Memorandum from Nelson Mandela to President F W de Klerk
26 June 1992, Johannesburg
- The Declaration of Intent which we adopted at Codesa I committed us to the
establishment of a "democratic South Africa". On the basis of this
commitment many would have been led to believe that it would have been
possible to overcome many obstacles in the path of realising this goal.
- Our country is on the brink of disaster. First there is the crisis in the
negotiation process itself. The central blockage stems from the refusal of
the NP government to move together with all of us in the process of truly
democratising South Africa. Secondly, the continuing direct and indirect
involvement of the NP government, the state security forces and the police
in the violence as well as your unwillingness to act decisively to bring
such violence to an end has created an untenable and explosive situation.
- The NP government persists in portraying the crisis as a creation of the
ANC. This attitude is unhelpful and extremely dangerous. The NP government
is placing party political interests above national interest by trying to
minimise the seriousness of this crisis.
- Attached to this memorandum is the statement
of the National Executive Committee of the ANC adopted at its emergency
meeting held on the 23rd June, 1992 (marked annexure "B"). This
statement explains the basis on which the ANC has decided to break off
bilateral and Codesa negotiations. It contains a set of specific demands
addressed to the NP government in connection with the critical issues around
which the negotiation deadlock arises, as well as those relating to the
violence ravaging our country. We are of the view that the response and
concrete steps by your government to these demands will-play a critical role
in determining the direction and pace with which bona fide negotiations can
take place. For its part the National Executive Committee has resolved to
monitor the developing situation on a continuing basis.
In what follows in this memorandum we first address the crisis in the
negotiations process, and then proceed to look at the issue of violence.
THE NEGOTIATIONS CRISIS
- The crisis in the negotiations process arises, primarily, from the fact
that the NP government has been pursuing the path of embracing the shell of
a democratic South Africa while seeking to ensure that it is not democratic
- In my letter to you written from prison in 19891 outlined the kernel of
the political problem which the government and the ANC would have to address
in order to resolve the SA conflict through negotiations. I stated:
- The crux of the deadlock in the negotiations process lies in the failure
of the NP government to face up to the need to reconcile these two issues.
- In the first place, you have chosen to reject internationally accepted
democratic principles which define a democracy. You have chosen to equate
majority rule, which is the quintessential hallmark of democracy, with black
- In the second place, you have interpreted "the concern
(and)...insistence of whites on structural guarantees that majority rule
will not mean domination of the white minority by blacks" to
establishing a white minority veto (often concealed in intricate formulae).
Instead of engaging in a constructive exercise of finding ways to address
white concerns you continually slide back to white supremacist mechanisms.
- There can be no movement forward as long as you seek to reconcile the two
issues I have outlined through any form of minority veto. Such solutions may
well address white concerns, but they are guaranteed to leave majority
concerns frustrated. This is a recipe for in-built instability and makes
peace unrealisable. For as long as the NP government insists on a minority
veto in whatever form, the negotiations deadlock will remain unresolved.
- The ANC, for its part, has rigorously kept to the need to reconcile the
above-mentioned two issues. This is evident in the manner in which we have
handled negotiations as well as the way in which we have developed our
- Thus we advanced the idea that we should formulate and agree on a set of
general constitutional principles at Codesa. These principles, which would
be binding on the Constituent Assembly, would, to a certain degree, reassure
all parties as well as the people of our country, black and white, of a
- Along this direction we took on board any suggestions and ideas as long as
they could be accommodated and were consistent with internationally accepted
democratic - principles. We committed ourselves to one-person-one vote
elections on the basis of proportional representation to ensure that every
political formation which has any degree of support would have a place in
the Constituent Assembly.
- In our view constitution making should be a unifying and legitimising
process which should enjoy overwhelming support. Hence we advocated that the
constituent assembly should arrive at decisions by a sixty-six and
two-thirds percent majority.
- In South Africa regional differences have been fostered by the apartheid
system. Irrespective of whether they arise from ethnic factors or vested
interests nurtured by the apartheid fragmentation of our country, we sought
to accommodate these regional differences. We therefore proposed that the
Constituent Assembly should further:
- Be elected by all the people of South Africa, defined as all those whose
citizenship could be traced to the boundaries of South Africa as at 1910.
- Be composed of 50% of the delegates elected by means of a national list
and 50% elected on the basis of a regional list, both on the basis of
- Have special procedures for deciding on clauses of the Constitution
dealing with regional structures and their powers and duties. That is, the
Constituent Assembly as a whole would first decide on such issues by a
sixty-six and two-thirds percent majority. In addition such a decision would
further require an additional sixty-six and two-thirds percent majority by
that half of the delegates to the Constituent Assembly who are elected on
the regional list.
- It is our firm view that the Constituent Assembly be a single chamber body
with sovereign powers. The only constraints on it would be:
- The general constitutional principles agreed upon through the negotiation
- The pre-determined mechanisms to break any deadlock in the Constituent
Assembly should it fail to decide on a Constitution within a relatively
short time-frame. In our view a short time-frame is essential in order to
prevent our country from drifting in uncertainty and instability.
- The NP government positions have been directed basically at subverting the
sovereignty of the Constituent Assembly, subjecting it to the veto of a
second house and ensuring that a minority in the Constituent Assembly shall
be able to frustrate an overwhelming majority.
- The NP government`s determination to impose a minority veto is also
manifest in seeking to make interim government arrangements permanent. Our
interim government proposals were fashioned so as to further address
minority concerns in a way that would take our country into a democratic
order. In our proposals for the transitional period we have further sought
to address the concerns of the white people and of minority political
parties. You persist in converting these proposals into entrenched
constitutional arrangements. This constitutes another effort at destroying
the sovereignty of the Constituent Assembly.
"Two political issues will have to be addressed... Firstly, the demand
for majority rule in a unitary state; secondly, the concern of white South
Africa over this demand, as well as the insistence of whites on structural
guarantees that majority rule will not mean domination of the white minority
"The most crucial task which will face the government and the ANC will
be to reconcile these two positions."
In this context I added that:
"Majority rule and internal peace are like two sides of a single
coin; white South Africa simply has to accept that there will never be peace
and stability in this country until the principle is fully applied."
THE GOVERNMENT AND VIOLENCE
- The negotiations crisis and the issue of violence, particularly with
regard to the NP government`s involvement in it, are inter-related and
impact on each other. Our demands, emanating from the Emergency Session of
the National Executive Committee meeting held on the 24th June 1992, are
specific and pointed. They relate to the security forces and the police,
including the use of SADF detachments composed of foreign nationals. They
also relate to government`s failure to implement agreements made almost a
year ago with regard to measures aimed at curbing the violence.
- The Boipatong massacre on the 17th June, 1992 is but a tragic culmination
of policies and practices followed by the NP government. In this instance
the wilful negligence on the part of the South African Police in relation to
the KwaMadala hostel is extensively documented. Attached hereto is a letter
and memorandum from Attorneys Nicholls, Cambanis, Koopasammy and Pillay
dated the 23rd June, 1992 (marked annexure
"A") and addressed to Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa. Ministerial
defences of the SAP and your government`s failure to act against the
KwaMadala hostel make government collusion an inescapable conclusion.
- It is your government which legalised the carrying of dangerous weapons
under the pretext of their being cultural weapons in 1990. The fact that the
majority of the deaths and injuries have been caused by these so-called
`cultural weapons` has not moved you to restore the ban on carrying them in
public on all occasions. How do we explain the failure of such a formidable
force such as the SAP to arrest people involved in the massacres?
In those few instances where security force personnel and police, or IFP
members have been arrested, how do we explain the fact that inadequate
police investigation is the basis for their acquittal, laughably light
sentences and ridiculously low bail? You cannot but be aware of the judge`s
comment when he acquitted the 7 in the recent Sebokeng trial. How is it
possible for you to ignore the observations of the judge and the evidence of
the investigating officer in the Trust Feed massacre trial which showed
extensive cover up, and the frustrating of investigations by numerous highly
placed officers in the SAP? Recently the Minister of Police sought to obtain
a Supreme Court injunction to prevent the Weekly Mail from publishing a
report on the existence of a highly clandestine police network in the
Southern Transvaal region. The report showed that such covert operation
networks existed in 11 regions into which the Police have divided our
country. Furthermore these covert operations were directed not against
increasing criminal activities as alleged, but against activists and local
leaders of the ANC and the covert operations are being carried out at the
present moment? The evidence shows that either the NP government, even at
its top most levels, sanctions such activities or that it is powerless to
restrain the very forces it created.
- At the root of the violence is apartheid and its legacy. All religions
recognise that reconciliation requires confession and repentance. I have
avoided imposing such requirements in the hope that you and your government
would reach that recognition on your own.
- We believe that your failure to acknowledge and recognise the centrality
of apartheid with regard to the issue of violence can no longer be ignored.
This is particularly so because the NP government persists in attributing
the carnage in the black townships to black political rivalry.
- In this regard the Second Interim Report of the Goldstone Commission
provides a useful point of departure. This report notes that the causes of
the violence are many and complicated. The report outlines a number of the
causes without ordering them in terms of their relative importance. Many of
the causes in that report can be categorised in terms of apartheid and its
- The Goldstone Commission Report is unequivocal:
"The economic, social and political imbalances amongst the people of
South Africa. These are the consequences of three centuries of racial
discrimination and over 40 years of an extreme form of racial and economic
dislocation in consequence of the policy of apartheid." (para 2.3.1. of
The Report is equally clear on the legacies of apartheid:
"A police force and army which, for many decades, have been the
instruments of oppression by successive White governments in maintaining a
society predicated upon racial discrimination...For many South Africans, the
police and the army are not perceived as fair, objective or friendly
institutions." (para 2.3.2.)
"A history over some years of State complicity in undercover
activities, which include criminal conduct....That and the well documented
criminal conduct by individual members of the South African Police and the
KwaZulu Police exacerbate the perception of so many South Africans that the
Government or its agencies are active parties responsible for the
violence...Government has failed to take sufficiently firm steps to prevent
criminal conduct by members of the security forces and the police and to
ensure that the guilty are promptly and adequately punished." (para
- The failure or refusal of the NP government, which is the sole architect
and enforcer of apartheid, to acknowledge that apartheid and its legacy lie
at the root of the violence is also inexcusable. You ignore the reality that
the security forces and the police are the products of apartheid, have been
trained in the ideology of apartheid, deployed in its defence, brutalised by
that experience, and nurtured to see the ANC, its allied organisations and
black people in general as THE ENEMY. You would have the public believe that
such an army and police have undergone a Damascan conversion as a result of
your proclaiming that "apartheid is dead". Recently the Goldstone
Commission recommended that Battalion 32 which is made up of foreign
nationals not be deployed in unrest areas. Yet on the 24th of June, 1992 the
Chief of the Army, Lt. General George Meiring, arrogantly this
recommendation by announcing that Battalion 32 will continue to be deployed
in Black residential areas.
- This basic failure by you and your government induces you to perceive the
political rivalry between the Inkatha Freedom Party and the ANC the central
cause of the violence. Once more you consciously turn a blind eye to the
fact that your government used millions of rands of taxpayers money to
foster such rivalry. The Inkathagate scandal stands as proof of your
complicity and bias in this regard. Your rendering
- None of us can escape the gravity of the crisis facing our country. The
point has been reached where your responses will be looked at by us to
determine whether you are taking concrete measures to terminate forthwith
the involvement of the NP government, the state security forces and the
police in the violence. We draw your attention to the demands contained in
the statement of the National Executive Committee of the ANC in this regard.
- Similarly, specific measures are expected of you to make negotiations a
bona fide exercise in charting the way to a democratic South Africa, in
particular that the future of our country shall be determined by a popularly
elected and sovereign Constituent Assembly.
- Our demands are the minimum measures required of your government if it is
to establish a credible base for resolving the impasse our country has