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49th National Conference

Bloemfontein, 17-21 December 1994

From Resistance to Reconstruction and Nation-building


Setting up government

The President and the Deputy Presidents were sworn into office on May
10, 1994.

Ministers and Deputy Ministers as well as the Premiers and Members of
the Provincial Executive Councils were also sworn in their positions.

In all instances portfolios were distributed in a way which, among other
things, would ensure the effective participation of the minority parties
in governance.

At the national level and in seven provinces, the ANC is the majority
party within the Governments of National and Provincial Unity.

The ANC is the largest minority party in two provinces.

Consequent upon the appointment of a non-party Minister of Finance at
the national level, the allocation of the National Party has still to be
brought to its full strength with the appointment of an additional NP cabinet

Government policy framework

Soon after its was constituted, the Government of National Unity (GNU),
addressed the issue of a common policy framework that would guide its work,
regardless of the party distribution of the government portfolios.

Agreement was reached that the Reconstruction and Development Programme
be adopted as the policy of the GNU, subject to further Cabinet discussion
on the details of the RDP.

The first major policy statement made by the GNU reflecting this consensus
was the President's State of the National Address delivered in parliament
towards the end of May, 1994.

This was subsequently followed by another major policy statement of
the GNU, this being the President's Statement to Parliament at the conclusion
of the first 100 days of the GNU.

Subsequent White Papers and major legislation have reflected the objectives
contained in the RDP.

Other legislation has been of a technical nature, relating to routine
matters, bringing existing legislation in line with the new constitution
or bringing the institutions of the old, such as TBVC and "self-governing"
into the new state structures visualised in the Interim Constitution.

Government of National Unity

As provided for in the constitution, the Cabinet of the GNU has taken
the majority of its decisions by consensus. Agreement has however been
reached that, in the event that consensus cannot be reached, to ensure
that there is effective government, decisions can also be taken on the
basis of a simple majority.

In the event of t he latter, the minority parties would then have the
possibility to project their positions publicly, without this signifying
that there is a split in the GNU or that it is unable to function as a
cohesive unit.

As required by the Constitution, all Ministers are accountable to and
are subject to supervision by the President, regardless of the party from
which they are drawn.

On the basis of the experience that has been accumulated in the first
seven months of the GNU, the President is elaborating ways and means by
which to ensure the greatest effectiveness with regard to the implementation
of the objective stated above.

As can be expected, members of the GNU have had to spend a considerable
amount of time settling into their new areas of deployment, thus limiting
the time available to them to restructure their departments and incorporate
new personnel to assist them, especially with regard to working on new
policies aimed at implementing the RDP.

This process of settling in has included familiarisation with composition
and the on-going programmes of the departments, daily supervision of the
departments, as assessment of what needs to be done to structure and motivate
them so that they can implement the RDP and elaboration policies that are
practicable, especially given the financial constraints imposed on the
GNU by the structure of public finances inherited by the GNU.

Ministers have also had to carry out daily supervision of the departments
and, in many instances, have had to involve themselves in many "fire-fighting"

The budget

The State Budget is one of the principal instruments in terms of the
implementation of the government policy. It enables government to address
both its revenue and expenditure requirements. At the same time, it is
used as a means to impact on macro-economic policy.

For these reasons it is important that we understand some of the fiscal
parameters within which the GNU is operating.

To ensure that the State Budget does not impact negatively on the economic
growth and development, the GNU has committed itself to ensuring that:

  • Current expenditure relative to the GDP should decrease on a continuous
    basis. For the current Fiscal Year, this stands at 28.3 per cent of the
  • Unless greater amounts are spent as capital expenditure, revenue relative
    to the GDP should also decrease on a continuous basis. For the current
    Fiscal Year, this stands at 23.8 per cent of the GDP.
  • The deficit before borrowing should also be brought down to a level
    which ensures that the country does not get caught in the debt trap. For
    the current Fiscal Year, this stands at 6.6 per cent.

In simple terms, this means that there is an upper ceiling to the resources
available to the State to carry out its part of the Reconstruction and
development Programme. In absolute terms, these resources can only increase
as a result of growth in the economy.

These figures should also be considered together with the fact that
91 per cent of the government expenditure is absorbed by three items, viz:

  • wages and salaries;
  • welfare; and,
  • servicing the public debt.

This expenditure pattern, superimposed on the macro-economic framework
indicated above, imposes a level of rigidity which makes it even more difficult
to find the funds within the Budget which can be channelled to sustainable

The transformation challenges that the GNU has therefore been grappling
with are:

  • Reprioritisation of the existing budgets to enable them to focus on
    the achievement of the RDP objectives;
  • Belt-tightening, which has included the reduction of salaries of the
    President and other senior elected representatives;
  • Reorganisation of state assets and enterprises in a manner that is
    consistent with the objectives of the RDP, and aimed at raising additional
    revenue for the government which could be used, among other things, to
    reduce the public debt;
  • Ensuring strict monitoring of the disbursement and utilisation of funds
    at both national and provincial levels; and,
  • Working on short, medium and long-term plans to reduce the amounts
    spent on wages and salaries and the public debt, so as to increase the
    proportion allocated to capital and development expenditure.

There are three inescapable conclusions that have to be drawn from this
objective economic reality that the GNU has inherited from over four decades
of apartheid rule, namely that:

  • There are no large resources that can be found within the Budget in
    the short and medium term, with which to address the RDP objectives;
  • Such resources as are available should be used in a strategic manner
    to address clearly defined objectives; and,
  • The resuscitation of the economy, to set it on a sustainable path of
    high growth, must be accepted as an urgent and principal objective of the
    GNU and the centre-piece of the RDP.

Machinery of government

The GNU has, of course, had to ensure that it has properly functioning
machinery of government. This has meant the establishment of Ministries
and Departments where none existed or their restructuring where necessary.

Among the ministries which are still being established are those of
Defence, Safety, and Security, Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Public
Service and Administration, Sports and Recreation and Labour.

Work is also proceeding with regard to the establishment and/or restructuring
of Departments. An important element of this process has been the appointment
of the most senior staff, including Directors General.

The speed with which this restructuring could be completed has been
affected by demands of transparency and legal accountability which result
in a protracted process of appointing staff.

Provincial government

An important part of the process of ensuring the establishment of effective
government concerns the sharing of responsibilities between the national
and provincial governments. Because of the volume of work involved, this
has taken a considerable length of time to implement, sometimes leading
to frustration at the level of the provincial governments. As part of the
response to these challenges and in keeping with constitutional requirements:

  • An Inter-Governmental Forum has been established to ensure continuous
    coordination between the central and provincial governments;
  • The relevant national ministers also participate in the fora with the
    provincial counterparts;
  • A Finance and Fiscal Commission to investigate and make recommendations
    on the future on inter-governmental financial and fiscal relations has
    been established; and,
  • Provincial Service Commissions are in the process of being established.

Local government elections

The GNU has also been engaged in preparations for the local government
elections, now scheduled for October 1995, which, through the creation
of elected local governments, will complete the process of the establishment
of a democratic system of government in the country.

As part of these preparations, the Local Government Elections Task Group
has been established to oversee the local government elections.

It has also taken time to implement the Local Government Transition
Act of 1993, intended to replace the former racially and ethnically based
structures of local government with the interim representative and non-racial

Transformation of the public service

Related to the whole issue of the establishment of effective government
is the question of the transformation of the public service. In this regard,
the GNU has been attending to the following matters in particular:

  • The integration of 11 former public services;
  • The establishment of uniform conditions of service and employment for
    all public servants, consistent with the provisions of the Constitution;
  • The approval of 11,000 applications to various government posts particularly
    to address the fundamental question of redressing gender and racial imbalances
    within the public service;
  • Instituting processes, including restructuring the Public Service Training
    Institute, aimed at enabling the training and retraining of public sector
    workers so that to the implementation of the Reconstruction and development
    Programme; and,
  • Elaborating guidelines and programmers for the transformation of the
    civil service as a whole so that it is non-racial, non- sexist, efficient
    and responsive to the public, as visualised the Constitution. All this
    brings to the fore the fact that the state is an employer of large numbers
    of people, totalling 1.2 million public servants.

As an employer, the GNU has been and is involved in complex negotiations
with the Public Service Central Bargaining Chamber involving a variety
of matters, including the transformation of the public service, rationalisation,
salaries, including low basic wages and the reduction of high earnings
differentials within the service.

In this regard, the GNU faces a difficult situation characterised by:

  • The need to reduce expenditure on wages and salaries;
  • The need to raise the earnings of the lowest paid and to abolish gender
    and race disparities;
  • The need to increase the size of the public service to change its gender
    and race composition, while having limited possibilities to reduce the
    size of the existing public service, owing to entrenched constitutional
    provisions guaranteeing job security; and,
  • The need to channel a larger proportion of public funds into capital
    rather than recurrent expenditure, to address the central question of the
    reconstruction and development of our country. Faced with these challenges
    and in keeping with the concept of a people-driven process of transformation,
    the GNU has therefore taken steps to bring the public service workers in
    a joint process with the government aimed at reaching common ground with
    regard to the process of change as a whole, and not merely matters relating
    to earnings and working conditions, important though these are.

In this regard, the GNU is also discussing with the public sector unions
and other role players the establishment of a broad-based Public Sector

Security forces

An important feature of the period of rule of the GNU has been the relative
peace and stability which the country as a whole has enjoyed.

By and large the security organs have cooperated with the GNU in the
maintenance of peace and stability as well as in taking the first steps
towards their own transformation a reorientation, in keeping with the provisions
and perspectives contained in the Constitution.

However, we cannot report that all resistance to the establishment of
the democratic order has disappeared. This has continued to manifest itself
in various ways, without assuming a level of intensity which has threatened
the new constitutional order. The GNU has taken the necessary initiatives
to deal with all situations that have arisen expressive of this resistance.

A negative feature has been the murder of police officers by various
criminal elements. Fortunately, this now seems to be on the decline.

The greater incidence of "unrest" within the security organs
and/or areas under the control, has been occasioned by actions within the
police, the defence force and the prisons, led and initiated by groups
which have claimed to be part of our democratic movement.

Similar observations can be made with regard to the civil service which,
by and large, has also continued to work normally, except for occasional
eruptions from sections which draw their inspiration from the democratic


Despite everything we have said so far, the GNU has managed to introduce
new policy initiatives expressive of and consistent with the vision for
transformation contained in the RDP.

This has been reflected in various White and Green Papers that have
been published and some of the legislation that has already been approved
by the national legislature.

The preparations carried out by the GNU with regard to the translation
of the RDP objectives into concrete state policy and programmes, indicate
that the forthcoming 1995 session of parliament will see the presentation
and approval of a large volume of legislation focused on effecting the
changes visualised in the RDP.

This coming year should also see the establishment of various constitutional
and statutory bodies such as the Human Rights Commission, the Public Protector,
the Land Commission, the National Economic Development and Labour Council,
the Gender Commission, the Truth Commission and possibly, a Youth Development

An important feature of the work of the GNU in the preparation of policy
documents, such as the White Papers, and the drafting of legislation, has
been the effort to involve civil society in the process of governance.

The GNU is committed to the further entrenchment of this process, which
should result in the activisation of larger numbers of people to be involved
in both the formulation of policy and the implementation of programmes
that derive from this policy.

The GNU has also been engaged in elaborating plans to ensure better
two-way communication between itself and the general public. During the
coming year, new initiatives will be taken to improve such communication,
including the adoption of the Freedom of Information Act.

International relations

Under the leadership of the GNUJ, the country's system of international
relations has grown in scope and depth. Diplomatic relations have been
established with almost all countries. Membership of the OAU, the UN and
other intergovernmental organisations has been restored.

The GNU joined the governments of Zimbabwe and Botswana to help restore
democracy in Lesotho. It also acted with the rest of the region to support
and encourage the process of democratisation in Mozambique. It will also
be acting together with other governments in the region to help in the
process of establishing peace and democracy in Angola. During the coming
year the GNU will take further steps with the rest of the region to build
a comprehensive system of regional cooperation.

The GNU will also participate, together with the women's movement, in
the Beijing 4th UN International Women's Conference. Steps will also be
taken to bring organisations of civil society into the process of the elaboration
of foreign policy.

The GNU is committed to discharging its international responsibilities
within the means available to it, fully sensitive to the fact that our
successful transition to democracy has resulted in the general expectation
that we will contribute meaningfully to the building of a better world
for all.