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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

25 Jul 1990: Rajab, Mahmoud

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MR     I'm MP for the Springfield constituency in Durban, I'm a member of the Democratic Party in the House of Delegates.

POM     Now the Democratic Party in the House of Delegates, is that in affiliation with the Democratic Party?

MR     Yes we are part of, we are members of the Democratic Party. At the present time there are Indian members in the House of Delegates, we don't have any representation in the House of Representatives and we have 34 members in the House of Assembly. As you probably do know we are having a bit of a difficult time at the present moment because a fair amount of our policies have been taken over by government and the question that is being asked is, is there a role for the Democratic Party in this new set up where you have negotiations which haven't really begun but that talks about negotiations should be basically the government, the NP, on the one hand, and the other key players on the other, these being, of course, the ANC, Inkatha and whoever may wish to appear.

POM     There's a formal relationship between the two Democratic Parties, between the DP of Zach de Beer and Denis Worrall?

MR     No, no, we are one party, the Democratic Party.

POM     But it's exclusively Indian?

MR     No it isn't. It isn't. Let me give you some of the background, perhaps that would help. Before the 1989 general election there was, to the left of government, three political parties. One was the Progressive Federal Party (the old Progressive Party)

POM     Yes I know, I know they came together.

MR     Yes. Now I was a member of the Progressive Federal Party and I was a Progressive Federal Party MP but because of the constitution in this country which has the three separate Houses I sat in the Indian House of Delegates. When the DP was formed we naturally became a part of the DP and I sat as a member of the DP. There were two of us, Mr Poovalingum and myself, who sat as members of the DP. Came the election in 1989, Mr Poovalingum unfortunately lost his seat but we gained two other members. One is Mr Michael Abrahams from Tongaat and the other is Omi Singh from Phoenix. So at the present time the DP is represented in the House of Delegates by three members. It is not represented in the House of Representatives simply because we don't have any members there.

POM     Or because of the constitution too?

MR     No, nothing in the constitution prevents it from having coloured members, nothing.

POM     Sorry, I'm getting confused. There's a tricameral system, a House for whites

MR     A House for Indians, a House for coloureds, a House for whites.

POM     So you can sit in the House for Indians but you can't sit in the House for whites?

MR     Yes. I can't sit in the House for whites, no, but I can sit in the House of Delegates for Indians. But the funny thing about life in this country is that whilst that is so, we have been sitting together in one parliament for most of the year although we're supposed to be three different components that make up parliament. Your question is, as I understand it, whether my party is a separate party to the one that sits in the House of Assembly.

POM     That's right.

MR     And the answer is no, it is the same party. We have a parliamentary leader. At the present time the parliamentary leader is Dr Zach de Beer and because we for some time sit in the Indian Chamber I am the leader of the DP in that Chamber. Then overall we have, we had until recently, three co-leaders of the party and that was Zach de Beer, Worrall and Wynand Malan. Malan has stepped down at the moment so we have two, but we have taken a decision that we need not three leaders, we need one leader and we are meeting some time in September to sort that out.

POM     Members of the Indian Congress I've spoken to would speak with some disparagement of

MR     Yes they do.

POM     - the state, that the elections that take place for them only involve a small number of the electorate who are not representative of what the Indians might be feeling. How would you answer that?

MR     Very simple, the answer is very simple, the only manner in which a mandate is got from any community that I know of in a democracy is via the ballot box. The Indian Congress, like the Democratic Party, like any other affiliation, had an opportunity of getting that mandate. The Indian Congress on a matter of principle decided that it would not participate. Well it didn't participate. The overall turnout, percentage poll, was in the order of (I'm not quite sure what the figures are) but I think the average is something like 25%-30%. In some cases it has been as high as 40%, in others as low as 15% or 20% but quite simply if they, on a matter of principle, wanted to show that they represented the community they should have contested the elections, won all the seats and then said we're not taking our place in parliament because of a principled objection. This happened, as you know, in Ireland in 1916 when the Irish Nationalists demonstrated to the British government that they spoke for Ireland. They contested whatever elections there were, they didn't take their place in Westminster. That would be my reaction.

POM     How would your analysis of the situation differ from that of the ANC or the Indian Congress?

MR     We have no problems on most issues. We differ first of all with the NIC on just this issue of participation.  To us the ANC has never stood against participation. If you read Nelson Mandela's book Long Walk to Freedom it devotes a chapter to participation and he said very clearly there that if there is a possibility of any reactionary unit taking over any institution participation in fact is mandatory whether it is a turnout of 5% or 6% or 30%. We have no problems on any other issue but that. We feel that the Indian Congress, like SWAPO in Namibia, have been saying that they are the sole and authentic leaders of a community. We are saying not so. We are saying demonstrate it, prove it. Merely to say they are participating, and because the community for various reasons does not come out in actual votes, it doesn't automatically follow that they support A, B or C. All that we know is that so many people have supported the tricameral parliament.

POM     With the changes that are in the offing with the negotiations between the ANC and the government, what impact do you think this is going to have in the Indian community itself?

MR     Well I think the impact is going to be tremendous. First of all the NIC has consistently said that they are a non-racial institution, body. They've always said that because the ANC has been banned and the NIC has not been banned they are there in a sense as part of the ANC. Our argument against that has been very simply this, now that the ANC has been unbanned, does it make any sense for an ethnic institution, which is the NIC, to say that they stand for a non-racial democracy and still retain it's basic ethnicity. No others besides those of Indian origin may be members of the NIC. I myself am not a member of an ethnic party, I am a member of a non-racial party. So I say to my friends, you must now decide whether you really believe in non-racialism or not and if you do then obviously you must come under the umbrella of the ANC. It makes no sense.

     My problem with the ANC at the present time is that we have difficulties on the economic policies.

POM     When you say 'we' you are referring to?

MR     The Democratic Party. We have problems with their economic policy, we have problems with an acceptance of what we call a federal constitution. We believe that federalism is going to be part of the solution of our problems. We don't know what their attitude is really on this whole question of the armed struggle and violence and until we have some clarity on those basic issues they've accepted the question of a bill of rights, the question of full suffrage for everybody. Those are nice sounding phrases but I still think that we need to see exactly what the thinking of these particular issues are. I daresay we may find that they are exactly the same as our own in which case the question then arises, should the DP remain as a separate unit or whether it shouldn't in fact become part of this larger Congress? But that is something down the line.

POM     It has been suggested to us by a number of people that in an open election that the NP could win a sizeable amount of the Indian vote.

MR     It could.

POM     Do you think that's likely or how do you think in the new structures, what do you think?

MR     Let me put it to you like this, if you look at our history, the NP for the last 40 years symbolises the oppression that has been visited upon not only the black community but we're talking now about the Indian community. Now in the last year or so after pressure of all kinds, there has been a change of heart and whether this is one of convenience or not isn't material to the debate. What is important is that they wish to now move forward, they have done away with some of the things that have caused us difficulties in the past. They have given notice of removal of things like group areas but they have not yet come to pass, the Group Areas Act is still on the statute book. The Population Registration Act is on the statute book. They still symbolise the party of oppression, that's on the one hand. On the other hand there are many in the Indian community who identify with the policies of the NP once apartheid is removed. For them to get that support I think, yes, I would think that a fair number of people in the Indian community would support what the New Nationalist Party would be, and the NNP to my way of thinking would be very little different or there would be very little difference between the ANC and that party.

POM     There would be very little difference between the ANC and a reconstructed NP?

MR     And the Nats. Reconstructed NP.

POM     Why do you say that?

MR     Well they are still in the process of formulating their own basic principles of various things. The armed struggle, as I said, may well remain rhetoric. The whole business of nationalisation and the free market economy may well be something that the ANC may espouse, we're not quite sure. In that respect they could be very close to one another but I think the NP would have to change, indeed like we've done in the NP, in order to get along with it the wider black community, the Indian community and the coloured community.

POM     You made an analogy between voting here for the tricameral parliament, the capacity of the Indian community, of the Congress to stand for election and then not stay for parliament, you made that analogy with 1918 Ireland. But another analogy, and I'd like to hear your reaction to it, could be at the end of the 18th century when there was an alliance for a time between the Presbyterians and the Catholics because they both were oppressed by the penal laws but once the penal laws were removed the Presbyterians found their natural constituency with the Protestants, not with the Catholics. Could you see a similar type of alignment or realignment in Indian politics that once aspects of discrimination are removed they would have more in common with the policies and objectives of the NP?

MR     Absolutely, I would go along with it. In fact even at the present time you would find that there would be a sizeable support for the Nats right now even before they begin to have this new image. Yes, but the Indian community, like any minority group anywhere else in the world, are shy, in fact, to advertise this. If one had to do a survey amongst the community this is one sure thing that you will find. There have been several surveys done; for instance, you've had this recent thing on De Klerk which highlighted the kind of support that he, as President, could expect to get from a black community. I would think that if a similar project was done in the Indian community all of us would be very surprised at the kind of support that is there. You see, remove the restrictions, remove the discrimination, remove all the other negative aspects and then in our context the NP emerges as a party of some strength which has been able to guide the affairs of this country in such a fashion where black majority rule has in fact not taken place and it has seen, I don't agree with the politics, it is seen as a party of some considerable strength that is able to maintain the kind of law and order that is required in Africa. That's the rationalisation, that's what the thinking is for years. Yes, your analogy I think is a good one.

POM     A lot is heard about white fears. How would you enumerate Indian fears, what are the fears of the Indian community as it faces this uncertain future?

MR     Strangely enough the fears of the Indian community at this point in time have not really centred on nationalisation, have not really centred on the armed struggle, but really have centred on the experience that the Indian community has had in Africa, what happened in Uganda and places like that. That's pretty fresh in their minds. And, of course, we had our own experience here in 1949 where everything has been thrown overboard proportional with the years, but that riot which took place between the Zulus and the Indians, which really was aimed at the Indians, has been, as I said, blown out of all proportion and that sort of situation is also there.

POM     The subconscious fear of annihilation?

MR     Yes. So I think the fears, if I may say so, of the Indian community, and really they are unfounded, is the fear and the uncertainty of a black majority government. As I say it's an unreal fear and in a sense nobody has addressed that, neither the ANC nor Inkatha nor anybody else for that matter.

POM     Why do you think this is so? Why do you think that's not addressed?

MR     I don't know, simply because I think if you really examine it, maybe the community is about 3% of the population, it's a very small minority and I think in the nature of things people have tended to look at wider support and address those constituencies. No doubt there will be an addressing of that particular problem as well and indeed there has been, over the last couple of weeks, an attempt made to explain the ANC policy and Inkatha policy to the Indian community but it's still very much in the formative stages.

POM     How does the Indian community here look at the violence in Natal, particularly in KwaZulu?

MR     With a great deal of alarm. There's no doubt about it that it affects all of us. What is, of course, very disconcerting is that it happens to be a black on black violence, it is a manifestation of political parties wanting to maintain their superiority to get control of a particular area and in the process black people are being killed, the local economies are being shattered and there does not appear to be any deep concern on the part of the leaders concerned to address the particular problem and get it right.

POM     How would the community interpret the violence in terms of causality or how would they assign blame, responsibility?

MR     I don't believe that in any conflict one can say that one side is full of guilt and the other side is without any guilt. I think that both sides are very much guilty. They're guilty for various reasons. I think firstly it's the old question of wanting to take over a particular terrain and Inkatha wanting to demonstrate that it has control of this region. Then, of course, there's the other one and that is it probably suits some of the parties concerned to have a conflict continuing like this because then it prevents the wider resolution of our problems on a national basis.

POM     Who would you point to?

MR     Well I would think the ANC very much so. I would think Inkatha also. You have several warlords who are ministers who have been charged now. They haven't been found guilty, but who have been charged with the murder of people. This doesn't do Inkatha any credit but I think when one looks at this conflict one needs to look at it against the background of what has transpired. This is not just a conflict that started yesterday, I think it started a while ago, and my own personal view is that, and of course I cannot find any evidence to corroborate it, but I think if one looks at the newspapers for instance one will see that it clearly started a couple of years ago when members of COSATU and ANC groups in fact began to attack Inkatha members. I think whether this was something that merely spontaneously occurred or whether there was a plan one can't say but it would seem, as a result of that, Inkatha then took a decision: fine, if this is how it's going to be OK, you started it, we're now going to end it. And this conflict has just continued. I think Inkatha probably has taken the view: fine, we are Zulus, we are a warlike nation and now we will show you how to put an end to this. Pure speculation on my part.

POM     It's Zulu against Zulu is it, or is there a tribal element in it?

MR     No it is not Zulu against Zulu entirely. You have a lot of influx into this region from all over the country and it's not just Zulu from what I've been told. Yes a fair amount of the violence is Zulu upon Zulu but it's rural Zulu as opposed to what one could call urbanised Zulu, people living on the periphery of the urban areas.

POM     You mentioned that the continuation of the conflict here might be in the interests of the ANC. Can you explain that a little?

MR     Well it seems clear to me that the ANC has not yet been able to get its act together to be able to sit down with government and begin negotiating. They have just been unbanned, they have been out of the country; there has been, I would think, large, sympathetic support for the ANC within the country but they now have to begin to transform a movement into a political party and that is not very easy. It's very easy to be a movement, it's far more difficult to be a political party. You've got to have grassroots support, you have to have constituencies, you've got to have mandates, you've got to have that kind of thing. It takes time. Then you've got to explain policy to people. You've got to decide on policy. You've got to do all of these things and that needs time.

     Yes, all of this would, I think, help the ANC because number one they are being shown as good guys. We want to settle this problem, it's the government who cannot maintain law and order, Gatsha Buthelezi who has got his police who can't maintain law and order who are involved. So to that extent I would think that it is being used to their advantage.

POM     If you had to point to sources of potential difference or actual differences in different elements in the ANC what would you point to?

MR     I don't understand.

POM     Do you think the ANC is a monolith in terms of objectives?

MR     No, certainly not.

POM     Where are the differences?

MR     Well certainly not. Historically we know that the ANC have been made up of nationalists, of communists basically, and over the years I think the communist bloc has had more influence within the ANC than the nationalist bloc has had. I think things have changed and it's not important in fact to even consider that particular dichotomy. Nelson Mandela is out, I don't believe that he's a communist. I believe he's a nationalist. I believe that he is in many respects a reasonable, moderate sort of a leader. But if one begins to analyse firstly the various speeches that have been made by Nelson Mandela from the day he was released to now, one sees so many contradictions. Then if one contrasts that to what is being said by people like Chris Hani and Joe Slovo and others, then one can see that obviously the different interpretations that are being placed by different people within the party. Then if one goes further and looks at the pronouncements of Nelson Mandela, the way he's been shifting ground, the way there are still various contradictions, it gives one the impression that he's not entirely responsible for what he is saying. We can understand this. He has been out and he has his own points of view and he comes out and he's the leader and you are not a leader unless you have so many cohorts behind you, and that's the difficulty at this stage and this is why I say the ANC has to get its act together, Mandela has to get his act together. This can only be done in the fullness of time.

POM     You mentioned communism a couple of times. It seems to me that this is one of the last, if not the last, countries where communism is still used in the sense that it really means something. What, in the South African sense,, is a communist given what's happened in Eastern Europe, given what's happened to communism all over the world?

MR     If one looks at the SA government's definition of what is a communist it is ridiculous. I have a friend, and I thought you would meet him as well, Roly Arenstein, he's a Marxist, he believes in Marxism but he doesn't believe in the brand that was being peddled by Stalin, for instance, or by the Russians until very recently, yet he's listed, he's banned as a communist, he cannot practice his profession as a lawyer, he's under house arrest for so many years, the person who's been house arrest for the longest time. He's a supporter of Inkatha.  Well, simply because he believes in Marxist economic doctrine but he also believes that, for instance, you've got to participate, you cannot stay out as the ANC has been doing or others have been doing. He doesn't believe that Gatsha Buthelezi is any different to what the old ANC people were. He doesn't believe that there's any difference between Inkatha and its policy generally to the policies of the ANC, without the personalities.

     You ask what's the definition of communism, what is communism. Yes, communism has undergone various changes and of course it's no longer relevant given the context of what's been going on in Eastern Europe.

POM     What the reason for the fear if it's no longer relevant?

MR     Well precisely what you see. We know that it has failed elsewhere but we still have people, Joe Slovo in particular, who still talk in communist terms, who use the clichés the buzz words, nationalisation being one of them, redistribution of wealth, and that is the definition or that is the interpretation which in fact inspires concern, perhaps fear.

POM     So would I be correct in interpreting that to mean that to a South African, particularly maybe to a white South African or to a South African with wealth and good income, they equate communism with being synonymous to the expropriation of property, seizure of their property and redistributing it?

MR     Yes precisely.

POM     Seizing of wealth.

MR     Yes precisely. Thus far, of course, they haven't talked about individuals, they've only talked about strategic industries, industry as you know is controlled by big business here, and all the other ramifications that go along with it.

POM     What's your understanding of the direction in which the ANC is moving on the economy?

MR     I really don't believe that ultimately nationalisation would be a policy of the ANC. I think the ANC has not yet had time to sit and consider the implications. As I said they have been a movement and it's very easy to be a movement but the reality is something else. One of our biggest problems in this country is not the redistribution of wealth but rather the creation of wealth. Yes, government has squandered the family silver. Yes, the government has mismanaged totally the economy but that's beside the point. The point simply is that how do we uplift people without insuring that the wherewithal to do so is in fact created? It's happened elsewhere. The examples, as I have said, of Eastern Europe are there for all to see and I think that ultimately there will have to be, and they've already spoken about this, they will have to think and talk about what they call a mixed economy. That's an interesting situation because when you look at the Nats we have a mixed economy, we're not a totally free capitalist enterprise system. The larger utilities, national utilities are all run by the state. SA Airways is a monopoly run by the state, the railways, the electricity, ISCOR until recently. So what I am saying is what I said initially, and that is we must really examine this under the cold light of day and you will find that the Nats and the ANC are not as far apart as they would like to believe.

POM     When you look at the white community did your community take the threat of a white backlash, a dramatic increase in the support of the Conservative Party, did they take that seriously or think it's a passing phase on the way to a new SA?

MR     Well one cannot but look at it seriously. If one begins to see what's going on it is alarming, it hasn't manifested itself in the kind of violence we've had, black on black. But, yes, it is something that concerns all of us. But then if you look at the Conservative Party which is part of that group they have distanced themselves away from that kind of a white backlash situation. They still maintain what I would call a parliamentary democracy, democratic values. We may oppose their policies but they still have provision via parliament. What I am saying is that I personally do not regard that threat as something that should really frighten all of us but what I do say is that if there is an increase of that kind of activity, it should certainly cause us some concern.

     Then of course there is the other aspect, and this is something that has been ventilated for a while, and that is people who control this country at the present time without doubt are the white people. We haven't had a mandate from that community to De Klerk on whether they would have no problems with sharing this country with blacks particularly. I think it still remains a possibility that if negotiations don't go off as they should be going off then this whole big threat of a coup on the part of people like Malan and the army, perhaps the police, is something that also should be kept in mind. It is a possibility.

POM     Do you think if an election were held today that the CP would emerge with a majority?

MR     I would, yes, yes, there's no doubt about that, only because De Klerk hasn't held out and so a constituency of people look upon the worst possible scenario.

POM     In that context the NP gave an undertaking during the last election.

MR     To have a referendum or go back for a mandate, yes.

POM     Do you think De Klerk will do that or that he can do that?

MR     He must do it. I think De Klerk is an honourable man and I think he will do it but you see this is what concerns some of us because we would like to see all of this resolved as quickly as possible and certainly I think it is in De Klerk's interests as well to do it as quickly as possible. But then don't forget he has four years within which to do all of this, before constitutionally he has to go back for a further mandate.

POM     But if this new dispensation were placed before the white electorate and they voted against it where would matters then stand?

MR     That's a very good question. If De Klerk were to lose that referendum then we're in for a difficult time, aren't we? Then I think the right wing backlash, your coup option, all of which assume larger proportions.

POM     Do you see the government going along with the ANC's call for an election for a Constituent Assembly to draw up a new constitution?

MR     No, no, I can't see it.

POM     Why not?

MR     De Klerk has firmly said that's not on. The government of the day carries on, it is in charge of the administration of the country. The NP would like to negotiate with the ANC and another party and it would do with others as well. Once that is done that would be presented to parliament so I can't see there being any hope of that particular request being met.

POM     Do you think De Klerk has conceded on the question of majority rule or that he's looking for some modified majority rule system?

MR     Yes I think, if one has to give words their proper meaning, we must concede that De Klerk has in fact said just that. He hasn't said other important things like the time frame within which this would take place nor has he said the form in which a future government is going to be structured. But if one accepts that you are going to give equal votes to everyone it must in the final analysis mean black majority rule, howsoever defined.

POM     You listed what you thought were the main fears in the Indian community if there were to be black majority rule. What would you enumerate on the white side?

MR     Well I would think perhaps the same. I think there's a big bogey of what's happened in black Africa and what black majority rule means, and I think that people have lost sight of the fact that by and large the vast majority of South Africans ultimately are more concerned about good government rather than the colour of that government. If one looks at the grievances of those who are disenfranchised it's not on the basis that they should have power, political power really. Even Nelson Mandela's list of grievances really was not on the question of colour but really on the question of grievances, on the question of quality of life, the question of equal opportunities, etc., etc. What I am saying is simply that people ultimately are not going to be concerned about what the colour of a man's skin is going to be but whether he is going to be providing good or bad government.

POM     Obstacles on both sides, what obstacles, beyond the CP's threat, does De Klerk face and what obstacles do you think that Mandela faces as the two of them try to manage this process?

MR     It's very simple. On the one hand if De Klerk is perceived by his people to be selling out the white folk he has a problem. Conversely, if Mandela is similarly perceived then he has a difficulty. As it is, and one doesn't know how strong this is, but it is a reality that the Pan Africanists are in fact also assuming importance. Younger people particularly, those who have lived the liberation struggle and are involved, wouldn't like to see the kind of compromises that I believe Mr Mandela would like to have. That's when you're going to have problems.

POM     How would you evaluate Mandela's performance since he's come out of prison? Has he lived up to your expectations?

MR     No. I think what Nelson Mandela has demonstrated is that he is a man of stature, he appears to be a born leader, he appears to be a very reasonable man, all of which we knew. But he has failed to live up to the expectations, not on account of any failing within himself, but I think as a result of what I explained to you, being a leader with members of his party he cannot be a leader without having a following and at the present time, I think he was released on 9th February, we are now in July, he goes off on this whirlwind tour, he hasn't really been able to sit down and see what support he has for his own particular point of view and what support he doesn't have. So therefore he has been all things to all parts of his party and that's the difficulty.

POM     What do you understand his point of view to be in relationship to the constitution?

MR     Basically if you listened to his initial speech, and this is why I said there were so many contradictions, that's also important, he was due to be released at three o'clock or something and he only emerged an hour and a half, or something like that, later. What we do know is that the party that came to receive him arrived on time and they were locked in some kind of a discussion obviously, they couldn't have been having tea in there, nobody told us what happened. What we do know is that immediately after he came out he had to make a speech. He made that speech, somebody had to write that speech for him, either he wrote it or it was written for him and he had to either sanction it or get the approval of that speech before he made it in Cape Town later that afternoon.  That speech, if one goes back to it one finds so many contradictions. It's unbelievable, there are two distinct parts to it. One is the old, what I would consider the kind of statement that I expect from Nelson Mandela, and then you have the other rhetoric tied to it but very significant were the words which he uttered and he said, "I do not believe that the problems of this country will be solved by white domination, nor do I believe that the problems of this country will be solved by black domination." And that's very significant and that's how I think Nelson Mandela's thinking has been over the years. That to me is a very significant, very reasonable kind of point of view.

POM     Do you interpret that as his being willing to be satisfied by some kind of a power sharing arrangement?

MR     Yes, absolutely, as an initial stage, absolutely.

POM     So you would see a movement from the present situation to one in which the new constitution is drawn up and in between, before the implementation of the constitution and the new government, there will be an interim power sharing government composed of both the ANC and the NP?

MR     Absolutely. I see that as a very real possibility. In fact I see that despite all the rhetoric that some kind of an accommodation will be made between the Nats and the ANC and that everybody else will be left out of it and Inkatha is being used by government only for so long as it serves their purpose. Yes I certainly see that as a very distinct possibility.

POM     One last question. This time next year, when we're talking for the second or third time, where will the process be?

MR     Well it's very difficult to say. I was hoping, having listened to De Klerk earlier in the year, I was hoping that we would have been able to have some kind of a constitutional proposal on the table certainly within the year. Well I can now tell you that it won't be and there are various reasons why my thoughts went along that way. I knew for a fact that the Law Commission had been asked specifically to work on this and to have a report ready before the year end. I got that from the Chairman of the Law Commission himself. I know him very well, he has spoken a lot about bills of rights, I have made some contribution in that regard as well. That was the first thing, the government needed the bill of rights question report sorted out, a constitutional proposal for advice to government also sorted out. Then, of course, there was the urgency I thought on the part of Mandela because he's not a young man, I think government realises that and I think they would like to really negotiate with a person of the stature of Mandela. But, of course, subsequently it's quite clear that they are a long way from home. Whatever happens this year will have to be in some ways ratified by parliament next year so at best, even if they were to make all the compromises and the accommodations and the acceptances before the end of this year it would still remain for parliament next year to do all of these things. The Group Areas Act can only be repealed next year. The Population Registration Act can only be repealed next year. He hasn't even talked about it. All that De Klerk has said is that we're going to do this piecemeal, we've done away with Separate Amenities this year and next year we will be re-examining the Group Areas Act. He's said nothing about the population registration issue, he's said nothing about the Land Act.

     So I am not optimistic that this time next year we would have resolved all of our problems and I am very sorry that that would be.

POM     OK, let's leave it at that point. Thanks very much.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.