Chapter 9 - Negotiating the transition

At the beginning of february 1993 it became apparent that most role-players had realized the urgent need for the resumption of multi-party negotiation. However, the question was, where did one start? The ANC and the NP wanted to build on the agreements arrived at in CODESA and to consolidate their bilateral agreements multilaterally. In particular, they were keen to secure multilateral agreement that an elected body draft the final constitution.

Inkatha and COSAG, on the other hand, called for a planning conference to determine both the prospective form of the state and the negotiation process itself.' Inkatha was confident that such a conference would choose a federal state and merely instruct the technocrats to draft the final constitution. COSAG was opposed to the final constitution's being drafted by an elected constituent assembly, believing that the constitution had to be multilaterally negotiated and tested in a referendum.

Another point of difference was the name of the conference itself, since COSAG was opposed to the continued existence of CODESA or a process bearing that name. To ensure a more inclusive process of negotiation, the parties agreed to accommodate these views, and renamed the conference the Negotiation Planning Conference.

In February 1993, on the basis of a report to the ANC's NEC on progress made in various bilateral meetings, the ANC adopted a resolution on negotiation and national reconstruction that called for a speedy resumption of multilateral negotiations. The resolution also provided a detailed mandate regarding an interim government of national unity, proposing an interim government that would last up until the adoption of the new constitution. The government of national unity would then continue in the same form to phase in the new constitution, but would not exist for more than five years after the election of the constituent assembly.

In discussions with the NP, the date for the conference was set for 4 March 1993. The agenda proposed discussion on the assessment of the current situation and the resumption of multilateral negotiations. Furthermore, the conference would be convened on the basis of each party inviting one other. A panel of chairpersons was selected from parties represented, and it was agreed that three delegates from each party or organization would attend. The principle of inclusivity meant that all the parties that had participated in CODESA were invited, including the PAC, AZAPO, the CP, the AVU, the AWB, and the HNP. Regarding the media, the ANC proposed that the conference be completely open, but the NP disagreed. (This was the beginning of greater transparency: the compromise decision reached meant that the media was barred only from bilaterals and Planning Committee meetings.)

On 2 and 3 March the ANC and the NP met again. According to Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC wanted agreement in as many areas as possible 'so that when we get to the multiparty table the negotiation will be much smoother and there will be less chance of deadlocks developing'. One of the areas in which agreement was sought was the power of the president in a government of national unity. The NP had retreated from its original demand for a collegiate presidency and now argued for a rotating prime minister with a president as a ceremonial head of state, but the matter remained contentious.

The multi-party negotiating process

On 4 and 5 March 1993 the Negotiation Planning Conference convened at the World Trade Centre. The conference adopted a resolution calling for the resumption of negotiation, and also resolved that a new negotiating forum - the Multi-party Negotiating Process (MPNP) - be established to meet first on 1 and 2 April 1993. Establishing a new process was convenient: not only were parties able to restructure the negotiating forum into a much more efficient organization, they were also able to accommodate the objections of the right wing to CODESA.

The Patriotic Front, including representatives of the Mass Democratic Movement, met shortly thereafter to develop a common perspective on the way forward. A surprising development at this meeting was the agreement to establish an electoral alliance under the banner of the ANC. For several regionally based political entities as well as the Labour Party this move represented a clear political alliance and an end to the dithering and political vacillation witnessed since 1990. The PAC and AZAPO refused to attend this meeting.

The first meeting of the MPNP took place on 1 April 1993, when twenty-six participants, including the PAC, the CP, and the AVU, met. The meeting was a success, so much so that participants managed to complete a two-day programme in one day. This meeting identified the issues requiring attention and the structures necessary.

The structure of the Multi-party Negotiating Process

The structure of the MPNP was more efficient than CODESA because instead of negotiating issues in different working groups, a Negotiating Council became the effective negotiating forum. This council reported to the Negotiating Forum, which had the responsibility of finalizing agreements. The need for the Negotiating Forum soon fell away after it delegated its powers to the Negotiating Council. Accordingly, all agreements negotiated were then ratified by the plenary.

Another innovation was the establishment of Technical Committees consisting of non-party political experts, a facility not present at CODESA. Instead of orally presenting their views in the Negotiating Council, parties made written submissions that were then considered by the Technical Committees. This was a major improvement because the reports from these committees included formulations that took every­one's views into account, and the committees could act as compromise-seeking and deadlock-breaking mechanisms. Where CODESA relied on a Management Committee as its day-to-day directing authority, the MPNP established its Planning Committee to the same effect." Also, with the same purpose as CODESA's political secretariat, the MPNP had a subcommittee to the Planning Committee. Here the services of Mac Maharaj and S. S. van der Merwe as key strategists in the process were crucial. This subcommittee also had a third member, Ben Ngubane of the IFP.

 

Plenary (10 delegates per party)

 

 

 

Negotiating Forum

(4 delegates +2 advisors per party)

 

Commission for the Demarcation of provinces

Planning Committee

(10 members)

 

Commission on National Symbols

 

Technical Committees

(5-6 experts each)

 

Violence

Transitional Exec. Council

 

Indep. .Media

Commission

Constitutional Issues

Fundamental Human Rights

Indep. Media Commission

Discriminatory Legislation

To attend to matters of a specialized nature, the council established two commissions which were non-partisan and were to deal with the demarcation of regions and with national symbols.

Commitment to find solutions

Just as the parties prepared to go into the final round of negotiations, disaster struck. On 10 April 1993 Chris Hani, one of the most popular ANC leaders in the country, was assassinated, and the country was plunged into one of its bleakest hours. 13 The commitment of the participants, especially the ANC, was severely tested. The anger of the South African people and the associated violent backlash made political and economic prospects appear bleak. A national strike resulted in 90 per cent worker absence, further deepening the economic crisis, and even the Reserve Bank governor, Chris Stals, expressed concern. Business confidence was at an all-time low, and it was feared that further mass action would accelerate the flight of capital, putting greater pressure on the reserves.

An appeal for calm by Mandela and other ANC leaders greatly assisted in averting a national crisis. The leadership of the Tripartite Alliance (the ANC, the SACP and COSATU) believed that the assassination posed a threat to the negotiation process and efforts to bring about peace. The alliance accordingly resolved to speed up the process and seek an early announcement of an election date, the immediate establishment of the Transitional Executive Council (TEC), and multi-party control over all armed forces.

Hani's assassination and its aftermath demonstrated important aspects of South Africa's political dynamism. The response of all political parties - particularly the ANC, its tripartite allies, and the youth - reflected the political maturity of the leadership in the country across the political spectrum, and also clearly expressed the commitment of this leadership to negotiation and the desire for peace. However, at the same time, the anger of the black majority and its youth in particular portrayed the tenuous and fragile nature of a society in transition. What also became evident was that the De Klerk government was not solely in control of the process of transition, as the government helplessly witnessed events unfold while the country relied on Mandela and the ANC to provide leadership and to restore calm.

The assassination affected the agenda for negotiation as well. The only responsible way for negotiators to respond was to instill a new sense of urgency into the process. Roelf Meyer was astute enough to understand this responsibility, arguing that 'time is running out. ... The situation is unstable and the economy is under great threat. That is why we have to move quickly to keep to the time-frames of the trans­ition schedule and get a settlement'. It was now more critical then ever that the tangible fruits of conciliatory negotiations be made visible. This translated into two immediate measures - agreement on a date for the first non-racial democratic election, and the establishment of the Transitional Executive Council.

At this time, the NP sought to separate the establishment of the TEC from the other aspects of the transition. It proposed that the TEC be formed immediately while negotiating the other aspects of the transition, but the ANC rejected this as a trap. The ANC feared that it would be bound to the TEC without making any progress on other issues, and once again insisted on a package deal' that included all aspects of the transition.

In another ominous development during this precarious period, General Tienie' Groenewald, a retired chief director of military intelligence in the SADF, together with several former military leaders including General Constand Viljoen, formed the 'Committee of Generals', the purpose of which was to support Afrikaner right-wing demands for self-determination. General Groenewald warned of a right-wing secession backed by an army of 500 000 white national army of 500 000 white national army personnel, and outlined the objectives of the Committee of Generals as the unity of the fragmented right wing. The objective was to maxi­mize pressure for a volkstaat at the negotiating table and to bolster the strength of COSAG in multi-party negotiations."

Support for this committee was manifested at a meeting of 7 000 right-wing farmers in Potchefstroom, where the NP had been routed by the Conservative Party in a recent by-election." Angered at the number of farmers killed in the area recently, the meeting adamantly refused to be governed by the ANC. Even the militant white Mine-workers' Union gave its unqualified support. Despite the denial of political ambitions, the Committee of Generals formed themselves into a political party, the Afrikaner Volksfront (AVF), and soon became far more successful than other right-wing parties in uniting Afrikaners.

The MPNP's Planning Committee first met on 22 April to prepare a report on all agreements reached at CODESA, and to ensure that the essence and value of the previous negotiation were not lost. The Negotiating Council met on 30 April and resolved to establish six Technical Committees. Each committee consisted of six experts - none of whom were representatives of any political organization or party. The Negotiating Council meeting on 7 May adopted a further Declaration of Intent by sufficient consensus, the primary thrust of which was to call for an election date that was not later than April 1994.

To ensure that the COSAG alliance remained at the negotiating table, the ANC offered a significant concession, proposing a constitutional principle that structured government at national, regional, and local levels. Each level of government would be democratically elected with appropriate legislative and executive powers and functions, which would be entrenched in the constitution. There were two important aspects to the proposal. Firstly, the ANC agreed to accord regions sig­nificant legislative and executive powers which would be entrenched in the interim constitution. Secondly, the proposal effectively cast regional powers in stone, denying the constituent assembly the power to change them. The power of the national government to override a region's powers was restricted to matters that were not allocated in the constitution to the regional level of government exclusively.

The month of May saw significant progress. Despite the compro­mise offered by the ANC, De Klerk remained insistent that he would not tolerate or accede to a constitution-making provision for majority rule. After more than two years of formal negotiation, the debate between the concept of 'power-sharing' and a 'government of national unity' crisply brought to the fore - for the first time - the bottom-line for the NP. De Klerk insisted that the NP continue to play a central role in a coalition government lasting well into the next century, for he did not want to negotiate the NP out of political power.

This demand went beyond the understanding reached with the ANC that a five-year government of national unity be formed after the country's first multiracial elections. For the ANC, its starting point was majority rule, but it also believed that it was necessary to build and establish national unity and reconciliation during the transition, particularly so in view of the polarized past and the need to develop one national identity. The principle of national unity, therefore, went beyond the compromise of merely accommodating the NP in the interim government.

A date for the election

Parties were under pressure to produce tangible and positive results from the process. Senior business leaders under the aegis of the Consultative Business Movement met with the ANC, the NP, and the COSAG group, demanding a swift settlement confirming the election date while also keeping all parties on board. Shortly afterwards, the organized labour movement led by COSATU applied further pressure. COSATU's general secretary, Jay Naidoo, complained that they were losing patience with the political parties' failure to deliver. He went on to say 'It is not just COSATU which is putting the World Trade Centre on trial. The entire South African nation and international community are all waiting to see what agreement will be reached on the setting of an election date, installation of the transitional executive council and joint control of security forces'.

COSATU had reason to be worried, for structures such as the National Economic Forum and National Manpower Commission that were set in place to facilitate South Africa's reconstruction were 'paralysed because of the lack of political progress'.

The Negotiating Council meeting on 1 June 1993 finally agreed that sufficient progress had been made to enable it to set 27 April 1994 as the date for South Africa's first ever non-racial elections. Accordingly, the council instructed the Technical Committee on Constitutional Matters to draft a transitional constitution that enabled the drafting and adoption of the democratic constitution by an elected constituent assembly. This was a significant point in the history of negotiation. The editorial in the Sunday Times on 6 June 1994 commented:

The act of setting a date for national elections, however hedged about with qualifications, has carried South Africa into the final stretch of its journey from racial oligarchy to mass democracy. This is the outcome so feared by whites that they ruined their country and made themselves outcasts from humanity to avoid it. The end of three-and-a-half centuries of struggle to dominate the sub-continent is in sight. It may be advanced from April 27 1994, but it cannot be delayed: any effort to do so must trigger national and international consequences of devastating proportions.

On 15 June 1993 the entire COSAG grouping staged a walkout, only to return to the next meeting of the Negotiating Council. The IFP tabled a resolution calling on the council not to consider any of the consti­tutional principles recommended by the Technical Committee, further calling on the council to consider proposals for a federal constitution drafted by the Technical Committee and adopted by the MPNP. In support of the resolution, the IFP and the KwaZulu government threatened that should the resolution be rejected they would not have any part in any further decisions of the council. They further threa­tened to disrupt the rest of the proceedings or withdraw from the process altogether. However, the Negotiating Council rejected the resolution in a vote in which every party except the PAC, who abstained, took part.

Parties were given until 15 June 1993 to secure greater consensus for any opposition to the resolution supporting 27 April 1994 as the election date. The IFP and all the COSAG parties promptly walked out. The Planning Committee then reconfirmed the recommendations made by the Technical Committee, which did not expressly or by implication exclude the constituent assembly from deciding whether the form of state should be federal or unitary. This satisfied the COSAG group, and the Negotiating Council resolution was accordingly confirmed. A further resolution on 22 June called for the establishment of an independent media commission and an independent electoral commission.

The commitment and seriousness of parties were to be tested once again in dramatic fashion. At the end of June, several hundred armed white right-wingers stormed the World Trade Centre and invaded the negotiating chamber. Several people were injured and a great deal of property was damaged. Following this event, on 2 July 1993, the IFP, the KwaZulu government delegation, and the Conservative Party walked out of the negotiation process, the main reason given being the date set for the elections. The support key negotiating role-players enjoyed did not deter them from seeking ways to placate the COSAG group, however, and they were sincere in their intention to ensure that each step forward received the unanimous support of all.

The process of negotiation was now at a cross-roads. With the pressure for results mounting on all parties, the key role-players had to decide whether they should stall the process to coax the recalcitrant parties back. The Negotiating Council agreed to continue, and on the same day went on to adopt twenty-six of the final thirty-four constitutional principles that were to serve as the building blocks of the final constitution. The NP met with Inkatha shortly thereafter, but despite a significant degree of convergence between their constitutional perspectives, it was not enough to get the IFP to return.

Regions

The Negotiating Council established the Commission on the Delimi­tation and/or Demarcation of Regions on 28 May 1993. The commission's mandate was to make recommendations on the boundaries of regions that would be relevant to both the electoral process and the structures of the constitution.

Until July 1993 commentators focused on the debate between a federal and unitary state in a rather abstract fashion, but this changed when the Commission on Demarcation and/or Delimitation of Regions started its work. The submissions made by parties revealed a remarkable level of convergence: for one, the ANC favoured eight regions and the NP seven. It was common cause among parties that these regions had to be economically viable entities and not based on ethnic differences only. No party argued for an exclusively centralized system of governance, not even the ANC. A common point of departure in several proposals was the Development Bank of South Africa's definition of 'economic' or 'developmental' regions.

In performing its tasks, the commission had to consider the constitutional principles and criteria recommended by the Negotiating Council and the oral and written representations made by the public and interest groups. On 2 August 1993 it tabled its report, in which it recommended nine regions.

The first draft of the interim constitution was published on 26 July 1993 after giving parties five days to study it. Both the ANC's National Working Committee and the NP cabinet held separate caucuses to discuss the draft. A characteristic of this draft, and every subsequent draft, was that no party was satisfied with every aspect of it. However, it always had something that did appeal to each party.

A constitution-making body

The Technical Committee recommended the establishment of a constitution-making body made up of the joint sitting of a national assembly and a senate. A national assembly would be made up of 400 representatives, with 200 elected on a national list and 200 on a regional list. A senate would be made up of ten representatives from each of the regions and indirectly elected from the regional legislatures. The Technical Committee also proposed the establishment of a constitutional court, one of the important functions of which would be to ensure that the draft constitutional text conformed to the agreed constitutional principles. The constitution was to be the supreme law.

The draft also proposed the establishment of a commission on regional government, which could make recommendations to the constitution-making body on the finalization of the number and boundaries of the various regions and the powers, functions, and duties of those regional structures. In terms of the draft, the elected constitution-making body was sovereign and entitled to draft and adopt a new constitution subject only to the agreed constitutional principles. The constitution had to be adopted within two years and by a two-thirds majority, and deadlock-breaking mechanisms were considered to ensure that the adoption took place.

Regarding legislation, the draft recommended that laws be intro­duced in either the national assembly or the senate, and would need the support of at least the majority of the total number of the members in both houses. In addition, decisions on legislation affecting the exercise of powers or functions allocated to a particular region needed a majority of the senators of that particular region. Both the national and regional legislatures would be elected at the same time. The executive of a region would consist often members each. A regional legislature could, if it deemed it necessary, adopt a constitution for that region by a two-thirds majority. Such a regional constitution could not be incon­sistent with the national constitution or the constitutional principles, and should meet the approval of the constitution-making body. While much of a draft constitution had been completed, there were still a number of issues that remained outstanding, which were subject to further political agreements.

Transitional measures

On 27 July 1993 the Technical Committee dealing with the Transitional Executive Council (TEC) produced its report in the form of a draft bill. The bill defined the objective of the council as the promotion of and preparation for a transition to a democratic order in South Africa, and to achieve this, there had to exist a climate for free political participa­tion, conducive to the holding of free and fair elections. Each government, party, or organization represented in the Multi-Party Negotiation Process that committed itself to the objects of the council, undertook to implement its decisions, and renounced violence could be a participant. This commitment entitled such a party to one representative member on the council.

The council had substantial power, including access to all information and records, to achieve its objectives. Decisions in the council were by consensus, but should no consensus be possible, a majority vote of 80 per cent would be necessary. There was also provision for the establishment of subcouncils for regional and local government, law and order, defence, finance, foreign affairs, and the status of women.

Each subcouncil could have six members, and no party could have more than one representative on a particular subcouncil. Of these subcouncils, those dealing with security had even more authority. The subcouncil on law and order could establish a national inspectorate to investigate and monitor all policing agencies, and could also establish a national independent complaint mechanism under civilian control. To perform its duties, the subcouncil could obtain any information or crime intelligence reports and establish a committee of experts to monitor police action. Even the minister could only declare a state of emergency or an unrest area in consultation with the subcouncil.

The subcouncil on defence had similar powers. It could apply a code of conduct for the members of all military forces, and could also oversee the planning, preparation, and training of a future defence force. However, its key responsibility was to ensure that no military activity had any negative impact on the creation of conditions for free and fair elections. In effect, it took responsibility for a national peace­keeping force made up of the armed forces of different parties.

The multi-party talks were making real progress. The parties agreed to a date for the proposed elections, published the first draft of the interim constitution, and produced a bill for the establishment of the transitional executive authority. This was the most positive develop­ment to come out of the negotiation during 1993.

However, these developments also distressed the COSAG alliance, and Constand Viljoen urged Afrikaners to repudiate the negotiations. Viljoen, nevertheless, still held out great hope for the future. The right wing objected to the agreement by government to delegate its responsibility to the transitional executive authority. According to Tienie Groenewald, this delegation meant that the government had lost its authority to govern. Groenewald therefore regarded the adoption of the Transitional Executive Council Bill as a declaration of war. Ironically, the PAC, generally regarded as a left-wing extremist party, joined the right wing in their opposition to the TEC.

As far as Inkatha was concerned, Mandela complained that despite several meetings held with Buthelezi, he had failed to persuade him to return to the talks. Nonetheless, Mandela was adamant that 'no spoiler is going to hamper this process'. Later in September De Klerk also tried unsuccessfully to convince the Inkatha leader to rejoin. The intractable position held by Inkatha and the 'war-talk' of members of the COSAG alliance led many observers to predict a civil war, but in spite of this, both the ANC and the NP government remained committed to the process. Their efforts were not in vain: at the beginning of October 1993 Inkatha's Central Committee resolved to prepare for the April elections.

The Negotiating Council proceeded with its efforts despite the absence of the COSAG alliance, and it made good progress. Early in September it passed the final draft of the Transitional Executive Council (TEC) bill as well as bills for the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Independent Media Commission (IMC), and the Independent Broadcasting Commission (IBC). The delegations of the Bophuthatswana and Ciskei governments maintained their seats in the Negotiating Council, though they both opposed these agreements. The four bills were tabled for debate in Parliament on 16 September and were passed into law by 23 September 1993.

The Transitional Executive Council was set to function in tandem with the NP cabinet, and in certain areas of government enjoyed an effective veto. From this point onwards, the NP lost its sole authority as the governing party.

During September the Negotiating Council came closer to defining the powers, functions, and decision-making processes of an interim cabinet and the president. It agreed that the president would be the executive head of state and would be directly elected by parliament. The outstanding issue was the appointment of the deputy-president or prime minister and ministers, where the ability of minority parties in the cabinet to assert dissenting views was at stake.

Right-wing reaction

At the beginning of October the COSAG alliance was set to fragment. When the alliance met at its first anniversary and took stock of its situation, several parties complained about Inkatha, arguing that Inkatha tried to manipulate the group as a battering ram against the ANC and the government. The fact that a number of the partners were engaging in some form of talks with the ANC or the NP also made Buthelezi want to scupper the group and form another type of alliance, since his view of COSAG was that 'maybe it has outlived its usefulness'. On 7 October the Ciskei and Bophuthatswana delegations gave in to pressure from Inkatha and walked out of the Negotiating Council as Inkatha made a similar announcement.

The Freedom Alliance was born out of the ashes of COSAG, and consisted of Inkatha, Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, the CP, and the Afri­kaner Volksfront. The Freedom Alliance, like COSAG, united around Inkatha's complaint that the most important decisions were really taken by the ANC and the NP. In short, Inkatha did not feel that it enjoyed respect as the third large role-player.

The Freedom Alliance claimed to represent two homeland govern­ments: all Zulu-speaking people, and the Afrikaner community, which made it the second strongest political force in the country. It believed that it would be able to wrest greater concessions from the ANC than from the NP. The Freedom Alliance was flawed, however, because it was a political Frankenstein, made up of parts that simply did not fit and were potentially at odds with one another. Except for the IFP, the other Freedom Alliance partners did not favour a federal dispensation, but rather aspired towards confederalism. When the Negotiating Council learnt of the Freedom Alliance, it suspended discussion on key constitutional matters until the Alliance had made its agenda known.

The Freedom Alliance made an impact on the thinking of the NP, because after a meeting with the leaders of the Alliance, De Klerk proposed that a referendum be held to break the impasse. The NP floated this idea unsuccessfully for several weeks. At its Federal Congress on 13 October, the NP's key focus was to find ways and means to ensure that a majority government would not enjoy unfet­tered rule, particularly after the five-year government of national unity. According to Roelf Meyer, there were several critical outstanding issues, namely the functioning of the government of national unity, deadlock-breaking mechanisms in the constitution-making body, greater regional powers, and the constitutional court.

Regarding the government of national unity, there were essentially three areas of dispute: the majority required to arrive at decisions, what the powers of the deputy-president would be, and who would represent the largest minority party in cabinet. The priority for the ANC was to allow the government to rule effectively, while the NP insisted on some form of loaded majority and significant powers for the deputy-president.

The distribution of powers between the national and regional governments was another difficult debate. While the ANC was not averse to regions being given substantial powers, it argued that these should not become an impediment to national reconstruction. The NP and the DP argued for greater powers for the regions with the national government dealing with only those exclusively national powers such as defence, foreign policy, and finance. Furthermore, the ANC wanted the constitution-making body to finally determine the regional boundaries, an idea which the other parties opposed. Fortunately, however, on the question of deadlock-breaking mechanisms there appeared to be little difference between the parties.

On 25 October 1993 the ANC met the leaders of the Freedom Alliance in a bid to secure their support for the interim constitution that was now nearing completion. The talks broke down on the critical question of the final constitution being drafted by an elected body, since the Freedom Alliance insisted that the final constitution be negotiated before elections. In addition, the Alliance wanted a negotiation of the final constitution between three blocs - the ANC, the NP, and itself, in an attempt to subvert the process unfolding at the World Trade Centre. In this regard, it proposed a summit between the leadership of these three formations, but the ANC refused, and the discussions with the Freedom Alliance failed.

The fundamental question facing the ANC and the NP was whether they were prepared to finalize the interim constitution without the participation of an important political bloc. According to Ramaphosa, 'the process should be all inclusive but no party, including government and the ANC, should be in a position to block the process or hold it to ransom. There is a lot at stake and the respective parties must take that into account'.

The stance adopted by the Freedom Alliance clearly bothered the ANC and the NP, and on 26 October Mandela met De Klerk in an attempt to find ways of securing the participation of the alliance. Both leaders publicly confirmed that the course of the constitutional dispensation, and in particular the two-stage transition, was unchangeable. However, De Klerk still sought Mandela's approval, albeit in vain, for a dispensation giving regions greater autonomy as he hoped that this would entice the Freedom Alliance back to the negotiating table.

At the same time, the Freedom Alliance gathered in Ulundi, the capital of KwaZulu and the site of Inkatha's power, to discuss its strategy. It called on 'opinion-makers and men and women of stature in South Africa to support our call for urgent talks between national leaders'. It also called for the recognition of the political realignment that had taken place in the country since the formation of the Alliance, arguing that this realignment had resulted in the emergence of three dominant power blocs. It was the hope of the Alliance that such a summit between the leaders of the three blocs would pre-empt the scheduled multi-party plenary that was to ratify the agreements.

Finalizing the interim constitution

Between 25 and 28 October 1993 the ANC and the NP met to finalize the interim constitution. The purpose of the meeting was to flesh out their bottom-line demands prior to the resolution of the interim constitution. This bilateral then produced a number of agreements that were jointly tabled with the Technical Committee on Constitu­tional Issues.

The first major agreement related to the government of national unity. The bilateral proposal offered every party with more than 20 per cent of the electoral support the right to choose a deputy-president, which meant that there would be two deputy-presidents. The agreement also obliged the president to consult with the deputy-presidents on matters of government policy and cabinet business.

There was further agreement that the cabinet would consist of no more than twenty-seven members, and that each party enjoying more than 5 per cent of total support would be entitled to a proportionate number of seats. The agreement recorded that 'the Cabinet would take decisions by consensus but where this is not possible, it will decide by an increased majority to be determined. In this regard there may be a differentiation between financial and state security matters and other matters'.

The ANC finally won its argument, and the ruling party would be given sufficient authority to govern effectively. Conversely, the NP abandoned its arguments in favour of a veto over cabinet decisions. So, at best, the NP won no more than the right to be consulted, though decisions would have to be taken with a higher majority.

The compromise lay in the powers of provinces, where the ANC shifted its position to accommodate the federalist demands of both the NP and Inkatha. Regions had increased powers that guaranteed them a fixed percentage of revenues collected nationally, and in addition were able to levy taxes in terms of national legislation. Provinces were also given wide concurrent legislative powers, and local government was strengthened as well. Local governments obtained autonomy with 'adequate powers to make by-laws not inconsistent with law at national or provincial levels'. In this regard, the purpose of the agreement contained in the Local Government Transition Act was to regulate the restructuring of local government. This was a particularly sensitive agreement, since it affected all white local government structures.

While the proposals did not address all the outstanding issues, the agreements went a long way to accommodate the views of Inkatha. The NP was delighted with the deal struck with the ANC, and De Klerk defended the agreements insisting that nothing should be allowed to interfere with them. He was confident that South Africa would be a federal republic, and Mandela, for his part, responded by challenging proponents of federalism to 'tell us what more powers you want'. Nevertheless, De Klerk was still fearful that further violence could erupt if parties proceeded without the Freedom Alliance, though he realized that 'it [right-wing opposition] will be a picnic compared to the violence that will erupt if elections on April 27 are postponed'.

Both Inkatha and the Freedom Alliance remained unimpressed, and steadfastly refused to discuss the proposals until the negotiation process was reorganized on their terms at a summit of select leaders. Despite this hard line, Rowan Cronje´, chairperson of the Freedom Alliance, admitted of the agreement: 'It's better than what we had, but our approach is different. It moves forward, but not far enough'. In a final attempt to accommodate the Freedom Alliance, the plenary was postponed to 12 November, and the NP scheduled a three-day meeting with the Alliance starting on 2 November. At the same time the NP also arranged to talk to the PAC in a bid to secure its agreement. However, the meeting with the Freedom Alliance was not successful.

The NP cabinet met on 6 November 1993 to review its progress. It resolved to adopt the interim constitution despite the absence of the Freedom Alliance. At this time, Joe Slovo found it necessary to address an open letter to General Constand Viljoen, one of the more reasonable leaders in the Freedom Alliance. In his letter, published in Business Day, Slovo argued that the Afrikaners remained an integral part of South Africa. In an impassioned plea, Slovo said:

Looking at the history of negotiation from CODESA I onwards, the ANC has travelled an enormous distance in the quest for a settlement. In contrast, your camp has hardly moved an inch. We are at the point, General, where there can be no turning back. Coming from me, your ears may be jarred when I say that the dispensation that we are moving towards is in the deepest interest of your people as well as every other community. The biggest threat to genuine Afrikaner aspirations comes not from us, but from those who hanker after a past that can be no more. You can make it possible for all of us to share a new history.

The 'six-pack' agreement

Meanwhile, work to resolve several outstanding issues at the World Trade Centre continued at a feverish pace. These were settled at bilateral level between the ANC and the NP. It was necessary to settle agreements by the middle of November so that they could be passed into law before the year-end by a special session of Parliament. Any delay would place the establishment of the TEC, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), and the preparations necessary for the elections by 27 April 1994 in jeopardy. The rush meant little rest: while parties were negotiating outstanding issues, technical experts were drafting proposals and the administration preparing for the plenary. The atmosphere at the World Trade Centre was electric. The negotiators were weary but restless. Experts were nervous and drafters frantic, and keeping it all moving, exhausted, anxious staff worked incessantly behind the scenes.

On 7 November there was a further breakthrough, and the NP heaved a sigh of relief. It had persistently campaigned for security of tenure to be given to the public and security services, and the ANC finally relented. This agreement did not rule out affirmative action or the restructuring of the public service, however. On 10 November there was another dramatic development. The emotive question of language had long meant the NP and Afrikaners in general feared the overshadowing of Afrikaans as one of two major languages. The compromise found was to cater for eleven official languages without diminishing the status of Afrikaans.

There were now only four major issues outstanding: a deadlock-breaking mechanism, the decision-making majority in cabinet, the appointment of judges, and the final aspects of local government. Late on the night of Tuesday 16 November, Mandela met with De Klerk to resolve these issues in what was probably the most important bilateral of the negotiations. During this crucial meeting Mandela persuaded De Klerk to shift from insistence on a minority veto and an enforced coalition to voluntary co-rule. More importantly, the outcome showed that De Klerk had come to accept that he would have to rely on the ANC's commitment to national unity.

In the four-hour meeting the two leaders, assisted by their chief negotiators Ramaphosa and Meyer, agreed in principle on all the outstanding issues in a compromise agreement that came to be known as the 'six-pack' deal. In terms of the deal, the NP agreed to decisions being taken by a simple majority in the cabinet. The formulation specified that 'Cabinet shall function in a manner which gives consideration to the consensus-seeking spirit underlying the concept of a government of national unity as well as the need for effective government'. The ANC in return compromised on the deadlock-breaking mechanisms for the adoption of the final constitution, agreeing that if a referendum failed, the new constitutional assembly would only be able to adopt the final constitution by a 60 per cent majority.

The ANC also agreed that the amendment of the boundaries, powers, and functions of provinces would require an additional majority of two-thirds of the senate. The ANC conceded that provinces be allowed to adopt their own constitutions provided that these were consistent with the final constitution and the constitutional principles agreed to. The Freedom Alliance, and Inkatha in particular, had fought hard for these assurances, and it was hoped that by making these concessions it would be easier for the Freedom Alliance to return to the process.

A major row erupted around the appointment of the constitutional court judges when the DP complained that the proposal agreed to between the ANC and the NP would politicize the constitutional court. The DP insisted that the appointment of judges involve the judiciary and legal profession by offering them greater latitude in the appointment procedures. The opposing arguments suggested that neither the judiciary nor the legal profession were representative of the country's population, since their members were overwhelmingly male and white.

In a concession to the DP, the ANC agreed that six constitutional court judges be appointed from among ten nominated by the Judicial Services Commission; the Chief Justice would then appoint another four. The president of the country would appoint the president of the constitutional court in consultation with the cabinet. The DP approved of this arrangement.

Regarding local government, the ANC made a further concession by agreeing to guarantee the white minority a substantial share of power. In terms of the agreement, local government elections were to be held within two years and guaranteed whites at least a 30 per cent share of the seats on each council. The deal was aimed at rural towns in which the majority of residents were black. As for the relative wealth of white local authorities as opposed to impoverished black areas, the compromise gave whites an effective veto by requiring a two-thirds majority for decisions on budgets.

In concluding this last bilateral, the two leaders agreed to go ahead without the Freedom Alliance's participation. The door was left open, however, for the Alliance to return at a later stage.

An agreed text

The final agreement on the text of the interim constitution was to come in the early hours of the morning of 18 November 1993. The leaders of all the participating political parties signed the agreement bringing into effect the single most dramatic political and constitutional change ever experienced in South Africa. The agreement reached was more than a legal contract: it set the basis for a new constitutional order. It was in effect a peace treaty that sought to relegate conflict and civil strife, which had become a way of life for South Africans, to the status of a shameful blemish on South Africa's history, and marked the beginning of the democratic era.

In a fitting tribute to the importance of the event, and as witness to the exemplary leadership displayed by both De Klerk and Mandela, each made an impassioned plea for national unity and tolerance. Political leaders also immediately seized the initiative to convince investors of the value of the new constitutional dispensation. The message was dear: the country had a constitution that it could 'bank' on. The international community responded well, and US President Bill Clinton, in his State of the Union Address, pledged support to South Africa during its transition. 75 Offers of financial assistance and aid poured in. The business community and organized workers declared 1 January 'peace day' and planned to celebrate it by distributing nearly R10 million worth of T-shirts emblazoned with the logo of the national peace effort.

The opinion column in the Sunday Times on 21 November 1993 captured the moment, saying:

We, the people of South Africa, have wrought a miracle. We have accomplished what few people anywhere in the world thought we could do: we have freed ourselves, and made a democracy, and we have done so without war or revolution.

The interim constitution is not perfect. No constitution is perfect, and our constitution needs still to be infused with the spirit of democracy. We need to learn again the habits of free men and women, which we have lost. We have work to do, and wounds to heal, and problems to solve; our greatest labours lie ahead of us, not behind.

The document passed by the plenary was not a complete text, however. The plenary accordingly instructed the Negotiating Council to complete the outstanding technical issues and refer the document to Parliament for its formal passage into law. The constitution was to come into force on 27 April 1994. Ten minutes after the plenary adopted the text it also passed the electoral law in the form of a bill. Support for the constitution and the bill was not unanimous, though, for the PAC lodged its official reservations about the power-sharing component of the government of national unity, while the AVU objected to the text on the basis that it did not make provision for a system of self-determination.

17 November 1993 was also Cyril Ramaphosa's fortieth birthday, so the agreement on the text was especially momentous for him, and the occasion added excitement to the celebrations that started immedi­ately after the agreements had been concluded in the plenary. Meyer and Ramaphosa, both pioneers, master negotiators, and leaders, who had carefully guided the process through some of its most traumatic times, came to dance away the remaining hours of that morning content in the knowledge that their job had been well done.

Addressing right-wing concerns

While the country rejoiced at the adoption of the interim constitution, not everybody felt satisfied. Speculation was rife that many senior NP members were displeased. But when the NP caucus met on 22 November, De Klerk threw down the gauntlet and demanded the party's endorsement of the compromises effected. No serious objec­tions were raised. There was also intense speculation that many senior Inkatha leaders were equally unhappy about the party's non-participation. Buthelezi saw this as a criticism of his leadership, and threatened to resign as leader if Inkatha's special conference decided to contest the April elections.

While the constitution represented a peace treaty to most South Africans, the white right wing saw it as a declaration of war. General Constand Viljoen called on all supporters of the Afrikaner Volksfront to undergo military training and prepare to defend themselves. Likewise, the black right wing, represented by Inkatha, pledged to meet the new constitution with 'determined resistance'. Despite this war of words, both the ANC and the NP persisted in their efforts, especially with two important components of the Freedom Alliance, the AVF and Inkatha. On 19 November the ANC met the AVF in a meeting that established a joint working committee to explore areas of possible convergence. It was an effort that would pay off well.

The ANC's negotiations with the Freedom Alliance were condi­tional upon the Alliance first committing itself to the interim constitution, the TEC, and the outcome of the April elections. The response of the Alliance was to raise preconditions of its own, namely non-interference in the TBVC states and self-governing territories, a two-ballot voting system that would separately take into account the votes cast in the TBVC states, and constitutional leeway for Afrikaner self-determination. By 20 December it became evident that the attempt to bring the Freedom Alliance on board was bound to fail.

The debates in Parliament were already at an advanced stage and there was little opportunity for any amendment. However, all was not lost, and on 20 December the ANC announced that it was to enter into a strategic agreement with the Afrikaner Volksfront. There were just two immediate obstacles to signing this agreement: on the one hand, the NP government was not willing to compromise, while on the other hand, the AVF did not want to give the impression of a rift in the Freedom Alliance.

On 22 December the debate on the interim constitution in the last white Parliament completed its course. The Department of Constitutional Affairs and Planning initiated a campaign to promote the new constitution that would cost approximately R19.2 million. This campaign included advertisements in a variety of media and the distribution of booklets on the constitution. And as further confir­mation of South Africa's burgeoning democracy, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and Independent Media Commission (IMC) were established in January 1994.

On 10 January 1994 Brigadier Oupa Gqozo confirmed that the Ciskei would join the Transitional Executive Council, a step that flew in the face of the position adopted by the Freedom Alliance. 89 There was also a significant amount of anger brewing among conservative Afrikaners, and Constand Viljoen was booed by right-wingers at a rally of 20 000 Afrikaners when he called for a non-violent way to achieve a volkstaat. There was an evident rise in tension accompanied by an increase in politically motivated violence, and fears of ethnically based strife and confrontation were expressed by many. The deadline for parties to register for the elections had been set as 10 February 1994, but since no agreement with the Freedom Alliance materialized, the date for the registration of parties was extended. At the same time, however, Inkatha opposed the April elections, and Buthelezi warned his political opponents that an Inkatha boycott of the elections would lead to further bloodshed. He also called for the establishment of self-defence units, saying, 'It is impossible for me to lie to you and reassure you that the IFP opposition to fighting the elections under the present constitution will not bring casualties and even death. ... If we do not defend our people, no one else will. We must defend our communities with all our might. We must defend and fight back. We must resist the African National Congress and their communist surrogates'.

The ANC called an emergency meeting of its national executive to discuss the rising tensions. A concerned Nelson Mandela argued that 'we must treat the threat of civil war seriously'. In an attempt to seize the high ground, the ANC unveiled a package of concessions aimed at securing the Freedom Alliance's role in the election without demanding its commitment to taking part. De Klerk supported the proposal, and his party argued that 'What is clear now is that we must go to Parliament whether we have an inclusive deal or not. We must be seen to have made a real effort to accommodate the Freedom Alliance'.

The ANC's package of concessions included a constitutional principle on self-determination; mechanisms considering the feasibility of a volkstaat; acceptance of the demand for two ballot papers (national and provincial); a provision enabling provinces to draft their own consti­tutions and raise taxes; a principle ensuring that the final constitution did not 'substantially diminish' provincial powers; and the granting to provincial legislatures the authority to decide the names of their provinces, with Natal renamed KwaZulu/Natal. The proposals failed to impress the IFP, however, despite the fact, according to Colin Eglin, that they were 'very close to the amendments that Inkatha itself put on the order paper when parliament was debating the Interim Constitu­tion Bill'.

Preparing for the elections

On 21 January 1994 the ANC announced its electoral list, which was voted in by the organization's branches and provincial structures." The threat to boycott the April elections by the Freedom Alliance, and more particularly by Inkatha, was viewed with much concern by the international community. An urgent fax was sent to Buthelezi by the 140 delegates of the joint assembly of the European Parliament and the African/Caribbean/Pacific countries, urging him to take part in the elections.

The ANC and the NP were also concerned. On 21 February the Negotiating Council reconvened, and the ANC and the NP proposed constitutional amendments to draw the Freedom Alliance back into the process. All mention of concurrent powers was removed and provinces were granted powers which would prevail over those of national government in all areas within their competency. This effec­tively gave provinces exclusive powers over areas within their compe­tency, the power of national government to override provinces was limited. The Electoral Act was also amended to extend the date for the registration of political parties from 4 to 9 March.

The return of the right wing

Inkatha remained opposed to the changes, but the ANC did not lose hope. On 1 March 1994 Mandela met Buthelezi to persuade him to change his stance. The ANC accepted the idea of international mediation and Inkatha agreed to register the party provisionally. This quid pro quo represented the beginning of the end of the formal alliance of right-wing political formations. The two parties immedi­ately set about discussions on how such mediation could take place. There was agreement on a set of mediators and their terms of refer­ence. Among these mediators were the former British Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, the chairperson of the Venice Commission on federalism, Prof. Antonio La Pergola, Goldstone Commission assessor. Judge Praful-lanchandra Bhagwati of India, constitutional experts from Germany and Canada, and a black American judge. However, while the mediators assembled in South Africa by 10 April, disagreement on the terms of reference wrecked the initiative before it started. The ANC and the NP insisted that the election date was not negotiable, but Inkatha refused to accept this. Shortly afterwards, agreement was also reached between the ANC and the Freedom Front (FF), a newly-constituted party under the leadership of General Constand Viljoen, on the process in terms of which a volkstaat could be established.

The collapse of the homelands

Meanwhile, civil unrest was spreading throughout the homeland of Bophuthatswana, started by civil servants who were uncertain about the future of their pensions. The homeland's security forces were sympathetic to their cause, and the future of the Mangope government was placed in jeopardy. The white right wing rallied in support of Mangope. In a short while, pictures of the execution of three white militants shocked the world. The TEC concluded that Mangope was no longer in de facto control of the territory and was unable to govern, and accordingly reincorporated the homeland into South Africa. Similar unrest arose in the homeland of Ciskei and it too was re-incorporated.

On the basis of a tripartite agreement reached between the ANC. the NP, and the IFP only a few breathtaking days away from 27 April, the IFP agreed to participate in the elections. The Freedom Front also agreed to participate. In the end, all major political stakeholders and parties participated in the elections held on 27 to 29 April 1994. The elections were an overwhelming success, and the prophets of doom were confounded. The elections were completely peaceful. The over­whelming majority of voters came out in their droves to cast their votes, and despite enormous logistical problems and ordinary election squabbles, the IEC was able to find the election substantially free and fair.

The Soul of a Nation

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