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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Unfit to govern

At the beginning of this year the ANC-led tripartite alliance called for Constituent Assembly elections in 1992. In fact, we could easily have had South Africa's first one-person one-vote elections by now.

Good progress towards this goal was being made in the CODESA negotiations in the first months of this year. It was precisely this progress that began to frighten De Klerk.

The progress was all the more frightening because the regime's secret opinion polls were showing that Inkatha's ability to win a significant number of black votes was limited, and dropping all the time. Since an NP/IFP alliance was not going to win an election, De Klerk increasingly felt he needed more time to build a National Party that could win black votes in its own right.

This meant delaying progress towards elections. And so the regime deadlocked CODESA 2.

Today De Klerk must be sorely wishing that he hadn't deadlocked!

Since CODESA 2, rather than improving, his own personal popularity and that of his National Party have deteriorated rapidly and decisively. The NP's black recruitment campaign has largely fizzled out.

Each week brings fresh evidence of deep-seated government corruption and dirty operations. One scandal triggers another. The former security branch of the SA Police is leaking stories about the SADF Military Intelligence, and, in turn, MI is exposing the police.

Colonel Joe Verster, former managing director of the CCB, does his best to implicate General Magnus Malan, ex-Minister of Defence, and now Minster of Water Affairs and Forestry, in complicity over the David Webster assassination. Convicted double-murderer and MI agent Ferdi Barnard tries to implicate the regime's top negotiator, Roelf Meyer, in his own underworld of drug-dealers, pimps and prostitutes. And so the muck continues to bubble to the surface.

It is every agent, dirty tricks operative and securocrat for him- and herself as the wheels of the apartheid machine start to fall off.

The more De Klerk puts off elections for a Constituent Assembly, the deeper he will be in trouble. So far we have only had a glimpse of the rot in government.

Not only is this regime undemocratic, unrepresentative and therefore illegitimate, it now stands exposed as corrupt and deceitful. These people are simply not fit to rule!

So how do we now go forward? Do we simply continue a war of attrition, knowing that, at this rate, the regime in three or five or six years time will be even deeper in crisis?

Is it in the interests of our liberation movement, and of our people at large to simply continue regardless?

If this is the only option we are left, then clearly we will exercise that option without fear. But is it the best or even the only option?

This was the question which SACP general secretary Chris Hani recently asked in a keynote address to the Black Management Forum: "Although we have improved our position strategically over the last year, quite dramatically, do we continue the war of attrition indefinitely?"

Answering his own question,

Hani said: "We believe that it is absolutely imperative that we now move very rapidly towards a negotiated political settlement, with elections for a Constituent Assembly next year...We need the certainty of an election date. And we need then to build the rest around such a firm date."

The SACP believes that the overwhelming number of South Africans, from all walks oflife, and across a wide spectrum of political opinion, now support the call for elections next year.

"This will go a long way to introducing some purpose and direction," as Hani puts it, "into what is now a very dangerous and drifting situation."

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.