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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Overview of 1993

Negotiations, now called the Multi Party Negotiating Process (MPNP) resumed on 1 April 1993. A month earlier the ANC & NP met to thrash out agreement on as many areas as possible in order to minimize the chances of another deadlock. The NP, which had advanced the notion of a collegiate presidency, now proposed a rotating prime minister & a president who would be a ceremonial head of state. The issue was unresolved.

The Multi-party negotiating forum consisted of 26 participants including the PAC, the Conservative Party, and the Afrikaner Volksunie (AVU). New, more efficient structures were set up a Negotiating Council, which became the arena of negotiations. Agreements were ratified at plenary. Technical committees of constitutional expert produced reports using the written submissions that the parties made to them. These were scrutinized to find common ground & their cores reformulated in language most likely to achieve maximum consensus. A Planning Committee to organize day-to-day activities.

But once again violence nearly wrecked the process this time not a massacre but a single act. On 10th April Chris Hani was assassinated outside his home in Boksburg. An icon of the struggle, the militant voice for the masses, his murder by white right-wingers threatened to bring the process to its knees. A national strike resulted in a 90 per cent absentee rate. The townships shuddered with the rage of youths calling for revenge, for armed struggle, for action to relieve them of their sense of impotence. At De Klerk's request, Mandela appeared on SABC TV & appealed for calm. On that night there was a symbolic transfer of power. Mandela became the de facto president of South Africa, the one man the majority of South Africans would heed. The government was no longer in sole control of the process of the transition. Hani was buried on 19th April and again Mandela delivered an address at the funeral at the FNB stadium in Soweto.

The manner in which Hani's murder had ignited unrest that had the potential to veer out of control, brought home to the ANC how fragile the negotiating process was, and the urgent need to speed it up. It was clear that Black anger, especially among the youth was on the rise because of the interminable delays in progress. The Alliance met and called for an immediate announcement of an election date, the installation of the Transitional Executive Council (TEC) as a matter of urgency & for all armed formations to be placed under immediate joint multi party control.

On 30th April 1993 the Negotiating Council established six Technical Committees, each with six members to deal with various issues such as matters of violence, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), state and statutorily controlled media, repressive and discriminatory legislation, and the TEC and its sub-councils.

Concerns on the right wing were increasing. Negotiations were gathering speed & seemed destined to lead to an inevitable conclusion: Black majority rule. The right either shut itself out of negotiations or was on the margin, bereft of a coherent strategy, too disparate, too out of touch with the realities around them. To fill the vacuum, several former generals including General 'Tienie' Groenewald & General Constand Viljoen, a former head of the SADF, formed a "Committee of the Generals," supporting Afrikaner right wing demands for self determination. There were dire warnings of there being an army of up to 500,000 former & current white national army personnel who could be called on to back up demands for secession. The Committee of Generals formed themselves into a political party, the Afrikaner Volksfront (AVF). They called for an Afrikaner volkstaat.

On 1 June the Negotiating Council announced the date of the South Africa's first non-racial one person one vote election 27 September 1994. The IFP & COSAG promptly walked out, the IFP never to return. On 26 July the first draft of the interim constitution was published & the following day the Technical Committee dealing with setting up the TEC produced a draft bill. The bill was enacted into law on 23 September 1993. The TEC functioned in tandem with the government and in certain areas of government enjoyed an effective veto. Each party had one member on the Council. Decisions were taken by consensus, in the absence of which an 80 per cent majority was required. Sub-councils dealing with regional & local government, law & order, defence, finance, foreign affairs, and the status of women were formed. Each sub-council had six members.

The Negotiating Council also adopted legislation for the transitional period dealing with Independent Media Commission (IMC), the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and the Transitional Executive Council, which would come into effect in November and December 1993 and January 1994. As a result the US government lifted sanctions against South Africa.

But progress came hand in hand with increasing apprehension on the right. COSAG began to fragment. Some parties continued to participate in negotiations while others had walked out.

In early October Ciskei, Bophuthatswana & Inkatha left the Negotiating Council. Inkatha was becoming frantic. It felt it was being ignored by both the ANC & NP, & that it was receiving no "respect" as the third largest player in the process. Out of the fragmentation of COSAG the Freedom Alliance was born. It represented two homeland governments & the Afrikaner community the CP & the Afrikaner Volksfront (AV), making it the second largest political formation in the country. But it, too, failed to make an impact. It was composed of two parts of a puzzle that did not fit. While it could measure its strength in potential numbers, its absence of cohesiveness was a measure of its paralysis. Inkatha wanted a federal South Africa, the Ciskei & CP a confederation & the Afrikaners self-determination. Nevertheless, several attempts were made to bring it on board; all failed.

Meanwhile, matters were coming to a head between the government & the ANC. De Klerk would not countenance any arrangement that put the stamp of the constitution on majority rule. He continued to hold out for entrenched power sharing that would last into the 21st century. The ANC was equally adamant: a government of national unity for five years in the interim constitution & the NP would have to take its chances on what the Constitutional Assembly might prescribe in the final constitution.

Pressure on the parties to conclude negotiations in order to meet the requirements for the April election took its toll. Late night negotiations, early morning starts, a constant stream of bilaterals as each party now bargained with others to secure some special advantage. Drafting & redrafting. Technical committees immersed in detail. Preparations for the plenary scheduled for 17 November.

But in the end the outstanding issues came down to questions the two principals had raised yet never pressed, it being the theory of negotiations that the most intractable matters are left for the end-run when confidence building should imbue proceedings with the spirit of mutual reciprocity.

On security of tenure for public servants the ANC gave way. On national language, a compromise the constitution would cater for eleven official languages without diminishing the status of Afrikaans. Four issues were left: a deadlock breaking mechanism in the event that the Constitutional Assembly could not reach agreement & the draft constitution was referred to a referendum: agreed that a 60 per cent threshold would be required for adoption. On the decision making majority in cabinet: De Klerk was persuaded by Mandela to abandon enforced coalition and an enshrined minority veto; and to accept voluntary co-rule, consensus in cabinet decisions, with the unstated proviso that in the absence of consensus the majority would prevail. On outstanding matters relating to the provinces the ANC gave way, agreeing to provinces having the power to write their own constitution as long as it was congruent with the national constitution and the constitutional principles agreed to. On local government another concession from the ANC: in the local government elections scheduled to take place within two years of the national election whites were guaranteed 30 per cent representation on each council and a two thirds majority required for budgetary decisions.

On 17th November the plenary adopted the text of the interim constitution. Another hurdle overcome. More hurdles left since the white right, Inkatha & Bophuthatswana remained resolutely outside the pale. Nevertheless, a victory. Old enemies, the NP & the ANC had embraced, even if they had not made up.

In terms of who got what: the ANC secured political power; property rights & economic power secured white interests.

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.