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Memorandum from Nelson Mandela to President F W de Klerk

26 June 1992, Johannesburg


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


  1. 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 content.
  2. 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:
  3. "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 by blacks.

    "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."

  4. 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.
  5. 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 domination.
  6. 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.

  7. 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.
  8. 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 substantial positions.
  9. 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 democratic outcome.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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:
    1. 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.
    2. 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 proportional representation.
  13. 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.
  14. It is our firm view that the Constituent Assembly be a single chamber body with sovereign powers. The only constraints on it would be:
  15. The general constitutional principles agreed upon through the negotiation process.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 legacy.
  7. 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)

    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 2.3.7.)

  8. 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.
  9. 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 reached.