De Klerk Wants Blacks in Party : South Africa: The National Party, which created apartheid, faces dramatic changes.
In a major turnabout, President Frederik W. de Klerk called today for the whites-only ruling National Party to be opened to all races in the drive to end apartheid.
De Klerk said the National Party must open its ranks to all South Africans who share its basic values and hopes for a multiracial democracy. He said the party has to prepare for major changes confronting the country.
“The new South Africa demands that those who belong together through inner conviction should come together,” he told a party provincial congress in Durban.
The opening of the National Party to all races would be a historic change for the party that created apartheid and attempted to exclude non-whites from political power. The party has for decades been the main voice of Afrikaner nationalism, representing whites of mostly Dutch descent who dominate South African politics.
The president, who also heads the party, asked the congress to give party leaders the authority to amend its constitution to admit all races. The congress was expected to approve, clearing the way for similar action at other provincial party congresses.
De Klerk said South Africans of all colors who want a free-market economy, guaranteed human rights and other protections must band together to work for their common goals.
“The requirement of no (racial) domination means that power has to be shared in such a way that a majority will neither have absolute power nor be able to abuse its power to the detriment of minorities or for their suppression,” he said.
De Klerk has pledged to end apartheid and share power with the black majority. But he wants guarantees on rights for the white minority under any future black-majority government.
The government is looking for allies among black political groups to buttress its position in negotiations with the African National Congress on sharing power.
Also today, the government declined to confirm reports that scores of political prisoners would be released Saturday. The government and the ANC agreed Aug. 6 on a review process to free political detainees starting from Sept. 1.