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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

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Transitional Executive Council (TEC)

The TEC represents the first grip on state power for the extra-parliamentary liberation movements of South Africa. During the run-up to the elections, it entails - for Parliament and the government - the first abdication of some of their areas of authority.

The basic purpose of the TEC, as agreed to by the country's negotiators in Kempton Park, is to 'promote the preparation for and transition to a democratic order in South Africa'. In layman's terms, it means that the TEC will level the political playing fields and create a climate for free political activity in the run-up to the elections in April 1994.

The initiative for the establishment of the TEC came from the African National Congress, which argued that the white-dominated government could not be both referee and player in the elections. It also insisted that the TEC should have joint control over all armed forces in the country.

To achieve this, wide-ranging powers have been extended to the TEC and its seven subcouncils.

Represented in the TEC is one member of each of the parties that participated in the multi-party negotiations. Parties who walked out of the talks, notably the members of the Freedom Alliance, have declined membership of the TEC, while the Pan Africanist Congress has also decided not to participate. In the end, 19 of the original 26 negotiating partners are represented in the TEC, which has its head office in the Saambou Building in Andries Street, Pretoria.

Eight of the 19 members serve in a management committee, which normally meets a day ahead of the full TEC meetings on Tuesdays to prepare the agenda. Controversy surrounded the exact role of the TEC after it was established by an Act of Parliament in September 1993, with the ANC insisting that it had substantial powers and the NP government arguing that it had only a supervisory role to play.

There is no doubt, however, that the TEC has the powers to restrict the government's competence severely in important areas, specifically in the areas demarcated to the TEC subcouncils.

The subcouncils are: law and order, stability and security, defence, intelligence, foreign affairs, status of women, finance, and regional and local government and traditional authorities.

The first three subcouncils have eight members each, and the rest six. Represented in the subcouncils are members of various political parties with specific know-ledge of their areas of competence. The subcouncils get their instructions from the TEC and have wide powers to curtail government actions as well as access to all information relevant to their tasks.

According to the TEC Act, each government and administration in the country - including the independent homelands - must keep the Council informed of all its proposed legislation. If the TEC or one of its subcouncils has reason to believe any proposed legislation is likely to have an adverse effect on the attainment of democratic elections, it may instruct that government or administration in writing not to proceed. These governments and administrations will then, according to law, be obliged to comply. The same applies to political parties.

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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.