and a host of other difficulties.”

Mr Buthelezi, who is Zulu chief and leader of the Inkhata Freedom Party, said that the ANC, which formed the majority in the newly formed government of national unity, had to be “realistic” in its time frame to end the country’s problems.

The ANC had promised the electorate that it would construct one million houses over the next five years and distribute state land to black people.

The US$12-billion (S$18-billion) reconstruction and development cost would also include creating 2 1/2 million jobs and improving education and health services in the country.

“I very much doubt we can build a million homes in five years … Even if we try very hard, I don’t think it is possible to provide a job for every person that gets into the labour market in the near future,” he said.

The ANC, the National Party of former President F. W. de Klerk and Inkhata are represented in the government of 27 ministers and 12 deputy ministers in proportion to the votes they won in South Africa’s historic all-race elections in April.

The ANC secured 62.5 per cent of the votes.

Mr Buthelezi had opposed the elections initially on the grounds that it would lead to an ANC dictatorship and would crush Zulu culture.

His decision to take part eased fears that he might prefer to remain in the opposition to fight for his demand that the KwaZulu-Natal region be granted greater autonomy to levy its own taxes and write its own constitution.

The Zulu chief told The Sunday Times that he had entered the elections on the agreement that international mediation be carried out to resolve the issue of autonomy for his homeland.

“I have given Mr Mandela and Mr de Klerk a letter on Wednesday reminding them of that agreement. I am waiting for a response,” he said.

In the 30-minute interview at his Cape Town office, he also signalled his intention to crack down on illegal migrants and drug trafficking in his capacity as Home Affairs Minister.

A parliamentary report last Tuesday indicated that there were as many as 750,000 illegal migrants in South Africa, mostly from Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The ministry is planning to set up a bilateral task group with the two countries to solve the problem, which was disrupting South Africa’s economy. “It is a very serious problem here,” said Mr Buthelezi.

He added that his ministry would also look into the country’s rising crime levels.

At the same time, he noted that drug trafficking was also posing serious problems for the country, which was being used as a base for the whole of Africa.

SINGAPORE MODEL

SOUTH Africa could learn a thing or two from Singapore as it recovers slowly from mistakes of the apartheid regime.

“Hard work delivers,” Mr Buthelezi said, pointing to Singapore’s economic success. “Things are not going to fall from heaven like manna. We will have to uplift ourselves by our own bootstraps.” Buthelezi says …

‘We are not living in a country flowing with milk and honey.’ ‘I very much doubt we can build a million homes in five years … Even if we try very hard, I don’t think it is possible to provide a job for every person that gets into the labour market in the near future.’

‘I don’t know how far the new coalition government will go. I can only hope and pray.’

‘People get mugged here all over the place.’

‘Now that apartheid is behind us, people’s expectations have risen and I am afraid some of these expectations have risen to unrealistic heights.’

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