the wake Ot the election last week Pretoria-ways mindful that security It of uppermost concern tolikely to resume Implementing limited racial reforms that do little to assuage black frustration. Black opposition groups probably will concentrate on Improving conditions at the local level, but militants will argue thatampaign ot violence against whites will change white attitudes. | |
election deafly illustrated the primacy of security over reform tor most whites. Although reform has longey Item on the ruling parly's agenda, it apparentlyecondary issue for the electorate as long as it is orderly and hmitpd
The election nevertheless reflects the National Party's success in usurping the reformist agenda from the leflwlng parties. Although the right wing doubled the percentage of the vote it receivedhe National Party compensated by gaining substanllal support from proreformtst whites
The shift to the right in the makeup of the newthe Conservative Party's new role as the officialaffect the tone of public and parilanientary debaie The Conservative Party ts almost exclusively Afrikaner, comprised of former Nationalists. As such. Conservative attacks against President Botha's policies wiH have more sting than proreform criticism from theglish-speaking left, gum
Cautious Government Policies
In the coming months Pretoria is likely to return to its agenda of limited racial change, while maintaining its tough security posture. As Botha trys to stnke the right balance, he undoubtedly recognizes that the National Partyajority of the electorate In part because ot the backing It received from proreform whites, even Ihough it losi many Afrikaner voters who rejected reform.
The government will probably move quickly to create Its proposed multiracial advisory National Statutory Council, although most black leaders already have rejected It. Botha also will probably tinker with other apartheid laws, including the Group Areas Act, but major changes are unlikely. In the next year or two. Pretoria may hold elections for black local leaders and attempt lo establish blackurban homelands that entrench racial separation.
The pace of reform, however, will be slow, and the substance of the changes will fall far short of black demands. Pretoria probably will not hesitate to halt reforms and intensify Its crackdown if black unrest and protests increase. The government, in fact, risks stirring more unrest by restarting its limited reform program. Some initiatives-suchecision to hold local black electtons-^robably wouldew round of violence in the townships.I
The white electorate's relusal to support (aster racial reform after almost three years of unrest hastrong signal toinority otbelieve that traditional white politics are Increasingly irrelevant to South Africa's future J
Two elements In the black protest movement will probably gain the most influenceesult of the election. Black community organizations that focus on local issues are likely to win new supporters among blacks who see little hope for meaningful change at the national level. At Ihe same time, black militants will be able to argue more persuasively that only an Indiscriminate campaign of