About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Constitutional Issues

The South African transition is as fundamental and far-reaching as it is confusing.

Sometimes out of the turmoil trends develop. No-one is better at discerning them, and pulling them together, than Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert. This he does in the first article in this section on Constitutional Issues. As usual, Dr Slabbert clears the mines to a side of the minefield and helps us through it. The points he makes about the nature of the state are insightful. We sometimes lose touch with the fundamental coincidence of interests between the NP and its bureaucracy. Dr Slabbert wakes us to this issue, and other such issues, timeously.

The African National Congress was the first major political grouping to release proposals and guidelines for a new constitution for South Africa. Monitor published these proposals in our last edition, with comments and criticisms.

Now it is the National Party and the Democratic Party's turn. Both have recently released constitutional guidelines, and both are reprinted in full in this volume.

Comment they need, comment they deserve, and comment they get. From left, centre and right. Advocate Stephanus Jacobs, KP MP for Losberg, gives a right-handed broadside at the NP proposals, Roger Southall hits those proposals from the centre, and Kadar Asmal from the left. There's not much left standing at the end of these criticisms, but there was hardly anything standing in the beginning anyway. The NP, having long since lost its moral base, appears also to have lost its intellectual one (such as it ever had). Our government is now by autocratic robot, and our present rulers' vision of our future shows their belief in the indispensible nature of their presence in governance. Others might be forgiven for coming to different conclusions after 43 years.

The DP proposals are discussed by Prof Asmal, and they in turn cling to the concept of federalism without telling us what their model implies. That is not good enough from a party that has the DP's breadth of available intellectual resources. It's long past the hour that the DP presented us with a fully developed federal model, and we hope they are man (or woman) to the task.

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.