Secretary General`s Report
19 December 1994
- Tributes to those who have departed
- National Executive Committee
- Implementation of 1991 Conference Decisions
- General political situation
- State of Organisation
Mass Democratic Movement
Policy Conference 1993
Reconstruction and Strategy Conference 1994
The National Executive Committee of the African National Congress has pleasure to present to this 49th National Conference its report on the activities of the movement over the past three and a half years since it was elected in July 1991. In terms of our constitution this conference was supposed to be held in July of this year. However the political events that were unfolding in our country made it impossible to convene this conference at the constitutionally-appointed time.
Eighty-two years ago, when hundreds of Africans gathered in Mangaung in this city of Bloemfontein, few would have predicted that the decisions made on 8 January 1912 would change the course of South African history. But the people who gathered there together did … and we are here today to declare that the decisions they took to establish the African National Congress was politically and historically correct. The creation of the ANC in this city marked a turning point for South Africa.
We are holding this conference, the first conference of the ANC in a democratic South Africa, in a new epoch in the history of our country. This is a cause for celebration in that we gather here in Bloemfontein as the government of South Africa. The holding of the conference in this province and city signifies that we have come to our ancestral home to declare that we have fulfilled the central mission our founding fathers and mother embarked on in 1912. Indeed, we have come here in true African tradition to declare to our ancestors that we are ‘Free at last’.
The holding of this triennial conference once again symbolises the unbroken continuity, after eighty-two years of struggle, of the existence of the African National Congress. Ours was the first movement to understand the destructive impact of racism and to recognise the importance of organising for the victory which we achieved this year. The silent graves of our people through the breadth and length of South Africa and abroad tell more about the courage and tenacity that built our movement than the words of the living ever could. It was the sacrifices of our founding leaders and many other heroes and martyrs of our struggle, the blood they shed, that has made it possible for us to hold this conference in this founding city.
We have emerged victorious against difficult odds as a movement and it is fitting that we should table this report to this conference at the birthplace of the ANC. Throughout our history we have witnessed both triumph and tragedy, and we have seen our movement go through times of strength and weakness. Now as we assess the work of the past three and a half years its never been more important to explore our history and gain new insights into the true meaning of our eighty-two years of struggle.
Our assessment of the state of our organisation must be an open, honest and soul-searching process. The victory we have achieved must not divert us from being brutally critical of ourselves.
As we enter the next eighty-two years of our existence we face new challenges that are as great as any faced by our ancestors. However through all the highs and lows, our movement has demonstrated a unique resilience. We have proved that we have it in us to overcome any obstacle. Unlike so many organisations, we know where we came from – we know our history and our heritage of struggle. And from that knowledge we draw a special kind of strength.
Without being apologetic we need to examine our performance as the ANC against the enormous historic victory we have achieved against the system of apartheid which was engineered and perpetuated by the minority National Party regime. Given the immense weaknesses and problems we experienced over the past three and a half years – as this report will indicate – the ANC has demonstrated that it has the potential of achieving greater heights.
As we reflect our movement’s performance in the past years, we know that it is up to us – its members, supporters and leaders – to claim the future for the reconstruction and development of our country.
Above all, we must not waver from our central objective – to free each and every South African from oppression and want. Until we can say with conviction that South Africa DOES belong to all who live in it, the struggle against injustice must not cease.
A luta Continua.
2. Tributes to our fallen heroes
As we celebrate the achievements of the liberation movement and reflect on the struggles we have waged, we need to remember the comrades who are no longer with us. We need to remember those who made the supreme sacrifice so that we could realise our freedom. It is fitting that we pay particular homage to two giants of our struggle – Comrades Oliver Reginald Tambo and Martin Thembsile ‘Chris’ Hani. They were both taken from us in the hours before the dawn of our freedom. They had lived to see the first rays of the democratic South Africa they had given so much for. Their courage, their wisdom, their conviction and their selflessness remain a source of inspiration and encouragement for freedom-loving people everywhere.
We remember also the passing away of other stalwarts of our struggle – people of the calibre of Helen Joseph, Elias Motsoaledi, Thomas Nkobi and Oscar Mpetha. Their contribution will never be forgotten, and the ideals they stood for will never die.
So too must we remember the thousands of our compatriots who lost their lives in the violence of the last four years. We pay tribute to the memories of the ordinary men and women whose lives were cut short by the last remnants of an iniquitous system. May we never see carnage of that sort again.
3. National Executive Committee
The National Executive Committee (NEC) elected at the 48th National Conference was composed of the following:
- National Chairperson: Oliver Tambo
- President: Nelson Mandela
- Deputy President: Walter Sisulu
- Secretary General: Cyril Ramaphosa
- Deputy Secretary General: Jacob Zuma
- Treasurer General: Thomas Nkobi
- Kader Asmal
- Thozamile Botha
- Cheryl Carolous
- Jeremy Cronin
- Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim
- Harry Gwala
- Chris Hani
- Pallo Jordan
- Ronnie Kasrils
- Ahmed Kathrada
- Patrick ‘Terror’ Lekota
- Saki Macozoma
- Mac Maharaj
- Rocky Malebane-Metsing
- Winnie Mandela
- Trevor Manual
- Gill Marcus
- Barbara Masekela
- Thabo Mbeki
- Raymond Mhlaba
- Wilton Mkwayi
- Andrew Mlangeni
- Joe Modise
- Peter Mokaba
- Popo Molefe
- Ruth Mompati
- Mohamed Valli Moosa
- Elias Motsoaledi
- Mendi Msimang
- Sydney Mufamadi
- Billy Nair
- Sister Bernard Ncube
- Joel Netshitenzhe
- Joe Nhlanhla
- John Nkadimeng
- Siphiwe Nyanda
- Alfred Nzo
- Dullah Omar
- Aziz Pahad
- Albie Sachs
- Reginald September
- Gertrude Shope
- Albertina Sisulu
- Zola Skweyiya
- Joe Slovo
- Marion Sparg
- Arnold Stofile
- Raymond Suttner
- Steve Tshwete
- Mcwayizeni Zulu
Meetings of the NEC
The NEC met in accordance with the stipulated provisions laid down in the constitution but also met as and when the political situation required it to deliberate on a number of issues. Some of the NEC meetings when crucial policy positions were decided on were held on:
Resignations from the NEC
During the period under review the following comrades resigned from the NEC, and the NEC accepted their resignations with regret:
- resigned to pursue a career in the legal profession on a more full-time basis. As it turned out he was appointed a judge to the Constitutional Court.
Siphiwe Nyanda resigned to take up a commissioned position in the South African National Defence Force. He has now been appointed to the position of Major-General.
Thozomile Botha resigned after the April election to take up the chairpersonship of the Commission on Provincial Government.
The movement was robbed of the continued and dedicated service of the following beloved comrades:
- died on 10 April 1993 Oliver Tambo died on 3 May 1993
Elias Motsoaledi died on Thomas Nkobi died on 18 September 1994
Election of chairperson
After the untimely death of Cde OR Tambo, the NEC elected Cde Thabo Mbeki as our Chairperson.
Co-option of additional NEC members
The following comrades were elected by the NEC to fill the ranks of the NEC:
- Josia Jele
- Penuel Maduna
- Sankie Nkondo
- Charles Nqakula
- Nkosazana Zuma
How the NEC functioned
The NEC functioned as a collective that was tightly knit together. Differences in opinion were resolved.
The National Working Committee
The NEC, in accordance with the constitution, elected the following comrades as the NWC and allocated portfolios to them as set out hereunder:
- Cheryl Carolous Education, Health and Human Resource
- Trevor Manuel Economic Planning
- Joe Modise MK
- Chris Hani MK
- Alfred Nzo Deputy: Security and Intelligence
- Terror Lekota Initially Security and Intelligence; later Elections
- Valli Moosa Negotiations Commission
- Joe Slovo Negotiations Commission
- Pallo Jordan Information and Publicity
- Joel Netshitenzhe Information and Publicity
- Barbara Masekela President’s Office
- Thabo Mbeki Initially International Affairs; later National Chairperson
- Steve Tshwete Organising
- Sydney Mufamadi Organising: Peace Desk
- JK Nkadimeng Organising: Rural Areas
- Ronnie Kasrils Organising: Campaigns
- Ebrahim Ebrahim Organising: Patriotic Front and Democratic Movement
- Zola Skweyiya Constitutional Committee
4. Implementation of 1994 Conference Decisions
When we met in Durban in June 1991, we took a number of resolutions for implementation by the NEC. It is the right of this conference to revisit those and identify reasons behind failure to implement some, and arm the incoming NEC with fresh ideas as to how to implement those that may still be relevant.
We were at the stage of ‘talks about talks’ and about to enter negotiations proper. Conference felt that the then oncoming negotiations were to be conducted on the basis of consultation and accountability between the leadership and ANC structures. At no stage can the leadership claim to have consulted and accounted fully on all issues. Many, and at that regular, Negotiations Fora, at all times involving representatives of regions, were held. Needless to say, those debates and reports didn’t filter down to the sub-regions, zones and branches effectively.
The establishment of a full-time Negotiations Commission, with a staff component, helped a great deal in facilitating the process. We also produced, for mass distribution, the ‘Negotiations Bulletin’, which served as a briefing on the process through all its stages. Again, it didn’t reach the membership as desired. Conference has to, whilst deliberating ways of perfecting communication between Headquarters and the regions, find effective ways of improving the very critical link from regions down to the member in a sub-unit, unit or branch.
We also resolved to maintain MK in a state of constant combat readiness and instructed the leadership to undertake various measures to build an army of a democratic South Africa. Though saddled with many problems, the process of integrating the various armed formations is fairly advanced. Details in the MK report.
Conference resolved to do all to build maximum unity among the forces committed to the perspective of a non-racial, non-sexist democracy and to ensure that such forces act in unity throughout the process of negotiations. We began carrying out that task immediately. Various organisations and formations were engaged.
The Patriotic Front Conference in Durban in October 1991 was the culmination of that process. Given the diversity of the forces involved and the different interests pursued, elements like Azapo, New Unity Movement, Wosa, BCMA and a few others did not become part of the Front, whilst the PAC, having taken the initial step by participating at the Durban Conference, couldn’t find its way any further.
A rather loose alliance, called the Patriotic Front Forces, remained throughout the Codesa days, playing a very meaningful role. Some of the organisations rendered invaluable service towards the April election victory. The less said about others, like Ramodike’s UPF, the better. Details in …
In Durban we also resolved that all necessary measures be taken to mobilise the people of to engage in action in defence of peace. And that the ANC should assist all communities to build the capacity to defend themselves. The peace summit and the signing of the Peace Accord was all in an effort towards those objectives. Whilst violence has subsided, mainly, perhaps, due to our efforts, the capacity of the communities to defend themselves was built only in a few areas, and even there with limited success.
We did, as instructed by Conference, develop codes of conduct for the security forces and political organisations and a programme of reconstruction for violence-ravaged areas.
On building the ANC, various resolutions were adopted. A joint commission with the two other members of the Tripartite Alliance was to be set up to investigate the reasons for the inability of the Alliance to function effectively at the grassroots level, and reasons for failure to attract Cosatu membership into the ANC. The two issues still confront this Conference, not because of failure to do anything, but because the nature of the issues are such that there will always be room to do better.
We were to develop a clear policy on local government, with special reference to the role of civics and ANC branches. A lot of work has been done in this regard, and the oncoming local government elections add urgency to the matter.
A number of resolutions on political education, like the development of a comprehensive national political education programme, with special focus on the gender question and the history and policies of the ANC, in the languages understood and spoken by the people, were taken. The report of the department will examine the details. Likewise, resolutions on strategic campaigns, employment/administrative practices, rural areas, organisational restructuring, women, youth, minority groups, foreign policy, etc, shall be dealt with in greater detail in the report of the Organising Department.
We also resolved to establish mechanisms to ensure interdepartmental coordination, particularly at national level, to avoid incoherence in public pronouncements on policy matters. To a very large extent that has been controlled, though there are slips from time to time. A disciplinary code has been formulated for all office-bearers, members and employees of the ANC. Resolutions regarding marshalling at ANC functions were all carried out, resulting in all functions running relatively smoothly.
Having been unable to debate and take resolutions on a range of policy issues, the Durban Conference instructed the NEC to convene a national policy conference of mandated representatives within the following six months. That was done in May 1992. The development of those policies led to the RDP conference and the ultimate drawing up of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). Those painstaking processes ensured in the end that we were the only organisation with a plan to present to the electorate in the April elections.
This is no attempt at a full account of the implementation of the resolutions of the 1991 conference, but a mere summary. Departmental reports will examine the details.
5. General political situation
5.1.1 Overall assessment
Negotiations towards a democratic South Africa dominated events in this country since our last National Conference in July 1991. That we are able to hold the first conference of the ANC in a country with a democratically-elected parliament and with a broadly- representative government of national unity, is sufficient testimony to the success of these negotiations. It reflects also the victories of the democratic movement in this terrain of struggle.
The interim constitution which was accepted by all parties at the Multi-party Forum in November 1993 represents the realisation of all the major demands of the liberation movement, and the vindication of the strategy outlined in the 1989 Harare Declaration. The 48th National Conference of the ANC resolved that the process towards a transfer of power to the majority of South Africans should include:
- the removal of all obstacles to free political activity;
- the convening of an ‘All-Party Congress’;
- the installation of an interim government;
- the election of a democratic ‘Constituent Assembly’;
- the adoption of a democratic constitution and the election of a parliament representative of all the people of South Africa.
With the exception of the latter, all these steps have been achieved. The process to write and adopt a democratic constitution is underway, and will be completed within eighteen months.
Another achievement of the negotiations process is that it has been inclusive. Every effort was made to involve all political groupings in finding a political settlement. Despite attempts by some parties to boycott the process, the final outcome was representative enough to be implemented.
The National Party government was effectively defeated at the negotiations table. They failed to realise their objectives through negotiations, and were forced by the combined strategies of the democratic movement to accede in a substantial way to the demands of the ANC.
The National Party had, in embarking on their reform process, a number of objectives:
- to ease international pressure on the South African government;
- to substantially remove internal resistance to its government;
- to maintain minority privilege while reaching a settlement which was ‘accepted’ by the liberation movement;
- to entrench National Party power;
- to put the NP in a position where it was able to win a non- racial election.
At the same time as being locked into protracted, fruitless negotiations, the structures of the ANC on the ground would have been rendered ineffective by the ongoing violence. The capacity of the ANC to mobilise any significant resistance to the government would have been thoroughly undermined. The NP achieved a measure of success in this regard. Areas of Natal, the PWV, Ciskei and Bophuthatswana saw the ANC having to operate under the most repressive conditions. The climate of fear which the violence bred had an impact also on the attitude of many people to politics. It had the tendency of frightening people away from engaging in any sort of political activity, to the point where they would not join mass action or even take part in an election. For an ANC which relied on a politicised and active population, this proved a great threat.
The NP was determined to retain control of all the institutions of white minority control throughout the transition period. Even when engaged in constitutional negotiations the government engaged in unilateral restructuring of the economy. The decisions on the implementation of VAT were perhaps the most visible example of the National Party’s determination to continue with its programme in the face of stiff opposition from the majority of South Africans. The establishment of the National Economic Forum, the National Housing Forum and other forums involving government were important challenges to this strategy. The NP doggedly held onto the reins of the SABC – even to the point of De Klerk meddling in what was supposed to be a transparent and independent process to select a new SABC board.
The various strategies of the National Party failed to prevent the ANC from scoring significant victories in negotiations, and failed to stop the march to a democratic government.
Nor did the strategies of the IFP manage to derail the process. At the commencement of the transition period the Inkatha Freedom Party established itself as the spoiler – a role it has played with frightening consistency. The involvement of IFP in political violence meant that no political settlement could be reached without them. As the ANC used mass action to strengthen its hand at the negotiating table, the IFP pursued violence towards a similar goal.
The IFP wanted to use this leverage to obtain a political settlement which favoured them. They were initially reluctant to have negotiations take place at a multi-party level, preferring a summit of the ANC, IFP and NP. Then they insisted that the new constitution be written by a multi-party forum rather than an elected constituent assembly. Essentially they were demanding veto rights on the new constitution without having to test their support at the polls.
As the negotiations process unfolded the emphasis on ‘Zulu nationalism’ increased, to a point where Buthulezi was threatening a unilateral declaration of independence in KwaZulu. To this end the adoption by the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly in December 1992 of a constitution for an autonomous KwaZulu, and pronouncements by the Zulu monarch on the sovereignty of the ‘the Zulu nation’, are significant. Particularly in the pre-election period, Buthelezi used the Zulu king to bolster his claims for a federalist settlement, contributing substantially to tensions in the region.
The white right-wing, similarly, cast themselves as spoilers in the process. Shaped as much by anxiety over declining socio- economic conditions as by a desire to maintain a cultural and ethnic identity, the right-wing crystallised around the demand for an Afrikaner ‘Volkstaat’.
Following their defeat in the whites-only referendum in March 1992 – which was characterised by a well-strategised, well-financed NP campaign and a growing ‘new South Africa’ euphoria – the right- wing entered the terrain of extra-parliamentary politics.
The formation of the Concerned South Africans Group (Cosag), a rather tenuous alliance of the white right-wing and certain homeland leaders, was a desperate attempt to stem the tide of negotiations. Unable offer a single coherent vision, the capacity of Cosag (and later the Freedom Alliance) to function as a significant social force was extremely limited. Indeed, the return of the Ciskei government to the transition process and the fall of Mangope’s government in the pre-election period effectively brought the alliance to an end. The Afrikaner Volksfront and Inkatha were each left to their own devices
The Afrikaner Volksfront (AVF), which was formed in May 1993 largely on the initiative of the ‘Committee of Generals’, was the most significant development in terms of right-wing unity. Although it was fraught with political tensions and ideological differences it managed to maintain a semblance of a unified purpose. At the same time it managed to keep in check the more militant elements of the right-wing.
Differences on methods for achieving a volkstaat eventually split the AVF. Constand Viljoen opted for the constitutional route when he registered for the April elections in the name of the Freedom Front. This was due in part to our persistence in engaging in bilaterals. The involvement of the Freedom Front relied largely on our agreement to the constitutional establishment of a Volktaat Council – whereby we recognised their right to pursue the volkstaat through constitutional means, though retaining our opposition to the concept.
Although unable to significantly affect the balance of forces in negotiations, the DP contributed a degree of stability to the process, often providing competent and useful input.
Negotiations helped to develop a national consensus around democracy, equality and peace. Even groups whose interests were opposed to these principles were forced to at least pay lip service to them. This created a climate in which democratic elections were possible.
Through negotiations the ANC managed to successfully wed different pillars of struggle towards a common goal. Contrary to the expectations of the NP, the organisation managed to unite the forces of democracy around a variety of strategies which ultimately bore fruit at the negotiations table. The centrality of the masses to this success cannot be overemphasised.
Our performance in the negotiations process wasn’t without its problems. Our relations with the PAC, in particular, were characterised more by disagreement than cooperation. The unity achieved in Patriotic Front Conference in October 1991 – which visibly strengthened the position of the democratic forces in the run-up to multi-party talks – was shattered when the PAC walked out of multi-party preparatory talks barely a month later having reneged on bilateral agreements. Rather than stick to agreed upon positions the PAC sought to gain political mileage for itself at the expense of the ANC.
Much of their actions in negotiations were designed to strengthen their position in relation to the ANC. Their demand for a venue outside South Africa for negotiations; their demand for an international convenor in negotiations; and their refusal (at least initially) to participate in the TEC were indications of a strategy to present themselves as more radical than the ANC – in the hope of attracting support from those who might be frustrated by the negotiation process. While sensing the need to participate in negotiations, the PAC was hesitant to be seen to be too attached to the process.
The activities of Apla in this period served a similar function. After years of relative inactivity Apla began engaging in guerilla activity – at a time when the ANC had suspended the armed struggle and a negotiated settlement was within reach. At first the PAC leadership distanced itself from the Apla attacks on whites, but then gradually embraced these activities believing that they would win them support in black communities. While the Apla activities contributed to the climate of fear and racial polarisation in the country, it ensured that the PAC maintained a relatively high profile.
The extreme levels of violence which beset the process took a heavy toll on our people. Our inability to find mechanisms to deal with this problem effectively and swiftly meant that our opponents were able to exploit this strategy to their advantage. Ultimately though, the election of a democratic government and the process towards transforming all aspects of our society, will prove our biggest contribution to peace in this country.
For all our emphasis on the importance of mass participation, the negotiations process was often too far removed from the everyday experiences of the majority of South Africans. The lines of communication between negotiators and their constituencies – between the ANC leadership and the membership – were generally very poor. It became difficult under these conditions to maintain full accountability and transparency.
5.1.2 Talks about talks
Obstacles At the time of the previous national conference there were a number of obstacles standing in the way of meaningful negotiations. The half-measure reforms of the De Klerk regime meant that while the ANC was allowed to operate in the country, we were not able to organise freely. The main problems we faced included:
- the continued existence and use of security legislation;
- many of our people were still imprisoned for political activity;
- many exiles had not been granted indemnity and no provision had been made for their return;
- the level of political violence had soared.
In addition, there was no consensus on what the form, composition and objectives of negotiations should be. While the ANC argued that all political groupings in the country with proven support should be involved in multi-party negotiations, the NP and Inkatha favoured trilateral negotiations of ‘the big three’.
ANC strategy The ANC responded to these obstacles by intensifying the struggle on all fronts. While the armed struggle had been suspended, the masses of South Africa remained in a state of ‘combat readiness’ to ensure that their freedom could not be postponed.
The ANC moved to halt the erosion of sanctions against the South African regime. We argued that the international community should continue to use sanctions to maintain pressure on the regime to move forward to a non-racial democracy. As a result we won the principle with the international community that specific groups of sanctions should be used to achieve certain strategic objectives, including the removal by the regime of obstacles to negotiations, the installation of an interim government and the adoption of a democratic constitution. Our success in this regard was an important blow against De Klerk, who had been relying on international pressure being significantly lessened.
At the same time the NP regime was facing internal pressure over revelations of covert activities against the ANC and secret funding of Inkatha (the ‘Inkathagate’ scandal). The image De Klerk had been cultivating for himself and his government as honest brokers was shattered by these revelations. The capacity of the government to manage the transition period on its own was being questioned from numerous quarters. In this context the ANC campaigned for the removal of obstacles and the convening of an all-party conference.
5.1.3 Codesa I and II
Achievements As a direct result of these efforts the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) met for the first time on 20 December 1991.
The Declaration of Intent which was adopted at this meeting was an important advance for the ANC, in that it contained all the elements of the ANC’s constitutional principles. It also committed the regime to be bound by the decisions of Codesa and to see to their implementation. Codesa itself would draft the texts of all legislation necessary to give effect to the agreements reached.
The five working groups established by Codesa reflected the major issues which would need attention if the ANC’s route to democracy was going to be realised. The working groups were:
- Creation of a climate for free political participation;
- General constitutional principles and a constitution-making body;
- Transitional arrangements and an interim government;
- Future of the TBVC states;
- Time frames and implementation of Codesa decisions.
President Mandela’s stern rebuke of De Klerk in the opening plenary of Codesa sent a clear message to the De Klerk regime that while the ANC was prepared to reach a settlement through negotiation and compromise, it wasn’t going to allow the NP to walk over it in the process.
Problems Despite the points of agreement around the form and substance of Codesa, the government’s proposals on how the transition should take place were fundamentally different to the ANC’s. Their proposals included:
- a ‘broadly representative’ interim government which would be responsible for ‘constitutional reform’;
- referendums in the white, Indian and coloured communities respectively before legislation to establish an interim government could be passed by parliament;
- this ‘interim power-sharing model’ would exist for 10-15 years.
We rejected these proposals because they would have postponed indefinitely the enactment of a democratic constitution; constitutional amendments would have been dependent on the whims of a racial minority; and the power sharing model would have been based on the NP’s problematic constitutional proposals.
From the beginning of Codesa it was clear that the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) was intent on playing an obstructionist role. Along with the Bophuthatswana government, Inkatha refused to sign the Declaration of Intent. They argued that the direction of Codesa mitigated against the acceptance of a federal South Africa. They also insisted that King Goodwill Zwelithini and the KwaZulu administration each have their own delegation to Codesa.
At the first preparatory meeting of Codesa, the PAC walked out of the negotiations process. This effectively rolled back many of the gains made at the Patriotic Front Conference. This action, which was intended to make gains for the PAC at the expense of the ANC, was to set the pattern for future relations between the organisations.
5.1.4 Breakdown and mass action
Following the massacre of 39 residents of Boipatong by men from the kwaMadala hostel, the NEC resolved to suspend negotiations with government as there was deep suspicion that the security forces were involved. This decision followed an escalation in violence and intransigence on the part of the government. At the second plenary session of Codesa in May 1992, no agreement could be reached on the issue of a constituent assembly (CA). Although all parties agreed that a democratically-elected Constituent Assembly should write the new constitution, and would function as an interim parliament, the government insisted that the decisions of the elected CA be subject to the veto of an undemocratically constituted senate. They further required that the boundaries, powers, functions and structures of regions be agreed to in the Interim Constitution, and that the CA couldn’t change this. They wanted decisions in the CA to be taken by a 70 percent majority and a 75 percent majority for decisions relating to the Bill of Rights.
The ANC insisted that it was committed to negotiations, but that progress was impossible until the government had acceded to certain demands. The ANC therefore launched the Campaign for Peace and Democracy. The objectives of the campaign included:
- a democratically-elected, sovereign, single chamber Constituent Assembly;
- the setting up of interim governmental structures to ensure free and fair elections for the CA;
- disbanding the SAP and SADF covert forces;
- phasing out the hostel system;
- prohibiting the carrying of dangerous weapons in public;
- an international commission of inquiry into the violence.
The campaign marked an important return for us to the politics of mass mobilisation. It served to remind the regime that they were negotiating with a political movement which had the support of the majority of South Africans. The campaign also provided an opportunity to build our organisation at a grassroots level, to reinvigorate our structures and to involve our people in the negotiations struggle. It was a move which substantially strengthened our hand in negotiations.
The campaign also had a positive effect on our alliance with the SACP and Cosatu. It provided tangible means for all structures of the alliance to be involved in the campaign to further negotiations.
5.1.5 Record of Understanding
The ANC-NP Summit in September 1992 and the Record of Understanding which was signed there opened the way for negotiations to resume. The summit was the result of the campaign of mass action. The recommendations of the United Nations secretary-general to the UN Security Council helped to place extra international pressure on the De Klerk regime. That, and the findings of the Goldstone Commission, vindicated the demands of our Campaign for Peace and Democracy.
At the summit agreement was reached on:
- a democratically-elected CA with fixed time-frames and adequate deadlock-breaking mechanisms;
- an interim government of national unity with the CA acting as an interim parliament;
- the phased release of political prisoners before November 1992
- increasing security and monitoring measures at various hostels;
- prohibition of the carrying of dangerous weapons in public;
- the right of all groupings to engage in peaceful mass action.
The ANC hereby regained the initiative in negotiations. The demonstration of popular support for the ANC’s vision not only ensured that the ANC was driving the agenda of negotiations, but it pushed the NP further, and at a faster pace, than it was originally prepared to go.
5.1.6 Return to multi-party talks
The road to a renewal of multi-party talks was paved by a series of bilateral meetings between ourselves and the National Party, as well as with other parties. Progress made in these bilaterals ensured that when the Multi-Party Forum met on 1 April 1993, the deadlocks which had ended Codesa II were largely resolved.
Particularly significant was the initiative taken by the NEC in adopting the ‘Strategic Perspectives’ document in November 1992. In doing so the NEC acknowledged that the crisis in the country had reached a point where a breakthrough was necessary. We identified the following immediate objectives:
- the establishment of a democratic constitution-making process;
- ending the NP’s monopoly of power;
- ensuring a continuing link between democracy and socio-economic empowerment;
- minimising the threat to stability and the democratic process.
The multi-party talks resumed with a greater degree of consensus than had existed at Codesa. The ANC’s scenario for the transition to democracy adopted in February 1993 became the generally accepted guiding beacon. By September 1993 final agreement had been reached on:
- the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC);
- the Independent Media Commission (IMC);
- the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA);
- the Transitional Executive Council (TEC) On 18 November 1993 the MPF plenary adopted the Transitional Constitution, which would come into effect on 27 April 1994, and which would last until the new constitution was drawn up by the Constitutional Assembly.
This process was successfully defended against attempts from various quarters to derail it. The assassination of Cde Chris Hani just after the resumption of multi-party talks was an attempt by the far right-wing to disrupt negotiations and throw the country into turmoil. It is to the credit of the liberation movement that it managed to keep negotiations on track, and campaign even harder for its early resolution.
Cosag tried everything in its power to prevent the successful outcome of negotiations. In July 1993 they left negotiations after the election date was approved by sufficient consensus. In the face of their demands for effective veto rights, negotiations went ahead without them.
Subsequent to the conclusion of negotiations, the resolutions of the Multi-Party Forum were passed into law by parliament in December and the Transitional Executive Council (TEC) met for the first time.
The TEC, established to level the playing fields and create a climate for free political activity, signalled the end of the National Party’s monopoly on power. The TEC had six subcouncils:
- law and order;
- stability and security;
- foreign affairs;
- regional and local government.
These were established to make decisions affecting elements of government which were crucial to the transition. Despite statements by the Afrikaner Volksfront, the Bophuthatswana government and Inkatha that they would not be bound by the TEC, the TEC had a significant impact on governance during the pre- election period.
5.1.7 Outstanding issues
Because Cosag (later the Freedom Alliance) absented themselves from the final stages of negotiations, there were some issues which had not been resolved by the end of the Multi-Party Forum’s sitting.
The white right-wing’s demand for an Afrikaner volkstaat had been rejected by the MPF. However, the ANC continued to engage groupings of the right in discussion in the hope of reaching a settlement This was important because of the threat to stability which the right-wing constituted. We encouraged the Afrikaner Volksfront to become part of the elections process, and to test the electoral support for their demands. These efforts bore fruit when Constand Viljoen registered for the election as the Freedom Front. Their participation in the election and the subsequent establishment of a Volkstaat Council to pursue the matter constitutionally, contributed significantly to the relative stability of the election and transition period. The issue of the Volkstaat is not yet resolved, and will be a subject of negotiation in the future.
The most serious threat to a free, fair and peaceful election came from the Inkatha Freedom Party. The IFP rejected the outcome of the Multi-Party Forum and threatened to boycott the elections. They demanded that the election date be postponed and that their demands on greater powers for regions be written into the constitutional principles. To give ammunition to their demands, they focussed attention on the Zulu King, demanding that his position as monarch be written into the constitution. We continued to engage in bilaterals with Inkatha. The level of violence in Natal rose dramatically as the election date approached. To break the deadlock and to avoid even greater bloodshed the ANC proposed that the position of the king be guaranteed in the constitution and that greater powers be granted to regions. Although this was rejected by the IFP, the necessary changes were made to the constitution. We agreed to bring in international mediators to resolve the outstanding constitutional issues. When we made it clear that the election date was not a subject for negotiation, however, the IFP withdrew. Barely a week before the election the IFP announced it would participate in the election, with an agreement that mediation would take place after the election on the outstanding issues pertaining to the role of the king and the 1993 constitution.
The late entry of Inkatha into the election, shows that their intention was to hold the country to ransom and extract the maximum possible concessions. The IFP’s demand for international mediation has been raised again with their insistence that the CA should address this matter. The view of nearly all the parties in the CA is that the question of international mediation is not a CA matter but that the parties to the agreement should resolve this issue among themselves.
Political violence has long been used in South Africa as a weapon against democratic change. The political violence which has become endemic over the past decade, and which has become particularly acute since February 1990, must be seen as an extension of that counter-revolutionary strategy. More than 18 000 people have been killed since September 1984. Over half of these have been killed since the beginning of 1990.
Natal and the PWV have been the sites of the most violence. Between July 1990 and December 1993 at least 4,807 people died in political violence in Natal, and over 6,216 were killed in the PWV. The rest of the country accounted for about 389 deaths in that period.
That the violence should have increased during a period of negotiations is no coincidence. The violence was clearly used to strengthen the hand of the reactionary forces at the expense of the liberation movement. The timing, location and nature of acts of violence indicates that there were forces behind the violence who were directing it to influence the direction of political developments.
5.2.1 Roots of violence
The major part of political violence can be traced to the National Party’s approach to negotiations. Since the unbanning of the ANC and other organisations in February 1990, the NP pursued a two- pronged strategy which combined political reform with destabilisation of opponents by engaging in low-intensity warfare. Their intention was to prolong the transition as long as possible, so as to:
- give themselves the opportunity to build up their support among the black electorate;
- weaken the ANC’s grassroots support;
- divide the democratic movement as different elements become frustrated with the slow pace of negotiations;
- thereby forcing the ANC to agree to a settlement which favoured the NP.
At first the ANC claims of government complicity in the violence was met with scepticism and even derision. Evidence began to emerge, however, of covert security force operations which included financial and military support for opposition groups like Inkatha, operation of covert units (like that located at Vlakplaas) which were directly involved in the violence and the assassination of individuals within the democratic movement.
Under significant local and international pressure the government established the Commission of Inquiry Regarding the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation under Justice Richard Goldstone. The various interim reports of the Goldstone Commission provided the first legally significant evidence of various instances of security force complicity. In October 1993 Justice Goldstone said there was strong circumstantial evidence of security police involvement in the violence.
The Goldstone Commission also pointed to serious deficiencies in the government and security forces’ response to the violence – an issue which the ANC had raised with the government on several occasions. Our assertion that De Klerk lacked the political will to end the violence was borne out time and again. In April 1993 the Goldstone Commission reported that only 54 percent of the 149 recommendations made by the Commission in its 28 reports had been implemented or were even under discussion. Only 14 percent of the recommendations had been fully implemented.
The climate of fear which the violence bred had a disastrous impact on political activity in affected areas. ANC structures were unable to function in many violence-torn communities – particularly in large sections of Natal. This was the case also in bantustans like Ciskei and Bophuthatswana, whose repressive regimes had the backing of military intelligence and other sections of the South African security forces.
The ambitions of the Inkatha Freedom Party and its leader, Mangosuthu Buthulezi, also had an impact on the nature of the violence. Since the early 1980s, Inkatha had been using violence as a strategy against its opponents, most notably the UDF and its allies. It was in line with the overall strategy of bringing the greater Natal region under his personal control.
With the unbanning of the ANC and the return of legitimate leaders, it became necessary for Buthulezi to assert himself as one of the ‘top three’ national leaders. Hence the spread of violence to the PWV to coincide with the launch of Inkatha in the region. Relying on the same ethnic chauvinism which had characterised much of the anti-ANC violence in Natal, migrant worker hostels in the PWV became springboards for armed attacks on township residents.
The role of Inkatha within the state’s strategy of destabilisation became clear as details were revealed of state funding of Inkatha and Uwusa activities (‘Inkathagate’), the military training of Inkatha members in Caprivi in 1986, the supply of arms by members of the SAP to Inkatha and the existence of hit squads within the KwaZulu Police. Not only did these revelations do much to put De Klerk on the defensive in negotiations, but it put to rest claims by the IFP that they were merely hapless victims of ‘MK terror’.
One of the reasons for the capacity of political violence to assume such large proportions was its exploitation of tensions and potential for conflict which was rooted in poor socio-economic conditions. The violence in the PWV relied largely on the hostel system for its fuel. Historically marginalised from other communities, hostels were transformed into virtual military barracks. Threatened by the end of apartheid and fearing the closure of hostels, hostel dwellers were easily drawn into a violent conflict which exploited a struggle over material resources and which drew heavily on differences of ethnicity and language between hostel and township residents. Other differences over material resources were also exploited – competition over housing, land and transport. By identifying points of tension within communities and directing violence into those points, the state was able to ensure that the violence began to develop a momentum of its own. It is a momentum which the democratic government will be hard-pressed to address.
The climate of instability in many townships, the proliferation of weapons and the high level of unemployment have created the conditions for an increase in violent criminal activity. Criminal elements have thrived on the breakdown of order which political violence has caused. The use of political violence to mask purely criminal activity has meant that it has been at times difficult to differentiate between the two. Criminal elements have provided another area which people wishing to create political instability can exploit.
5.2.2 Mechanisms for addressing violence
The National Peace Accord was signed in September 1991, as a multi-party attempt to stem the tide of violence. It was significant in several respects:
- it established a code of conduct to bind the police and SADF;
- all signatories agreed on a code of conduct for political organisations;
- it provided for multi-party monitoring of the SAP;
- it required the allocation of funds by the state to facilitate the accord;
- it helped to develop a national ‘peace movement’;
- laid the basis for a community-based approach to policing.
Above all the National Peace Accord and the establishment of the National Peace Secretariat sent a message to the security forces that they were ultimately accountable to all the people of South Africa – even if that accountability proved difficult to implement in practice.
While the National Peace Accord focussed much energy on curbing the violence, there were a number of reasons why it was unable to meet many of the expectations people had of it:
- the people who were involved in peace accord structures and activities were often not located within the communities affected by violence;
- there was insufficient analysis within multi-party peace structures of the causes and manifestation of violence;
- they relied on the good faith of parties to the accord, and were therefore powerless to curb third force-type violence;
- there was little enforcement of the SAP code of conduct;
- the state absolved itself of many of its responsibilities in curbing violence.
The only way to end violence in any major way was to pursue a political solution. This involved speeding up negotiations towards a democratic settlement – ending NP control over the security forces; removing the control of bantustan leaders over homeland police and army; and installing a democratic and accountable government, defence force and police. Further to this it was necessary to place sufficient pressure on the government to make it cease covert operations. The role of the international community – particularly the United Nations – and mass action at home, were important in this regard. It was also necessary to make perceived involvement and complicity in violence a political liability. To do this the promotion of a national consensus around peace was particularly effective.
An inclusive settlement was also a major way of reducing the level of violence, and the number of people wishing to engage in it. While we made every attempt to incorporate as many parties into negotiations as possible, we weren’t prepared to do so at the expense of the advancement of a transition to democracy.
With the South African Police being either unable or unwilling to protect residents against armed attacks community-based self-defence units (SDUs) were established in many areas. These were established with the assistance of the ANC and Umkhonto we Sizwe. They were to organise residents into disciplined, accountable structures which could defend communities from attack. The SDUs faced much opposition from police and security forces, who were not prepared to accept the constructive role that SDUs could play in developing community policing. Rather they hampered the functioning of the SDUs, and subjected them to constant harassment.
In the run-up to the elections agreement was reached on the formation of a National Peacekeeping Force (NPKF) which would be comprised of personnel from all recognised armed formations in South Africa, and who would be able to play a non-partisan peacekeeping role in the pre-election period. It was the first attempt to integrate the soldiers, style of organisation and method of operation of the security forces of South Africa and the homelands and MK. It represented also a recognition by all parties that the composition and functioning of the South African security forces was not conducive to non-partisan peacekeeping.
The NPKF ran into a number of problems though. Among these was the short time frame that it was given to integrate, train and mobilise its personnel. In addition it was regarded with suspicion by the SADF and SAP, who were at times openly critical of the NPKF’s training and activities. The central problem in the end was the SADF’s reluctance to support the initiative with resources.
5.2.3 Prospects for the future
While the levels of violence have decreased considerably since the April elections, political violence still remains a big problem. There are a number of factors which may contribute to a re- escalation of violence. These include:
- far right-wing reorganisation and terror activities;
- remnants of the third force in the police and defence force who may encourage violence;
- use of socio-economic tensions (such as taxis, hostels and housing) for political ends;
- unchecked criminal activity, particularly drugs and arms smuggling;
- dissidents from military formations, SDUs or self-protection units using the equipment and training at their disposal to foment violence or engage in criminal activity.
If these dangers are to be avoided the ANC and the government should pursue the following as a matter of urgency:
- the success of the SANDF integration process;
- the transformation of the SAPS and the development of community policing;
- a rapid improvement in the standard of living of all South Africans – the implementation of the RDP;
- the inclusion of all groupings within the political process;
- the uncovering of third force elements within the police and security forces, and the cessation of all covert activities.
The April election was the most profound event in the history of the struggle for democracy in South Africa. It was both a symbol and a practical manifestation of the gains which the people have made through centuries of resistance.
In order for the transition to democracy to be successful it was necessary for the ANC to become the leading party in the Government of National Unity, not only to have a major role in the writing of the new constitution but to implement policies which would address as a matter of urgency the pressing social and economic problems in the country. Without an election victory, the gains made in the negotiations process would have amounted to very little. It is to the credit of all the structures of the ANC – to every member and supporter – that this victory materialised.
5.3.1 ANC election strategy
As much as the ANC was the organisation in South Africa with the longest and most consistent record of struggle against injustice, our election strategy revolved largely around the future. The challenge for us was to provide the electorate with a comprehensive vision of a new South Africa, in which the legacy of apartheid would be addressed in a systematic and thorough manner. Through our election campaign we popularised the most significant aspects of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), providing detailed information on our policy.
In contrast to many of the other parties, the ANC focussed primarily on positive campaigning – we were promoting our policies, rather than trying to create fear about the other parties. This struck a chord with most South Africans, who were eager to shed the fear and pessimism of the past. The ANC campaign was consistent with the sense of hope and euphoria which surrounded the first democratic election.
More than any other party, the ANC actively engaged with the people. The People’s Forums were more than an election strategy. They were the continuation of a long tradition of community participation and empowerment. They sent a signal to voters that the new government would be substantially different to previous ones in the manner in which it related to the people.
In addition to a high profile national campaign, the ANC made effective use of its structures on the ground to do door-to-door campaigning. This helped to reinvigorate branches and gave the ANC an edge over organisations who weren’t as deeply rooted within communities.
Throughout the campaign the ANC maintained a high media profile. Posters, stickers, pamphlets, flags and badges were among the media used to popularise the logo, symbol and leader of the ANC. Given the level of illiteracy among the electorate, it was important that people could easily distinguish the ANC from the other parties on the ballot slip.
It was important for the ANC that there was a high turnout of voters and that there was a minimum of spoilt ballots. The ANC therefore placed much emphasis in its campaigning on voter education. The secrecy of the ballot was emphasised and the process of casting a ballot was explained in detail. The high voter turnout (approximately 86 percent nationally) and the low number of spoilt ballots (no more than one percent of votes cast) was testimony to the success of these and other voter education efforts.
The ANC no doubt benefited from the popularity and high standing of Cde Mandela, both here and abroad. The focus on both him and De Klerk during the campaign turned the election into something of a presidential race. But unlike the National Party, who used the focus on their leader to draw attention away from their policies, the ANC harnessed the support for the president to focus attention on the ANC’s policies.
The relative poor showing of the ANC in Natal and the Western Cape was due to a number of objective and subjective factors. Among the subjective factors in the Western Cape was the organisation’s inability to find an effective answer to the NP’s ‘fear campaign’ among the coloured community in particular – often resorting to similar tactics. In Natal the effects of years of violence on the organisational capacity of the ANC was keenly felt. In addition to the difficulty of having to wed three different regional structures in fighting one campaign, vast areas of Natal remained impenetrable to ANC campaigners. Again we failed to develop and implement strategies which dealt effectively with the objective constraints we faced.
5.3.2 NP strategy
The National Party’s election campaign began long before the election date was even set. From the beginning of 1990, the National Party had begun positioning itself to contest multi- racial elections. It put all its propaganda muscle behind promoting the ‘new’ South Africa and, by extension, the ‘new’ National Party. De Klerk was marketed as the great reformer. The NP co-opted tricameral politicians into the cabinet and became the majority party in all three houses. The NP also saw the violence as an opportunity to paint the ANC as a violent and intolerant organisation, and itself as a neutral organisation which was above political violence.
So by the time the election campaign began proper the basis on which the NP would run its campaign was already established. In promoting the ‘newness’ of the National Party, the NP tried to sell itself as the only truly non-racial party. Yet it struggled to get black candidates onto its electoral list. These candidates included discredited tricameral politicians, black local councillors and even vigilante leaders. Despite their claims of non-racialism the party leadership remains predominantly white (and male).
Another aspect of the NP’s campaign was to play on the fears and anxieties of minority communities. This was particularly the case in coloured communities, where the NP exploited material concerns about affirmative action and ‘African advancement’. It portrayed the ANC as solely concerned with the interests of Africans, at the expense of other communities. It wasn’t afraid to employ racism and chauvinism to enforce this message.
The NP also pointed the ANC’s lack of experience in government as a reason to vote National Party. This argument did not do much for the NP campaign, as it raised questions about their dismal performance in government.
5.3.3 Freeness and fairness
Despite many fears the elections were held under relatively free and fair conditions. The instances of intimidation, voting irregularities and political violence did not prevent the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) from concluding that the election results were a substantially fair indication of the will of the voters.
The IEC mobilised substantial personnel and resources to monitor election activity and adjudicate in the event of disputes. Their role and the role of other independent monitors contributed to this positive climate. Their work, under very trying conditions, created an important precedent for future elections. The administrative problems which nearly derailed the entire election should also serve as a lesson for future elections.
The media played an important role in encouraging transparency and openness in the election period. The Independent Media Commission constituted a useful deterrent to party political abuse of the state broadcasting services and government-funded publications and media services.
There were moments in the election campaign where tensions ran high particularly between supporters of the NP and the ANC – involving stone-throwing, heated exchanges and, in one instance, a shooting. Our supporters were not blameless in this regard. On a couple of occasions, ANC supporters went beyond the bounds of what could be considered fair and legitimate political activity. For such actions we must share collective responsibility as an organisation.
The ANC was the victim of extreme political intolerance in KwaZulu/Natal. ANC election workers were threatened, harassed and even killed. IFP members occupied venues where the ANC was due to hold election rallies, preventing these events from taking place. KwaZulu/Natal had the highest number of reports of voting irregularities.
5.3.4 Election Results
The overwhelming success of the ANC in the election was due largely to the high turnout of voters and small number of spoilt ballots. The extent to which the ANC was able to consolidate the African vote was significant, accounting for the large ANC majorities in the North-West Province (83.3 percent), Eastern Transvaal (80.7 percent) and Norther Transvaal (91.6 percent).
The only province where this pattern did not repeat itself was KwaZulu/Natal where the IFP gained 50.3 percent to the ANC’s 32.2 percent. A number of factors contributed to this result:
- the high incidence of voting irregularities favoured the IFP;
- the undecided vote contained more IFP support than opinion polls suggested;
- voters feared an escalation of violence if the IFP didn’t do well;
- the ANC’s capacity to campaign in the province was hampered by political violence;
- ANC campaigning wasn’t as effective as it could have been.
Although the IFP left multi-party negotiations and refused, until the last minute, to participate in elections, they never left the terrain of negotiations. They continued to demand concessions and to engage in bilaterals. So while they were not officially participating in elections they featured prominently in the media. This ensured that they weren’t at a disadvantage when they eventually entered the election process.
The PAC’s performance in the election reflected the problems within the organisation, the flaws in its strategy and the narrow appeal of its politics. The main thrust of its election campaign was to establish itself as an opposition to the ANC. Yet it alienated potential voters whenever it criticised the ANC. Its emphasis on land in the elections failed to address the key concerns of most voters.
Similarly, the DP’s inability to distinguish its politics from that of the NP ensured its dismal performance in the election. Through their campaign they sought to fuel fears of an ANC-led government. However, they were unable to convince voters why they would provide a better opposition than the NP. Voters ultimately chose the larger of two ideologically-similar parties.
The National Party failed to make significant inroads into the African community, receiving between 3 and 4 percent of the African vote nationally. Half of the NP votes came from their traditional white constituency. At a national level their performance improved among white voters from previous whites-only elections, receiving about 65 percent of the white vote. Their other significant gain was in the Western Cape where they gained between 60 and 70 percent of the coloured vote. This secured them a majority in the province.
The April elections marked a turning point for South Africa – the interim constitution came into effect, removing political power from the hands of a racial minority and placing it in the hands of a representative government of national unity. The period since then has been characterised by some important achievements.
The relative peacefulness of the transition period needs to be highlighted. The threat of violence emanating from the right-wing and the IFP was largely contained. Threats of civil war, disruption of crucial services and food and other shortages after the election did not materialise. This was due in part to the security offered to the civil service and security forces in the interim constitution. It was also a result of the inclusion of all major sections of society in the elections. The process of government since the elections has fostered that sense of inclusivity.
The government itself has made progress in establishing the mechanisms necessary to implement the Reconstruction and Development Programme. This progress has not been consistent, as many departments at a national and provincial level have had to grapple with the legacy of an apartheid civil service. The transformation of local government remains an area of concern. With local government elections at least a year away, local government structures need to be both representative and functional for they are crucial in implementing the RDP.
There has been progress also in the writing of the new constitution. This includes the establishment of timetable for the writing process, the establishment of a constitutional committee and six public participation theme committees. If this process is successful the full text of the Constitution will be available for public scrutiny by the end of October 1995 and will be adopted before the deadline of May 1996.
The National Party are not defeated. Nor have they exhausted the strategies which served them in the past. The NP and its supporters retain substantial influence within the civil service and security forces. The guarantee of job security within these sectors may have reduced the threat, yet it is a weapon the NP may choose to use in the future.
Already apparent is that the NP intends to create its own version of the RDP. It has accepted the name, but the content it intends the Government of National Unity to give to that name is fundamentally different to the ANC’s version of the RDP. So while the NP will agree with the RDP rhetoric they will be pursuing completely different policies. Even before the election the NP was saying that the ANC should be transformed into an ordinary political party. Their intention was partly to prevent the ANC from receiving foreign funding and partly change the nature of the mass democratic movement and the Tripartite Alliance, in particular. Attempts to straight-jacket the ANC into the role of a strictly-parliamentary party must be resisted, as must attempts to drive a wedge between the different sectors of the alliance and democratic movement.
The extent of the right-wing threat in the future depends on the success of the ‘constitutional route’ as a viable option for them. At the same time if there is an improvement in the material conditions which fuel much of their anxiety, their capacity to organise resistance to the new democratic order will be undermined.
Inkatha’s dominant position in the KwaZulu/Natal government could be used as a means to attempt to gain concessions at a national level. In the appointment of provincial MECs in KwaZulu/Natal the IFP deliberately ignored the spirit of reconciliation and accommodation which was operating at a national level. Similarly, the question of the provincial capital has become a contentious issue.
Following attempts by King Goodwill Zwelithini to distance himself from party politics, the IFP in KwaZulu/Natal has enacted legislation to shift the balance of power away from the king towards Buthelezi.
A number of events since the April elections have highlighted the need for rapid socio-economic development – land and housing occupations, wage disputes, taxi-related violence and protest around rent and service fee discrepancies, to name a few. The expectations that people have of the government will have to be met with some urgency if the post-April stability is to be maintained.
There have been problems around the integration of the SANDF. Former MK and Apla soldiers have complained of poor conditions and bad treatment. The desertion of several hundred former MK soldiers is an indication of problems in the process which need to be addressed, both by the ANC and the SANDF.
The state of organisation of the ANC is also a cause for concern. The ANC has struggled to find its feet in the political terrain of the new South Africa. This problem has been exacerbated by key members of the organisation moving into government and into the national assembly and provincial legislatures. Even within our ranks there has been confusion about what the positions of the organisation on certain issues are. A process of restructuring at a national and provincial level was undertaken after the elections to address some of these problems.
The events in South Africa since July 1991 were taking place in the context of – and, to some degree, impacting on – a fragile economic situation. The crisis which the South African economy found itself in had been a long time in the making. Nor is it a crisis which will easily be resolved. The most important problems plaguing the economy are still:
- widespread poverty associated with extreme inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth;
- rising unemployment;
- poor human resource development and industrial relations systems;
- very low growth rates and weak investment, linked to a high outflow of capital.
The roots of these problems lie deeper than the international recession of the early 1990s. They include the combination of economic and political uncertainty during the drawn-out transition to democracy; the decline of gold mining and growing foreign competition; and the legacy of inefficient, ineffective government.
At the same time the economy has important strengths. Industry has a well-organised industrial labour force and, in many sectors, strong technical skills. We have relatively cheap electricity and an internationally competitive mining-industrial complex. Foreign debt is very low by international standards and, outside of food, inflation has been contained. These factors give us a good basis for restructuring the economy.
Most South Africans live in poverty. According to the 1991 Census half the population earned less than the Minimum Living Level.
Poverty was closely linked to great inequalities in income and wealth. South Africa probably has the most unequal distribution of income in the world. In 1991 the poorest 40 percent of the population earned between 3 and 4 percent of the national income. In every other country reported by the World Bank, the share of national income going to the poorest 40 percent of the people was at least twice as high.
The distribution of productive assets is also very unequal by international standards. As a result, most people without wage employment cannot support themselves. A mere five percent of South Africans – virtually all of them white – own over 90 percent of all wealth. Six companies control over half the shares on the stock exchange. A single conglomerate, Anglo American, owns between a quarter and a third of all shares.
Disparities in income and wealth have a strong regional dimension, which apartheid policies reinforced. The richest provinces – the PWV and the Western Cape – produce around R10,000 per resident. They hold 25 percent of the population, but account for 40 percent of the national product. The poorest provinces are the Northern Transvaal and the Eastern Cape, with output of around R1,000 per resident. Their population comes to 29 percent of our people, but they contribute only 10 percent of the national product.
5.5.2 Rising unemployment
In 1990 only half of all South Africans had formal employment. About a third of the rest earned at least a minimum of subsistence in the informal sector. The rest were essentially unemployed.
Unemployment reflects the legacy of apartheid, with the highest rates found among Africans, especially African women, and in the former ‘homelands’. In the former RSA alone, two-thirds of the white labour force had a formal sector job, compared to under half the black labour force. In the former ‘homelands’ only two-fifths of the population was employed or self-employed in 1990. About 40 percent of the men from the ‘homelands’ worked elsewhere.
As a result, unemployment is worst in the poorest provinces. In the PWV and the Western Cape, over 55 percent of the people have formal employment and around 20 percent had informal work. In the Northern Transvaal and the Eastern Cape only about 45 percent had formal jobs, and 15 percent had informal employment.
The economic crisis of 1989-1993 greatly aggravated unemployment. The number of people in formal employment shrank by over 250,000. Mining lost over 150,000 jobs. The parastatals also shed jobs, with employment shrinking by over 100,000 in Eskom and Transnet alone.
5.5.3 Economic stagnation
The rate of growth in the economy has declined fairly steadily since the 1960s. It averaged five percent a year in the late 1960s, but only one to two percent in the 1980s. Between 1989 and 1993 production actually declined by two percent. With a population growth of two to three percent a year, these figures meant a very large decline in the per capita GDP. The rate of investment also fell in this period, from 30 percent of the GDP in the 1960s to just over 15 percent in the early 1990s.
After 1976 periods of popular revolt were linked to capital flight. After 1985 about 10 percent of national savings left the country every year. In 1993/4 the outflow of resources came closer to 20 percent of savings.
5.5.4 Structural weaknesses in the South African economy
The political uncertainties of the transition certainly fuelled capital flight and economic decline. But the economic difficulties also reflect the need for substantial change in the structure of production, the use of human resources and government expenditure.
The need for structural change
South Africa historically imported capital equipment for investment as well as advanced consumer goods, and paid for the imports with gold exports. Gold still earns a third of foreign- exchange income. At the same time tariffs and international isolation during apartheid protected manufacturing and services from foreign competition. As a result, in some industries – such as clothing and auto – relatively high-cost producers could survive. Industry and finance expanded largely by serving the small high-income group and the government’s strategic aims in the fuel and armaments industries.
The decline in gold mining, with stagnant prices and rising costs, makes this growth pattern unsustainable. To pay for investment goods, we will need to find other sources of foreign exchange and reduce dependence on imports. Otherwise foreign-exchange shortages will soon choke off economic expansion.
The end of apartheid also means that South African companies must compete with foreign producers on the local market. More and more foreign companies are targetting South African consumers. At the same time the GATT agreement demands tariff cuts. Industry must find ways to produce more competitively if we are to retain jobs.
The RDP proposes a greater equalisation of incomes in two key ways: by creating employment through land reform, support for small enterprises and public works; and by redirecting government services to meet the needs of the poor majority. These shifts will create a host of opportunities for new producers. If companies do not respond to changing demand by expanding their output appropriately, however, rising prices could result.
Human resource development
Poor human resource development represents a major hindrance to economic expansion, and aggrevates inequalities in incomes and wealth. The exclusion of africans from most education and training systems left South Africa with far lower skills levels than most comparable countries. Even in 1994, only a quarter of industrial trainees were african, while expenditure per child in education remained at least three times as high for whites as for africans.
Discrimination at the workplace appears in pay scales. To this day, white workers earn about 15 percent more than black workers in similar jobs. On average, white men earn more than tiwce as much as black men with the same education levels, and over five times as much as black women with the same qualifications. In the public service, the top-paid emplyees earn 25 times as much as the worst-paid. In contrast, in most countries the gap is closer to one to 10.
Figures on management indicate similar trends. Black women constituted only 0,5 percent of managerial and executive positions in 1989, while black men came to only two percent. White men, who represent seven percent of the population, constituted three quarters of all managers.
The previous government expanded state spending and borrowing to the limit. The government budget now equals a third of the national product. After 1989, government debt began to rise rapidly. By 1994/5, one in five rands spent by the government went to pay interest on that debt. This cost limits the funds available to meet our people’s needs under the new government.
The inefficiency of government spending aggravated the problem. Before 1989, the government held down spending only by refusing to meet the pressing needs of the majority. Shifting resources away from the most privileged community requires a fundamental reorganisation of the budget – never an easy process.
6. State of organisation
The general political overview above describes the environment within which our movement has had to function over the last three and a half years. It is precisely this environment that had an important impact on our movement, its structures, membership and leadership. To fully appreciate the state of our organisation – both now and during the period since our last national conference – we need to develop an understanding of how political circumstances in the country affected our functioning.
It is common cause that the political, economic and social environment that existed in the country affected our movement both positively and negatively. The key elements of this environment – which are interrelated in a complex whole – include the following:
Political violence had a detrimental effect on the structures of the ANC in several parts of the country. In large areas of rural Natal, for example, organising under the banner of the ANC was all but impossible. Where structures did exist, they were often too busy trying to stem the tide of violence to engage in normal organisational activities. The organisation lost hundreds of experienced and skilled activists in the violence in Natal and the PWV, in particular. The violence also had a negative impact on the organisational work of leadership at all levels of the organisation, as they were often too busy dealing with violence and related crises to pay sufficient attention to building our structures.
Poor economic situation.
The high level of unemployment, the low growth rate and capital flight have not only been at the roots of much misery among South Africans, but it also affected the organisational capacity of the ANC. Many supporters of the ANC have found it impossible to pay the organisation’s membership fee or to renew their membership. This has limited to an extent the ability of the ANC to organise and mobilise the unemployed and destitute – those who have been affected worst by apartheid. The level of unemployment, together with the poor wages that many of our members receive, has meant that the programme of the organisation has at times been difficult to implement. Members have been unable to afford transport to ANC meetings and activities, for example. As a consequence, the organisation has had to shoulder a larger portion of the financial burden of its activities than organisations like the NP, which has a relatively wealthy constituency.
The unwillingness of the NP government to reach a settlement which would facilitate the transitionb to democracy and their refusal to meet many of the demands of the liberation movement meant that our national leadership in particular was tied up a lot in negotiations and ‘talks about talks’. Like violence this detracted from their organisational development work. The extended period over which negotiations took place also strained the relationship between different levels of the ANC – the more protracted negotiations became the greater became the frustration of members at grassroots level.
The mobilisation of the forces of the democratic movement provided some of the best opportunities to build the ANC. In particular, the campaign of rolling mass action which effectively resolved the Codesa deadlock saw a reinvigoration of ANC branches as the membership of the organisation became involved en masse in the negotiations process. These types of activities also saw the links between the various levels of the organisation being strengthened as all structures were involved in planning and implementing the same programmes. Mass action established the presence of the ANC on the ground in a tangible and demonstrative way.
Settlement and elections.
The attainment of a negotiated settlement and the holding of democratic elections, while a victory for all South Africans, was quite visibly the achievement of the African National Congress. This had a positive effect on the organisation. It vindicated the strategies the organisations had pursued over the last three and a half years, increasing the organisation’s membership and boosting its popularity. The mobilisation which took place during the elections empowered ANC branches far more than had been possible during negotiations.
While the strength of the ANC was profoundly affected by the conditions in which its was operating, the ANC was able to influence these conditions through its strategies and programmes. The fact that as an organisation we refused to succumb to seemingly insurmountable problems was ultimately what enabled our organisation to survive – and which allowed the ANC to fundamentally alter the social, political and economic environment in which we now find ourselves.
The Tripartite Alliance of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Cosatu and the ANC has been the mainstay of struggle over this period of change. Despite numerous attempts to split the alliance, it has gained in strength and significance. The resources, energy, skill and support mobilised by the relationship between these organisations provided an effective counter-balance to the forces of reaction led by the NP.
Although not represented at Codesa and the Multi-Party Forum, Cosatu – and the huge constituency it represents – had access to the constitutional negotiations through the ANC and SACP delegations. The campaigns which the alliance undertook on the ground were ultimately what swung the course of negotiations in our favour. The Campaign for Peace and Democracy, the anti-VAT campaign and the mass action following the assassination of Cde Chris Hani stand out as among the most effective of these.
The decision to contest the election under the banner of the ANC was an important strategic one. The role of Cosatu in the election campaign was particularly significant. Apart from being prepared to release some of their most valuable comrades to stand for parliament, Cosatu’s election activities included:
- Voter education for workers;
- distributing media supporting the ANC;
- organising Worker’s Forums;
- monitoring the elections;
- establishing a large election infrastructure.
The inclusion of comrades from the SACP and Cosatu on the ANC Election lists meant that the alliance will continue into parliament and government.
The process of formulation of the RDP is an indication that the strength of the alliance will be felt well into the future. Although debate continues on the role and functioning of the alliance in the context of an ANC-led government, a basis has been established from which to develop.
Although the alliance was weak in terms of national coordination, it is to the credit of the structures of the alliance organisations at different levels that the programmes of the alliance were felt where it mattered most – on the ground.
The unbanning of the ANC in 1990 and its return to South Africa as a legal organisation posed some challenges for the grouping of Congress-aligned organisations which had become known as the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM). The coordination of the activities of the groupings within the MDM – particularly after the disbandment of the UDF – was one such challenge. And it was a problem that was never fully resolved.
Nevertheless the contribution of formations of the MDM over the transition period has been immense. The need to struggle for democracy in all sectors have society has fallen largely on the shoulders of these organisations. What we lacked in adequate coordination and coherent joint programmes, we compensated for in having a common vision and a widely-spread supply of experienced and committed activists.
It was the organisations of the MDM which responded most positively to the calls of the tripartite alliance in mobilising the people in struggles against the NP regime. If grassroots democracy is going to be built in any tangible manner, we need to draw on the rich tradition of struggle which the MDM embodies – and ensure that we rise to meet some of the challenges which continue to confront the effective operation of the MDM.
In preparing the ANC for its new task of governance the ANC’s National Policy Conference, held in May 1992, stands out as an important milestone. Apart from developing comprehensive policy positions on a broad range of issues, the conference reaffirmed the ANC’s commitment to a speedy transition to democracy – and nothing less. Given the deadlock at Codesa II over a Constituent Assembly, this was a significant point to emphasise.
At the end of a process of policy formualtion which included broad consultation and input from structures of the ANC around the country, the conference came up with policy guidelines on:
- local government;
- economic policy;
- social welfare;
- education, training and scientific development;
- development of human resources;
- science and technology;
- arts and culture;
- sport and recreation;
- peace and security;
- international relations.
The thoroughness of the process and the depth of the policy laid a basis on which the ANC would be able to campaign in elections. The confidence that South Africans had in the ANC’s capacity to govern played an important part in winning the election.
6.6 Reconstruction and Strategy Conference 1994
Another milestone in preparing the ANC for governance was the National Reconstruction and Strategy Conference held in January 1994. The conference, which involved delegations from ANC branches and regions, Cosatu, SACP, organisations of the Patriotic Front and other alligned sectoral organisations, focussed mainly on developing the sixth draft of the RDP, so that rapid progress could be made in implementing the programme after the election.
The conference adopted resolutions on specific crucial areas which formed the basis of a policy thust and legislative programme for the Government of National Unity. The conference agreed that the decisive victory of the ANC electoral front in the April elections was an indispensible condition for the implementation and realisation of the RDP. To this end all delegates undertook to ‘spare no effort’ in working for a decisive ANC victory.
Martin Thembisile ‘Chris’ Hani 1942 – 1993
Chris Hani was born on 28 June 1942 in Cofimvaba in the Transkei, the fifth child in a family of six. The Treason Trial in 1956 of ANC leaders convinced Chris to join the ANC. He joined the ANC Youth League in 1957 at the age of 15. In 1959 he went to the University of Fort Hare, where he became openly involved in the struggle. It was here that he became exposed to Marxist ideas – and where is non-racial perspective was deepened.
In 1961 he joined the underground South African Communist Party. This decision, he said, was influenced by people like Govan Mbeki, Braam Fisher, JB Marks, Moses Kotane and Ray Simons. In 1962 he joined the fledgling MK and left the country – ‘the beginning of my long road in the armed struggle.’
He was a political commissar in the Luthuli detachment during the joint ANC/Zapu military campaign in Zimbabwe in 1967. In 1974 – the year he became a member of the NEC – he returned to South Africa to build the underground, and settled in Lesotho for the next seven years from where he coordinated underground MK activities.
He returned to Lusaka in 1982 having survived several assassination attempts against him. He became Commissar and Deputy Commander of MK in 1984, before becoming MK Chief of Staff in 1987. Returning to South Africa following the unbannings of the ANC and SACP, he topped the poll in the NEC elections at the 1991 National Conference. In December 1991 he became General Secretary of the SACP.
Chris Hani was gunned down in the driveway of his Dawn Park home on Saturday, 10 April 1993 by right-winger Januz Walus.
Oliver Reginald Tambo 1917 – 1993
Oliver Reginald Tambo was born in Bizana in Eastern Pondoland on 27 October 1917. He matriculated from St Peter’s Secondary School in Johannesburg in 1938, before going to Fort Hare University where he obtained a BSc degree in 1941.
In 1948 he became articled to a law firm in Johannesburg, and in 1952 opened with Nelson Mandela the first black legal partnership in South Africa.
Together with Nelson Mandela, Anton Lembede and others, he played a central role in the formation of the ANC Youth League in 1944. In 1949 he was elected onto the NEC. After the imposition of banning orders on Walter Sisulu, he took over the post of Secretar General of the ANC in 1955. In 1958 he became Deputy President of the ANC.
After the banning of the ANC in 1960 he left the country, charged with the task of establishing and leading the External Mission of the ANC. On the death of Chief Albert Luthuli in 1967 he became Acting President of the ANC. In 1977 he was confirmed as ANC President.
He was the principal architect of Umkhonto we Sizwe after the arrest of its first commander-in-chief, Nelson Mandela. He participated directly in its expansion and the planning of all its major campaigns and operations.
He played the leading role in transforming the ANC from and african organisation into one that is open to all the people of South Africa – a process which was finally concluded at the Kabwe Conference in 1985. He led the effort to establish the South African United Front, which included the PAC and Swanu of Namibia.
He initiated and led the process which culminated in the adoption of the Harare Declaration and the UN Consensus Declaration on Southern Africa in 1989, thereby paving the way for negotiations with the SA government.
As a result of the amount of work he put into preparing the Harare Declaration, he suffered a stroke in 1989. He stood down as ANC President in 1991, and was elected as National Chairperson at the 48th National Conference.
Oliver Reginald Tambo passed away following a stroke on 3 May 1993.
Elias Motsoaledi 1924 – 1994
Elias Motsoaledi was born on 26 July 1924 in the Nebo area in Sekhukhuneland (now Lebowa), the son of a migrant labourer.
At the age of 17 he was forced to find work in Johannesburg, first as a domestic worker, then as a factory worker. In the late 1940s he served on the executive of the Committee of Non-European Trade Unions (CNETU), and become acting chairperson as many of the leaders were detained. He went on to hold many leadership positions in the labour movement, and played an active role in the establishment of the South African Council of Trade Unions (Sactu).
He joined the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) in the late 1940s, and the ANC in 1948. When the CPSA was banned in 1950, he dedicated all his energies to the ANC. He played a central role in organising the Defiance Campaign in the Transvaal, and recieved a banning order in 1952.
In 1960 he was detained for four months under the State of Emergency. When he was released he went underground and served on the Johannesburg regional command of MK. He was arrested in 1963, and together with the other Rivonia trialists was given a life sentence and sent to Robben Island. He was released together with other Rivonia trialists in 1989.
Elias Motsoaledi died when and where?
Thomas Titus Nkobi 1922 – 1994
Thomas Titus Nkobi was born in southern Matabeleland on 22 October 1922. He grew up and was educated in South Africa, where his father worked as a migrant mine labourer.
His initial political involvement was in 1944 during the first bus boycott in Alexandra. He joined the ANC in the 1950s and was ctive in the 1952 Defiance Campaign. He shot to prominence in 1957 when he chaired the Second Alexandra Peoples Transport Committee. In the same year he was arrested for particpating in the potato boycott, organised to highlight the plight of black prisoners.
In 1958 he became the national organiser of the ANC and was charged with the task of implementing the ‘M plan’. During the 1960 State of Emergency he was among the thousands of political activist who were detained. After his release he continued as an organiser underground. In 1961 he was served with banning orders, which the following year were extended to 24-hour house arrest. In 1963 he was instructed to leave for exile.
Cde Nkobi served as deputy Treasurer General from 1968 to 1973. In 1973 he was elected to the position of Treasurer General, a position he held until his death. He was the main fundraiser of the ANC over several decades, making all facets of the struggle possible.
In April 1994 he was elected as a member of the first democratic parliament in South Africa.
Thomas Titus Nkobi died in Johannesburg on Sunday 18 September 1994 after suffering a stroke.
Oscar Mpetha 1909 – 1994
Oscar Mpetha was born in Mount Fletcher in Transkei in 1909.
His first experience in politics was when he joined the Food and Canning Workers’ Union in 1947. He became the union’s general secretary three years later.
He joined the ANC in 1948 and became the Western Cape provincial president in 1958. He was also active in the South African Congress of Trade Unions (Sactu). He was twice banned. After he defied his 1959 ban, he was jailed for four years for furthering the aims of the ANC.
He was appointed leader of the Nyanga Residents Association in the 1970s. He was arrested in August 1980. He was to five year’s jail for terrorism. In 1983, while awaiting the outcome of an appeal against his sentence, he was elected president of the UDF. His conviction was upheld and in 1985 he became the oldest political prisoner on Robben Island. He was released with Walter Sisulu and others in 1989.
Oscar Mpetha died at his Gugulethu home on Tuesday 15 November 1994. .