- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 28, 2001

From combined dispatches
CAPE TOWN, South Africa South Africa's apartheid-era party and its post-apartheid successor announced a deal yesterday that would see the two former foes work together on provincial and national levels an alliance unimaginable under the country's former racist regime.
The New National Party, heir to the party that instituted apartheid, joined forces with the ruling African National Congress, which came to power in 1994 after waging an armed struggle to overthrow the racist apartheid regime.
"This is a historic agreement and is based on trust," said Martinus van Schalkwyk, the NNP leader. "It provides us with a key to reshaping the political landscape and breaking down the old racial divisions."
The pact, which took more than a month to hammer out, was ratified by the ANC's national working committee Monday night and by the NNP's extended federal council the next morning.
Political analysts said that, combined with legislation due before Parliament next year to allow legislators to switch their party affiliations, the pact could trigger the first major political realignment in South Africa since the end of white minority rule in 1994.
Mr. van Schalkwyk and the ANC's negotiator behind the deal, Safety and Security Minister Steve Tshwete, declined to confirm that Mr. van Schalkwyk would join President Thabo Mbeki's Cabinet.
"It is the president's prerogative to appoint people to his Cabinet, but there is a commitment to co-government at all levels," Mr. van Schalkwyk said.
Mr. Tshwete said the ANC would work with the NNP, which represents mainly white Afrikaners and mixed-race people, to break down racial barriers and tackle South Africa's huge problems with poverty, crime and HIV/AIDS.
"The issue is to galvanize support, to maximize support for programs that can make South Africa a better place," he said.
Mr. Tshwete, who was jailed by the former National Party, now the NNP, for 16 years on Robben Island for opposing white rule, said South Africa had to move beyond the divisions of the past.
The National Party created the apartheid system of white minority rule in 1948 and began to dismantle it in 1990, leading to Nelson Mandela's election as president in the country's first all-race poll in 1994.
The National Party joined a government of national unity in 1994 after all-race elections swept the ANC to power, but withdrew in 1996.


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