by Rhoda Njanana
Differences over methods of creating a new constitution and the percentage of majority required to take decisions on a final constitution marred the second round of South African talks on democracy held on 15and 16 May in Johannesburg.

This was inspire of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) previously achieving “broad agreement” on the need for a transitional executive. A technical committee consisting of eleven members was formed to discuss the powers and composition of the transition executive and its relationship to the present governing structures.

Chairman of the Working Group Three dealing with transitional arrangements, Patrick Maduna of
KaNgwane’s lnyandza Movement, said the transitional executive will not only be an advisory structure but will also have some executive powers.

But the ANC and the government differ widely on powers to be wielded by the transitional executive. The government wants an advisory executive whilst the ANC wants an executive that would oversee the functioning of all the existing legislative and executive bodies.

In another breakthrough, the government agreed that the ‘citizens’ of the four independent homelands could participate in an interim government in South Africa.

Earlier, the National Party (NP) government, supported by President Lucas Mangope of Bophuthatswana, had maintained that the will of the people living in the homeland must be tested on re-incorporation before they could participate in an interim government.

President F.W. de Klerk demanded in his constitutional proposals a 75 percent majority for change plus blocking powers for an Upper House where minorities would have special representation.

His proposals have been described as “bizarre and undemocratic” by President Nelson Mandela of the African National Congress (ANC). “They are an attempt to block majority rule in the country,” he said.

His organisation’s proposals. On the other hand, demanded a 66.7 percent majority with 75 percent for the Bill of Rights. He said the proposals would offer sufficient protection for minorities.

Sheila Camerer, NP constitutional committee member, commenting on ANC’s proposals said, “That would be giving in and handing over power.”

De Klerk’s reaction to the ANC’s proposals was that they are closer to the model of a western liberal democracy and that they do not guarantee sufficient protection for minorities.

The AN C’s proposal has, however, been rejected by the government which has argued that there cannot be two governments running the country simultaneously.

On the question of an elected constitution-making body, the Ministry of State Affairs, Dr Gert Viljocn, said that Working Group Two which is dealing with constitutional principles has failed to reach an agreement. The group was “treading water”, he said.

According to Viljoen, three positions on the issue emerged during the discussions: the government’s proposal for a two-house transitional parliament which would include the present parliament; the ANC’s proposal that a one-person-one-vote constituent assembly draw up a new constitution; and the Inkatha Freedom Party (JFP) position that a constitutional conference be convened.

There is a feeling among certain political parties at Codesa that what the government calls its transitional proposals are in fact what it wishes to see as a final constitution. ·it is a dream and they will never succeed,” one delegate commented.

According to one Codesa observer, the government is not sure on who it will bestow its power, when it relinquishes it and under what conditions. The reality of surrendering control of state structures is hard to bear. ‘This is why constitutionality is central to its thinking,” the observer said.

Asked whether CODESA II was a success or failure, an ANC official said that though there were disagreements on certain issues, significant progress has been made.

Political crisis looms ahead of Codesa III which, according to sources close to the government, could take place in the next three weeks. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSA TU) has warned that it would stage a general strike if no agreement is reached by the end of June on transitional multi-racial government.

In the past, the ‘third force’ have hijacked peaceful mass actions by anti-apartheid activists to fuel violence and create the impression that mass actions are a source of violence.

The government has already warned that for as long as there is violence in the country, there would be no interim government or a constitution-making body.

The ANC, however, believes that only the installation of an interim government with new controls over the security forces can bring an end to the violence that has already claimed S 000 lives since 1990.

Another problem threatening the negotiations is the question of “private armies”, the disbanding of the
ANC army, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and the handing over of its arms caches. This is also linked to the installation of the interim government.

The ANC insists that it will only demobilise its forces or integrate it with South African Defence Force (SADF) once it is assured of a substantial role in an interim government with at least joint control over the security forces.

Without this control, “we have no guarantee that our cadres will not be slaughtered before an election like returning South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) guerrillas during the Namibian independence process,” an ANC source said.

Despite the differences and the uncertain future of Codesa, both Mandela and de Klerk are hopeful that an interim government or transitional government would be in place and legislated for, before parliament goes into recess in June. (SARDC)

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