From: A Crime Against Humanity - Analysing the Repression of the Apartheid State edited by Max Coleman

South Africa can heave a collective sigh of relief that its democratic elections produced an outcome which closely paralleled the Namibian experience and not that of Angola. Transfer of political power to a democratically elected government was essentially accomplished and accepted. However, it would be naive to think that the acceptance of the outcome was unqualified in all quarters and that the orchestrated destabilisation of the past came to an abrupt end on the day the election results were announced. It must be expected that the forces which had been at work to defend and retain apartheid power would want to salvage what benefits they could from their erstwhile privileged position.

In Chapters 9 and 10 detailed analyses were made of the beneficiaries of apartheid power and it now seems appropriate to consider each of these stakeholders in turn, in order to assess their potential for further destabilisation into the future.

Apartheid casualties

The tricameral parliament (TCP)

The tricameral parliament with its dominant white house, token houses for 'coloured' and 'Indian' populations and total exclusion of African blacks, has disappeared to be superceded by a democratically elected non-racial parliament. Three tiers of representa­tive government have been established under a constitution, initially in a negotiated interim form and now in a democratically adopted final form, which is the highest law in the land and to which all governmental structures and indeed all citizens are accountable.

However, traces of the past are still present, at least until the next elections in April 1999. At the national tier of government the transitional phase commits us to an obligatory government of national unity which allows the National Party to play a role of power sharing for a 5-year period (even though, for tactical reasons, they have decided to withdraw from playing this role). The NP during final Constitutional negotiations made strenuous efforts to have the compulsory power sharing arrangement extended beyond April 1999 but they were denied this extra lease of life.

Within the second tier of government, the provincial tier, there exists a relatively high degree of federalism that serves to perpetuate the survival, at least for the present, of 2 of the old stakeholders in apartheid power. In the Western Cape the National Party holds a dominant position, while in KwaZulu/Natal the old KwaZulu homeland lives on in the somewhat modified form of the KZN provincial government. Especially in the case of the latter it is clear from post-election statistics that a significant measure of instability still exists and the potential for destabilization continues.

At the third tier, the level of local government, the distortions of apartheid still persist. We are squarely in a transitional phase which incorporates by agreement the presence of racially skewed representation in local councils in the interests of continuity and to allow for a period of development of skills and experience within previously disadvantaged communities. This temporary arrangement must be brought to an end by 1999 but some resistance and potential for destabilisation must be anticipated, particularly in historically conservative white towns and also in rural areas dominated by traditional leaders, both past beneficiaries of apartheid power.

Homeland structures

Homeland structures have also been relegated to the scrapheap of history. One after the other, the 4 'independent' and the 6 'self-governing' homelands melted away, capitulated or were deposed in the headlong and irrepressible run-up to South Africa's first democratic elections. But although the structures have disappeared their legacy lingers on in the form of a multiplicity of effects with which we will have to grapple for some time to come. Homelands' administrations, armies, police forces and assets have had to be integrated into the New South Africa, with the new provincial administrations bearing the brunt of this rationalisation. The homeland system opened up huge opportunities for corruption, self-advancement and enrichment and irresponsible management of resources. As a result, the new South Africa has inherited debt, missing assets, 'ghost' pensioners, 'ghost' workers and self-promoted officials, to mention but a few forms of mismanagement, fraud and corruption. Many of the old beneficiaries of homelands are still there, clinging onto their benefits and making a negative contribution to the growth of a healthy democracy.

Apartheid survivors

The National Party (NP)

Nominally the NP has survived the transfer of power to a majority government, in itself a remarkable feat under the circumstances. Given their past record they can count themselves extremely fortunate not to have been summarily banished to the political wilderness. They can attribute their good fortune either to the generosity of spirit shown by the majority or to the good sense of the majority in pursuing a path of compromise in order to limit the possibility of violent conflict or perhaps a mixture of both. In any event, the architects of formal apartheid were permitted to participate in democratic elections and to test their support at the polls. They emerged with 20.4% of the national votes cast, and with a majority in the Western Cape Province of 53%. Both results were attributable to their support within the white electorate and those within the Afrikaans speaking 'coloured' community whom the NP contrived to attract on the basis of the 'devil you know.' In terms of the interim constitution, this support entitled the NP to take its place in the government of national unity and to play a controlling role in the Western Cape provincial legislature.

Surprising as this outcome may have been to some, the NP has lost its political power and with it the access to the trappings of power such as the security forces and public administration. Furthermore, local government elections in November 1995 and May 1996 indicate declining support for the NP, while almost daily revelations about atrocities of the apartheid past continue to batter their already badly dented image. The struggle to throw off the baggage of the past aod to create a new identity appears to be an impossible task. All the indications are that the National Party is a spent force and is unlikely to survive in its present form. As a spent force, its potential for further destabilisation is limited.

The white right wing

The white right wing has also survived the transition to a non-racial democracy but in a radically altered form. Never a monolith, it can be said to have split broadly into 2 blocs, a process which preceded the elections.

The first bloc emerged as a political party, the Freedom Front (FF), which opted to pursue its political objectives by peaceful and constitutional means. It participated in the elections, emerging with 424 555 votes, or 2.17% of the votes cast; in 4 provinces, (PWV, Eastern Transvaal, OFS and Northern Cape) it was able to muster around 6% of the votes. Amongst its objectives are the establishment of a volkstaat (an Afrikaner homeland) on the basis of 'substantial proven support'. To this end it negotiated the inclusion of a provision in the interim constitution (and extended into the final constitution) for the establishment of a volkstaat council. In addition, the final constitution provides for the establishment of a commission for the promotion and protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities. Armed with these concessions, the Freedom Front has been able to convince nearly half-a-million supporters that they are not about to lose their cultural identity and that their future lies in peaceful and constitutional processes. Their problem now lies in how to demonstrate 'substantial support' within geographical pockets and how to string these pockets together to form an entity which is politically and economically viable.

The second bloc consists of those right wing organisations which chose to pursue extra-parliamentary and often violent means of reaching their objectives. This non-homogeneous bloc includes the old Conservative Party of the tricameral parliament and the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) amongst many others. As we have seen in Chapter 11, their rejection of democratic elections was expressed in the form of a paroxysm of violence which reached a peak in the week preceding election day, costing 19 lives in that week alone. However, it is significant that no bombings or other organised attacks by the white right wing were recorded in the 31 months following the elections from May 1994 to November 1996; the only incidents and casualties recorded in that time arising from the actions of individuals, such as farmers shooting child trespassers or alleged chicken thieves, or racial clashes at schools and tertiary education institutions. Then, on Christmas Eve 1996, the long period of freedom from right wing bomb attacks was shattered by 2 explosions in Worcester, Western Cape which claimed 4 lives and injured 60 others. A group by the name of Boere Aanvals Troepe claimed responsibility.

But it seems true to say that the AWB which was from February 1990 to April 1994 involved in well over 100 organised violent acts including about 100 bomb attacks, has since the elections refrained from any further similar violence. It is of interest to note that the AWB in a submission to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice when debating the bill to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in January 1995, stated the following:

As far as the AWB ... is concerned, we would very much like to become part of an all inclusive political settlement in South Africa. We would like to be able to call a full meeting of our general staff and senior officers to discuss burning issues such as participation or otherwise in the upcoming local elections; an official meeting with the present government leadership; and general discussions with the government on how possible solutions may be found.

The problem of the AWB at the time of making the submission (and the reason for making it) was that many of their general staff and senior officers were either in detention or awaiting trial (for the violent acts of early 1994) under severe bail conditions, and more to the point, ineligible for amnesty because of the cut-off date in the Constitution for acts committed after 5 December 1993. The AWB went on to plead 'for the sake of peace' that the cut-off date be extended so as to qualify their members for amnesty for acts committed up to election day. In their submission they stated: 'We would submit that this cut off date is the last stumbling block lying in the way of a final and peaceful resolution of our country's problems.'

The AWB had to wait nearly 2 years for their plea to be agreed to but in the meantime they adhered to what seems to have been a self-imposed moratorium on violent acts. It now remains to be seen if they will adhere to the spirit of their submission and engage in becoming 'part of an all inclusive political settlement in South Africa'.

In summary, the white right wing with its deep divisions, limited support and minimal resources, cannot be considered as a meaningful survivor from the apartheid era which would be capable of derailing democracy in South Africa. At worst, any continuing destabilising role will be limited to sporadic and declining racial acts and incidents of sabotage.

The security establishment

Few will deny the seminal role that the security establishment played as the instrument of repression and destabilisation in the past but given that a democracy, too, requires security institutions for its continued well-being, the transformation of these institutions from instruments of repression to friendly protectors of citizens rights, is critical. The new constitution spells out the responsibilities, objectives and norms of behaviour to which our defence, police and intelligence services must aspire and thereby establishes the mould of the end-products of transformation which began some time ago and is ongoing. The task of successful transformation is formidable when one considers the starting ingredients of apartheid security forces, homelands police and armies, and the armed wings of the liberation movements.

Within this context it is not surprising that elements from the old apartheid security apparatus are resisting and impeding transformation. Old attitudes and old networks still persist, both within state structures and within the privatised security industry which has sprung up to capitalise and thrive upon the new criminal instability which has taken hold. This industry has become the home for former members of security force special units, mercenaries and 'dogs of war'. In some cases their tentacles even extend into the international arena (as with the externally based activities of Executive Outcomes) and with a capacity to engage in illegal arms trade and the peddling of state secrets to which they have been privy in the past.

A particularly worrying aspect is the extent to which these elements, located both within state and privatised institutions, have a vested interest in instability and simultaneously are strategically positioned to foster that instability, particularly criminal instability for personal gain. Their emphasis has shifted from being engaged in obstructing the advent of democracy to promoting (criminal) self-interest. This is manifesting itself in police and other complicity in crime syndicates, gun-running, drug trafficking, taxi wars, protection rackets, vehicle hijackings and scams, stock theft, theft of state assets, and so on ad infinitum. Taken together these activities amount to economic sabotage on a massive scale, every bit as crippling to an emerging democracy as the political destabilisation of the past.

The public service

The new constitution defines the basic values and principles of democratic administration to which the public service must aspire. Not surprisingly there is a huge gap between this ideal and the practices of the past apartheid structures. Here too, then, a radical transformation has been necessary but on a scale which comes into some perspective when it is realised that over a million public servants were involved and that the existence of 10 homelands administrations complicated the task enormously.

Responses by the old inherited public servants to the transformation challenges have been varied. There have been those who have genuinely and enthusiastically welcomed the arrival of a new atmosphere of openness, transparency and accountability in administration after long years of suffocation. Then there are those with a resistance to change, for ideological or attitudinal reasons, which results in an uncooperative passivity. Finally there are those who are actively engaged in what can only be described as economic sabotage by profiting personally from the opportunities that have been exposed during this period of transition for corruption, taking of bribes, theft of state assets, drawing of salaries by ghost workers, sale of forged documents and scams of every conceivable kind. This amounts to destabilisation of an extremely debilitating nature.

The business community

The history of the business community as a role player in the development of apartheid in South Africa goes back much further in time than that of the National Party. For economic reasons the early business community was an enthusiastic promoter and supporter of a system which ensured an unlimited supply of cheap compliant labour for its mines, industry and agriculture. The advent of National Party power in 1948 with a penchant for tightening apartheid controls within an ideological framework, served only to enhance the benefits which the business community could derive from the economic practices of apartheid. Amongst the additional benefits were an extraordinary range of government incentives for establishing and running so-called border industries located close to homeland labour reservoirs; government support for 'strategic' industries (often of doubtful viability) through high levels of protection against imports and competition; and the award of valuable government contracts to those who gave their support to the system of apartheid.

However, the wheel of fortune was to turn and from being a prime beneficiary of, and stakeholder in, apartheid power, the business community watched in dismay as apartheid began turning into an albatross around its neck. The revulsion of the international community against apartheid practices resulted in the South African economy being threatened with collapse, with the business community as the biggest potential losers.

Against this background, the business community must count itself fortunate not only to have survived the demise of the apartheid system but to have survived with its assets intact. Survival also implies transformation from apartheid economic practices to democratic economic practices which will address the needs of 100% of the population and not only 15% as in the past. The extent to which such transformation is taking place has so far been slow to emerge and we have yet to see much enthusiasm on the part of the business community for substantive fixed productive investment which will create jobs and ensure growth. Moreover, resistant elements within business are frustrating the development of a democratic culture through engaging in white-collar crime of all kinds, money laundering and the illegal transfer of assets abroad. It is in the business community's own best interests to take steps to counter the impression that it has not yet unequivocally shifted its allegiance from apartheid to democracy.

Transformation of the 'third force'

If one accepts the concept of a 'third force' as an amalgam of stakeholders in apartheid power which actively opposed the arrival of non-racial democracy in South Africa, whether they acted individually or at times in concert with one another, then it is a valid question to inquire how the surviving stakeholders fit together today and what transformation the third force has itself undergone.

Firstly, the membership of the team has changed, as we have seen, with some dropping out, some relegated to a minor role and others going their own way. Secondly, the objectives have altered quite radically in that, having lost the battle to prevent the advent of a democratic order, the emphasis has now shifted to the individual pursuit of personal interests. There is little scope for teamwork when it comes to salvaging remnants of benefits and privileges from the wreck of apartheid and so the days of the third force are numbered. In its dying form it has assumed the ugly characteristic of an economic saboteur, which opportunistically and criminally exploits the instability inherent in a transforming society.

A summary of residual destabilisation potential

In summarising the remaining potential for destabilisation in South Africa we focus on the post-election period of May 1994 up till December 1996, under the 3 headings of:
1. Political violence
2. Socio-economic violence
3. Economic sabotage


• Warlordism in KwaZulu/Natal claimed 1800 lives post-election (430 in 1996).
• White right wing claimed 22 lives post-election (5 during 1996).
• Old security force elements. Covert activities.


• Taxi industry wars claimed 676 lives post-election (312 in 1996).
• Stock theft wars claimed 251 lives post-election (128 in 1996).
• Mine clashes claimed 46 lives post-election (31 in 1996).
• Crime syndicates.


• Old homeland elements.
• Old and existing security force elements.
• Old and existing public service elements.
• Business community elements.

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