Volume 7 No. 2 - March 1996


Contents

Features


Editorial

Meeting deadlines

The constitution-making process is entering its final stretch, with just over two months until the constitution needs to be finalised. The programme of parliament over the next few weeks has had to make way for the work of the constitutional assembly. Meetings between the parties in the CA - bilaterals and multilaterals - are taking place every day.

The issues on which parties agree have more or less been identified. The issues on which there are still differences are being hotly debated by the parties. Some very crucial issues still require resolution. The difficulty with many of these issues are that they are central to the achievement of a democratic and united nation.

Opposition parties are coming to the table with some undemocratic proposals, mainly attempts to entrench minority privilege. This leaves the ANC and the democratic movement with the task of ensuring the battle for a democratic constitution is achieved.

As the deadline nears and the pressure increases, parties will be seeking compromises. The ANC must ensure that whatever agreements are reached, the principles of democracy remain unchallenged.

It is important also that the final stages of the constitution-writing process are not conducted behind closed doors, or even solely in the rooms of parliament. It is up to the ANC and the democratic movement to remind the other parties that this new constitution is the property of ordinary South Africans, and that they should let their voices be heard on the outstanding constitutional issues.

There is nothing preventing the democratic movement from mobilising the majority of South Africans behind its positions, to demonstrate to some parties that their proposals forward the interests of a very small section of the population. And that South Africans won't accept such a constitution.

This will mean that the structures of the ANC and the other organisations of the democratic movement at a branch level need to adopt the constitution as part of their programme. They need to inform their membership about developments in the CA, and analyse these developments. It is a short amount of time in which a lot of work has to be done.

The finalisation of the constitution will be one of the most crucial tasks in the history of the democratic South Africa. All democratic South Africans need to rise up to meet that challenge.

Obsession with bugs

Ever since a journalist from the Independent Group wrote an article claiming that top police officials were under surveillance by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the media has developed quite an obsession with bugs.

Despite an investigation which found no evidence of bugging, nor of any surveillance by the NIA of police officials, particular newspapers are intent on ensuring the legend lives on.

Most recently a newspaper report claimed that a top secret surveillance centre was being used to randomly tap the phones of almost every third South African. It claimed that the facility was being used for surveillance which was illegal and unconstitutional. No evidence was provided for this claim.

Deputy intelligence minister Joe Nhlanhla and justice minister Dullah Omar refuted the allegations, and provided details on how many people were bugged last year, and the procedures followed to gain permission.

Now its all very well to want to protect the rights and privacy of South African citizens. In fact, its what the media should be doing. But surely the media should be sure of its facts before it starts making claims which turn out to be baseless.

It is good that the government has responded so swiftly to these allegations. The president, Nhlanhla, Omar and the parliamentary intelligence standing committee must all be commended for having demonstrated a firm commitment to an intelligence service which operates within the confines of the constitution and according to the legislation by which it is governed.


News briefs

Hit squad investigation obstructed

Members of the former KwaZulu Police (KZP) were reported to have obstructed hit squad investigations being carried out in KwaZulu/Natal by a team from the Gauteng attorney-general's office.

The KwaZulu/Natal ANC called on national police commissioner George Fivaz and safety and security minister Sydney Mufamadi to transfer the former KZP members to other police stations in a move to bring their alleged activities to an end.

There were widespread claims that policemen were using methods ranging from hiding suspects to issuing death threats in an effort to obstruct hit squad investigations.

The ANC has called for a thorough investigation into these claims and for disciplinary or criminal charges to be brought against anyone undermining the effectiveness of investigations into violence.

Floods hammer SA

Days of driving rain over large parts of the country and resultant floods left over 60 people dead and thousands homeless. The costs of the floods were expected to run into billions of rands.

Damage in Mpumalanga alone was estimated to be more that R420-million, according to premier Matthew Phosa.

Great damage to the agricultural economy was expected. Farmers said they had never experienced floods of such proportions and appealed to the government to grant them flood relief funding and to provide emergency aid measures to rural communities.

Defence under review

It was for the first time in South Africa's military history that civilians were able to openly contribute to debate on the defence issues at a defence review consultative conference held in Cape Town recently.

Debate took place on issues such as religion, language, sexual preference, the part-time forces, the lack of maritime capabilities in the air and at sea, the question of bases, auditing of resources and conditions of service of servicemen and women.

Imbizo preparations on track

A meeting of amakhosi in KwaZulu/Natal to discuss President Nelson Mandela's proposal for an imbizo to resolve the violence in the province would take place on 15 March, the president's office said. The date was agreed upon recently by Mandela and IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini and ANC provincial chairperson Jacob Zuma both said they would be available for the meeting. The meeting would take place at the Nongoma residence of the former commissioner-general of KwaZulu.

KZN clash averted

A heavy police and army contingent was used to prevent IFP and ANC supporters from clashing at Impendle in the KwaZulu/Natal midlands. The tensions rose after the ANC announced its intention to establish a branch office in the area.

Security forces had to use razor wire to separate the two groups. The stand-off ended after a visit to the area by ANC provincial chairperson Jacob Zuma and IFP leader Frank Mdlalose. The groups were asked to disperse pending a meeting between local leaders to try and resolve the problem of renewed political violence in the Impendle district.

Agreement on housing

The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) and the department of housing agreed last month to resolve outstanding issues on housing delivery. Sanco called off its threats to call for a boycott on bond repayments.

Instead, Sanco plans to focus on credit for low-income households and creating a normalised environment for lending, while the housing department is to approach the Association of Mortgage Lenders to involve Sanco in identifying areas in which the record of understanding could be improved. Sanco would also cooperate with the mortgage indemnity fund to avoid evictions.

Cuban doctors arrive

Nearly 100 Cuban doctors arrived in South Africa last month to a rousing welcome. The doctors were recruited in Cuba by health minister Nkosozana Zuma in an attempt to relieve the shortage of doctors at many rural hospitals and clinics, at which about 2000 posts stand empty.

The doctors will be distributed among all nine provinces: 18 to Northern Province, 17 to Eastern Cape, 12 each to Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Free State and KwaZulu/Natal, 14 to North West and two each to Western Cape and Gauteng.

NP minister resigns over pensions scandal

Welfare and population development minister Abe Williams, who is being investigated in connection with allegations of fraud, corruption and bribery involving millions of rands from social pensions, resigned last month from the government of national unity.

The resignation, which followed a raid on Williams' homes and offices in Cape Town and Pretoria by the Office of Serious Economic Offences, has damaged the NP's prospects in the local government elections in Cape Town to be held at the end of May.

The raid on Williams was the result of an investigation into pension fraud initiated by Western Cape health MEC Ebrahim Rasool.

At the same time the NP was having to deal with the departure from politics of Constitutional Assembly deputy chairperson Leon Wessels and resignations of deputy minister Tobie Meyer and NP KwaZulu/Natal leader George Bartlett.

Abducted baby found

Micaela Hunter, the baby abducted from her mother shortly after birth, was last month returned safely to her parents. The baby was found after the former partner of the alleged abductor went to the police. The woman charged with taking Micaela appeared in court and was denied bail.

Malan goes to trial

The trial of former defence minister Magnus Malan and 19 others charged with murder for the 1987 KwaMakhutha massacre was to begin on 4 March in the Durban Supreme Court, with an additional charge of conspiracy to commit murder added to the indictment against them.

The supplementary charge introduces evidence of a wide-spread plot to kill members of the ANC, UDF and other organisation long after the KwaMakhutha massacre.

Among the allegations is that Malan met with IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi in March 1988 at which Malan allegedly cautioned Buthelezi "as the sensitivity of their relationship".

Thirteen people, including six children, were murdered at the home of UDF leader Victor Ntuli on the night of 21 January 1987.


Provincial briefs

Western Cape

With local government elections in the Cape Town metropolitan areas scheduled for 29 May, the ANC in the province has embarked on an extensive campaign to ensure that it is prepared for the National Party.

More than 2,5 million people have registered as voters. About 150 000 farm workers, people living in rural settlements and farmers will also be going to the polls. However, a dispute about the rural councils could see elections delayed in the rural areas. If the elections are delayed then the NP's Local Government MEC Peter Marais must take full responsibility. At the crux of the dispute is his proposal for rural district councils which clearly favours the interests of farmers above that of the farm workers.

The province has embarked on the candidate selection process and will have all its candidates for both the rural and metro elections by the middle of March.

Northern Province

The Reconstruction and Development Programme in the Northern Province has made money available for the development of pre-school education in the province. This represents an investment in the future of the children. It is the hope of the province that children in South Africa will never go through what black people experienced in their education under apartheid.

Thirty-six percent of all the people in the province have never been to school at all. A further 31 percent of the population has not been beyond primary education. In fact, 67 percent of the province's population are functionally illiterate, being unable to use numbers and letters in their daily lives.

Northern Cape

The second Provincial General Council of the ANC in the Northern Cape was held recently in Kimberley. The general council was attended by 350 delegates from 106 branches throughout the province under the theme "Consolidate and advance the electoral victory to ensure effective governance".

The main objective of the council was to focus on the political programme of the ANC in 1996; the RDP and governance; and strengthening the organisation.

The ANC, as the leader of the provincial government, recommitted itself to drive the process of transformation and ensure effective delivery of services. The ANC will lead the socio-economic transformation process to ensure the implementation. The ANC in the province is going to embark upon a very vigorous campaign against crime, drugs, aids and teenage pregnancy.

Free State

Thousands of Kwakwatsi residents near the tiny town of Koppies made history when they marched to the municipal chambers to pay their service charges.

The march was a culmination of arduous preparation by the ANC-led councillors, which included a chain of meetings with different stake-holders. Kwakwatsi, previously a scene of intense racial conflict, sprung to life when a march led by the mayor proceeded to the main offices.

This year, both Kwakwatsi and Koppies were unanimous in their resolve to ensure that people pay their services and thereby guarantee the delivery of basic needs. Schools and labour came to a standstill as everybody was keen to put their weight behind the Masakhane campaign.

Eastern Cape

An evaluation and planning summit bringing together ANC constitutional structures and ANC representatives in government was recently held in Bisho. The summit, the first of its kind since the 1994 national election, was convened to examine the performance of the ANC at all levels of government, as well as outside of government. The summit also had to examine what role the ANC as a political party had to play to enhance its role in government.

Out of the resolutions of the summit, a clear programme of work is being worked out to rectify some of the weaknesses that have been identified. In the months ahead the ANC and its allies will be guided by that work programme.

North West

The ANC in the North West recently held a bosberaad in Potchefstroom. The objective of the bosberaad was to assess and evaluate the organisation development process and the provincial government's efficiency and delivery capacity.

The province looked into the issue of the public service commission; the role of parastatals; the role of organised labour and general public participation in legislature policy formulation; and the RDP and Masakhane Campaign. They looked critically into how the ANC could participate in determining good governance at all levels of governance in the province.

The province noted that the success of the ANC in ensuring good governance depended on the extent to which the ANC coordinated all its activities throughout the province. To achieve this they recommended that there should be a strong working interaction and communication between the ANC provincial secretary and ANC whips, both at national and provincial levels.

KwaZulu/Natal

The ANC in KwaZulu/Natal has reacted with amazement to an Inkatha Freedom Party provincial caucus statement which has alleged ANC hit-squads are targeting some IFP leaders. The IFP caucus is trying to divert public attention from a series of trials against IFP leaders who are being prosecuted for the alleged murder and assassination of ANC leaders and supporters, especially in the South Coast. Many of the IFP leaders who are alleged to be on the ANC hit list, such as James Zulu, are in fact facing trial for murder and related crimes.

The IFP may, in fact, be planning to assassinate these IFP leaders, whom they might regard as an embarrassment to the IFP, and then blame such murders on the ANC. There is an example of the Paddock Massacre which the IFP blamed on the ANC. Police investigations have led to the arrest of IFP leaders and members. The IFP leadership is panicking about the amount of information that may be exposed by these arrested IFP leaders.


Umrabulo

Age of innocents

People who are not particularly close followers of South African soccer must have been quite surprised a few weeks back to see the Sowetan billboard which read: "Innocent Buthelezi to quit SA".

Mistaking one of the Bafana Bafana for a certain minister of home affairs and former bantustan leader, many people were left wondering, I'm sure, which judge had found the good chief innocent. I mean we didn't even know he had gone to trial.

The only thing Buthelezi could be innocent of, we hear, is dedication to ministerial duty.

Of course, its quite believable that Buthelezi - 'Homeboy' to his closest friends - would want to quit South Africa. For years now he has been struggling to have his little neck of the woods separated from the rest of the country.

Which, if you think of it is quite ironic, since his claim to international fame - apart from his record breaking speeches - was saying no to the former NP regime when they wanted to give KwaZulu 'independence'. Now that there's a united, democratic South Africa, Buthelezi's only to willing to get out.

Norwegian favouritism

The National Party was very upset with Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland's address to parliament. Throughout her speech, the NP members of parliament scowled as she recalled Norwegian support for the struggle against apartheid.

After the speech they sent out a press release, saying it was improper for a visiting head of state (which she's not) to come to parliament and only talk to one party, meaning the ANC.

A thorough reading of her speech, however, reveals that she had the audacity to talk about how to build a strong economy; how to achieve reconciliation; how to create jobs; how to utilise the public sector effectively; and how to achieve sustainable development.

For the National Party to finally admit that they and their friends have no interest in these things takes a lot of courage. Their rare honesty and openess is a breath of fresh air compared to their usual lip-servicing.

De Klerk, the liberator

Piqued by the Norwegian prime minister and irritated by ANC secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa's subsequent criticism of the NP, a visibly shaken FW de Klerk tried to explain to parliament that his party had been horribly misrepresented.

To derisive laughter from the ANC benches, De Klerk told them: "If it wasn't for the National Party, you wouldn't be sitting here today."

Of course, if it wasn't for the National Party half the ANC MPs wouldn't have spent so many years on Robben Island.

If it wasn't for the National Party the other ANC MPs wouldn't have spent so many years in exile, in hiding or in detention. If it wasn't for the National Party, thousands of people killed by the SAP and the SADF would be alive today. But De Klerk neglected to mention that.

But what probably really upsets De Klerk is that if it wasn't for the ANC, he and his colleagues would be sitting in the benches of the majority party.

Complaints from the curry train

The ANC's parliamentary caucus meetings are off limits to anyone who is not an ANC MP, and for a good reason: weighty decisions on the future of the the country are taken there.

One week late in February, the ANC caucus resolved that parliament's food left a lot to be desired, and that the ANC's catering committee had been mandated to look into the situation and come up with suggestions on what needed to be done to remedy this problem.

"Its chicken curry, chicken curry day in day out," said ANC senate chief whip Bulelani Ngcuka. The MPs also complained about the lack of water coolers in parliament, and the fact that tea was often served in disposable cups.

It makes it so much easier to sleep peacefully at night, knowing that ANC MPs have a firm grip on this nation's problems, and will leave no tea urn unturned in their efforts to rectify things.


Mayibuye study series No 7

The South African transition in a world context

Is there a 'model' we can follow?

The Case of Social Democracy

The ANC has come to power in a world that has seen some major economic and political changes. What 'model' should we follow in South Africa? In the recent past we said that we would pursue a national democratic transformation in our country. Is that still a valid path?

What about other 20th century 'models' of development? Some argue that we should copy the 'Asian tigers' (like South Korea or Taiwan); others say that we should base our development and growth path on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'model'. Others argue that, in South Attempt, we should attempt to develop some kind of social democracy.

The ANC movement has never been a closed, dogmatic political formation. There have always been different, but progressive democratic currents within our ranks. We have always tried to learn from each other, and to learn from progressive examples around the world. We have also always known that, in the end, we have to find our own South African solutions to South African problems.

In the following instalments of this series we will look at some of the positive and negative lessons to be learned from different 'models'. In this instalment we consider the case of social democracy.

Background

The first substantial social democratic experience dates back to 1938, when the Swedish workers' movement and employers first negotiated a social contract. Also in the 1930s, Roosevelt's New Deal anticipated some of the welfare and job creation measures that were to become key features of social democracy.

But it was really after the Second World War, and for some 25 years between 1950 and the mid-1970s, that the golden age of social democracy occurred. The social democratic welfare state was, however, not a universal phenomenon.

In these 25 years or so, the major centres of social democracy were Northern Europe (notably the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, Britain and West Germany); Austria; Australia; New Zealand and Canada.

Main features

In most of these countries, the social democratic model was associated with attempts:

The success of the model has always depended upon a well organised trade union movement and an allied socialist party capable of winning elections.

Many social democracies have involved some kind of formal social accord between a governing socialist party, the trade unions and the employers' federation. Even where there is no formal social accord, there is often some kind of working national consensus between these major social players.

The social democratic trade-off between these different forces involves an agreement that:

In its more advanced forms, social democracy has also involved:

Gains

It is probably fair to say that with these social democratic policies, a number of countries succeeded in developing among the most civilised, humane and equitable societies we have seen this century. The more advanced social democratic countries consistently achieved high living standards for their populations. Unemployment was reduced, for a time, to near zero. Health, education, creche facilities, housing, public transport - in all of these areas there were important achievements.

It is also no accident that, with the exception of the Soviet-aligned socialist countries and some of our front-line allies, the core social democratic countries and their governments were among the most consistent supporters of our anti-apartheid struggle - at least in the late 1970s and 80s.

Given all of these positive features, should we not just apply this 'model' to South Africa? Things are not that simple.

A First World reality?

The relatively successful social democratic projects have all been in countries of the advanced capitalist world. The model has been based on the redistribution of wealth within these countries. But the wealth available to be redistributed was related to:

There are no real examples of successful third world social democracies.

What about half our population?

Related to the above shortcoming, is the very different social situation prevailing in a country like South Africa, compared with, say, Sweden. A social accord trade-off between business and organised labour, in a situation where there are relatively high levels of employment is one thing. In our country, nearly half of our people are unemployed. Many others scratch out a living in the 'informal' sector. In these conditions, a social accord between organised labour and employers would risk marginalising to an even greater extent the already marginalised.

This is, incidentally, what SA Foundation, an employers' NGO, is quite openly proposing. They are calling for a "two-tier" labour market. The first tier would, so they argue, retain existing wage levels and other gains made by organised workers - that is, there would be some kind of social accord at this level.

But the second tier would be a poverty wage sector with few protections - there would be no barriers on retrenchment (like the right to severance pay, or consultation procedures); no UIF; and the possibility of instant dismissal for non-procedural industrial action.

A social accord on redistribution between unions and employers in our situation, without any other macro-economic interventions, will simply reproduce the massive poverty of the majority of our country.

Social democracy and globalisation

Finally, those who advocate some mechanical adoption of social democracy to South Africa ignore the fact that the golden age of social democracy has ended. The crisis of social democracy has certainly been less dramatic than the collapse of its bolshevik rival in eastern Europe. But it is no secret that for the past decade and a half, at least, the social democratic model has been in trouble, even in its classical heartlands.

There are several reasons for this growing crisis. But the most profound reason for the growing crisis of social democracy has been the increasing globalisation of capitalism. The major Swedish or Australian capitalists, thanks to the success of social democracy, are more and more multinational operators. They are less and less inclined to be tied into the discipline of a national social accord. For instance, as part of a social accord, Australian workers agreed to a wage restraint in exchange for improved social security. The wage restraint saved millions of Australian dollars, but in the same period Australian capitalists disinvested almost exactly the same amount. They were investing in low wage economies like Indonesia. A cash strapped Australian labour government has not been able to improve social security provisions as promised.

Governments are, in their very nature, national. Workforces are also largely national - it is not easy for workers to move rapidly in their millions across international boundaries. But capital is more and more internationally mobile. This reality has undermined many of the possibilities for a social democratic, national redistribution accord.

A second generation 'social democracy'

As we have noted, the golden age of social democracy was roughly between 1950 and 1975. In the second half of the 1970s and through the 1980s, a number of 'social democratic' parties came to power in the southern part of Europe,including Portugal, Spain and France. However, in the new global conditions, sometimes after a brief attempt at something more radical - as in France - these parties quickly became parties of the centre. They implemented neo-liberal economic policies, which had little to do with the original social democratic vision.

Similar ideological shifts have also been happening in many of the classical social democratic parties.

The argument of this instalment is not that we should write-off the social democratic experience. There are many important lessons to be learnt. However, any attempt to simply import this 'model' into SA would be misguided.


More charges against Malan

Days before Magnus Malan's murder trial is due to begin, charges of a broader conspiracy to murder are brought against him and his co-accused, writes a correspondent.

The charges against former defence minister Magnus Malan and 19 others on trial for the 1987 KwaMakhutha massacre have broadened to include charges of conspiracy to murder members of the ANC, UDF and related organisations during the period from December 1985 to June 1989.

In providing the details of the alleged conspiracy, KwaZulu/Natal attorney general Tim McNally claims a meeting was held in Durban between Malan and IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi in March 1988, at which Buthelezi was allegedly cautioned by Malan as to the sensitivity of their relationship.

"Inkatha should not be linked to the South African government and he (Buthelezi) should not identify himself with the SA Government during overseas visits," the McNally's document says.

It also alleges that the payment of salaries by the defence force of "certain special constables", former covert operatives, was also discussed.

These charges further implicate Buthelezi in covert offensive para-military operations in KwaZulu/Natal. The initial indictment against Malan alleges that it was at Buthelezi's request that 200 IFP members were selected to undergo para-military training by the SADF in the Caprivi Strip.

At the time of Malan's indictment, in November last year, the ANC said: "What is clear from these allegations is that the KwaMakhutha massacre was not an isolated incident, but part of a broad offensive against communities in KwaZulu/Natal conducted by the IFP, with support of the former SADF and the National Party government."

The KwaMakhutha attack was allegedly carried out by a paramilitary force comprising Inkatha members and formed under the auspices of senior offices of the then SADF.

About 200 IFP supporters were allegedly trained by the SADF at a military base in the Caprivi Strip on the northern border of Namibia, then under South African occupation.

According to the indictment, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi approached the SADF for assistance in October 1985 in getting "protection" for himself and his followers.

The indictment quotes an address given by Buthelezi to the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly in May 1984, where he calls for the KwaZulu police to have an operational military wing: "In fact, I believe that we must prepare ourselves not only to defend property and life, but to go beyond that and prepare ourselves to hit back with devastating force at those who destroy our property and kill us."

An "extraordinary" meeting of the State Security Council in Cape Town was subsequently convened where a mandate was given to an inter-departmental Head Committee to assist Buthelezi in the creation of a security force for the former Kwazulu bantustan.

This assistance allegedly came in the form of the training and support of the 'Caprivi 200'. According to the latest charges, the Caprivi 200 were allegedly involved in a broader conspiracy.

"The conspiracy involved the establishment of a paramilitary capability for Inkatha. This capability would initially comprise 200 men to be covertly trained by the SA Defence Force. From amongst these 200, a small full-time offensive element would be selected which would be covertly deployed against members of the ANC/UDF and related organisations," the document says.

According to the document the operation was to be closed down in June 1989.


Small town racism takes centre stage in education battle

The Potgietersrus controversy has focussed attention on a national problem, writes Mziwakhe Hlangani.

A month-long stand-off in which conservative white parents sought to bar black students from attending the previously all-white Potgietersrus Primary School, has highlighted education as one of the key areas in which resistance to democracy is most felt.

This follows the determination by conservative parties like the National Party, Democratic Party and Freedom Front to maintain Model C schools. The parties have also blocked the passage of the Gauteng Education Bill and the national Education Policy Bill, both before the Constitutional Court this month.

Both the Freedom Front and NP have been widely criticised for not having condemned the Potgietersrus racism. On the contrary, they have been using the situation there to mobilise support for the "protection of Afrikaner values and language".

The ANC-led Northern Province government rejected requests to establish separate schools for 'afrikaans-speaking' and 'english-speaking students' - or to provide white parents with the facilities to start a private school. This, it was argued, would amount to racial segregation under the guise of preserving different languages.

The Potgietersrus stand-off began after parents had forcibly prevented black students from attending the school. After unsuccessful negotiations between the Northern Province government and the school's governing body, a supreme court order was obtained ordering the school to admit the pupils.

Amid a heavy police and media presence 18 black students were enrolled at the school. Some white parents kept their children away, and the governing body said they would take their case to the constitutional court.

The governing body withdrew their constitutional court claim, opting rather to participate in the national forum suggested by president Nelson Mandela.

Mandela intervened in the situation by urging Freedom Front leader Constant Viljoen, Conservative Party leader Ferdie Hartzenberg and National Party leader FW de Klerk to engage in discussion with the Northern Province government.

According to Mandela's office the aim was to avoid further confrontation.

The president said the parties concerned should not retreat from their positions, but should engage in discussions until an agreement has been reached amicably.

The president wanted peaceful discussions to continue while pupils were back in classrooms. The office advised that a national forum be set up to look into the matter of minority rights in education.

Northern Province Education MEC Aaron Motsoaledi said the forum's work would not affect only the people of Potgietersrus, but would consider the situation as a national issue.


Article on Modise does newspaper no credit

A recent article in the Mail & Guardian, which challenges the integrity of defence minister Joe Modise, is a blemish on the record of the newspaper, argues NEC member Ronnie Kasrils.

Having distinguished itself as a bastion of the free press, and for many years under siege by the apartheid regime, will the Mail & Guardian continue to be a vigilant gatekeeper for the truth?

Recent form calls this into question.

Louise Flanagan's article "How Military Intelligence tried to recruit Modise" in the Mail & Guardian of 23 February, and her reporting of allegations against senior MK commanders contained therein, is an example of sloppy journalism and is a discredit to the paper.

Not only does she give undue prominence to the extremely questionable views of a disgraced member of a discredited intelligence section of the old SADF, but she also does nothing to challenge the substance of those allegations.

Instead, she allows the specious and potentially libelous allegations emanating from an MI officer's memorandum (drafted by Commander Anton Niewoudt) in September 1992, to pass as if they amounted to fact.

For example, her statement that Niewoudt's "three page memo discusses the conflict within the African National Congress (ANC) between the militants, headed by Chris Hani, and the moderates, headed by Modise", blithely accepts that there was conflict within the ANC between so-called 'militants' and 'moderates'.

Terms such as 'militants' and 'moderates' falsely seek to polarise and negatively stereotype the debates within the ANC, which have always been commendably civil and disciplined, entirely normal to a popular organisation.

The old 'personal conflict' allegation became the hoary chestnut of the apartheid lie masters, and one only needs to observe the cohesion of the ANC in office today, to see that allegation for the fabrication that it is.

This also applies to her statement that "Military Intelligence (MI) tried to recruit present minister of Defence Joe Modise nearly two years before the 1994 elections, relying on the belief that Modise was willing to smash the ANC-SACP alliance in order to secure his own position under a future government."

Nowhere does she challenge the bias of that 'belief', and neither does she question the nefarious allegation that Modise "was willing to smash the ANC-SACP alliance in order to secure his own position under a future a future government".

The record is clear, Joe Modise has no prejudice against communists. On the contrary, he appointed Joe Slovo as his deputy in 1976 and in 1983 as chief of staff; Chris Hani as commissar in 1983, and as Slovo's successor in 1986 when Slovo resigned to take up the post of General Secretary of the SACP, and myself as military intelligence chief in 1983.

This is the same man who was "willing to smash the ANC-SACP alliance" by choosing an alleged member of the so-called 'SACP faction' as his deputy minister of defence in June 1994.

Accusations of a split between the ANC and SACP have long been the stock-in-trade of apartheid's 'divide and rule' rumour mongers, and again the enduring solidarity of the liberation alliance hoists that lie on its own petard.

Instead, and without flagging the reader's attention to the insidiousness of the aspersions in the memo, Flanagan goes on to write that Niewoudt noted that, the so-called 'moderates', allegedly headed by Modise, "were targeted because they could be used against Hani", and that "they were regarded as open to recruitment due to their own self interest."

She far too uncritically accepts the smear that "they could be used against Hani", and appears to compound it by adding, without question, that they were allegedly "open to recruitment due to their own self interest".

These apparent slurs are allowed to develop further in her statement: "Referring back to the period just after the memo was written, he (Niewoudt) commented that MI already knew then which of their sources among the MK members would be appointed as generals, brigadiers and lieutenant-colonels in the new military."

This claim is simply preposterous, and easily verifiable as such, since MK at the time of that memo (September 1992) had no ranks. MK only began its bilateral negotiations with the SADF in 1993 and only began the process of ranking its members in early 1994.

The character of a distinguished MK commanders is possibly further impugned by her bald statement that: "Although there is no indication whether any of the group approached were indeed recruited, at least two now hold senior positions, Modise is the minister of defence and in June 1994 Lambert Moloi (one of the so-called 'Modise moderates') was promoted to major-general and made chief of the Service Brigade.

The use of the word "although" implies that in spite of the fact that there is absolutely no evidence to support the questionable claim that any senior MK members were actually "approached" or "were indeed recruited", her subsequent statement that "at least two now hold senior positions", could easily be construed as casting doubt over the integrity of the Minister and General Moloi, not to mention the other so-called 'Modise moderates'.

The effect of Flanagan's reasoning is perverse.

By conflating an alleged split in the ranks of MK with Nieuwoudt's devious scheme to compromise the minister, she appears to pin the blame for the conspiracy on one of its intended targets - Joe Modise.

Instead of attacking the methods and motives of the conspirators, Flanagan attacks their target.

This is, at best, muddle-headed and, at worst, outrageous.

It therefore ill behoves the Mail & Guardian, with its fine record of fighting for the truth, to amplify the lies and smears of the apartheid regime by such seemingly ill-judged and uncritical reporting of a document that is so clearly self-serving on the part of Nieuwoudt, who at that stage of his career, was desperate to impress his superiors.

It is ironic that a paper which has itself suffered similar disinformation campaigns in the past and is familiar with that murky world of deception, should attach any credibility to the assertions of a typical apartheid operative of that period. Nieuwoudt was fired "following the Goldstone raid on the DCC offices in November 1992" and the subsequent general Steyn Report to the then State President, De Klerk, on DCC's activities. Where Flanagan has been impressed by Nieuwoudt's ventures, Steyn and De Klerk were not.

It is doubly ironic that a paper that had so much mud slung at it by the agents of apartheid, has now given such prominence to a report that does just that to this country's minister of defence.

Thus, for Flanagan to state that Modise had denied that he had ever attended such a meeting "but declined to answer any further questions" is a travesty of the truth and, as such, creates the false impression that he was being evasive.

In actual fact the minister received five questions from the Mail & Guardian, prior to the publication of the article, of which the first was whether he had ever secretly met with MI, and the other questions were attendant on that.

The truth is that he answered the Mail & Guardian as follows:

"I want to state clearly that I never attended a meeting that you referred to in your questions. It follows from that that I have no information relating to the other questions you have raised."

It is therefore clear that the Mail & Guardian has misquoted the minister, to his obvious detriment, by failing to exercise the minimum standard of journalistic care, and the paper should apologise for that.

It is a sad but true reflection that a journalist who identifies uncritically with a dubious source may compromise the objectivity of his or her reporting and may thereby run the attendant risk of losing credibility.

In this circumstance, Louise Flanagan has lost credibility with the ANC, who in the press statement in defence of minister Modise, have stated: "It is strange also that the Mail & Guardian would have chosen to overlook the close personal relationship between the author of the article, Louise Flanagan, and the source of the [Nieuwoudt] documents, Colonel Gerrie Hugo [former chief of MI in the Ciskei, who was charged with stealing covert funds and pleaded guilty] and the dispute Hugo has been having with the SANDF and the Ministry of Defence.

A responsible newspaper must exercise reasonable editorial judgement in terms of its journalists' reports.

My view is that the Mail & Guardian has failed in its responsibilities in this respect.

My earnest hope is that the Mail & Guardian will maintain the integrity it built up during the anti-apartheid period and continue to be worthy of our respect.

For me that is the challenge facing your paper in our new democratic era.


False start for 'new' NP

The new-look National Party has not got off to a good start. The main problem being that its not really that new, writes Duncan Harford.

The attempt by the National Party to build a "new vision" for itself is floundering barely a month after NP leader FW de Klerk launched the new NP in Pretoria on 2 February.

Timed to coincide with the sixth anniversary of De Klerk's unbanning of the ANC, PAC and SACP, the launch of the new NP was described by the party's media people as an event as significant as the 2 February 1990 announcement. In the end, the launch left most people wandering what was new, and what was significant.

FW de Klerk launched the 'new' party by opening new headquarters in Pretoria and announcing the resignation from cabinet of former constitutional development and provincial affairs minister Roelf Meyer, who was to be appointed the party's secretary general.

Meyer's job would be to build the new party through strengthening NP structures and making it more appealing to black South Africans. De Klerk said the National Party was aiming to win over the majority of South Africans around 'core Christian values'.

The launch itself illustrated the inherent pitfalls of the task the NP has set itself. The new Nats were there, led by Western Cape housing MEC Gerald Morkel, who doubled as master of ceremonies. There was the former ANC exile David Chuenyane, soon to be appointed cabinet minister John Mavuso, senator David Malatsi and Gauteng MPL Vusumuszi Vincent Thusi.

But the relics from the old National Party were also there: former defence minister Magnus Malan, now on trail for murder; former law and order minister Adriaan Vlok; former constitutional development minister Gerrit Viljoen; not to mention former health minister Rina Venter, who is integrally involved in a conservative front for the preservation of Afrikaner privilege.

There lies the NP's dilemma. It is a party who's support base relies on it to maintain as many of the vestiges of apartheid privilege as possible. Since the April 1994 election it has doggedly stuck by that objective. De Klerk's first address to parliament this year indicated that the NP had no intention to be diverted from this course.

The National Party wants to attract black voters, yet its policies are diametrically opposed to their interests. The NP are asking South Africa's majority to vote for them, yet they continue to resist democratic transformation.

How will the National Party deal with this contradiction? Will it be the party of old that talks of doing away with minority privileges yet at the same time fights for the retention of model C schools? Will the new NP ever be able to come out and condemn racist behaviour such as that shown by the Potgietersrus Primary School's governing body? Will it continue to talk of equality, yet resist any effective measures to achieve it?

Many commentators have said the NP's past counts against the success of its 'new vision'. Yet it is the NP's present, and most probably its future, that will equally prevent it from achieving its new objective.

The present is not a good time for the National Party. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is beginning to gain momentum, will be damaging to the NP. Already the country is beginning to get a glimpse of the extent to which political violence in South Africa over the last decade was engineered by senior members of the former National Party government.

The NP faces an election in the Cape Town metropolitan area on 29 May, where it will be seeking to curb the swing in the rest of the Western Cape coloured vote towards the ANC. After two democratic elections they have still failed to capture any meaningful share of the black vote.

The month since the launch of the 'new' National Party has seen an exodus of leadership from the party. The decision by the NP's deputy speaker

Bhadra Ranchod to leave party politics in favour a diplomatic posting is seen as a sign of growing disillusionment within the NP. Ranchod's departure will leave a gaping hole in the NP's 'non-racial' face.

Perhaps more damaging though, was the resignation from cabinet of former welfare minister Abe Williams after his home and offices were raided by the Office for Serious Economic Offences. The departure of Williams, who is alleged to be involved in corruption in the administration of Western Cape pensions, will have a negative impact on the NP's Cape Town election hopes.

The concerns of the NP party faithful cannot have been eased either by the imminent departure from politics of Constitutional Assembly deputy chairperson Leon Wessels, the resignation of Tobie Meyer as Justice deputy minister and the resignation of KwaZulu/Natal NP leader George Bartlett.

The National Party has yet to explain the key elements of its 'core Christian values' and what would make them so appealing to the majority of South Africans. It has yet to explain also why, in a country with a multiplicity of faiths and religions, the NP has chosen to adopt so-called Christian values to the exclusion of all others. There are many million Christians in South Africa who would not identify with the values the NP describes as 'Christian'. And there are many other South Africans of other faiths who would be insulted by the NP's religious chauvinism.

Barely a month after his bold announcement, De Klerk was becoming very defensive. He reacted with hurt and anger when ANC secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa challenged in parliament the sincerity of the 'new NP'. "Not even the wheel had been re-invented as many times as the National Party had," Ramaphosa said.

In response to Ramaphosa, a visibly hurt De Klerk said the only problem with the National Party was that it was misunderstood and misrepresented.

The reality though is that the NP has so little support among the majority of South Africans because its history, it policies and its hypocrisy are understood only too well.


Capetonians look forward to elections

After years of waiting and months of political wrangling, Cape Town will soon have democratic local government. Brent Simons spoke to some Cape Town residents about their expectations.

Residents of the Cape Town metropolitan area, together with the people KwaZulu/Natal, will finally be able to cast their votes for local governments on May 29.

Following a demarcation dispute between the ANC and the NP's Western Cape Local Government MEC Pieter Marais, millions of registered voters were not allowed to vote on 1 November last year, when the rest of the country did. This led to lengthy court battles which finally ended up in the Special Electoral Court.

The court agreed that the Demarcation Board's proposal of six sub-structures as opposed to the NP's view of four should be accepted. The main cause of the dispute was whether Khayelitsha should form part of the Cape Town central sub-structure or the Tygerberg sub-structure.

Three months later, with wards decided upon and with Khayelitsha as part of the Tygerberg sub-structure political parties will have to convince people to vote for them. MAYIBUYE interviewed several people in Cape Town and its surrounding suburbs, the Cape Flats and townships.

More than 2,5 million voters are expected to turn out at polling stations in Cape Town, Bellville, Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha, Fish Hoek and surrounding towns. Despite expressing their anger at not being allowed to vote last year, Cape Town's residents have firm ideas on who and what they will be voting for.

Votes will only be exchanged for the delivery of parks, safer recreational facilities, better housing, roads and electricity. However, these are only some of the views expressed by Capetonians.

Noxolo Dyalvane of Gugulethu says: "Yes, I registered and now I am finally going to vote. There is lots to be done where I live. The streets need to be fixed up and the whole area needs to be cleaned. Our children also need save places to play in."

Achmat Davids and Ian Tilchart are both stall holders at Cape Town's famous parade. Tilchart, who lives in Constantia, wants to know who will be representing him in the elections: "For years we just had one party, the Democratic Party, to vote for. Our representative did not even live in Constantia. He would come around once a year - if we were lucky. This should not be about politics, but about individuals who live in the area and those who know the needs of the people."

Davids was more concerned about high rates and taxes and said he hoped the coming elections would not lead to "another gravy train".

Orient January of Khayelitsha is an unemployed security guard who makes and sells duvet covers to put food on the table for her family. She was very excited about the coming local elections: "I am hoping for some improvement in our roads, for electricity and proper housing."

Referring to the demarcation dispute over whether Khayelitsha should form part of the Cape Town central sub-structure or the Tygerberg sub-structure, January says she feels the inclusion of Khayelitsha into Tygerberg "is the best the thing that could have happened to the sprawling township. Many residents work in Tyggerberg and as result do all their shopping there".

Mrs Arendse from Rocklands in Mitchells Plain says she's not sure if she'll be voting. As she does not attend any meetings organised by the various political parties, she would not know who to vote for. But she is hoping for cleaner roads, more jobs and better recreational facilities.

Jackson Maxhanga of Langa is excited about casting his vote on 29 May, but feels cheated for not having voted with the rest of the country last November. He feels the idea of having a local government is a good thing as "eventually we will have a greater say in everyday happenings in our community".

Marie Johnson who lives at the Haven Night Shelter did not register because she does not have an ID book. However, she hopes that more jobs will be created after the elections.

Dion Naicker of Pelican Park is a human sciences student at the Cape Technikon. Dion is looking forward to casting his vote: "The community needs local government, as national government does not know local needs." He is hoping for a greater say in how his area is governed.

Elvis Khonk of Khayelitsha is one of the growing number of human adverts, walking all over the Mother City with advertising boards strapped around them. He, like many others, is looking forward to bringing out his vote in exchange for the "upgrading of his township".

"At least we will have people who really understand the needs of our community. Our houses must be improved. We need electricity, clean roads that do not flood during winter and places for all children to play," he says.

Wendy Matiwane of Langa is unemployed, but "extremely happy" that she will finally be allowed to vote for her area to be upgraded. "The person I vote for will result in my having a say in how things are to be managed in Langa in the future. We will vote for more and better houses in Langa."

Selvin McKenzie of Bonteheuwel feels that it was unfair that Cape Town residents were not allowed to vote last year. For him local government means a greater say in how his community and the Western Cape is governed. "Although the upgrading of facilities in Bonteheuwel has begun, I will vote for it to be speeded up," he says.

Like many other Cape Peninsula residents McKenzie has placed safe playgrounds and parks high on his list of priorities: "after all our children are our future."


Profile

A life of reading and writing

Books and imagination have been at the heart of Lizeka Mda's journey from rural Transkei to Tribute magazine deputy editor. Khensani Makhubela spoke to her about this journey.

"My writing carries the message of the times," says Lizeka Mda, the deputy editor of Tribute magazine, "it is inspired by my love for reading".

Mda's writing comes from her rural background. She grew up as a very lonely child in a fairly isolated area of rural Transkei, in a protective environment. Her best companions were books. They made her live in her own world. All the fantasies she found in books made her forget that she had no friends.

Mda is now enjoying the fruits of her youthful strategy of using books to overcome loneliness. "To be a writer you must have an urgent need to express how you see things. You must have an imagination and you must be creative enough to express imagination in words," she explains.

"Words do not have to be taught at school or anywhere else, they can be found in books. I learnt my command of language from reading," Mda says. The advice that Mda has for young South Africans is to read as much as possible and be critical about what they read.

Mda says she translated her reading to her school work. She used her creativity for her English compositions, she let her imagination run free. Each time she was asked to write about her holidays she would write fiction, as she always had boring holidays.

"My English teacher at Buntingville High encouraged my writing. He enjoyed reading my essays. He always shared my work with other teachers in the staff room," Mda says. Each time Mda's teacher corrected her essays he would comment on her essays and Mda would respond to the comments in the next essay.

Mda says it's unfortunate that in those days there was no career guidance. After her matric she joined a friend who wanted to study computer science at Fort Hare. Both were uncertain about that path, particularly since she was not that good in mathematics.

"My sister, who was a teacher, discouraged me from taking computer science. She reminded me that I was not a mathematician but a natural writer. She advised me to take journalism. To me journalism was for 'the people', not me," says Mda. At the end Mda gave in and went to study journalism at Rhodes University.

It turns out Mda's sister was right: journalism was for her. Mda also writes fiction. She has a contribution in a short stories book called "Sometime When It Rains" by South African Writers.

She has little interest in newspapers. "Hard news doesn't move me, I am interested in a story behind the story. I'm interested in reflections of the story. I want to do a lot of research and discussing issues in detail. News is 'boom': four people died in a train crash, but what caused the death is not really explained."

Mda says her challenge is to live from one day to the next and still perform as a mother at home. "I have the same challenges as any working women and mother face. There are many things calling on our time and emotions and it is difficult to fulfil them all. I have more responsibilities now that I've been promoted to a deputy editor of the magazine," she says.

"I like my job and I work for a brilliant magazine. It is a magazine that has set standards in the country; a magazine that has paved ways in terms of integrity and it made a place for itself in the black community."

She says Tribute Magazine does praise people blindly. It criticises where it sees the need to criticise. This is important to her because she has to maintain standards in the articles that she is commissioning people to write and edit.

When relaxing Mda just reads. She reads anything that come her way, from Mills and Boon to children's books to the academic books. "I'm actually planning on writing children's books," she says.

In five years time Mda sees herself editing her own magazine. "Then I would have finished with factual journalism and concentrate on fiction. I hope then South Africans would have developed a love for reading and there will be more South African writers," she says.


The story so far

With its two year life-span almost over, the Constitutional Assembly is rushing to meet its May deadline. A correspondent looks at the process thus far.

At the first sitting of the national assembly, on 9 May 1994, the stop watch for the writing of the final constitution began. According to the interim constitution, the new constitutional text had to be passed within two years from that date.

Now in March 1996, the two years is almost up, and the constitutional process is nearing completion. In those two years a lot of work has been done, and lot of ground covered.

At its first meeting, the 490-member Constitutional Assembly elected ANC secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa as chairperson and NP leader Leon Wessels as deputy chairperson.

During the first three months, members of the Constitutional Assembly (CA) were engaged in the important task of establishing the first democratic parliament. This resulted in very little work being accomplished in the CA itself. Structurally, the CA relied on a Steering Committee which considered the initial conceptual aspects of carrying out the work of constitution-making.

The Constitutional Committee, a 46-member representative forum empowered to negotiate substantive issues, was formed in August 1994. During the following month the six theme committees met for the first time to consider different aspects of the constitution. The CA agreed on a strategy for the "Process and Framework of Drafting the New Constitution".

The substantive work of the CA started at the end of January 1995. The first four months of 1995 were spent with theme committees producing reports and analysing more than 22 000 submissions received in response to an advertising campaign. The first substantive reports from theme committees were tabled before the Constitutional Committee in February 1995.

In March 1995, the ANC held a national constitutional conference at the World Trade Centre, with delegates drawn from ANC national and provincial structures, the Youth League, the Women's League, Cosatu, SACP and organisations of the Mass Democratic Movement. The conference produced the 'Building a United Nation' document which contained the ANC's positions on all constitutional chapters. A key proposals from this conference was the 'cooperative governance' model, where the powers of the provinces were related to a strengthened senate to encourage cooperation among provinces and between provinces and the national government. The conference also resolved that there should be no constitutionally enforced coalitions, that there should be a combination of proportional and constituency-based representation in parliament and that the bill of rights should protect the dignity of individuals, not their economic privileges.

At the same time, the ANC's Constitutional Commission established Constitution News as a publication to keep the democratic movement informed of progress in the constitution-making process. The publication of Constitution News was suspended until now because of a lack of capacity.

The first draft formulations of the new constitutional text appeared in April 1995. These were tabled in the Constitutional Assembly in May 1995.

Throughout this time, the Constitutional Assembly was engaging in an ambitious programme to ensure public participation in the constitution-making process. The public participation campaign enabled millions of ordinary South Africans and many organisations to make their contribution to the new Constitution.

A media campaign called for specific responses on issues ranging from individual rights and freedoms to the workings of the public service and police - even what the new national anthem should be. Thousands of people and organisations responded. Submissions, including signatures on petitions, almost reached the two million mark.

Television, radio and print media, including the CA's own Constitutional Talk newsletter, kept the public up to date with the process.

A weekend programme of Community Participation Meetings was held to take theme committee members to meet members of the public in the remotest corners of all nine provinces. Enthusiastic crowds turned up

to give their views on what should and should not be in the Constitution.

National sector hearings were held to give Theme Committee members the opportunity to receive input from hundreds of organisations. The sectors consulted included business and labour leaders, children's rights activists, traditional leaders and women's groups.

This campaign culminated with the publication and mass distribution in November 1995 of four million copies of the Working Draft of the new Constitution in all 11 official languages.

The public was presented with the entire constitutional text, with options on areas where there was still no agreement, accompanied by explanatory articles and graphics, and asked to comment. The result was thousands of fresh submissions from individuals and organised civil society. These submissions have all been processed and submitted to the political parties and constitutional committees for their consideration.

Since the beginning of 1996, negotiations have been taking place around those issues which are still outstanding. See pages 3 and 4 for a summary of some of the outstanding issues.

Sub-committees have been established to try reach agreement on particular outstanding questions, while parties negotiate with each other in a series of bilateral and multi-lateral meetings.

The Constitutional Assembly is scheduled to meet on 8 May to pass the final constitutional text. Until then Constitution News will be coming out every two weeks to keep people informed of progress.


Much work still to be done

There are a numerous issues in the new constitution which still need to be resolved between the parties. Kate Savage compiled this summary.

With the 9 May 1996 deadline looming for the adoption of the new constitution, the pressure is on political parties to reach agreements on outstanding issues.

While much progress has been made, no agreement has been reached to date on the following issues:

National anthem

The Interim Constitution requires that the national anthem be determined by the President by proclamation in the Government Gazette. There is no agreement between the parties that this position be retained in the new constitution. The NP stands by its view that the current anthem, which is a combination of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika and Die Stem must be constitutionalised. The ANC wants Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika to be South Africa's anthem after 1999.

Language

It is agreed that the current 11 official languages of South Africa be retained. What is not agreed is the status to be granted to languages such as Afrikaans and English, the official languages before the Interim Constitution. The powers of provinces to declare any of the official languages as languages of use in a province need to be finalised.

Equality Clause

There is general agreement as to the formulation of this clause. Parties have agreed that the clause enable legislative and other measures to be taken with the aim of protecting or advancing people disadvantaged by "unfair discrimination". The ANC has strongly argued for the inclusion of this clause which will allow affirmative action measures to be implemented.

Right to Life

There is deadlock between the parties on the right to life. The NP strongly supports the qualification of this right so as to allow the retention of the death penalty to be declared constitutional. The ANC opposes the retention of the death penalty and supports a general right to life.

Labour Relations

Negotiations on this clause have deadlocked with the NP and DP supporting the inclusion of an employer's right to lock-out together with the right to strike. The ANC supports the inclusion only of a right to strike in this clause, given, among other issues, the balance of power which already exists in the employer's favour in the workplace.

Property

There is no agreement between the parties concerning this clause. The Third edition of the working draft of the new constitution set out three options:

The parties agree that provision should be made for the restitution of land taken away as a result of a discriminatory law or practices after 19 June 1913.

Cultural self-determination

The NP persists in its demand that provision be made for what has been termed "cultural self-determination" in clauses dealing with education, language and culture in the Bill of Rights.

Application

The extent to which the rights contained in the Bill of Rights are to apply to juristic persons (such as corporations) is outstanding.

Agreement still has to be reached between the parties concerning the extent to which the Bill of Rights is to be horizontally applicable - to apply between the state and individuals, as well as between individuals themselves. The ANC's view is that the Bill of Rights should be applicable as far as possible.

Electoral System

Most parties support a mixed electoral system, in which there is both constituency-based and proportional representation. The parties are bound by the provisions of Constitutional Principle VIII which requires that "(t)here shall be representative government embracing multi-party democracy, regular elections, universal adult suffrage, a common voters' roll, and, in general proportional representation." The details of the electoral system have yet to be resolved and will in all likelihood be dealt with in an Electoral Act, with the constitution detailing only the relevant principles applicable to the system.

Seat of Parliament

There is a wide range of vastly differing opinions on this matter. Political parties themselves have internal differences on the issue. The ANC has motivated that the seat of parliament should not be constitutionalised given the sensitivity of the matter and the need for public participation.

Amendments to constitution

The parties have not as yet agreed to the majority required to amend the constitution. The ANC argues for a 2/3 majority, whilst the NP has suggested 75 percent.

Senate or Council of Provinces

General agreement has been reached on the principles of the ANC's proposed Council of Provinces to replace the old Senate. This structure aims to secure better provincial representation at national level and a proper interaction between the provincial legislature and national Council of Provinces.

National Executive

There is no agreement yet on the national executive. This issue is currently receiving attention between the parties.

Appointment of Judges and Composition of the Judicial Service Commission

The procedure for the appointment of judges, particularly the necessity to consult with the opposition before appointing Constitutional Court judges remains an outstanding issue. The composition of the Judicial Service Commission is also receiving attention, with parties holding differing views as to the structures which should be represented on this body and in what proportion.

Attorney-General

The ANC strongly supports the establishment of a national attorney-general with provincial offices falling under the national A-G's office. Other parties are still considering this proposal and the issue has yet to be finalised.

Next edition...

Other outstanding issues, which will be dealt with in future editions, include:


Cosatu concerned about rights of vulnerable

Cosatu says its proposals to the Constitutional Assembly have the interests of the poor at heart, writes Steyn Speed.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions last month submitted to the Constitutional Assembly their comments on the working draft of the new constitution.

At the same time they held bilateral discussions with the ANC and the National Party. Speaking at a press conference after the meetings Cosatu general secretary Sam Shilowa said the meeting with the ANC had been "fruitful", and that there was agreement on all the key issues. Cosatu and the ANC aimed to move forward together as a progressive movement, he said.

The meeting with the National Party, by contrast, was disappointing. "They were either evasive [on the issues] or had no alternative proposals," Shilowa said.

Cosatu was particularly critical of the Democratic Party. The constitutional proposals from the DP wanted to negate and undermine the rights of workers, Shilowa said.

"The DP want a constitution which panders to the whims of big business," he said.

In its submission Cosatu said it was deeply concerned that a number of proposals made by various parties, if accepted, would fundamentally undermine the democratic nature of the new constitution, and even reverse some of the democratic gains made by working people.

"We...express the concerns of a broader constituency of working people and the poor who want to ensure that the new constitution is a document which empowers all South Africans, and does not entrench the privileges of the rich and powerful in our country, at the expense of the majority," Cosatu said.

Referring to Cosatu's submission itself, Shilowa said a constitution without the full right to strike offered no protection to the vulnerable. This right, he said, was non-negotiable. Cosatu was willing to mobilise workers to protect this right, he said. Other aspects of Cosatu's submission included:

Access to information

Cosatu maintained that the access to information clause should enable workers and communities access to information held by companies, which would be required for the exercise or protection of their rights. The right of access would not only be exercised in respect of government, but also in respect of 'juristic persons'.

Right to picket

Cosatu said the right to picket should be expressly included in the section on the right to peaceful demonstration and assembly. This would avoid later litigation.

Trade union security agreements

The limitations clause in the bill of rights should say that no rights could prevent legislative and other measures allowing trade unions and employers concluding trade union security agreements. Cosatu argued that international standards did not consider closed or agency shops as infringements of freedom of association.

Economic activity

Cosatu said there should be no economic activity clause in the bill of rights, arguing that it prescribed a particular economic system and was nevertheless not an internationally recognised fundamental right. Cosatu would not object to a 'vocation clause' which respected a person's right to choose their own vocation, as long as the clause did not to limit the government's capacity to introduce things like community service for newly-qualified professionals.

Right to strike and lock out

There could be no trade-off between the right to strike and the right to lock out, as the NP and DP had proposed. While the right to strike was internationally recognised as a fundamental right, there was no similar recognition of the right to lock out. Cosatu similarly rejected proposals to limit the right to strike to collective bargaining, saying workers should have a right to strike over broader social and economic issues which affect their interests.

Workers' Charter

Cosatu submitted a new proposal that parliament pass a bill by a simple majority providing for a worker's charter to be attached to the constitution. The charter would provide a flexible mechanism for incorporating workers' goals and aspirations into the constitution.

Property Clause

Cosatu maintained there shouldn't be a property clause in the constitution, particularly in South Africa, where existing property rights were directly linked to colonial conquest and racial domination. A property clause would limit the capacity for land reform and restitution.

Budgets

Cosatu supported the formulation that requires that the budgetary process, in addition to the budget itself, promote transparency, accountability and effective financial management of the economy.

Local government

Cosatu said a limit should be placed on multiple-voting by property owners in local government elections. At the same time migrant workers should be able to decide whether they want to vote at their home or at their work area.

Provincial powers

Cosatu supported provincial power proposals which would advance the ability of national government to implement national policy at the level of economic, labour and other strategic areas. It rejected proposals from some parties which would lead to the continued fragmentation and balkanisation of South Africa.

Accountability of MPs

Cosatu was in favour of combining a system of proportional representation with a constituency-based system, which would allow for accountability of elected representatives and recall by their constituencies.

Majority rule

The principle of majority rule should apply at all levels of government, including cabinet. Cosatu was opposed to enforced coalitions, such as the Government of National Unity.

Reserve Bank

Cosatu would favour a provision on the Reserve Bank which incorporated the principles of the representivity of the Reserve Bank Board; its obligation to operate within national economic frameworks; and that it be open and transparent.

Right to work

Cosatu said there should be a separate clause dealing with the right to work, which committed the government to industrial policies that would ensure job creation and preservation of existing jobs. Cosatu is currently developing a formulation for such a clause.


The property clause

The question of the inclusion, or exclusion, of a property clause in the final constitution has been a matter of much debate. Conservative parties have sought to entrench property rights in a way which make redress of past injustices extremely difficult.

The democratic movement has been arguing that land reform and restitution are important elements of the democratic transformation of South Africa, and that nothing in the constitution can be allowed to hinder that process.

The ANC's latest proposal on the property clause is designed therefore to ensure a respect for the institution of property, while enabling the state to take corrective measures in righting past wrongs.

According to the proposal, all South Africans have the right to "have equitable access to land", and the state must take reasonable and progressive measures, including legislation, to secure this access.

The proposal says that no one may be deprived of property, except in accordance with relevant legislation. This legislation will allow expropriation only for public purposes or in the public interest, and then only subject to the payment of compensation as agreed to by a court.

In doing this, the court must determine an equitable b alance between the public interest and the interests of those affected. The court must consider factors like the current use of the property; the history of its acquisition; its market value; the ability of the state to pay; and the nation's commitment to land reform and measures to bring about equitable access to water.

The clause would ensure that every person or community dispossessed of land after 19 June 1913 as a result of any discriminatory practices would be entitled to restitution of that land, or other equitable redress.


New look TV signals new era in broadcasting

The re-launch of the SABC's TV channels signals a new commitment to democracy, independence and equitable treatment of all languages, writes David Adams.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) launched its new television channels in early February at a glamorous, if expensive, occasion at Waterkloof near Pretoria.

The launch signalled the end a chapter in the SABC's history in which political agendas and racial chauvinism determined the programme line-up.

"Now we shall know ourselves and the world better," President Nelson Mandela said at the launch. He said the changes at the SABC were a "giant step towards becoming a true public broadcaster in a democratic South Africa".

It was only natural, he said. that the SABC had to undergo changes to "better reflect the realities of our lives together". The public broadcaster would have to take into account the fundamental principle of equity, he said.

Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Broadcasting Pallo Jordan described the re-launch as "one more step in building a new democracy for our nation".

A number of distinguished international guests were there, including American soul singer Stevie Wonder and actors Blair Underwood, Robert Gilliuame and Malcolm Jamal-Warner. Local celebrities like Felicia Mabuza-Suttle, television host Basetsane Makgalamele and musician Hugh Masekela were there in numbers.

The victorious Bafana Bafana, Amabokoboko and the South Africa cricket squad joined in the celebrations.

SABC chief executive Zwelakhe Sisulu, former editor of the New Nation, said one of the primary goals of the corporation was to become a public broadcaster second to none which would also be able to heal the nation's wounds.

However Sisulu added that the SABC could only become a true public broadcaster if the corporation's integrity and independence was protected by forging a partnership between the broadcaster and the public it served.

The new-look SABC television is an attempt to service all South African language groups and to break down the ethnically-defined programming of the past.

Welcoming the re-launch, the ANC said in a statement the SABC has moved boldly into the future, setting a positive tone for public broadcasting in this country.

"Impressive progress has been made in moving the SABC away from its past as an apartheid mouthpiece, wholly inequipped to serve the real needs of the majority of South Africans.

"The ANC is impressed in particular by the SABC's approach to the issue of language equity. Given the multiplicity of languages in South Africa and the elevation in the past of particular languages over others, this is indeed a sensitive and difficult area in which to make positive progress," the ANC said.

According to the new schedule, the former TV1 becomes SABC 2, CCV becomes SABC 1, while the sports channel NNTV becomes SABC 3, with English as the main language on that channel. SABC 2 will have predominantly Afrikaans and English programming, as well as Setswana, Sepedi and Sesotho. SABC 1 will have mainly Zulu and Xhosa programming.

The new channels come complete with a new SABC logo and a song, "Simunye, we are one".

"The ANC is confident that following its television re-launch, the SABC will pursue vigorously, and achieve, its rightful place as one of the world's best public broadcasters. Fuelled by democratic values and a new vision, the SABC will become one the most welcome and enduring institutions of the new South Africa," the ANC said.

Finding your way around the new SABC

For those who are still trying to find their bearings among the SABC's new TV channels, here is where to find your favourite programmes:


Idasa 'corruption survey':

Who's to blame?

A recent survey by Idasa says most South Africans don't trust their MPs. Who's to blame for this state of affairs, asks Carl Niehaus.

Survey results published recently by the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) suggesting that most South Africans thought the present government was as corrupt, if not more so, than the previous National Party regime, has, understandably, kicked up a storm of controversy.

The ANC has criticised the media's role in fuelling these perceptions, and questioned Idasa's motives for conducting the survey. The media has responded, in the most part, by defending their role in creating these perceptions, claiming it was their duty. Idasa has said the ANC is insecure and lacking in political finesse. And so the criticisms and counter criticisms continue.

This is not such a bad thing. Given the implications of the survey's findings, both the institutions of civil society and government would benefit from a fair apportionment of 'blame'.

Firstly, one must ask whether the results of the Idasa survey do in fact reflect the perceptions of the South African public. At face value, there appears to be no methodological basis on which to fault the findings. As Idasa executive director Wilmot James acknowledges in a recent opinion piece, it would take an expert in survey design to find the holes in this survey.

In the absence of such an expert, or any other polls which might indicate to the contrary, let's for arguments sake accept for the moment these findings.

Is the present government, then, as corrupt as the previous one? No, its clearly not. The government's openness and transparency has allowed far closer scrutiny of the mechanisms of parliament and the respective ministries and departments. There are very sincere efforts to establish mechanisms by which corruption can be prevented.

The ANC's code of conduct for its MPs and senators, enacted over a year ago, is a significant commitment from the majority party to clean and accountable public representatives. It is the stance taken by the ANC which has been the driving force for the parliamentary code of conduct currently under consideration by parliament's joint rules committee.

In instances where allegations of corruption have come to the fore, they have generally been dealt with earnestly and swiftly. These include the Eastern Cape school feeding scheme fraud; the action taken against consultant Eugene Nyati in Mpumalanga; the investigation into pension fraud in the Western Cape; and the Skweyiya Commission in the North West.

In addition, President Nelson Mandela also announced his intention to establish a national commission of inquiry into corruption in the former bantustans and national government.

In this light, the reported public perception that this government is corrupt is particularly unfortunate. Never before has government been so responsive to the people's needs, and never before has it been so open.

How this great gulf between perception and reality has been allowed to develop should be a matter of concern to the media, civil society and MPs alike.

Residual mistrust not surprising

It is not surprising that there remains in many South African communities a residual mistrust of structures of governance - given the country's experience with the NP regime, bantustan administrations and discredited black local councillors. It would be overly optimistic to expect this mistrust to simply disappear the moment a democratic election is held.

At the same time it would too simplistic to merely lay the blame at the door of past corrupt administrations and officials. The media, as one of the key shapers of perceptions, has a lot to answer for.

From the moment the new government was elected, the media took the new MPs to task over their salaries. The 'gravy train', a concept virtually unheard in the corruption-riddled years of National Party rule, quickly gained favour in the media. The actual details of the new salary arrangements were lost in the media's feeding frenzy.

Allegations of racism levelled against the media over the issue of salaries should not be dismissed. The thought of black MPs buying luxury cars with their new salaries triggered a reaction in journalists which the image of white MPs doing the same had not. To this day few in the media are prepared to acknowledge that MPs salaries are not in fact as excessive as they were made out to be.

The salary issue effectively set the tone for media coverage of parliament and government. Any hint of misspending, overspending or corruption was quickly pounced on by the media as an indication of widespread graft in the new government - even in those instances where it was the government itself that had uncovered the fraud.

It would not be too far-fetched to suggest that underlying some thinking in the media is an inherent distrust of a black-led government. Just a few years ago many of these journalists and editors were questioning whether South Africa would not "go the way of the rest of Africa" if majority rule were allowed.

Media has failed

Whatever the reason, deliberate or otherwise, the media has failed in its responsibility to inform the public accurately and fairly on matters relating to governance. With the publication of Idasa's survey, the media were openly patting themselves on the back for good work. They had little reason to do so.

Rather they should have asked themselves how the public could have gained an impression of government which was so far removed from the truth.

Members of parliament, government officials and government communicators need to be asking themselves the same question, for surely it is as much - if not more - their responsibility to ensure that the ordinary citizen understands and is in touch with the processes of government.

Members of parliament work hard. They have taken on the task of transforming parliament from being a rubber stamp to becoming an institution which acts as the representatives of the people in matters of governance. This they have done in the absence of adequate infrastructure or resources.

Yet do most South Africans know this? The Idasa survey suggests not. Until communities see the tangible results of the legislation which MPs spend so much time and effort developing, it is unlikely they will appreciate the work being done by their representatives.

It is also a question of visibility. Until communities actually see their MPs and have an opportunity to interact with them, they will not feel that government is serving their particular interests.

The challenge for MPs and government communicators is to find ways of making government more understandable, more visible and more accessible to all South Africans. Parliament's public awareness campaign is a step in the right direction.

The Constitutional Assembly's media and public participation campaign is an example of the what can be achieved. Research has shown that the campaign had a substantial impact on people's knowledge of, and attitude towards, the constitution making process. At the same time it empowered them to participate directly in a process which is crucial to their future.

The point has been made often enough before that government ministries and departments need to improve dramatically their communications strategies. From the function of the SA Communications Service right through to the role and status of ministerial spokespersons, a major review is needed. The government communications task group set up in December by deputy president Thabo Mbeki could provide a key vehicle for such a review.

As much as the media and the government are in need of some introspection, so too are those institutions of civil society which have defined their function as the deepening of democracy.

Idasa, for one, reacted with such indignance at the suggestion that more than merely reflecting public perception, it played a role in creating them. Knowing the media in South Africa, and knowing the role that opinion polls play in swaying public thinking, Idasa shouldn't have acted so surprised.

Maybe the survey results are genuine. Maybe they do reflect public thinking. But Idasa must be aware that the publication of such results does have a further impact on public perceptions. One survey might not make that much difference, but a barrage of surveys and 'expert' analyses which suggest that MPs are corrupt and out of touch with the feelings of the people will obviously affect public perceptions of government.

The questions which must be asked is what motivation lies behind these surveys and analyses. Is it a desire to make government more democratic? Is it to deliberately undermine people's confidence in government? Is it to elevate the public profile of a particular research institution? Or is it to make government accountable to these institutions, rather than the people?

Civil society must be diverse

Chances are that the work of different research institutions are to varying degrees determined by at least some of these motivations. The task of ensuring that the interests of democracy are elevated above self-interest is difficult, given the wholly unequal distribution of resources, expertise and infrastructure.

Yes, civil society must be independent. Yes, it must be critical and vocal. But for it to adequately service democracy, it must be diverse and broadly representative. That is not the case at the moment.

In the spirit of the new South Africa, 'blame' must be equitably shared out among those sections of society who have the capacity to shape public perception. So too must the responsibility of rectifying incorrect perceptions. Finger-pointing is useful up to a point. After that, all hands need to get down to work and make things right.


A 'different' province with special solutions

The Northern Cape ANC is finding ways to deal with some of their unique, and some not-so-unique, organisational problems, writes Mziwakhe Hlangani.

The ANC in the Northern Cape has developed meaningful programmes to rebuild itself as a strong organisational force in the post election era. This it has done in the face of serious organisational weaknesses, under-development, lack of major resources and inter-organisational tensions.

The Northern Cape is different in many ways from other provinces. The relatively conservative nature of the people of the province and the predominance of Afrikaans has been a challenge for the ANC.

It is really imperative that extra work should be done to change the public image of the movement, says provincial secretary William Steenkamp: "Mindful of the perceptions created by the antagonistic media and our opponents, it was one of the biggest problems to change that negative image. But, that difficulty had dramatically been converted into a challenge."

For the conservative community in the province, the ANC has been labelled as a terrorist organisation, swart gevaar, rooi gevaar, an African or Xhosa dominated organisation and a bunch of wild striking mobs, he says.

With the entire leadership absorbed into the legislatures and key leaders deployed in positions of governance - the provincial chairperson being premier, the treasurer being the MEC for health and welfare and the deputy chairperson being an MP - collective decision-making has not been easy.

"Effectively, there is one key full-time official, only the secretary, with most provincial executive members not readily available. So, from a management point of view, it is a serious anomaly. Furthermore the ANC is spread throughout the province and with the lack of transport infrastructure, coming together as the executive committee is not always an easy task. We do communicate quite often telephonically, it is just coming together that remains a big problem," Steenkamp says.

Having not inherited a provincial administration from the old order, meant that the ANC-led provincial government had "to start from scratch", which made tasks even bigger and the challenges greater.

Despite all these problems, the ANC achieved outstanding results in the local government election. The provincial executive committee is functioning, with all six regional committees launched and functional. They have been broken down into sub-regions and branches. At least 64 branches have been launched. In rural and farm areas tremendous inroads had been made. Most of these areas in the past were previously "no-go zones", says Steenkamp.

The ANC has managed to involve the communities in the province's administration process through peoples forums, which explains the lack of strikes and protest marches. With the Northern Cape getting the lowest budget from the national government, communities have been kept well informed about the situation.

With the scant resources at its disposal, the Northern Cape ANC has embarked on a training programme for branch leadership in skills like negotiations, leadership and conflict resolution.

High on the list of priorities is to engage in intensive training and capacity building for all ANC local government councillors. In November and December five training sessions for councillors were conducted.

The Northern Cape has also embarked on a process of building the capacity of its individual staff members. ANC staff in most cases lack leadership skills, negotiation and conflict resolution skills, and organisational and community development skills.

At the province's recent ANC constitutional workshop, it had formalised its position on outstanding constitutional issues. These include the size of parliament and its seat; the need for a senate or council of provinces; and the character and size of that house.

Having achieved 50,1 percent of votes in the province in April 1994 the ANC is under tremendous pressure from other parties in the provincial government to draft a provincial constitution. The National Party has 40 percent, the Democratic Party three percent and the Freedom Front seven percent. The ANC is already in the process of preparing a framework for the eventuality of having to draft a provincial constitution, Steenkamp says.

Another key issue in the province's plan of action for the year is holding a social summit to deal with public Aids awareness, child and women abuse and the violation of the human rights in prison and other sectors. The province also experiences problems with drugs, crime, and teenage pregnancy. "We are hoping to emerge from this summit with clearly outlined campaigns," he says.

On coordination of activities between the organisation and the government, Steenkamp says the ANC is giving political guidance to its members in the legislature, but that the arrangement has not yet worked that well. It is often difficult to draw a clear distinction between the organisation and the ANC in government.

"As the secretary I have a monthly standing appointment with every single ANC MEC in the province. This exhibits substantial understanding between the party and members in governance. This is intended to ensure a flow of information between the movement and the government," he says.

It is standard for the ANC secretary to attend every ANC caucus to ensure that ANC members of the provincial legislature are well-informed of ANC positions and to guide and articulate ANC policy. The ANC chief whip has been elevated to both the provincial executive committee and provincial working committee to inform and report on what is happening in government.

"It is not like in the past when we read in the newspapers what the government planned. The scenario has changed. With the premier we discuss organisational and governmental issues twice a week. There is no way the chairperson could not know what is happening in the organisation since he is pre-occupied with government heavy schedules. There is that close coordination," he says.

The secretary has monthly meeting arrangements with provincial commissioners of respective departments: "These are not intended for articulating ANC policy, but to look at the role the ANC could play in areas such as implementation of the community policing forum. Like in the army the ANC has to ensure that in regard to integration policy it was well on board. In the department of education the ANC must be seen to play a very active role, like ensuring registration in all schools went smoothly. So the mechanism we used is to ensure we all pull together with parliamentarians, government departments and parastatals, like Eskom, Telkom and mining groups like Samancor."

A religious summit is scheduled for April to discuss the role of the religious sector in the implementation of the RDP. On contentious issues, Steenkamp says, the religious sector is needed to guide the ANC on dealing with the death penalty, abortion, legalising of commercial sex workers, casinos, gambling and liquor licences. The church has always been divided on these issues. Now the ANC would be requesting the religious sector to give at least its moral guidance and leadership on some of these matters.

Steenkamp warns that if attention is not given to the demarcation dispute between the Northern Cape and North West, about the Kuruman and Taung regions, the situation could become explosive: "If the matter is not addressed soon, both provinces should expect destabilisation. Communities from both regions had made strong appeals to be incorporated into the Northern Cape."

It had been recommended that a commission of enquiry be set up to test the will of the people on the ground. That independent commission of enquiry should to report to the State President before a resolution could be made through parliament.

Correcting the past

The ANC in the Northern Province is facing serious problems on the pressing issue of land restitution for the majority of rural communities, since an approach to deal with matter has not been worked out.

The province has areas like Riemvasmaak, Smithsdrift, Kgosis, Mareemanie, Geloorsie and many others engaged in land redress negotiations with the departments of land affairs and defence.

Steenkamp admits the ANC had failed to coordinate and give political direction to the communities on how to deal with the matter. "If the government frustrated them, they were too scared to speak out publicly against it, the reason being that they were also ANC members and thus would be viewed to be criticising the ANC. Those perception must be corrected," he says.

Communities were not aware of the procedures on how to make submissions to the Land Claims Court. In an effort to empower them the ANC is to give political and leadership guidance on the matter.

With the new democracy, says Steenkamp, the ANC has called on different tribes whose traditional rights were trampled upon by the apartheid system to make formal claim to the government. The Griqua, Outeniqua, Nama and Khoisan tribes have done so.

The government have a moral, political and constitutional obligation to ensure these issues are resolved by the tribes themselves through the creation of the house of traditional leaders.

The ANC has endorsed the claims of different tribes to representation in the house, but cannot allow political parties to manipulate these groups for their own interests.

The ANC has taken a vigorous stand on how communities should benefit from the more than 30 different kinds of minerals, including diamonds, which are mined in the province.

The movement at a provincial level has no say on how these minerals are utilised and how communities benefit. Minerals are mined and exported, but in the end the Northern Cape is left poverty- stricken. A mineral and energy affairs summit is to be held soon to articulate the ANC's position and to ensure disadvantaged communities become an integral part of the economy. The movement is also planning to take its programme to agricultural and water affairs sectors in a bid to help prospective black farmers who had reclaimed the land expropriated by the apartheid system.


What the president can and cannot do

The president is the head of state in South Africa. Khensani Makhubela explains the limits of the president's power and their constitutional duties.

The executive authority of the Republic is vested in the president. The national executive consists of the president and other members of the cabinet, who must act in accordance with the constitution and who may perform any act required to give effect to the constitution.

The president promotes the unity of the nation and that which will advance the republic. The president is the head of state, head of the national executive and Commander-in-Chief of the defence force. The president must uphold, defend and respect the constitution as the supreme law of the republic and is responsible for the observance of the constitution by the national executive.

The president has the powers and functions entrusted to that office by the constitution and any legislation. He must exercise the powers and perform the functions entrusted to that office in consultation with the other members of the cabinet, except where the cabinet has determined that the president may act in consultation with a member or a committee of members or the constitution allows the president to act alone.

The president may act alone when appointing and dismissing cabinet ministers and deputy ministers and assigning powers and functions to them; convening cabinet meetings; assenting to and signing bills; referring a bill back to parliament for reconsideration of the bill's constitutionality; referring a bill back to the Constitutional Court for a decision on the bill's constitutionally; summoning the National Assembly to an extraordinary sitting to conduct urgent business; dissolving the National Assembly and calling an election after a vote of no confidence in the cabinet has been passed by the Assembly; appointing commissions of enquiry; accrediting foreign diplomatic representatives; appointing ambassadors and conferring honours.

Decisions of the president taken in consultation with the other cabinet ministers, a minister or committee of the cabinet, must be in writing, signed by the president, and countersigned by another cabinet member.

At its first sitting after its election and whenever necessary to fill a vacancy, the National Assembly must elect a person from among its members to be the president. The president of the Constitutional Court must preside over the election of the president or designate another judge to do so.

When elected president, a person ceases to be a member of the National Assembly, and within five days must assume the office of President by swearing faithfulness to the republic and obedience to the constitution by solemn declaration. No person may hold office as president for more than two terms of office. When a person is elected to fill a vacancy in the office of president, the period between that election and the next election of a president is not regarded as a term of office.

A vacancy occurs in the office of president when the president dies or resigns from office by notice in writing to the speaker, or if the National Assembly by resolution removes the president from office.

An election to fill a vacancy in the office of president must be held at a time and on a date determined by the president of the Constitutional Court, but not more than 30 days after the vacancy occurs.

When the president is absent from the Republic or unable to perform the functions of the office of president, an office below acts as the president: the Deputy President, a minister designated by the president, a minister designated by the other members of the cabinet, the speaker, or a member of the National Assembly elected by its members.

An acting President has the responsibilities, powers and functions of the President.

The National Assembly by a resolution of at least two thirds of its members may remove the president from office only on the grounds of a serious violation of the constitution or the law, serious misconduct or inability to perform the functions of office. Anyone who has been removed from the office of president may not receive any benefits of that office and may not serve in any public office.