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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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

24 Aug 1990: Swilling, Mark

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There has been a paradigm shift. The revolutionaries found that they couldn't succeed because the state was too strong, and the state found that you couldn't reform the state from above; that you can't rationally redistribute power.

Feburary 2nd was no surprise to me. I (Swilling) made a speech in June 1989 in which I said all indications were that there was international consensus around a negotiated transition. PW Botha came into a world that FW de Klerk never had to experience.

Yes, De Klerk has conceded majority rule. It is a two-legged formulation. The majority should rule, minority protections should be easily activated. This is a shift from group rights. It's also talking about the elimination of race legislation, a two-house parliament, one house based on majority rule and an upper house passed on proportional representation.

This is a non-velvet revolution. There will be more bloody violence. The first election under a new constitution is likely not to take place until 1999.

Once obstacles are out of the way all parties will be involved in constitutional negotiations. Then we have to create a mechanism to write a constitution. The ANC wants a Constituent Assembly but the government rejects it while seeming to be receptive to a non-elected interim government, a government of national unity.

The NP would like the two elites, the NP and the ANC, to write the new constitution and pass it. But there are actually three elites playing today the Afrikaner nationalist, the business community, and the ANC. They all realise they can deal with each other.

You might have a fall-back to a black elected Constituent Assembly to negotiate with the government, i.e. the white, coloured and Indian parliaments. The NP might prefer round-table representation where each party would have equal numbers among the blacks and the government represents the whites. The NP is qualitatively weighted with a multiplicity of black parties negotiating with it. I wonder if the ANC has already given up on a Constituent Assembly.

The Pretoria Minute referred to constitutional negotiations, not a Constituent Assembly. The stronger the CP becomes, the more interested the NP becomes in the alliance. Both have similar interests and there are extremists on both sides. They want to move quickly because they know the whole thing could blow apart.

Co-option permeates the situation. There are no rules and no plans. Things are fluid, changing every day. There are many tables, people meeting to negotiate local government, education, unrest working groups all over the country.

Violence is like a volcanic eruption. You don't know what's rumbling below. It erupts suddenly. But the violence doesn't make any difference to this process except to focus the minds of the politicians. When people are dying like this, politicians have to be sober. Buthelezi wins, the ANC loses. This brings Buthelezi into the game. The violence emphasises to the politician that the society has the capacity to blow apart at the seams, and they have to hold it together.

The causes of the violence: first you have well-educated township residents who do not look favourably on hostel dwellers there are social animosities. Second, you overlay this with political ingredients, Inkatha versus ANC. Third, overlay that with ethnicity Zulu versus Xhosa.

It's not clear what De Klerk means when he talks about going back to the white electorate. Sometimes he says whites and sometimes 'the electorate', which would include Indians and coloureds.

Mandela is like De Klerk. He is exceptionally good about immediate objectives like dealing with De Klerk and constitutional negotiations. His major problem is to secure the situation quickly so that those who want a revolution with a weakened government don't have time to move. De Klerk knows time is running out on the ANC and when it runs out on the ANC it runs out on him.

As a mass force the ANC is beginning to break up.

The Bureau of Information can tell you what polls are available.

The Human Sciences Research Council in Pretoria is the largest political pollster.

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.