The victorious referendum supporting continued reforms in South Africa is only the beginning of a series of challenges facing the long-troubled country, according to a University of Utah professor.
Howard P. Lehman, associate professor of political science, said blacks and whites in that country will be watching to see what happens next."The referendum isn't the end of something. It's the beginning of a whole new series of problems facing South Africa," Lehman said. "In this country, many people felt the referendum was a do-or-die situation for South Africa, and that by supporting the referendum, apartheid has ended and that's the end of the political struggle. That's not true.
"I look at it as only the beginning of a series of negotiations that may or may not work out the way the black majority would like," Lehman said.
For one thing, South African President F.W. de Klerk wants to rewrite the country's constitution and take it to the all-white parliament for ratification.
Meanwhile, the country's blacks - who cannot vote yet - want to elect a transitional government to write a new constitution.
"That's a bone of contention," Lehman said. "The government says we want this to be gradual, negotiated and accepted by the white population by referendum and ratified by parliament, which will take time. Blacks are saying we want to move much faster than that."
South African blacks will be watching to see exactly what the new constitution will say, and whether it gives political power to them in the form of one-person, one-vote rights. It is unclear what the new constitution will specify or whether parliament will approve it.
Lehman said he was not surprised that the referendum passed, but he was surprised by the amount of support. Nearly 70 percent of whites voted in favor of the referendum.
"One important reason (why white voters voted yes) is that they were fearful of renewed economic sanctions imposed by the outside world against South Africa if the referendum had lost," Lehman said. "A related issue is that many whites in South Africa are looking forward to having the country re-enter the international community as a full-fledged member. If the referendum lost, it might imply going back to apartheid, which would be unthinkable."
Asked about potential violence, Lehman predicted the small, but vocal and well-armed Afrikaner Resistance Movement "will play a small role of violence in the future."
Carter lauds de Klerk
Former President Jimmy Carter praised President F.W. de Klerk for "political courage" in persuading South Africa's white voters to endorse continued talks to share power with the black majority. Carter - whose administration from 1977-81 took the most aggressive stance to pressure South Africa's white-led government of the last three U.S. presidents - said Wednesday he hoped Tuesday's vote would be the nation's last whites-only poll.